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Personal Log: Instrumental Flight FTW

Hello H0u5t0n, thanks for giving me a heads-up about the solar eclipse today… NOT.

Watching the Eclipse of 2015-03-20 in Munich through Metric Instrumentation (24h View)

It must have been around 0935, when I couldn't escape the feeling of some environmental anomaly.

The light was just “not right”. I couldn't see the sun, since there was no quick access to southbound vantage points but a glimpse out of the northbound window revealed almost clear, blue sky and the apparent shadow/contrast and sharpness indicated no clouds in between. Yet, somehow, it was as if I was wearing dark sunglasses or as if we were suddenly much farther away from the sun.

I was curious about this clear uneasiness of my body. At the time, I could only to grasp the effect on me as a mere instinctive mismatch of the perception of light density, contrast and color for that time of the day. Clearly, I needed verification of this perception, so I tried to ping some people in the vicinity, to check if they're have a similar experience/perception.

While waiting for replies, I speculated away, if this might be

  1. some kind of atmospheric/weather anomaly?
  2. some drastic angle/rotational/orbital change of the Earth?
  3. some simple celestial event like a solar eclipse?

I wasn't happy with the weather explanation, since the shadows were too sharp and clear to be diffused by clouds. Also, the perceived color-space and contrast-levels always change when the light-level is reduced by clouds, just like a big softbox. But this was nothing like it. Maybe one of the rare dust clouds? The other two explanations could be grouped into the celestial body movement category.

Based on this reflection and enough time spent, watching & studying the UCSSPM dashboards, to get a feeling for whats “normal”, I realized, that I should be able to distinguish the event type by the typical characteristics of its change pattern in the graphs, with hard and trusted data.

Environmental/Weather related changes usually have a rather noisy/random pattern where celestial body movement or rotation/angle changes mostly form paraboloid graphs. You can see this pattern in the Optimum Elevation and Extraterrestrial Radiation Graphs. Both are a product of Earth's orbit around the sun and its rotation.

One casual look at Odyssey's - Solar-Power VFCC Dashboard (Global Solar Radiation - Reference Measurement [Direct] in particular) and it doesn't look like an atmospheric disturbance, much more like some celestial body movement.

Since solar eclipses are also just a normal thing in the big clockwork of our solar system, I chose this as my explanation for the anomaly. Still haven't seen the sun to review my conclusion with more external data and still without feedback from the others, I chose google to search for “Sonnenfinsternis München” and got quick verification for my explanation derived from local instrumentation and real-time metrics.

This also serves well as an example of what open data/metrics- and instrumentation-systems already can do for us in many ways even in real-time. I liked the fact how other people actually had the same idea at the same time, to look at the data (though they probably knew it was coming) and shared it with others through their social networks. Thanks guys.

It was also a good reminder, how easy it must have been in the past, to use actually predictable (by some, who keep the know-how secret) events, like an eclipse, to stun the masses and demand to “burn more virgins” to satisfy the “sun-gods”. At this moment of uneasiness/vulnerability during such an event, people who don't actually know how this works are easy to convince and manipulate into choosing to believe in any invisible, godlike construct to give them some kind of peace of mind (an explanation).


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