For billions of years the Sun has nurtured Earth and its inhabitants.
Solar energy courses down upon our planet, heating our atmosphere, feeding
our plants, purifying our water and lighting the world around us. The
Sun catalyzes every major ecocycle on which life depends. Yet only in
the last century have people discovered the key to mimicking photosynthesis--
learning to convert sunlight to electricity rather than merely basking
in its warmth. Thus, it is particularly fitting to employ solar electricity
when telling the history of Earth's most important star.
our proposed installation, the Observation Tower projects a beacon which
visually recapitulates the solar lifecycle. The Tower stands as a lighthouse
in the dark, broadcasting through its pattern of shifting lights and
colors the full richness of the Sun's history. Through this novel and
dramatic visage, people will be drawn to LSC to gain knowledge about
the Sun and to contemplate our long term future.
Stars like our Sun pass through four main stages. They begin life
as a glowing red cloud, condensed from gravitationally-attracted interstellar
gases. The mass grows larger and brighter over time, finally accreting
enough fuel to form a single large yellow-white star. This is the Sun
in the sky today. Then, as the star exhausts most of its energy, gravity
can no longer hold its atoms together and the sun explodes into a huge,
red giant ball. Once again this new cloud collapses, this time into a
much smaller white dwarf star. The white dwarf glows for millions of years
and then fades quietly away.
Our installation demonstrates solar evolution by creating a "projection
screen" on the interior surface of the observation tower. Four identical
banks of lights, mounted on the angled sheet rock walls along the perimeter
of the observation deck illuminate their opposing pyramidal glass skylights.
Each bank of lights consists of a main spotlight of 500 watts, with computer
controllable color filters and adjustable spot diameters. These
lights can sweep across the skylight, imparting an impression of motion.
The computer will keep the total power at or below 2.5 kw at all times
Since the screen is visible from the highway during the day, a
pattern of stars and gaseous clouds will be spray-painted on the screen
to add relevant visual interest.
The principles of solar evolution are easy to grasp and essential
to life, yet widely unknown. We hope to enhance the New Jersey skyline
while educating the public at the same time.