It is quite difficult to get an idea of the actual dimensions of the planets and their distances from each other and the sun. For this reason, a 600-m-long nearly straight and level solar system model was built on Monte Generoso at a scale of 1:10 billion. A single step of about one meter corresponds to traveling 10 million kilometers in the real solar system.
The path begins with a model of the sun represented by a 14-cm-diameter metal ball mounted on a plaque with data and information in four languages. The flat path running along the Swiss-Italian border passes by other plaques with models and information on the nine planets, from Mercury to Pluto, that revolve around the sun.
The first impression you get when "walking" among the planets is the great disproportion between the small sizes and huge distances of the celestial bodies. Here, one is able to visualize the reality of the cosmos, an enormous vacuum in which man is a very small entity. You marvel when realizing that at the scale of the solar system model, the nearest star would be 4000 km away. You may also be shocked when planning a hypothetical journey into the unknown between galaxies like the Milky Way that are populated by hundreds of billions of stars, perhaps each one surrounded by its own planetary systems similar to ours.
Monte Generoso’s vertical sundial is inclined to the west at 10º8’ and indicates the true solar time corrected for longitude. The correction involves a rearward adjustment of the hour marks and, therefore, also for midday, in order to indicate the true solar time of 23 minutes and 56 seconds. This time is known as the local constant. This is due to the difference of 5°59’ between the longitude of Monte Generoso (9°1' E) and that of the prime meridian 15º east of Greenwich, which defines the average time of the time zone and is the time of our clock. From the point of construction, there is a vertical 180 cm x 150 cm aluminum panel supported by a stainless steel pillar.
The position of the plane was the idea of a group of high school students in Mendrisio, and the golden section was the idea of their teacher, Prof. Enzo Pfister.