LSC, GPU Energy
and ASCI

SolarScapes Commission


    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.

    In 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.

copyright Greg Blonder 1999