Sunday, February 7, 2016


Observatories can take on all sorts of form. Pictured in today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is one of the (massive) components of the LIGO Observatory. Are we on the cusp of a major announcement regarding gravity waves? The rumor mill certainly is churning of late...


An online simulator of the Apollo Guidance Computer. There's been some chatter of late about how you've got more computing power in your cellphone than the Apollo vehicles. Maybe we've got more computing power, but you'll need more than a cellphone to get to the Moon.

Release the Martian

An Australian candidate for the "Mars One mission" will inhabit the hab used in The Martian for five days. Potatoes will be available.

Behind the Odyssey

Behind the scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some fantastic shots in here!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Water World

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nearly full-face image of "dwarf planet" Ceres, as imaged by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Dawn is currently at it's lowest orbit around Ceres, investigating the makeup and geography of the body.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 81 and Messier 82. Notice anything about Messier 82? It's been in a tug-of-war with Messier 81. And gotten off a bit worse for the wear.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Heading Out

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet 67/P (Churyumov–Gerasimenko) as viewed by the ESA's Rosetta probe. The comet is heading away from the Sun, taking Rosetta with it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Month in Reading: January

I used to do this in the past and fell out of the habit last year. Let's see how long I can do this in 2016. How as my January?

One goal is to read at least sixty books each year. I only have completed reading two of those (but have plenty "in progress", see that separate list below!). The year always starts off slow and seems to end with more than the goal, so no worries there.

A second goal is to read at least one short work a day during the year. With thirty-one days in January and thirty-one short works read, I think I'm well on the way. The number of works read vs. the number of days in the year eventually will separate. Again, take a look at the "in progress" items below. I'm kind of hoping to read at least most of the magazines I get every month in the month received this year. I didn't make that goal, but I'll keep trying (some of the fiction magazines double up on the months, so maybe I can catch up!).

In progress are: (1) Poul Anderson: The Dancer from Atlantis. (2) Ben Bova and Les Johnson: Rescue Mode. (3) John Brunner: The Jagged Orbit. (4) Eric Flint: 1632. (5) Alexis A. Gilliland: The Revolution from Rosinante. (6) Stanley Karnow: Vietnam. (7) Damon Knight: In Search of Wonder. (8) Fritz Leiber: Smoke Ghost and Other Apparitions. (9) Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones. (10) Michael Lewis: The Big Short—Inside the Doomsday Machine. (11) Allen Steele: Sex and Violience in Zero-G: The Complete "Near Space" Stories (Expanded Edition) (Revised Edition). (12) Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age. (13) Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon. (14) Jonathan Strahan: Meeting Infinity. (15) J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit. (16) David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Thomas Pope: A Call to Arms.

Not the Song by R.E.M.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the full Moon rising. "Mouseover" the image to see the "Man in the Moon" (I always thought the "Woman in the Moon" was a better one.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Red Square

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day appears to be an odd sight in the sky. MWC 922 appears to be a square when viewed by a telescope. What causes a nebula to take an (apparent) shape like this?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Morning Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows five (well, six!) members of the Solar System scattered across the view. Can you spot planet six?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Hidden in the Camel

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows close by (a mere 10 million light-years away) galaxy IC 342 in the constellation of Camelopardalis.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows two galaxies, Messier 60 (an elliptical galaxy) and Messier 4647 (a spiral galaxy). The elliptical seems to almost overpower the light of the spiral galaxy (as well as most of the other, further galaxies in the frame).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Arches and Reflections

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Arch of the Sky (the Milky Way), auroral activity and the reflections of both in a lake. "Mouseover" the image for a constellation guide.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Fall of Coffee

Was William S. Burroughs able to use magical powers and put a hex on a hip coffee joint, forcing it to close its doors forever?

Or was it just somebody else complaining about bad cheesecake? Or (as with so much today) rising rents?

You decide! The strange story of cut-up technique, out of phase recordings and the hexing of Moka Bar.

Galactic Assassin

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a possible assassin, ASASSN-151h. 200 times brighter than the brightest supernova and (temporarily!) 200 times brighter than all the stars of our galaxy combined, this object could be the brightest object ever detected.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Elemental Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day combines the familiar periodic table of elements with in what kinds of stellar furnaces it is theorized they formed in.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Birthing Spider

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope image of young stars in the gas and dust rich region known as the Tarantula Nebula.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Northern Climes

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day points to a few deep sky objects found in a familiar constellation, Ursa Major (the Big Bear, but also known variously as The Plough, The Big Dipper and more). Look carefully and you'll spot a temporary visitor as well! ("Mouseover" the image for some guidance to nomenclature.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Deep Study

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 101 in the constellation of Ursa Major. Discovered by Messier, studied by Lord Rosse and his Leviathan, this image combines the data from several space-borne instruments to bring new understanding to M101's structure and makeup.


Works space setups of various creative folk through the ages. Interesting to see how plain and unadorned some of these are. Clearly some of us are overthinking our work areas!