We have new content for your brains! From renderings of the dome to telescope news and fundraising, things are starting to get really exciting. As we approach our launch date and the Burning Man gate, our focus has shifted a little from planning to fundraising. We’ve had hundreds of hours of meetings and thousands of hours at personal computers. We’ve contemplated and surmised, dreamed and wished; its time now to start making this thing real. There’s still much virtual and desk work to be done, many legal and economic loopholes and regulations to follow and fondle, but here comes the fun part. We’re lucky to have convinced Kerry Harwood of Harwood Visuals to work on some 3D renderings of Gregg’s design to include in our Kickstarter video. He’s taken some time to give us some still images that provide a sneak peak of what the video might look like and for me, they are just amazing to look at. This thing feels real already and we’re just really getting started. Kerry’s talent is evident and we’re fortunate to have him on our team. The people that have volunteered their time on this project are a constant source of inspiration for me and I’m lucky to work on a crew with so many amazing talented people, but then I guess that’s what Burning Man always feels like.
I’d like to also take a minute to welcome the TinMan to our team. He’s working on making our beloved orb rotate so as to provide an unobstructed view of the heavens. He’s also going to be bringing his iconic dome structures to join us at the Observatory. He uses the same geometry as our architect, but he uses metal instead of wood, so we’re going to be the Small Rhombicuboctahedron center of the universe for 8 days. Archimedes would be proud. A very special thanks to the TinMan for driving all the way from Sacramento to L.A. to help Gregg Fleishman move his studio.
A few weeks ago, I kidnapped our dome model and drove North away from the city lights to escape the light pollution. I wanted to experience stargazing through the dome and I couldn’t wait until August to do it, so I set up my camera inside the dome and took a series of 30 second exposures and processed them into a video and then still images. It was an amazing night of silence and contemplation among the stars that I won’t likely forget anytime soon.
I couldn’t help but wish that it was the full size dome out there, but that time will come. I’ve seen many astronomical domes over the past 20 years, but none have had the style and the stunning beauty of this dome Gregg has designed for us. Just more proof that just about any project can use good art. There’s still a badass quality I’m struggling to describe about it. Driving home that morning, I couldn’t help but think that we’re on to something special here.
The Kickstarter campaign is almost upon us, where we ask the world to vote us into existence with their money. We’ve finished gathering assets for the video and are preparing the rewards we’ll send our supporters when they for out hard-earned dough. The Big Ask. I’m confident we can successfully fund this project, but I need your help to do it. We need to get the word out as a team and together we can do this. We’re going to prepare a press release, many blog and social media posts and we’ll be sending emails as well in campaign to get this thing into the real world where it can do some good. There’s a ton of people out there to inspire and we can’t do it unless YOU help spread the word. So, here’s a sneak peak at some of those rewards. I’ve designed a graphic and simple logo that includes the Moon, it’s phases and our Black Rock City streets and our guest of honor, the Man. We’ll be offering t-shirts, hoodies and bandanas with this logo and perhaps a tank top if there’s enough interest.
There are some pretty awesome rewards in store for the campaign. We’ll be creating a pendant with Gregg’s dome design to announce your B.R.O. support to the world, we’ve got midnight tours of the American Museum of Natural History, customized astrolabe star charts, private star parties, 3D plans for the dome, meteorites and a special private observing session at Mt. Wilson Observatory plus many other great rewards to say thanks to those who help make this project a reality. As a reward for a donation of any size, donors can download a high resolution copy of one of my images of Laura Kimpton’s “BELIEVE” or Gregg Fleishman’s Temple of Whollyness or Charles White’s Mars Rover Art Car from Burning Man 2013: Cargo Cult.
In other news, we held our first fundraiser at Mt. Wilson Observatory and we all had a blast. We rented out the 60″ telescope and used the behemoth to view planetary nebula, planets and even one of my favorite distant galaxies. It was a great opportunity to get together with some L.A. burners (and some not) to discuss astronomy, history and Burning Man. Our project is starting to get a lot of attention and the Mt. Wilson group was buzzing with possibility and the excitement of a great night of observing. In all the years Ive been going up the mountain, I’ve never seen the marine layer come in and block out the city lights. Although the atmosphere was scintillating like crazy, the added contrast because of the darkness was a thing to behold. The dust lane in the Sombrero Galaxy jumped out at me and hints of dust and cloud detail teased itself out of the dark. It’s like getting to see an old friend but never this close or this clearly.
That about wraps it up. Our Kickstarter should begin within a few weeks, so keep an eye out for it. We have the chance to do something truly special here. I know that if we pull this off, aside from my family, this will be my greatest accomplishment. I’ve dreamt of running an observatory in a great city since I was a kid. Distractions and real life get in way. I abandoned this dream long ago on the side of the road. My math skills, my economics and my self confidence were broken and Im still working on it, but when I saw Black Rock City for the first time, I knew this was kind of place that wants you to live your dream. It dares you to live your dream. F#*k that. It demands that you live your dreams. So, here’s mine. Wanna help me build it?