Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Day The Last

Clearing away for the next builder in Round Six. Thank you for the opportunity, to the people of the LEA.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 100: Grand Opening Announcement

Opening:  Saturday, November 16th at 11am SLT
Location:  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA27/128/128/22

Kimika Ying presents Oceania Planetary Park, a walking tour of the solar system in an island park setting. Supported by the Linden Endowment for the Arts.

Visitors are invited to hike the mountain trail where they can see and gain an appreciation for the relative sizes of the planets. Other exhibits can be reached from the ground floor of the observatory at the end of the trail.

The park was created as an educational experience but the intent is to inspire a sense of wonder about the universe outside of our home planet.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 90: Exhibit opening and video tours

Running Tour from Kimika Ying on Vimeo.

First a quick tour, from the arrival point up to the observatory.  

Gravity well from Kimika Ying on Vimeo.

And a look at the new gravity well exhibit.  You can aim the cannon to set balls rolling into the well at different angles.

What is a gravity well? Wikipedia has a technical answer:
A gravity well or gravitational well is a conceptual model of the gravitational field surrounding a body in space. The more massive the body, the deeper and more extensive the gravity well associated with it. The Sun is very massive, relative to other bodies in the solar system, so the corresponding gravity well that surrounds it appears "deep" and far-reaching. The gravity wells of asteroids and small moons, conversely, are often depicted as very shallow. Anything on the surface of a planet or moon is considered to be at the bottom of that celestial body's gravity well, and so escaping the effects of gravity from such a planet or moon, (to enter outer space,) is sometimes called "climbing out of the gravity well." The deeper a gravity well is, the more energy any space-bound "climber" must use to escape it.

And for "what does it all mean?" in regard to our solar system, we go to xkcd.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 76: Planet Walk exhibit

The alternate planet walk is complete. It displays the sun and planets to scale in both size and distance apart. The inner planets out to Mars look comfortably grouped, though almost too small to see. But it is a long walk to the outer planets. The vertical bars in the background represent light moving out from the sun. To just reach Mercury takes it about three minutes.

There is a notecard available at the arrival point which contains a light speed indicator which, when worn, shows you how many times the speed of light you are moving at.

Location: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA27/9/244/1236
The exhibit can also be reached by an Anywhere Door on the ground floor of the observatory.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 44

The New Horizons spacecraft model.

The spacecraft is on its way to a flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto and at the time of this writing is between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. At a speed of almost 15 km/sec it still has 663 days to go.

New Horizons website

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 37

I've nothing much to report as I've been busy with my everyday life lately. But I'm still here! The only visible changes on the island has been the addition of some trees.

Most of what I've been doing lately on the project has been reading, gathering information, writing text to accompany each planet and exhibit. The slow, tedious bits.

Write, write, erase, write. Dammit Jim, I'm a builder not a writer.

I'm still planning on opening this month. Just a little further to go.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 27

Lately I've been working on displaying which spacecraft are near or on the surface of the other planets. Showing where they are in real time is beyond my ability, but you will be able to see the orbits they are in. Mars (shown above) is a busy place: three orbiters and two functioning rovers. The yellow and red lines show where it's two moons are.

NASA's Eyes on the Solar System program is being a great help for checking that I'm displaying things correctly. I highly recommend it.

I've also begun work on a model of the New Horizons spacecraft which will fly past Pluto in July 2015.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 19

Trail building in the mountains, through the land of the giants.

The trail making is complete! Now I can focus on other matters like additional exhibits, what and how to tell about each point of interest.  

But simply providing information isn't the park's purpose. Libraries, museums, and the internet already serve that need.  My overall goal is to engage people's imaginations and convey a sense of how vast and interesting our local neighborhood of planets and rocks and comets really is. Oh, and that nearby star that we're orbiting.

Uranus and the moons Miranda and Ariel.

I've added locating beams to make it easy to see where the moons of a planet are. Most are small and difficult to see in relation to the planet they orbit. The beams can be turned on and off by touching a control on the ground - which appears as an unlabeled cone as this is still in the testing stage. This also solves my problem with the two moons of Mars. They're too small to see but the beams do a good job of showing their locations and motion.

 A view from the observatory.

No base jumping off the deck. Don't people realize how dangerous that kind of thing is? Especially with the ocean below. And there may be sharks - or pirates (and if you do, please send pictures).

An exhibit currently under construction which intends to show how gravity shapes the paths of objects. (video link)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 12

A view from Earth. I've added a deck on the cliff side of the observatory and have the walking trail half complete.  Also I've begun adding orbiting moons to the planets which have them. There isn't room in the sim to space them all at the correct distances, but their sizes and periods of orbits will be right for the scale I'm using. I haven't decided what to do about the moons of Mars as they would be too small to be seen. Perhaps some circles and arrows which would appear on command as part of the informational display.

 An alternate planet walk.

The above is a fully to scale planet walk I'm working on high in the sky. The sun is shown on the far left and each line across the walkway represents the orbit of a planet. The inner planets look cozily spaced but with the sun at 0.1 meters in diameter, Neptune is some 300 meters distant. Its a long walk. The vertical white bars are an animated texture which represent the speed of light. Its slower than you might think - taking three minutes just to reach Mercury. I'm still tinkering with this exhibit and I've just had an idea for making it better. So I'll be taking it apart and rebuilding.  Yay.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 5

I'm pleased with how things are going and the terraforming of the island is almost done - unless I have another idea about it.

On the outer solar system part of the trail.

Inspecting Saturn.

Now I can turn my focus to the exhibits and landscaping details.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 1

I've had the honor of being selected as one of the Artists-in-Residence for Round Five of the Linden Endowment for the Arts program. I and nineteen others each have a sim and four months to build our projects.

The blank page.

 My choice is an educational project which focuses on the planets of our solar system. The basic idea is a planet walk located on an island, with a spiral path leading up and out and passing scale models of each of the planets. Each stop along the path will have an interactive informational thingamy (still being imagined) and the path will end at an observatory on highest point on the island.

Round Five runs from August 1st through December 31st. So I'm all about astronomy for the rest of the year. My interest going out in the yard with a telescope waxes and wanes (it especially wanes when its -30C outside) but its been a life long interest.

Hills, stuff, the smell of fresh prims!

 I claimed the sim last night and brought out the bulldozers to start shaping the island and made a great deal of progress - mainly because I found it hard to stop and go to bed when I should have.

I intend to post weekly updates here on how things are progressing and hope to finish the first phase of building and have the official opening in September. But I have ideas beyond the basic planet walk so I'll be adding things throughout the course of the project.