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Programming Under the Stars

Part of the roof, only, but a big part
  [vote for,

A little more than a week ago, as I write this, there was a total eclipse of the Moon, and I was too busy doing some computer programming to remember to go outside to look at it. Bummer!

There has to be a better way!

Pick the room of your house where you do computer programming (or some other activity that, quote "burns the midnight oil", unquote). Cut a big circular hole in it (as big as can be managed by the room size), and then cover the hole with a one-piece glass dome. With just a couple of differences from what you might at-first think.

Look up "Dewar flask" (see link). It is single piece of glass, shaped like a test tube or a laboratory flask or (many possibilities), but it is actually double-walled and there is a vacuum between the walls.

We want our glass dome to be constructed like a Dewar flask. Likely, to be tough enough to resist a lot of air pressure, the glass will be pretty thick, weigh a lot, and some extra structural support may have to be added to the house. That could be workable if four places along the edge of the dome reach the walls of the room. Nevertheless, the room is now insulated from cold or hot outside air.

One other thing about the dome, though, is that the center of this spherical surface should be located approximately where your head will be, as you work inside the room. Normally when one thinks "dome", a dome is a hemisphere, half of a sphere, so its center is at the same level as the base of the dome. This dome needs to be a "chord" of a sphere, so that your head can be located as specified. The result is, when you look up through the glass, there will be no distortion caused by the curvature of the glass.

You will probably have to add aluminum foil curtains to reflect sunlight to minimize any greenhouse effect in the room (and of course to foil prying eyes flying overhead). At day's end, though, you can open the curtains and let the glory of the night sky be as easily visible as simply looking up. No more missed eclipses, comets, auroras, etcetera!

Vernon, Dec 31 2010

Dewar flask http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewar_flask
As mentioned in the main text [Vernon, Dec 31 2010]

the very lovely Brian Cox http://news.bbc.co....9314000/9314182.stm
[po, Dec 31 2010]

http://en.wikipedia..._(window)#Skylights [rcarty, Dec 31 2010]

chord (usually of a circle) http://en.wikipedia...ki/Chord_(geometry)
As mentioned in the main text [Vernon, Dec 31 2010]


       I like this but you seem to have forgotten radiant heat.
nineteenthly, Dec 31 2010

       If I work on the computer with the lights off, I have no night vision at all. Still, nice as a general observation deck.
marklar, Dec 31 2010

       Ah, interesting because i use a planetarium program with a night mode. It can be switched to show everything in shades of red to reduce interference with night vision. That could be done with an entire UI.
nineteenthly, Dec 31 2010

       Am I the only one thinking of the 1974 John Carpenter film “Dark Star”?
Ian Tindale, Dec 31 2010

       [+] for the red darklight GUI.
pocmloc, Dec 31 2010

       I'll post that as an idea.
nineteenthly, Dec 31 2010

       You have invented the skylight.
rcarty, Dec 31 2010

       Folks, I accidently left out a key part of this Idea (added extra paragraph "One other thing..."). [nineteenthly], no, I specifically mentioned aluminum foil curtains to deal with radiant heat. [rcarty], skylights are usually much smaller than what I have in mind here.
Vernon, Dec 31 2010

       OK, well i've voted for it already so no worries.
nineteenthly, Dec 31 2010


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