Fall Creek View

from abandoned railroad bridge

Fall Creek meanders through the esker fields of the Malloryville Preserve. Here is the view from an abandoned railroad bridge. A major watercourse of the Finger Lakes, throughout the 19th century Fall Creek provided water power for local industry: grain grinding mills, cooperage and furniture. Here the stream bed is wide, flow slow and pacific for a mirrored surface, the effect broken by a single drop from an overhanging tree or, maybe, a fin’s flash.

Pam and I visited Malloryville last weekend to enjoy a “socially distanced” walk with family.

Click image for a larger version.

Click Me for another Malloryville post, “Formed By Water.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 3

Adaptive optics

These views within the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure were captured during a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005. By way of orientation, the observation room we visited is near the location labeled “4” on the model of the following photograph or the “Observation Room” of the drawing.

We learned each of the sets of mirrors is considered a separate telescope. The first step in designing the new solar telescope was to determine the optimal image scale. Working on the spectra of the solar granules, on the physical structure of the sunspots and their associated magnetic fields, requires a considerable image size. Past experience has shown that the optimal image of the sun should be approximately 0.91 meters. The highlight of our visit to the Main Observation room was meeting with the technician operating the recently developed low-cost adaptive optics system.

Tip-tilt correction and low order wavefront correction is available with a number of portable optical benches.  These are primarily used with the Main spectrograph and the Solar Stellar spectrograph on the Main telescope, but due to their compact mounting they could be used with other telescopes and instruments in the facility.

This configuration uses a rapidly deformable mirror to correct distortions introduced by the turbulent atmosphere. Using sensors to measure the degree of image distortion, the adaptive optics system adjusts the shape of the mirror accordingly and converts a blurred image into a clear one. The following image demonstrates the correction. “Low-cost” = $25,000 in 2003 US dollars. Under references is a link to a full description of the device by the creator.

A main area of ​​study in the observatory is the structure of sunspots, which are relatively cold, dark spots on the surface of the Sun created by intense magnetic activity.

Some of the most important discoveries made at McMath-Pierce include the detection of water vapor in the Sun, the measurement of kilogauss magnetic fields (thousands of times stronger than those on Earth) outside sunspots and the detection of a natural maser (like a laser, but with a microwave instead of visible light) in the Martian atmosphere.

Over the years and technological advances, the National Solar Observatory has moved its headquarters from Tucson to Boulder, Colorado. The organization abandoned its solar telescopes at Kitt Peak and in New Mexico for a larger instrument in Hawaii, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the island of Maui, which began operating in 1919.

References:
Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”

“Low Cost Adaptive Solar Optics” by Christopoher Kellar

Insights into the architectural design.

National Solar Observatory website..

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 2

The Mirrors

These views within the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure were captured during a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005. By way of orientation, think of yourself at the location labeled “4” on this model. This is the only large telescope where humans can view the interior and visually experience the light paths “bouncing” between the mirrors.

McMath–Pierce solar telescope has three heliostats mounted on a 110-foot tower adjacent to a slanted enclosure. The 2.03-meter heliostat feeds a 1.61-meter primary mirror, there are 1.07-meter and 0.91-meter primary mirrors fed by a pair of 0.81-meter heliostats. Here we are inside the slanted enclosure, looking up the shaft to the tower mounted heliostats, readily identified as the three circles, the largest at center (3.51 feet in diameter). The smaller (2.66 feet) heliostats named “East” (on left) and “West.”

Built in 1962, the building was designed by American architect Myron Goldsmith and Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the largest solar telescope and the largest unobstructed aperture telescope in the world. It is named after the astronomers Robert Raynolds McMath and Keith Pierce. Painted white to reflect sunlight to reduce heat accumulation, the enclosure is water cooled to prevent convection currents through the column of air within the slanted enclosure, keeping the air as still as possible along the light path between the mirrors.

In the three photographs following, we face the underground portion of the slanted shaft and (what looks to be) the 0.91 meter (2.99 feet) primary concave mirror. I say that because in some of the photographs a beam of light, to the left of the mirror, can be seen travelling further underground, presumably to the largest primary mirror. As there is only one such light beam, I conclude the west heliostat is inactive.

Here we looking up the slanted enclosure. Look carefully at the first photograph, below, to see reflections on the glass partition. The observation platform was separated from the light paths to maintain the stillness of the air column. The two mirrors of the first photograph are the third mirror, reflecting concentrated sunlight from the 0.91 and 1.61-meter primary mirrors into the observatory rooms. The mirror for the 1.07-meter primary is out of sight in foreground, I believe this set of three mirrors (West heliostats, primary and third) was out of service.

The second photograph, on right, is a close up of the third mirror for the largest primary. A foreshortened, perfectly round light disk is clearly visible.

Here we are inside the slanted enclosure, facing the underground portion of the slanted shaft and (what looks to be) the 0.91-meter primary concave mirror. In the lower right corner is the reverse side of the third mirror for the largest primary mirror, the 1.61-meter.

Reference: Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 1

The Exterior

These views of the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure are the preliminary to a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005.

On the tower are three heliostats, plane (flat) mirrors mounted on computer-controlled platforms to follow the sun across the sky to direct sunlight to primary mirrors underground, beneath the base of the slanted shaft

Built in 1962, the building was designed by American architect Myron Goldsmith and Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the largest solar telescope and the largest unobstructed aperture telescope in the world. It is named after the astronomers Robert Raynolds McMath and Keith Pierce.

Inside the McMath–Pierce solar telescope is this keyed model of the observatory. Our docent for the morning tour stands alongside.

Reference: Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

When is “moss” not moss?

Southern Gothic

We spotted this stuff within minutes of arriving at McKee Gardens for an afternoon visit with the grandchildren. Festooned above our heads from thick Oak branches, I could not resist pulling out the camera for this photograph to capture the flavor of Southern Gothic. Fortunately, our group included neither deeply flawed nor disturbing characters, though we can confess to a touch of eccentricity.

Spanish Moss produces inconspicuous flowers with tiny seeds. Spanish Moss also propagates from fragments of the fine leaves.

Spanish Moss is neither moss nor Spanish. Scientific name Tillandsia usneoides, this flowering plant is in the family Bromeliaceae that includes pineapple. Here we have two epiphytic bromelias sharing the trunk of a palm.

A rootless epiphyte native to the tropical / semi-tropical Americas, Spanish Moss has a preference for southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) because of their high rates of foliar mineral leaching (calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus) that provides an abundant supply of nutrients to the epiphytic plant.

My two volume “go to” resource for plants and trees had sparse information about Spanish Moss and no wonder as it is a burden on trees, though not parasitic, and so more a pest than a decorative element to cherish. Surprisingly, Spanish Moss was purposely introduced to Hawaii where it is now known as “Pele’s Hair” after their fire goddess.

Click me for a dinosaur video from McKee Gardens.

Reference: wikipedia “Spanish Moss”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Weigela Bountiful

an exceptional bloom for our backyard wonder

Click me to find background information on our Weigela bush.

2022 is a breakout year for the Weigela bushes of our yard, each has bloomed literally for a month. The flowers are still fresh today.

Click either photograph to view a larger image on a new browser tab.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens with a “BeFree” Manfrotto tripod with ball head. f-stop was tamped down to the maximum, f16 for this lens. Exposures were taken in the evening with the sunlight filtered through our hemlock trees.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Tower of Glass reprise

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

I found three more photographs of “Tower…”

Tower is on permanent load from Frabel Art Foundation. In the late 1970s, glass sculptor Hans Godo Frabel created a small series of abstract sculptures of spheres connected to rods, forming unique clear shapes that render a beautiful play with light. This piece, entitled Tower, is a larger version of Frabel’s 1979 Tower of Babel.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, “Triceratops, one of the last.

References: text is from the park placard with minor edits.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Tower of Glass

A selection of photographs from our January 2019 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

Tower is on permanent load from Frabel Art Foundation. In the late 1970s, glass sculptor Hans Godo Frabel created a small series of abstract sculptures of spheres connected to rods, forming unique clear shapes that render a beautiful play with light. This piece, entitled Tower, is a larger version of Frabel’s 1979 Tower of Babel.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Neovenator, teeth like steak knives

References: text is from the park placard with minor edits.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Memorial Mushroom

A selection of photographs from our February 2022 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

In Memory of Elsebeth (1889-1996) and Waldo Sexton (1885-1967) from their family (2018). This is a replica of one created in the original McKee Jungle Gardens, circa 1953. The original Giant Mushroom still stands in what is now Vista Gardens, approximately 1/3 mjile northeast of this spot.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Neovenator, teeth like steak knives

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

When is a folly not a mistake?

A selection of photographs from our February 2022 visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida

This wrought iron and stone structure takes it inspiration from the faux ruins that sprung up in European gardens in the 18th century. These fabricated remnants of castles, temples and gates were constructed to look as though a historic or classical structure once had stood on that spot. They were named follies because they had not purpose other than ornamentation. McKee’s Folly evokes its own noteworthy history, as it welcomes visitors and vines.

Click me for a dinosaur at McKee Gardens, Neovenator, teeth like steak knives

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved