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SL Astronomy – Exploratorium October 20, 2008

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, education, Second Life.
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I finally decided it would be easier to put my “good places in Second Life” stuff up here. After all, I can edit this blog from any machine that I can get into SL, and this has a fairly good WYSIWYG interface, whereas if I want to edit my webpage from my laptop, I have to use vi and sftp (definitely not WYSIWYG!) Another thing, this is considerably more search-able than the webpage.

So to start, lets go to the Exploratorium, which in RL is a science museum in San Francisco. If you use the search function on the map, you will get dumped into the pond on the middle of the island. Maybe not the best feature…

The biggest thing on the island is the amphitheater. If you go there, you can get a notecard with landmarks that will let you teleport straight to each landmark.

My highlights of the island are centered around the best of the astronomy stuff.

First, the ok stuff (good for a visit if you have the time, but don’t make time for it and you might want to caution students to not take it too seriously)

The Big Bang exhibit http://slurl.com/secondlife/Exploratorium/129/126/426 .Unfortunatly, this sounds much more cool than it is. For one thing, like every other model I’ve ever seen, it has a center and an edge.

Destination Mars shows a meteor hitting the surface of Mars. The graphics aren’t great, and I got stuck in the wall of the crater (maybe that was just because my computer is old and a little slow, but still, it seemed a little pointless.)

Now for the good stuff.

The special eclipse exhibits are found in the area of http://slurl.com/secondlife/Exploratorium/206/80/36. The eclipse demo is my favorite. Using the camera controls, you can get multiple views of the geometry while your avatar stays put, so you can see yourself in the eclipse path.

Eclipse Model on Exploratorium Island

Eclipse Model on Exploratorium Island

View of Eclipse from Earth

View of Eclipse from Earth

Also in the area are demos of the moon’s orbital inclination (used to explain why we don’t have an eclipse every month), demos showing the difference between the umbra and penumbra, and scale models of the Earth-Moon system and the inner solar system out to Earth, which takes the entire length of the island and was too big to get a picture of.

Finally, over on the back side are three speres. One is a planetarium based on the open source Stellarium software. The middle is a 3D representation of all the known galaxies (I like the “sliced” look it has, because our observations have basically only taken slices of the universe so far). The last is a 3D model of the closest stars.

models of the closest stars, known galaxies, and stellarium

models of the closest stars, known galaxies, and stellarium

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