Sunstar, currently on loan to Mount Wilson Observatory, is an art-science collaboration by artist Liliane Lijn and astrophysicist John Vallerga.
By News Desk
Composed of six prisms to form an array, the artwork Sunstar takes incoming sunlight and refracts it, bending the light and spreading it into a spectrum, i.e., all the colors of the rainbow.
Sunstar is mounted near the top of Mount Wilson Observatory’s 150-foot Solar Telescope Tower. With motion controls, the array can be remotely directed to project the spectrum to a specific point in the Los Angeles Basin. An observer below will see an intense point of light in a single wavelength, shining like a brilliant, colored jewel from the ridgeline of Mount Wilson, some 5,800 feet above in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The prism array can be moved to change the color of light an observer sees, or the observer can walk in one direction or another to change the color. In this case, an observer in Pasadena, for example, is actually walking across a giant color spectrum 250-yards long. This spectrum becomes proportionally wider the further one travels from the prism. Although very bright, the single wavelength of sunlight that Sunstar refracts is perfectly safe to observe from the ground due to the great distances required to experience its phenomenon.
How to see Sunstar?
Sunstar cannot be seen from the site of its installation on Mount Wilson; it can only be seen from the Los Angeles Basin. It beams daily to various sites around the Los Angeles basin — Griffith Observatory, the Rose Bowl, Pasadena City Hall, Memorial Park by the Armory, Elysian Park, the Music Center, and wherever there is a view of Mount Wilson.
During the 2022 Fulcrum Festival, Sunstar’s beam will point in the direction of festival events that are located within the prism’s range of visibility.
Schedule of Viewing Locations / Daily 11:00 am – Sunset:
- Until Sept. 14, 2022:
Pasadena City College Center for the Arts
- Sept. 15 – Sept. 21, 2022:
Memorial Park, Pasadena
- Sept. 23 – Sept. 25, 2022:
Memorial Park, Pasadena
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