What an honor! Kickstarter shows us off to the world.
Since our last update, we’ve built the observatory twice. We had the honor of being chosen to represent the Los Angeles Kickstarter community among other awesome projects at the Kickstarter Film Fest in Griffith Park at the Autry on September 12th, shortly after our return to Burning Man. To demonstrate what’s possible with crowdfunding, Kickstarter chose Black Rock Observatory and handful of other L.A. projects to ser up and show the community just what we do. We were proud to be set up at the Autry not far from the World’s Fasterst Hot Tub, Carpool De Ville. You can learn more about the Film Fest at this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/events/filmfest2014_la?ref=filmfest. Much fun was had. Keep an eye out for the event next year.
It was a learning experience. We learned that its far easier to build on grass near food, bathrooms and civilization than in the Black Rock Desert. We may have anticipated this. We made many new friends at Burning Man and with their help, the build went pretty smoothly. It seems that the system that can be easily demonstrated properly and new crew members are quickly able to hit the ground running if properly manged. If. I was pretty tired and made some mistakes, but in the end, after a 23 hour day in which we built and disassembled the observatory, no one was hurt and everyone loved the project. We learned a lot about a safer way to construct and disassemble and that knowledge was essential for the next build in San Diego. More on that later.
People seemed to resonate with the project just as they did at Burning Man. I’ve underestimated the power of two elements of this project: the power of the meteorite and the appeal of rotating the dome. The views through the telescope for the first half of the night were almost embarrassing. No amount of amazing optics can peer through barbecue smoke and food truck exhaust to reveal beautiful views of Saturn. No one seemed to mind. Even with the wavy, nervous ringed planet and few other stars piercing the Great Los Angeles Skyglow, people were still enthralled by the meteorite, they loved to turn the dome together and they didn’t mind underwhelming views of Saturn. They just loved the look of the whole thing and were thrilled we there.
We saw some of you awesome supporters there and even some that we had met on playa at Burning Man for a second time and we’re thankful you made the trip out to see us again! We also met a lot of new friends there and had a lot of great opportunities to talk science with probably a thousand great folks. To top it all off, at the end of the night, the Moon saved us. It rose over a relatively unobscured patch of trees with no meat fumes and we were in business. Now we were cooking with gas, so to speak.
The Moon through our 20″ telescope is something you should definitely see if you get the chance. It is stunningly beautiful and has to be the most beautiful gray thing in the world, oh wait, it’s not in the world. Alright then, the Moon through our telescope is the most beautiful gray object you’ll ever see. Craters, volcanos, rilles, cliffs and more detail than you can take. It is amazing. We even carried the fully assembled telescope out of the observatory so the team could start disassembling it to make our deadline to get out of there. There was still a line of folks ready to view the Moon and they were not disappointed.
Thanks to Alex Hudson from Kickstarter for making this happen and staying until 2AM IN THE MORNING HELPING US LOAD UP! He was amazing, the first there and the last to leave. You are awesome, sir!
Check out this gallery of the build courtesy of Gary Spiers: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.625450067572148&type=1
And then, we had a lot of time to think about we learned from Burning Man and the Film Fest. It wasn’t always easy. We managed to not hurt anybody, but we were tired and very done, but it wasn’t time to rest. It was time to learn before the lessons faded away into the holidays with turkey dinners and family visits. So we thought long and hard.
Check out this article by Sue Karlin in Fast Company on our presence at Burning Man and how we’re contributing to the science culture there. http://www.fastcocreate.com/3035896/bringing-space-science-education-to-burning-man-and-beyond
I was invited to give a talk on the Observatory at Mindshare in Los Angeles on September 26th. Think TED talks, but for burners and collaborative artsy types. The crowd was very receptive to hear the story about how I convinced Gregg Fleishman to join us on this journey, remind me to tell you some time. I really enjoy talking about this project with people and this night was exactly what I needed to cure my blues from missing Burning Man. I really got that great feeling talking and visiting with my favorite community, every time I drive down out of the desert to be with you all, I’m happy I did. Thanks to Tupa and Dougie. I back home to the desert refreshed and looking forward to more rest.
Then, as soon as we weren’t tired any more, we did it again in San Diego.