Paul Malone : Projects : Equinoctial Orrery

'Equinoctial Orrery'. Installation for my Open Studio. 2022. L330 x W150 x H200 cms
About the Artwork

The installation you can see on display is a model for an idea I am working on within my '00 Scale' series. The materials it is made from allow for me to experiment with different structures and dynamics and also how it can be de-constructed for ease of transport and assembly. It is an electric orrery.

The concept follows my researches into historic mysteries in astronomy, many of which remain unresolved to this day. In this instance I came across an anomaly that has been known since prehistoric times but has been re-visited recently by others such as archaeo-astronomer Jim Weninger.

Most people are conversant with the idea of the precession of the equinoxes. This is where the pole of the earth wobbles, over a 25,000 year period, resulting in the north star changing from Polaris to Vega in a great circle. The position of the Equinoxes also changes at the same rate.

Knowledge of this phenomenon goes back millennia; but also understood was that certain stars do not participate in this, but stay locked to the Earth's equinoxes.

Exterior movie of the installation

  Click 'Play Movie' to view

Stills of the movie (click to enlarge)

Sirius is the most prominent but others do also. A selection of the names of which can be seen contained in the tanker wagons of this installation.

This phenomenon makes absolutely no sense! How can the Earth affect the distant stars? It is like the Sun is orbiting Sirius but there is insufficient gravitational connection to offer this as an explanation. However by suggesting an electro-magnetic orbiting (Birkeland filaments) this starts to make sense. Here Sirius and the Sun twist around each other and the selection of other stars twist around Arcturus.

The main structural element is the trackway on which the model trains run. It is made of di-bond with aluminium and tile mosaic corner supports. The vertical supports are cardboard postal tubes covered with the silver side of space blankets. The dynamic of the structure is moderated by wires tensioned with guitar machine heads.

The engine bodies are made of nickel-silver folded from acid etched panels that I designed myself. These encompass a Bachmann 'Class 20' motor. Within each tanker wagon is a vectorised image of 6 of the stars in the the equinoctial mystery - Alcyone, Aldebaran, Alphecca, Procyon, Rasalhague and Sirius - along with their printed names.

Onboard movie of the installation

  Click 'Play Movie' to view

Stills of the movie (click to enlarge)

Images of the Installation (click to enlarge)


Images of the Star Wagons (click to enlarge)