It takes time.

Last weekend, at an altitude of 2’300 metres in the Valaisan Alps, I found a strange little chariot.

It’s Halley’s Comet, one of the sculptures on the Footpath of the Planets (Sentier des Planetes). This is the entire Solar System, laid out to scale in the mountains high above the village of St Luc.

Within a minute’s walk of the Sun I came to Mercury. Then, shortly afterwards Venus, the Earth and Mars. At an average walking pace I was ... to the same scale ... travelling at three times the speed of light. Jupiter takes a little longer to reach ... then Saturn ... Uranus ... and, after several hours walk, Neptune.

I didn’t reach Pluto. To some other members of my party, a hot chocolate at the Wiesshorn Hotel was more alluring than the outer reaches of the Solar System. Anyway, Pluto isn’t a planet any more – according to the International Astronomical Union. (Though, for what it’s worth, I disagree.)

Halley’s Comet is just past Neptune, in the same position in this model as it really is at the moment. (I’ve checked.) Someone ... I don’t know who ... moves it across the mountainside regularly.

Unfortunately, although the first photo I took shows the surroundings well, the sculpture is rather lost against the background.

So I put the flash on my camera and, to the consternation of a party of passing hikers, lay flat on the ground. This image is the result ...

And whilst it shows the sculpture well, it gives little idea of its environment.

Which is better? And would it be possible to show Halley's Comet and surroundings without the sculpture getting lost in the background?

I don’t know. That would have taken some time, and hot chocolates were calling. Not many people want to hang around whilst a photographer scrabbles around trying to find a perfect viewpoint. It takes time.

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