Knightfall in Second Life

Knightfall
Knightfall – click any image for full size

Knightfall is a relatively new destination in Second Life, having opened in October. I actually became aware of it as a result of Shakespeare (Skinnynilla) passing me the landmark recently – my thanks (again!) to him for doing so.

Knightfall has been designed by Cyrus Knight (josman2088) and Jestyr Knight (Zeke Jestyr), the partnership behind the popular Ironwood Hills (see here and here). Jestyr describes the region as, “an immersive sensory medieval adventure park. It’s kinda like Jurassic Park and Westworld meets Game of Thrones, but without so much dying or dinosaurs!”

Knightfall
Knightfall

There’s much to see here, and the idea of it being a kind of theme park is immediately evident on arriving: the landing point is a car park, with turnstiles at one marking the entrance proper. Beyond these lies a dramatic landscape of deep gorges and high cliffs topped by grass-covered or snow-swept plateaus; a place where bridges of every kind  – covered, stone, wood and rope, fallen log – span rivers and chasms alike.

It is also a place of curious mystery: who occupies the camp reached by flimsy bridge and flimsier looking wooden walkway clinging to a sheer rock face as it is beaten down upon by a blizzard? What witchcraft or necromancy is at work down in the valleys, where a witch’s retreat sits across a burial ground from a ring of standing stones complete with mystical book at their centre? What do we make of the mighty castle, within whose walls are many more mysteries, including access to a hidden catacomb, and a strange laboratory which might have been lifted from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?

Knightfall
Knightfall

Around these conundrums, the region is spectacularly folded and cut, offering much to see, from the riverside hamlet right up to the aforementioned castle and camp. Rocky paths wind, climb and twist between rocky wall and pointed up-thrust, watched over by the tall, silent sentinels of great fir trees.

I freely confess to not understanding where either Jurassic Park or Westworld fit into the scheme of things. But this, and the niggles Caitlyn and I encountered in trying to ride the offered horses through the land, did not detract from the rugged beauty of Knightfall. Anyone who has enjoyed Ironwood Hills through its various iterations will likely feel the same way here as well. Photographers, too, will find much that is on offer here as they follow path and ancient stone stairs, and visit stone rooms and climb rounded towers.

Knightfall
Knightfall

SLurl Details

Advertisements

2016 viewer release summaries: week 45

Updates for the week ending Sunday, November 13th

This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.

Official LL Viewers

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V4-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer Stable branch updated to version 1.26.18.32 and the Experimental branch updated to version 1.26.19.34, both on November 12th (release notes).

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: “super Earth”, “supermoon”, and Orion’s future

An artist's impression of a "super Earth" type planet in orbit around a red dwarf star. Credit: NASA / Dana Berry.
An artist’s impression of a “super Earth” type planet in orbit around a red dwarf star. Credit: NASA / Dana Berry.

In a couple of recent Space Sunday reports, I covered the discovery of an Earth-size planet orbiting  our nearest stellar neighbour, the red dwarf Proxima Centuari (see here and here). Red dwarfs  are a class of star which has proven rich ground for planet hunters  –  and this has once again proved the case.

The European Southern Observatory ESO), one of the leading hunters of exoplanets, has  reported the discovery of a “super Earth”, a sold planetary body with roughly five times the mass of Earth. It is orbiting GJ 536, an M-class red dwarf star some 32.7 light years from the Sun. The planet is orbiting its parent once every 8.7 days, at a distance of 0.06661 AU.

The planet was discovered using a pair of instruments operated by ESO: the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), mounted on ESO’s 3.6 metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, and its sister instrument, HARPS-N, at the La Palma Observatory in Spain. The findings from these instruments were combined with photometric data from the All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS), which has observatories in Chile and Maui, to confirm the existence of the planet.

Red dwarf stars are entirely convective in nature, making them extremely volatile in nature, and subject to massive stellar flares. Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss
Red dwarf stars are entirely convective in nature, making them extremely volatile in nature, and subject to massive stellar flares. Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

However, its was no rapid-fire discovery. In all, data from over eight years of observations of the star went into confirming the presence of the planet. Such is the extended period of observations, that the science team were able to gather a huge amount of spectroscopic data on the star. This has revealed it has a rotational period of about 44 days, and magnetic cycle that lasts less than three years. By comparison, the Sun has a rotational period of 25 days and a magnetic cycle of 11 years.

This indicates that GJ536 is, in keeping with most red dwarf stars, exceptional volatile. Such stars are so small, all activity within them is entirely convective in nature, which gives rise to massive stellar flares. So while the new planet may well have “earth” in its description, it is unlikely to be “Earth like”, particularly given its relatively close proximity to its parent star.

Not much more is known about the planet at this point, but this is liable to change over time, and in the meantime, the survey team will continue to gather data on GJ 536 to see if it is home to other planets, such as gas giants further away from it.

November’s Supermoon

A dramatic supermoon is seen behind the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, in May 2012. Credit: AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
A dramatic supermoon is seen behind the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, in May 2012. Credit: AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

The last three months of 2016 are marked by three so-called “supermoons”, and the biggest will be in the night skies on Monday 14th November 2016.

The Moon is in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, at apogee, the point furthest from the Earth, it is between 404,000–406,700 km (252,500-254,187 mi) from Earth. At perigee, the point closest to the Earth, the Moon is between 356,400–370,400 km (222,500-231,500 mi) away. A “supermoon” occurs when the Moon is both full and at perigee, when it can appear up to 14% large in diameter than “normal” full moons.

Apogee and preigee in the Moon's orbit around Earth. Credit: NASA
Apogee and perigee in the Moon’s orbit around Earth. Credit: NASA

“Supermoons” aren’t actually rare events; they take to occur once every 14 months on average.  However, the supermoon on November 14th, scores double. Not only will be “just” 356,509 kilometres (221,524 miles) from Earth, pushing it to that 14% increase in apparent size, but also because the Earth/Moon system is approaching the time of year when it is closest to the Sun (which will occur on January 4th, 2017). Therefore, the Moon will be receiving more sunlight than average, further boosting its apparent brightness.

Together, these two events mean that the Moon will be at its “largest” and brightest in the sky since 1948. The next comparable event will not occur again until 2034 – although there will be a further “supermoon” on December 14th, when the Moon again reaches its full phase, but it will be slightly further away from the Earth in its orbit at that time, so not quite as “super”.

How the Moon can appear to differ i size at apogee (the point furthest from Earth in its orbit) and perigee (the point in its orbit closest to Earth). Credit: Catalin Paduraru
How the Moon can appear to differ in size at apogee (the point furthest from Earth in its orbit) and perigee (the point in its orbit closest to Earth). Credit: Catalin Paduraru

Continue reading “Space Sunday: “super Earth”, “supermoon”, and Orion’s future”