April 23, 2014

Weather

Fair

44°
Feels Like: 41 °
Conditions at Parkersburg, Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport, WV
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Twin Towers Searchlights

A special effect was totally missed...and why...

It was with great interest that I listened to the ambitious plans of the County Commission to organize a remembrance for the September 11th attacks ten years ago.

I was intrigued by their plan to light up the sky with twin spotlights, aimed to the heavens.

I had my doubts about whether it would work or not, and especially dependent upon the weather.

No one checked with me, asked me or inquired what factors might influence the ability to see the beams of light.  It also occurred to me that passing motorists would not even see the beams of light, let alone connect them to the twin towers.  But still, I hoped for the best.

As Sunday evening rolled around, I began to think of how I would traverse the 40 miles from my home to see the spectacular effect.  Unfortunately, it was not to be...due to family commitments....("Don't you dare go back to work, unless you have to go on-air," warned a family member. "Your family needs time with you also.  You never get to see them until the weekend anyway.")... but maybe I could see the beams anyway.

I dialed up the WTAP website on my laptop, and clicked on the Parkersburg sky-cam, looking to see if it was tilted up high enough to see Fort Boreman or the beams of light.  After a half hour or so of attempting this, I gave up.  I couldn't see the beams.

I called the station and learned that crew members were in the parking lot, attempting to get some footage of the beams of light.

Encouraged, I decided to tune in for the News at Eleven.  However, there was an NBC football game on.  So I stayed up until after midnight.

At midnight, I dialed in and watched the newscast via live streaming, and waited for the footage of the twin tower beams... but never saw any.

The reason could be as simple as this:  It's very, VERY difficult to capture faint, subtle light displays in the sky.  Stars don't always register, comets are impossible, and even the ring around the moon is near impossible too.

The reason?  Our human eye is more sensitive and adjusts faster to subtle light images than cameras can.  It fact, it's recommended that when trying to view a comet in the night sky, NOT to look directly at it...but look a little away, letting your side vision pick up the ghostly  image.

Also, to see beams of light traveling through the air, you need dust or moisture, fog or clouds, to intercept the light and scatter it... critical to perception.

So, I imagine that this was part of the problem.  A reasonably clear evening, free of rain, fog and smoke or haze.

But I'd love to see any images that anyone might have captured of the spotlights.  Were they impressive?  I've heard they were.  Did you see them?

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