Bicycle Astronomy, “Hatch Show Print” Style

I love Hatch Show Print in Nashville. I love letterpress in general. I once confessed this love to my friend and erstwhile Zine partner Kevin, and he held his ears shut. “Never say ‘Letterpress’! It’s a huge suck of time and money.” That’s a paraphrase. He said something like that. Then, several months later, he bought a small old press and some type. Go figure! Anyway, Hatch Show Print was one shop of probably hundreds or more that made letterpress posters for musical gigs around the country. Elvis, Benny Goodman, Johnny Cash, and countless county fairs all had show prints announcing their appearances. In this day and age of computer-layouts and digital printing, letterpress prints look quaint and analog, and perfect to announce the arrival of Bicycle Astronomy, with recombining of two very old analog technologies (bike and telescope). I hope to get this poster actually printed on a letterpress, so it has that great ink smell and you can actually see the indentations the moveable type made, but until then here is my digital interpretation of a show print. It’s going to be offered as one of the rewards on my kickstarter project.


4 thoughts on “Bicycle Astronomy, “Hatch Show Print” Style

  1. Hi Doug,
    As an avid cyclist, astronomer, and by day designer, I’m enjoying these posts and looking forward to seeing where bicycle astronomy goes. Also, love the letterpress idea, and hope you’re able to do a run of posters. Please let me know if they are ever for sale.

    Not sure how abundant bike paths are in your neck of the woods, but an idea I’ve had for a while (but never found the time to act on) is a guerrilla art installation/astronomy outreach… thing. I’d love to get a group together to do chalk drawings of the solar system on a path. The scope may be too ambitious, but I’d like to roughly portray the scale of the sun/planets and nearest neighboring stars. So there would be a large drawing of the sun at some trailhead on a path, a ways out you’d find mercury, venus, etc. I’ve yet to figure out what distance would be involved, but further down the path you’d find Proxima Centauri. So if the whole thing worked, it would provide a bit of astro outreach, while maybe encouraging people to get out and be active.

    If you have any interest, feel free to run with the idea. I’d love to, but given the ‘scope’ of the project, not sure when I’ll get around to it

    Anyway, thanks for the blog, I always enjoy reading it!


  2. Thanks for writing Andy! By the way, I love…great photographs…what do you shoot with (other than a good eye for wabi-sabi detail?)

    There are quite a few “models” out there designed to give people a sense of the scales of the solar system and universe. They usually get out of hand pretty quick, even when you start small. There is one along the capital mall and another in Ithaca commons…I’m sure many more than that. I like the idea of doing it spontaneously as an art project…I can also imagine combining that as a race, even a relay…as it goes on and you get to the outer planets, the distances get farther and farther. Might be less grueling to start at the Oort Cloud and move inwards!

    Here’s one model, based on a 8″ sun and about a thousand yards, created by Guy Ottewell:

    Sun-any ball, diameter 8.00 inches
    Sun’s Actual Diameter: 800,000 miles
    One inch of the model=100,000 miles
    One yard of the model = 3.6 million miles

    Mercury-a pinhead, diameter 0.03 inch
    Mercury’s actual diameter: 3,000 miles
    Distance from the Sun to Mercury: 36 million miles
    Paces: 10
    Orbital Period: 88 days

    Venus-a peppercorn, diameter 0.08 inch
    Venus’ actual diameter: 7,500 miles
    Distance from Mercury to Venus: 3.1 million miles
    Paces: 9
    Orbital Period: 225 days

    Earth-a second peppercorn
    Earth’s actual diameter: 8,000 miles
    Distance from Venus to Earth: 26 million miles
    Paces: 7
    Orbital Period: 365 days/One Earth Year

    Mars-a second pinhead
    Mars’ actual diameter: 4,000 miles
    Distance from Earth to Mars: 49 million miles
    Paces: 14
    Orbital Period: 687 days (1.8 earth years)

    Jupiter-a chestnut or a pecan, diameter 0.90 inch
    Jupiter’s actual diameter: 90,000 miles (11 earth diameters)
    Distance from Mars to Jupiter: 342 million miles
    Paces: 95!
    Orbital Period: 12 years

    Saturn-a hazelnut or an acorn, diameter 0.70 inch
    Saturn’s actual diameter: 75,000 miles
    Distance from Jupiter to Saturn: 403 million miles
    Paces: 112
    Orbital Period: 29.5 years

    Uranus-a peanut or coffeebean, diameter 0.30 inch
    Uranus’ actual diameter: 32,000 miles
    Distance from Saturn to Uranus: 896 million miles
    Paces: 249!
    Orbital Period: 84 years

    Neptune-a second peanut or coffeebean
    Neptune’s actual diameter: 32,000 miles
    Distance from Uranus to Neptune: 1 billion miles
    Paces: 281
    Orbital Period: 164 years

    Pluto- a third pinhead (or smaller, since Pluto is the smallest planet)
    Pluto’s Actual Diameter: 1,400 miles
    Distance from Neptune to Pluto: 872 million miles
    Paces: 242
    Orbital Period: 247 years

    Note that Proxima Centauri, on this scale, would be 4,200 miles!


  3. Wow, thanks for the info Doug, I’m going to need a looong bike path!

    And thanks for the kind words regarding my pics. Most were taken with either a mid 50s Rolleiflex 3.5 tlr or a Nikon dslr (d40x). Pretty different cameras but I enjoy using both, and am pleased that it’s often difficult to distinguish which images came from which camera. Analogue and digital can still play nicely.


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