Star Trek IV: The Glimpse of Bernal?

Via Burrito Justice and Bernalwood, a beautiful infrared photo of the Bay Area on Christmas Eve, 2011, with a helpful arrow pointing to Bernal Heights.

But did you know that back in the 80s, another visiting spacecraft captured a glimpse of Bernal in this night-time shot, using visible light?

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Bernalrama 360

I’m a fan of our little Sutrito Tower, but the fact that it’s fenced off makes it impossible to take in the full 360° panorama of gorgeous views we have at the top of Bernal Hill. So I thought I’d try to create a synthetic panorama from pictures taken just outside of the fence, and stitch them together with software. My first effort, using the Autostitch app for iPhone, didn’t turn out too well — lots of double-vision blurriness at the seams. Still, that was better than Photosynth, which refused to even try stitching when it thought I’d moved too far between shots.

Via Twitter, I learned that Burrito Justice had the same idea a few years back, and had good results with Panorama. I tried it. Frustrating UI. I ended up just taking a bunch of pictures in the Camera app, working my way around the hill. Also via Twitter, I’d gotten a suggestion to try Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor — a panorama-making desktop app for Windows. I have to say, it did a pretty nice job stitching together the 30 pictures I took around the hill:

Impossible 360° panorama from the top of Bernal Hill. Click for larger view.

This is slightly edited from what ICE produced — there was a ghostly half-Sutro that I had to get rid of, and a couple of other small patches where I thought there was a better shot than the one the software chose. And though Burrito Justice got there first with the whole impossible panorama idea, he stopped at 270°. This new panorama goes all the way around, including the southern view of Holly Park and San Bruno mountain.

Of course, I’d rather just climb up to the top of the tower and shoot from there. Hmm… Sutrito Tower Observation Deck… Bernal Heights would be overrun with tourists! Where would they all park?