Transit of Venus

SunAeon has added a new model to their website: Transit of Venus. As the name suggests, it tracks the forthcoming transit of Venus across the disk of the sun which will occur on the 5th / 6th June 2012, and allows you to experience the transit, even if it is not visible from your location at the time the event occurs.

Transits of Venus across the disk of the Sun are among the rarest of planetary alignments. Only seven have occurred since the invention of the telescope (1631, 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004). Such transits are only possible during early December and early June when Venus’s orbital nodes pass across the Sun, and have a pattern of recurrence at intervals of 8 and 121.5 years, then 8 and 105.5 years. This means that the next close pairing of transits will occur over a century from now in December 2117 (105 years from this year’s transit) and December 2125.

According to NASA, “The entire transit (all four contacts) is visible from northwestern North America, Hawaii, the western Pacific, northern Asia, Japan, Korea, eastern China, Philippines, eastern Australia, and New Zealand. The Sun sets while the transit is still in progress from most of North America, the Caribbean, and northwest South America. Similarly, the transit is already in progress at sunrise for observers in central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and eastern Africa,. No portion of the transit will be visible from Portugal or southern Spain, western Africa, and the southeastern 2/3 of South America.”

The SunAeon Transit of Venus model

The SunAeon model is an animated representation of the transit, showing all four contacts together with a timeline of events at the bottom. Starting the model with advance the animation through the entire transit sequence, with annotations clearly showing if / when any portion of the transit is visible from your geographic location – making it a handy tool for determining if you want to observe the transit for yourself (and if you do, please observe safe methods of doing so).

For those running astronomy websites, the model also includes a tool for generating code which can be used to embed it in your site.

Venus in transit and the four contacts (circled) in the model

About SunAeon

SunAeon is an educational / immersive project being run by a small team based in Slovakia. It presents an interactive model of the solar system users can explore at leisure, visiting worlds examining data, etc. The team is planning to add further models to the main SunAeon portal, together with other features, including opportunities for social interaction.

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Linden Lab roll-out Region Idling

Simon Linden has posted to the Server topic area of the technology forum about a new SL server feature, “region idling” which commences today, Wednesday 16th May.

This will see those regions that do not have any avatars either in them or camming into them to lower their frame rates and script processing, thus reducing their load on their host CPU. This should in turn improve the performance of the other regions running on the same hardware.

The idling itself should be entirely transparent to users, with the region immediately returning to “full speed” should anyone enter the region or cam into it. However, Simon does warn of a possible caveat to the transparency:

We expect this feature to be totally transparent to users. Residents will not see or be on regions that are idling. Scripts, however, may observe the effect if they are using the llGetRegionTimeDilation() function, and may require fixing.

There are some additional points to note with this capability, which are addressed in an FAQ also posted to the forum.  These include:

  • Regions are not turned off or shut down. They merely run at a slower frame rate when nobody is there. They will appear exactly the same way as before in search, the world map and other Second Life features
  • Region idling cannot be manually disabled for a region
  • Any scripts that use LSL network functions will suspend region idling for a short period of time to allow them to function normally.  This will allow scripts that connect to outside services via email, http and xmlrpc to run as expected.

The roll-out of the function will commence with the Blue Steel release channel, and will then be progressively rolled-out to the rest of the grid in the coming weeks. Anyone suspecting region idling is having an adverse effect on their region is requested to file a JIRA (no specific project given), providing clear information on the problem and the exact times it happened.

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