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Inauguration from Space!
January 20, 2009 7:16 PM   Subscribe

The GeoEye-1 (aka "The Google Satellite") took pictures of the inauguration from 423 miles up. The crowds of over a million around the Capitol and spilling up the Mall and around the city are a sight, even from space. GeoEye also offers a gallery of other impressive high-resolution satellite shots, including themed sections ranging from world universities (featuring great shots of the Head of the Charles Regatta) to natural disasters.
posted by blahblahblah (41 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
According to Wikipedia, GeoEye-1 has "an inclination of 98 degrees". What an odd way of saying 82 degrees. Except it seems to be a peculiarity of sun-sync orbits. Interesting. (Theoretically, I should already know this but LEO orbits types vary so much more than GEO ones that I've never bothered to memorize them.)
posted by DU at 7:22 PM on January 20, 2009


I wasn't feeling the magic today but I have to say that picture spiked my holy-shit-o-meter.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:29 PM on January 20, 2009


I wish that I knew what time that picture was taken. I also wish I had access to it when I was down on the mall, trying to get around the crowds. It was packed in places, though I guess you can tell that by the picture.
posted by procrastination at 7:29 PM on January 20, 2009


Well, it's good to know that we really will look like a swarm of irritating insects to the invading aliens.
posted by selfnoise at 7:31 PM on January 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


That's me in the 637th row holding up the "I just wanna be me" sign.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:34 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


And they had what? 5000 porta-potties?

(Note to self. Avoid the Mall for a while.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2009


Yeah, it really shows how terrible crowd management kept us silver ticket holders from getting to our designated areas--lots of empty space around the reflecting pool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2009


CNN also has an interactive zoomable version of the picture.
posted by procrastination at 7:50 PM on January 20, 2009


I wish you could just download the full resolution version. (They do have a 2000x2070 "full" version that you can download but it's just cropped much larger and shows more of DC.)
posted by smackfu at 7:51 PM on January 20, 2009


I'm reminded of The Last Guy for some reason.

The picture is pretty awesome.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:53 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish that I knew what time that picture was taken.

11:19 AM. From the Washington Post's version, which is the best one I found. You can zoom in more than the others, and the bottom right button makes it take up the full-window.
posted by smackfu at 7:55 PM on January 20, 2009


yeah i am curious as to why certain sections are more packed than others, and why--as mrmoonpie pointed out--there's so much open space past the pool and 3 sections back.

from various first-hand accounts around the net, sounds like they did a bad job of crowd control and allocation.

just north of the washington monument, are those people crowded around a jumbo screen?
posted by blastrid at 7:56 PM on January 20, 2009


A map that shows the Jumbotrons. They are pretty much exactly in front of the crowds.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 PM on January 20, 2009


11:19 AM was no where near the peak of the crowds for the general access part of the mall (west of 4th St). There was a huge difference where I was, north west of the Washington Monument, then and just after 12 (the peak time). I think some of the ticket holders were giving up around 11 and made it tot he spots where they could still get on the mall (west of 14th St).

In terms of some of the crowds, you also should remember that the Washington Monument is on top of a hill, so if you're west of it, you have almost no view of the Capitol unless you can see a Jumbotron.

My experience seems to have been easier than a lot of people. It took us about 75 minutes to walk about 20 blocks from SE to about 17th St SW and on to the mall. Walking home was about 45 minutes. It helped that we knew the city, but more or less all we did was "we want to go *that* way" and followed the biggest group of people who seemed to be making progress in that direction.

I'm not sure how they could have done it a great deal better, other than having more of the streets (on the south side at least) pedestrians only for longer, instead of a mix of emergency vehicles and others with access with walkers. Or at least allocated more space to the walkers.

But, a great time. Given this was the largest event in DC basically ever, it's about what somebody should have expected with 2 million people.
posted by skynxnex at 8:24 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of when I spilled sugar in my kitchen.


ANTS ANTS ANTS ANTS

(seriously impressive, though.)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:30 PM on January 20, 2009


What was the Bush 2000 crowd like?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:35 PM on January 20, 2009


I couldn't find a good photo of the Bush crowd, but here is the Clinton '92 inaugural. Clearly not as big.
posted by smackfu at 9:03 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was amazing in person, but the overhead view from GeoEye really shows the extent of the crowds.

I also wish I had access to this today. I wanted to get to one of the less crowded areas on the east side of 7th street, but the crowd pressure around the MSNBC booth was just too great, the other side was closed off, and I never could figure out how to get there. And that was at 9:30am, nowhere near the peak crowds. I ended up here instead, which was OK.

I didn't have that bad of a time getting around. I was lucky on the way in, and ended up walking across Memorial Bridge to get to the Arlington Cemetery metro on the way out. But it really ticked me off that all the Jumbotrons said to go south and west, and yet 14th street was barricaded off and the route south at Jefferson Drive SW was blocked by a solid wall of port-a-potties stretching as far as the eye could see.

There was a tiny area where you could go south once you hit the barricades at 14th street, but it was a bottleneck that with the crowd was near impassable. I was stuck in that corner for about an hour, with the crowd chanting "Let us out, let us out" to the National Guard troops on 14th street. They never did, but enough people climbed the port-a-potties or turned around for me to finally get out.
posted by gemmy at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2009


If you look real close at that overhead of the Inauguration, there's a dude down there playing with his junk. There's a time and a place, fella.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:17 PM on January 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


DU: I assume that a 98 degree orbit is a standardish way of describing an 82 degree retrograde orbit.

Interesting that they went to the trouble/expense of putting it in a sun-synchronous orbit. I guess it keeps the shadows consistent.
posted by hattifattener at 9:31 PM on January 20, 2009


Interesting that they went to the trouble/expense of putting it in a sun-synchronous orbit.

For remote sensing purposes, not having to deal with sun angle when doing time series / time detection is just one less thing to worry about.
posted by one_bean at 9:35 PM on January 20, 2009


(I mean change detection)
posted by one_bean at 9:36 PM on January 20, 2009


(I mean change detection)

I see what you did there.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:41 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's actually an interesting question in askme about this.
posted by dead cousin ted at 11:03 PM on January 20, 2009


Ooh, this makes me want to find my magnifying glass and start frying motherfuckers. SSSTT! SSSTT! Ha ha, watch them run!
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:26 PM on January 20, 2009


Joe Beese writes "I wasn't feeling the magic today but I have to say that picture spiked my holy-shit-o-meter."

I wasn't feeling the magic either; I fear a retread of the Clinton presidency, more idealistic young things -- and I worked on the campaign, it's a Child's Crusade -- fed into the meat grinder and coming out Stephanopouloses, more Lanny Davises and Paul Begalas polishing their resumes for high-priced lobbying positions and vacuous "punditry".

But tonight, after a few drinks in a karaoke bar subsequent to an inaugural gathering, finally a weight lifted from me.

It's over, eight long years of error and shame, are over.

We must remain forever vigilant, we must hew to our cherished beliefs and to our Constitution despite our fears, we must separate power to prevent their concentration in a despot. But we have once again a beginning.

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last from Bush and his Neo-conmen circus. At long last, we have decency and intelligence in the Oval Office. Once again, we can try to be a shining City on the Hill, and not just a jumped-up despostism.

The cliches are intentional, as I think they express our shared heritage.

As a child, I was a super patriot. At six or seven, I listened over and over to LP records of the musical 1776 and a spoken-word history of Thomas Jefferson. I read children's histories of the Revolutionary War, and I absorbed the Lockean contract theory of the words of our Declaration and Mr.Jefferson's theory of the right of rebellion:"— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it".

After "right", I always in my mind heard the additional "it is the Duty" Even into adulthood, I read that Declaration every Fourth of July, and despite all our American sins, of slavery and of genocide of the Indians and imperialism in the Philippines and union busting and Palmer Raids and Japanese Internment and Red-baiting, despite all that I keprt alive in my breast some idea of American Exceptionalism -- if not in deed, at least in ideal and hope.

That patriotism finally withered and died under Bush. The lies, the wiretaps, the tortures, but most of all the complacency of the American people in the face of all that. The willingness to abandon all our supposedly cherished princioiples in the face of fear.

But tonight, finally, the tears that did not come on Election Day, finally the tears that did not come on Election Day 2004 when we lost Ohio by 110,000 and so lost a nation, the tears that did not come after Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the bland banal and evil legal justification of evil, finally the tears came.



We have a long and steep and harrowing road ahead, but at least, at long last, we are journeying forward once again toward the broad sunlit uplands of our American ideals. Once again, we are an American People we can believe in. Yes, we can.
posted by orthogonality at 11:44 PM on January 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


yeah i am curious as to why certain sections are more packed than others, and why--as mrmoonpie pointed out--there's so much open space past the pool and 3 sections back.

7th street was completely blocked off when I got there at 9am. Two of those three sections were marked as open to the general public, but the people who were there must have arrived incredibly early or entered from a different direction.
posted by H-Bar at 12:33 AM on January 21, 2009


Ooh, this makes me want to find my magnifying glass and start frying motherfuckers. SSSTT! SSSTT!

my browser prompted me to zoom in with a magnifying glass icon...does that make me an attempted murderer?

also...cool...i never realized the roof was aqua
posted by sexyrobot at 1:18 AM on January 21, 2009


Sun-synchronous orbits are almost always used by remote-sensing satellites, for the reasons mentioned in other comments. Not only does it keep the shadows consistent between photographs, but if an orbit isn't sun-sync'd then from time to time the daylit path under the satellite's orbit will have very unhelpful lighting conditions such as dawn/dusk (all shadow) or noon (no shadow).
posted by Major Clanger at 1:28 AM on January 21, 2009


Is Obama still the president today? Pinch me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:41 AM on January 21, 2009


Not only does it keep the shadows consistent between photographs, but if an orbit isn't sun-sync'd then from time to time the daylit path under the satellite's orbit will have very unhelpful lighting conditions such as dawn/dusk (all shadow) or noon (no shadow).

But if you keep it sun-sync'd, then it will *always* be unhelpful in *some* locations. That's the part I don't get. If your satellite is up there to image, say, Iraq, then it makes sense to be sun-sync'd so that it's always over Iraq at noon (or whenever). But if your satellite is up there to image *everything*, you don't want it in an orbit such that it will always be midnight while passing over Chicago.

Maybe they'll nudge the orbit from time to time to get it sync'd to another "slice" of the Earth. Or maybe it's not perfectly sync'd now, so it will drift into other slices but they can still do change detection in adjacent slices.
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on January 21, 2009


Someone get me my magnifying glass.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:05 AM on January 21, 2009


If you look to the right of the Capital Building, you'll see a lone helicopter patiently waiting for the end of the speeches.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:21 AM on January 21, 2009


I didn't realize until now how much the Mall looked like a giant robot Aunt Bee, sideways.
posted by rokusan at 7:36 AM on January 21, 2009


See that dude down there blowing a huge joint? That's not me. But I wish it was.
posted by jamstigator at 7:57 AM on January 21, 2009


Sort of appropriate, that a picture of over a million Americans gathered in one place shows most of them watching TV.
posted by rusty at 8:09 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very cool, though yes, my first thought was also of the ants currently invading my kitchen. I heard about this photo watching CNN yesterday, along with their photosynth of "the moment." (Requires a plugin install)

Ah yes, CNN always on the bleeding edge of technology. Who could forget their Hooolllooograms!
posted by fontophilic at 8:15 AM on January 21, 2009


We were on the grass wedge between two roads south and slightly east of the Washington Monument (bottom center of the satellite image in the Washington Post image). The space was slightly elevated and provided a view of a jumbotron east of the monument, plus some elbow room.

I'm surprised how much empty space is around (it wasn't apparent from the ground). As MrMoonPie said, the crowd management was horrible.
posted by exogenous at 8:48 AM on January 21, 2009


Sort of appropriate, that a picture of over a million Americans gathered in one place shows most of them watching TV.

Poignancy fail.
posted by odinsdream at 8:57 AM on January 21, 2009


The roof is aqua because it's covered in copper - just FYI.
posted by newdaddy at 9:38 AM on January 21, 2009


Something tells me it's much easier to "feel the magic" when you have a job and are not seeing the number of want ads shrink by the day, in the papers and online. I am glad Bush is gone--it was essential to say bye-bye to him to get to work on our problems--but when Obama talked about the US being in a crisis, he wasn't kidding. The day felt bittersweet to me.
posted by raysmj at 9:58 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


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