Canopus is the second brightest star in the sky, yet cannot be seen from latitudes above 37 degrees north. It lies just below Sirius, the brightest star of all.
After reading Doris Lessing's amazing CANOPUS IN ARGOS series of novels, I formed an improvising group called The Canopus Percussion Ensemble, to try and bring to Earth some of the subtle energies of this far-flung world.
The group is now dissipated about the globe, hopefully continuing the spirit of those times, nurturing the Substance-Of-We-Feeling and keeping the Link strong. Some group members performed a song in honour of Canopus at Garden Party #1 on 2007-09-23 by Malcolm Smith & The Emissaries.
To make a model of the solar system you will need:
First, find a very large field or desert.
Next, place the objects as follows:
The SUN = beach ball MERCURY = mustard seed 50m away from the SUN VENUS = pea 87m away EARTH = pea 130m away MARS = ball-bearing 200m away JUPITER = orange 800m away SATURN = tangerine 1.3km away URANUS = plum 1.8km away NEPTUNE = plum 4.0km away PLUTO = pinhead 4.5km away The MOON = mustard seed 32cm away from the EARTH
On the same scale, the nearest star ALPHA PROXIMA is 13000km away, that is, beyond the Ural Mountains in Siberia!
If we condense this inconceivable time-span into an understandable concept, we can liken Earth to a person of 46 years of age.
Nothing is known about the first 7 years of this person's life, and whilst only scattered information exists about the middle span, we know that only at the age of 42 did the Earth begin to flower.
Dinosaurs and the great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the planet was 45. Mammals arrived only 8 months ago; in the middle of last week man-like apes evolved into ape-like men, and at the weekend the last Ice Age enveloped the Earth.
Modern man has been around for around 4 hours. During the last hour, Man discovered agriculture. The industrial revolution began a minute ago. During those 60 seconds of biological time, Modern Man has made a rubbish tip of Paradise.
He has multiplied his numbers to plague proportions, caused the extinction of 500 species of animals, ransacked the planet for fuels and now stands like a brutish infant, gloating over this meteoric rise to ascendancy, on the brink of the final mass extinction, and of effectively destroying this oasis of life in the solar system.
And the Earth would watch in 16 seconds the entire life of many of its poorer inhabitants who live to the average relative age of 46 years.
© copyright Malcolm Smith 2002-02-06 - last updated 2007-09-17 - links verified 2004-04-22