"Athanor "

by Janet Saad-Cook (1997)

Boston University Collection, BU Photonics Center

Medium: Sunlight, Time, Steel, and Glass

The 7th floor atrium of the Boston University Photonics Center posed a major challenge to Janet Saad- Cook

Sun Drawing sculptures are meant to be placed in sunlight, to reflect the daily and seasonal changes of the sun. Because sunlight never reaches the center of the atrium, a HELIOSTAT is used to bring a beam of sunlight into the atrium to a second set of mirrors that re-direct the light onto the Sun Drawing sculpture.

See it live every sunny day.

The large scale Sun Drawing fills the 65 foot high atrium.

Sunlight reaches the sculpture by means of a heliostat system that brings a beam of sunlight into the atrium to a second set of mirrors that re-direct the light onto the Sun Drawing sculpture. The heliostat is designed to move sunlight across the Sun Drawing sculpture, thereby causing the reflected image to change through time. The first image of the Sun Drawing appears at approximately 10:30 am (EST) and the final image disappears at 2:30 pm (EST).

The glass and steel sculpture rises to an eleven foot height from the atrium floor.

The semi-circular shape of the secondary mirrors on the ninth floor echoes the arced path of the sun across the sky. These mirrors are oriented so that sunlight makes three separate passes across the Sun Drawing, striking it at somewhat different angles each time. (Artist self-portrait)

Sun Drawing at 11:30 am.

The long arc of light visible in this image is the signature marker image that marks this Sun Drawing as part of the Global Sun Drawing Project. Just as MIT Haystack Observatory's Sun Drawing, titled ALBEDO, is completing its daily appearance at 10:30 am (EST) in Westford, Ma., ATHANOR begins to appear on the atrium wall.

Astronomer, Dr. Kenneth Janes adjusts the Photonics Center heliostat which consists of a highly polished

stainless steel mirror, driven by a single motor and a gear system that automatically tracks the sun in its daily path across the sky. It also adjusts for seasonal changes in the sun's elevation above the southern horizon. Each morning when the sun rises, the heliostat mirror is positioned to catch the sunlight and direct it down to the secondary set of mirrors on the ninth floor level.



The optical system for this Sun Drawing was designed by astronomers Kenneth Janes and Peter B. Boyce

Back to main Sundrawing page
Last updated 6 Apr 2008 © Photos and text copyrighted.