BURN2 Burnal Equinox – it’s all about Balance

Burnal EquinoxThe BURN2 team have announced the dates for the BURN2 Burnal Equinox, which this year will take place from Friday, March 27th through Sunday, March 29th, inclusive.

The theme for this year’s event is Balance, an explanation of which is provided in the BURN2 blog post which accompanied the announcement, and which reads in part:

Equinox is the time when the day and night are of equal length, it is also the start of both Spring and Autumn. In the virtual world we can mix all things together, so we can have bats flying down to sip the nectar from the new spring flowers in the daytime, or autumn leaves transforming into butterflies at night. As always our only limitation is our imagination.

This year we are trying hard to take all into account, welcome all time zones and all parts of the globe. With this in mind we like to remember that while Equinox is when day and night are in equal measure, it is also both Spring and Autumn/Fall at the same time with the Northern and Southern hemispheres. So what does Balance mean to you? Don’t just give us your ideas (although at least that is good too), but join in and help make some of them happen. In the spirit of balance, experienced and inexperienced, long standing members and brand new additions to the community are welcome and encouraged to take a part.

Those wishing to participate in the Burnal Equinox as a builder are invited to complete and submit the Builder Request form, while DJs, live musicians and performers who wish to take part in the event are invited to complete and submit the Performance / Stage form.

About BURN2

BURN2 is an extension of the Burning Man festival and community into the world of Second Life. It is an officially sanctioned Burning Man regional event, and the only virtual world event out of more than 100 real world Regional groups and the only regional event allowed to burn the man.

The BURN2 Team operates events year around, culminating in an annual major festival of community, art and fire in the fall – a virtual echo of Burning Man itself.

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Firestorm TTT: command line shortcuts

firestorm-logoThe Firestorm Tool Tip Tuesday video for Tuesday, February 24th offers insight into using local chat as a quick means of using a number of viewer-related and other command options.

This is achieved by using what Firestorm calls the “command line options”, which can also be found in some third-party viewers (Singularity being another which uses the capability). There are essentially pre-configured shortcuts which allow you to do a number of things; for example, you can quickly step your draw distance down / up, or teleport to a specific region or height within a region, rez a platform, and so on.

Firestorm is one of several TPVs offering "command line" shortcuts which can be typed into local chat to achieve a number of things - the the full list of options via Preferences
Firestorm is one of several TPVs offering “command line” shortcuts which can be typed into local chat to achieve a number of things – the the full list of options via Preferences

In the video, Jessica takes viewers through several of the more popular command line options as well as looking at some of the commands people might not be so familiar with, such as the calculator, turning your Firestorm AO off / on, clearing-down your local chat history display, and so on. She also touches upon customising the command names to make them easier to remember and use, if you need to.

So, if you’ve never looked into using chat command via the command line option, this is the video for you!

Art and music in a Crystal Garden

Crystal Garden Estates
Crystal Garden Estates

Crystal Garden Estates, operated by Sandi and Mikal Beaumont, is a full region offering visitors live music venues, fishing, boating, a taste of the outdoors and a touch of art as well.

Surrounded by tall mountains, the region is neatly divided into four island areas, one per corner, separated one from another by wide channels of water. Three of the island are connected by bridges spanning the channels, whilst the last sits on its own, the home of Dimi’s Digital Designs.

Crystal Garden Estates
Crystal Garden Estates

The main landing point for visitors offers a large open-air venue for music, with a cosy café just at the top of the steps behind it. Here one can rest a while on the terrace overlooking the stage and dance area or take  a walk across a little bridge and climb the path winding up the cliffs to one side of the region, or head off in the opposite direction, taking a winding trail past wild flowers and grazing deer to a bridge linking the venue with the next island in the group.

Here sits is little cottage, complete with farmer’s garden, offering plenty of places to sit and relax. Sheep may well graze here, watched over by an attentive collie, but it seems that if this was once a farm, the owner has found it more engaging to provide the place as a setting for weddings and receptions, with the big barn one passes while walking to the cottage tastefully decorated and laid-out for that special event.

Crystal Garden Estates
Crystal Garden Estates

It is also here that you can find a little pier, complete with motor boat, which you can use to putter about on the water and reach the other islands in the group, if you so wish. Should you continue on foot, a further bridge allows access to Temprus, landscaped by Ilyra Chardin, and which presents an opportunity to see art by Ilyra and other SL artists in an open-air gallery space with a dance floor above, and which sits alongside a small farm.

Dimi’s Digital Designs, the remaining island in the region, requires a motor boat or the power of flight to reach it. Offering an curious and interesting mix of rural bordering on bayou, it is the home of photographer and musician DimiVan Ludwig, and features his studio  overhead, and his live music venue on the ground.

Crystal Garden Estates
Crystal Garden Estates

Currently featured in the Editor’s Picks section of the Destination Guide, Crystal Gardens Estates offers visitors a range of locations to explore, which offer an interesting mix of music and art, as well as opportunities to simply hang-out or take photos.

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Avatars on Mars, Falcons in Florida and oceans in space

CuriosityCuriosity, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), has been wrapping things up in the “Pahrump Hills” region at the base of “Mount Sharp”, the mountain-sized mound of deposited material occupying the centre of Gale Crater.

For the last several months, the rover has been engaged on what geologists on Earth call a “walkabout”, zigzagging back and forth across the area, looking for targets of interest for follow-up investigations, and allow the science team to better understand the geology and form of the region.

This method of activity is a change from how Curiosity has largely operated to date, which has seen the rover primarily move from point-to-point along its route, only re-visiting sites as a part of its onward movement towards the goal of reaching and climbing “Mount Sharp” (such as when travelling into, and then back out of the “Glenelg” and “Yellowknife Bay” regions Curiosity first explored in 2012 / 2013).

Curiosity's wandering through
Curiosity’s wandering through “Pahrump Hills”, which started with one of the tree lines into the region at the top of the image

In this respect, and as Aileen Yingst, the Deputy Principal Investigator with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover, describes, Curiosity has been demonstrating just how much of an avatar it is for the science team, allowing them to careful investigate, examine and catalogue “Pahrump Hills” in a rich, practical way using the very human technique of the “walkabout”, which will serve the mission well as the ascent up “Mount Sharp” continues.

Most recently, and since collecting samples from “Mojave 2″, the area of rock displaying interesting crystalline elements within it, Curiosity has been looking at an area geologists dubbed “pink cliffs”, which shows further signs of the crystalline structures, and might be a candidate for further investigation. If so, it will be the last stopping point in “Pahrump Hills” before Curiosity continues its climb up “Mount Sharp”.

Oppy Reaches 11

January 25th, 2015 saw NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, reach it’s eleventh anniversary on Mars. The rover, one of two MER vehicles, arrived on Mars at January 25th, 2004 (Universal Time), ready to start a mission initially planned to last just 90 days.

Since then, and up to its anniversary, “Oppy” has travelled a distance of some 41.7 kilometres (25.9 miles). While this doesn’t sound that much (and in truth, a human science team could have travelled that far in just a few days, including time for any science carried out along the way), remember that “Oppy’s” forward speed is measured in centimetres per hour.

As one of two solar-powered MER rovers (the second, Spirit having finally succumbed to the hostile environment on Mars around March 215th, 2011), Opportunity has carried out an incredible amount of work, and greatly contributed to our understanding of the planet, returning compelling evidence about wet environments on ancient Mars.

A panoramic view of Endeavour Crater as seen from “Cape Tribulation” an uprising close to the crater’s rim, the summit of which Opportunity reach in January 2015, marking its 11th anniversary on Mars (click for full size)

The rover marked its anniversary by reaching the summit of “Cape Tribulation”, an uprising close to the rim of 20 kilometre (13.7 mile) wide Endeavour Crater, which the rover has been gradually circumnavigating. This involved a change in elevation for “Oppy” of about 135 metres (440 feet), and afforded it a panoramic view of the crater and the land around it, presenting a unique opportunity for geological observations of the crater and its rim.

 A New Mars Mystery

That night, too, there was another jetting out of gas from the distant planet. I saw it … That night another invisible missile started on its way to the earth from Mars, just a second or so under twenty-four hours after the first one.

– The narrator, H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds

Okay, so it’s unlikely to be the sign of an impending invasion of Martians possibly ticked-of at the way we’re cluttering-up their planet with our probes and landers and rovers, but recent events high in the atmosphere of Mars have given rise to some excitement.

The images, originally capture in 2012, show huge plumes rising some 250 kilometres (156 miles) into the most tenuous reaches of Mars’ thin atmosphere.

Martian high-altitude plumes
Martian high-altitude plumes (image: ESA)

The plumes occurred on two separate occasions in March and April 2012, and were spotted by amateur astronomers. Each time, they developed with relative rapidity, rising upwards and outwards to cover areas of some 1000 x 500 kilometres (625 x 312.5 miles) in a period of around 10 hours before remaining visible for up to 10 days at a time, their structure and form changing on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, neither event was seen from orbit about Mars, occurring so high on the planet’s limb as to be effectively out-of-sight for the NASA and ESA orbital vehicles, and by the time word had spread sufficiently about the observations, the events were largely over.

However, investigations into images of the planet taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit around the Earth have revealed similar plumes being imaged in the past. However, with the exception of an image captured in 1997, none have been anywhere near as high or dramatic as the 2012 events.

So what might have caused this plumes to occur? The answer to that question is uncertain.

Continue reading “Avatars on Mars, Falcons in Florida and oceans in space”