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For the solar eclipse of 2016, the Exploratorium was on the island of Woleai, in Micronesia, with multiple telescopes trained on the sun. These telescopes were connected to a laptop holding custom-made software that looks at the movement of the moon and the brightness of the sun. Composer Wayne Grim used this software to create a live composition based on the data. The musical composition uses rotational and orbital periods of the Earth, moon, and sun as formal elements. For the solar eclipse of 2016, the Exploratorium was on the island of Woleai, in Micronesia, with multiple telescopes trained on the sun. These telescopes were connected to a laptop holding custom-made software that looks at the movement of the moon and the brightness of the sun. Composer Wayne Grim used this software to create a live composition based on the data. The musical composition uses rotational and orbital periods of the Earth, moon, and sun as formal elements. Here is an excerpt from the 3 hour piece. In this video, Exploratorium Senior Scientist Paul Doherty explains why you rarely see a true scale model of the Earth, sun, and moon. Understanding the true scale of the solar system helps us appreciate the rarity of total solar eclipses: it’s unusual when objects at such distances line up perfectly. Únete a la astrónoma del Exploratorium Isabel Hawkins quien junto a la educadora del Exploratorium Liliana Blanco explican los movimientos de los astros durante un eclipse total de sol. A través de demostraciones, ellas muestran cómo la luna, el sol y la Tierra se alinean para crear la coincidencia cósmica que llamamos un eclipse total de sol.
In this video, Exploratorium Senior Scientist Paul Doherty explains why we don't have a total solar eclipse every month. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon crosses between the sun and Earth and casts its shadow onto our planet. But the orbit of the moon is tilted relative to the orbit of the Earth around the sun, so the moon often passes below or above Earth. At those times, it does not cross the line between the sun and the Earth, and therefore does not create a solar eclipse. There are just two times a year in the Earth's orbit when there is a possibility of a total solar eclipse.
Join Exploratorium astronomer Isabel Hawkins, and Exploratorium educator Liliana Blanco as they explain the celestial mechanics of a total solar eclipse. Through demonstrations, they show how the moon, sun, and Earth align to create the cosmic coincidence that we see as a total solar eclipse. The Exploratorium is sending a production crew thousands of miles by plane and by boat to Woleai, Micronesia, to broadcast a solar eclipse live to the world. Many factors went into choosing a destination for the broadcast. Executive Producer Robyn Higdon looked along the path of totality for this eclipse, which will start in Indonesia and sweep across the Pacific Ocean, to find a location with good weather predictions and solid land for setting up the telescopes. The Woleai Atoll in Micronesia was the perfect choice. Tune in on March 8th at 5:00 p.m. PST to watch the live broadcast! Neon is normally odorless and colorless, reacting with no one, not even itself. Abundant in the universe, uncommon on Earth, it drifts aloof from any bond. When isolated by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers inside a vacuum tube in 1898, the noble gas betrayed its excitement in brilliant red. That excitement, glowing within Georges Claude’s ingeniously curved lamps since 1923, has captured our imaginations ever since. Artist Tim Hawkinson is celebrated for his idiosyncratic, imaginative artworks that re-purpose everyday materials in inventive sculptural constructions that simultaneously confound and delight. Hawkinson has collaborated with the Center for Art and Inquiry and the Studio for Public Spaces to create the third installment of our adventurous Over the Water series of large-scale artworks for the civic space at Pier 15. Bosun’s Bass is a tide-activated sound work inspired by the bosun's call, the high-pitched whistle used by mariners to give commands that can be heard over the roar of the sea.
Evoking the eerie sounds of San Francisco’s maritime past, Hawkinson’s whimsical work employs elements of everyday transportation—shipping container, bus bellows, bicycle—to create a bass bosun's whistle, which is tuned three octaves lower than the traditional instrument.
The shipping container, pitched vertically and installed over a hole in the deck of Pier 15, provides the lungs of the system. Tidal waters rise and fall in the container, compressing air and pushing it up into a giant bellows mounted above. The bellows, reclaimed from the pleated section of an articulated Muni bus, provides a steady source of pressurized air, which moves through a hose to the bicycle frame and there blows the bosun’s pipe. The airflow is controlled by a series of valves, levers, and other mechanisms that emulate a bosun’s hand and mouth motions to produce different sounds in the whistle. Cued by patterns cut into the tread of the bike's rear wheel, the bass bosun's pipe plays 21 different traditional calls including "Attention," "Carry On," "Swab the Deck," and "Pipe Down.”
Science, history, and art converge in this whimsical tribute to San Francisco’s 1915 World’s Fair, which is celebrating its centennial this year. Lost landscapes from the Fair (including the Exploratorium’s former home, the Palace of Fine Arts) become the backdrop for spectral encounters. Are the spirits of fairgoers getting restless?
Museum visitors who dared to enter the Black Box interacted with ethereal forces and became part of a world of ghostly apparitions that sprung to life. Just in time for Halloween, Visible Spectres took as its cue the illusion technique known as Pepper’s ghost, used in theaters, haunted houses, sideshows, and magic tricks.
Do YOU see ghosts?
Kerry Laitala is an award-winning moving-image artist who uses analog, digital, and hybrid forms to investigate the ways in which media influences culture. She considers this approach to making art as a type of media archeology. Laitala’s work resides at the crossroads of science, history, and technology. Her uncanny approach to evolving systems of belief manifests through an array of media including films, videos, installations, photographic works, performances, and kinetic sculpture. She studied photography and film at the Massachusetts College of Art and received her Master in Film from the San Francisco Art Institute. Laitala’s 2015 City Luminous series encompasses seven separate works (and counting), spanning the realms of installation, multi-projector performance, photography, and single-channel film, shown thus far at the Palace of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute, the California Historical Society, and in solo shows at Oddball Films and Shapeshifters Cinema. Elements of The City Luminous series have been funded by a Special Projects Grant from the Princess Grace Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission Grant, Yerba Buena Benefit District grant, California Historical Society, and Maurice Kanbar.