The Planetary Path in the Jura
20 February 2023
A walk to the planets is an ambitious plan. Mercury is closest to Earth but still 155 million kilometres away; Neptune is more than four billion kilometres from Earth. The other five planets, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, orbit the sun at a distance between these two extremes.
Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus on 2 March 2023. Next conjunction in 2039
The Planetary Path (Der Planetenweg) takes the hiker past the eight planets and the sun. The dwarf planet Pluto is not forgotten. This planet is furthest from Earth and was discovered in 1930.
At the beginning of the Planetary Path is, of course, the sun. Information boards present the main facts of the solar system, including its very beginning, about 4.5 billion years ago.
The universe started with the big bang and is about 14 billion years old. The scholars have yet to figure out exactly how and why. The famous English physicist Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) said: at some point, you have to stop thinking, in his case, about the origin of the ‘pinhead’ before the big bang.
The Planetary Path is considerably shorter than the distance to planets but does give a good picture of the solar system. Moreover, the Jura and its meadows, forests, villages, streams and views are always worth a visit. And again, every Swiss town has something special.
The Glasshütte in the nineteenth century
For example, the small village of Bärschwil (canton Solothurn) has a fascinating industrial history. The town along the river Birs had a thriving glass factory for centuries. Today the Glasshütte is a restaurant. Opposite the Glasshütte was the lime and gypsum factory ‘Hydraulische Kalk- und Gipsfabrik Baerschwyl’, since 1988 the Firma Carlo Bernasconi.
In addition, a little further on is the monumental Laufner Ziegelscheune. This tile and brick factory dates back to the 16th century and operated until 1920!
This beautiful area has, of course, also produced poets and writers, including father (Albin Fringeli (1899-1993) and son Dieter Fringeli (1942-1999):
“Zeit ist’s ein Lied zu singen von jeden Liedern die nicht gesungen wurden als es Zeit war ein Lied zu singen von jener Zeit” (Dieter Fringeli).
A less pleasant circumstance was the frontier with occupied France in the First (1914-1918) and Second (1939-1945) World Wars, literally the difference between war and peace. Grellingen and Bärschwil had military garrisons and defences during this time. Switzerland, however, remained neutral.
Laufen (Canton Basel-Landschaft)
The town of Laufen emerged unscathed and has a lot of authentic (cultural) history to offer, from Celtic and Roman times, the Merovingians and Carolingians, two Burgundian kingdoms, the Basel bishopric, the (revolutionary) French era and annexation to France from 1793 to 1813 and the period with canton Bern from 1815 to 1994. Laufental chose in a referendum to join canton Basel-Landschaft in 1994.
It all seems like a lot. But what does it mean on a history of 14 billion years of universe and 4.5 billion years of Earth? However, the sky is the limit in Switzerland in many aspects.
The Swiss Alpine Club
The Swiss Alpine Club (Schweizer Alpen Club, SAC/Club Alpin Suisse, CAS) organises hiking trips in this region (and elsewhere). The SAC also organises ski tours, mountaineering and other sports in the Alps.
Source and further information: www.baerschwil.ch