Saturday, June 16, 2012

Skyscraper Roof Lab

Telescopic observing from Roof Lab
Humanoido Labs now introduces another lab - The Skyscraper Roof Lab. The SRL is located directly on the top of a very tall skyscraper roof and has access to the full 360 degree skyline. The view and ambiance of the location is absolutely breathtaking and exhilarating, and not without some unexpected phenomenon.

Special permission to access this strict peak location is granted by the building management. The area accessed is quite large, equal to the full perimeter of the skyscraper. The area also shares a small equipment room, the exit construction, with pipes, meters and service pumps for each apartment. The peak is protected with concrete, brick and ceramic tiles around the perimeter.

City view from Humanoido Roof Lab showing 101
The lab is used primarily as an observatory for conducting telescopic observations, running various aeronautical tests and experiments, a space program platform, and the location to record celestial events. This observational lab tower is ideal for weather studies and as a monitor of local atmospheric conditions where the level of water vapor humidity content is relevant, along with the levels of pollution. A skyscraper rooftop laboratory is not without its set of caveats. There is always a danger of high speed wind and errant wind gusts that can sweep whatever is on top of the roof, including people, over the side to hundreds or even thousands of feet below. Roof Lab has several safety devices installed - a sunken moat around the perimeter, a raised brick perimeter elevation, in some areas a second perimeter barrier, and a wrought iron fence atop the brick perimeter wall. Even with these safeguards, one must observe great caution. One concern is the exit door, which has no handle on the outside and automatically locks when shut. It's easy for the wind to catch the door and slam it shut with any occupants on the roof becoming stranded. A large piece of construction material is always placed in the doorway to prevent the door from inadvertently closing. Roof Lab usually has good privacy, even with a fully occupied skyscraper building. This is because roof tops have become notorious for jumpers - people that believe this is an easy way to suicide. Years ago on my first trip to the city I went to the rooftop to enjoy the magnificent city view and to have a picnic and get some suntan. Suddenly some frantic people appeared and thought I was going to jump off the roof! Well, laying there on my beach towel and eating my picnic lunch didn't appear too threatening to me but to others it seemed rather serious. Skyscraper Roof Lab was the key location for successfully observing and recording the rare June 2012 Venus Transit.