Friday, October 2, 2015

Mike Drop 03

The hits keep on coming in from the edges of the Solar System. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us another stunning image from the New Horizons vehicle, this time of Pluto's biggest moon, Charon.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Another Superbloodmoon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the so-called "supermoon" undergoing the "blood moon" eclipse this past weekend under the stunning skies of Las Campanas Observatory.

Overland Journey

With the release of the movie based on Andy Weir's The Martian, Mars fever is reaching a new height in and around science and science fiction. Here are the locations of the overland journey of lost astronaut Mark Watney as imaged by the HiRISE instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cold, Clear Water

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice capstone to how our understanding of Mars has evolved since the 1920's. From a desert planet with canals to a bone-dry dead planet with nothing of interest, to a cratered landscape, to a complicated world with canyons and mountains and a world that appears to have a potentially significant amount of water under the surface and even water flowing, on occasion, on the surface!

As Kim Stanley Robinson put it: Mars is a place.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the April 2014 lunar eclipse as the Moon moved across the sky and shifted through all phases of the eclipse.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is all about the cheese-and-fries combination of the lunar eclipse combined with a "supermoon". Alas, I will be employing a cloud filter.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Comparing the Local Group

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows both Messier 31 and Messier 33, both members of the Local Group (of which the Milky Way is also a card-carrying member). Messier 31 is better known as the Andromeda Galaxy and can be seen (under darker skies than mine, although as few as ten years ago I could still spot it) with the naked eye (and it's a wonderful binocular or relatively low-power/wide field of view telescopic object). Messier 33 is also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, or, probably more popularly, the Pinwheel Galaxy.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ink Blots

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows dusty molecular clouds in the constellation of Cygnus, part of the Great Rift or Northern Coalsack. "From dark sites the region can be identified by eye alone." (I do not live in such an area!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Old Man's War

Over at Tor Dot Com, several of us speculate on the future direction for John Scalzi's Old Man War series. (When I was asked to do this, I thought it was just for a private blog, I must have missed the "it'll be posted at Tor Dot Com bit!)

On London

Iain Sinclair (who's books really ought to be more widely available!) and John Foxx discuss London (and mention Quatermass and more) .


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day compresses a half-hidden solar cycle over the frozen skies of the southern polar region.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Minor Dome

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the so-called "minor dome" at Bosque Alegre Observatory. (...strolls away...)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Phase II: The Alternate Reality

I still remember how excited I was when it was announced that Star Trek was going to return to television as one of the key components to a fourth network being created by Paramount. Well, that never came to be (the project eventually became Star Trek: The Motion Picture, still the film that I think most accurately captures the spirit of the series).

Here's a link to an article talking about elements of that failed series. I also suggest you seek out the "Making of" book that came out of Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well as either of the books written about the failed series.

Off Kilter

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 96, a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Leo. What caused the beautiful spiral shape to become distorted?

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The hard-working Cassini orbiter has determined that a globe-spanning ocean probably lies beneath the surface ice. What else is there? Life? It's amusing to see how the "Goldilocks zone" keeps getting redefined!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a minor outgassing on home star. (Minor = bigger than Jupiter by a few factors.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mike Drop 01

Just when you thought you had seen "everything" that the New Horizons vehicle could provide, it sends another stunner. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image that was downloaded from that hurtling vehicle and released yesterday. Amazing stuff.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us a portion of the very beautiful (and impossible to see under my skies!) Veil Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus. Being in the circum-polar region, it is well placed to be seen much of the year from my locale but requires dark (and steady) skies as well as a emission filter to tease out details.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Resolution Awaits

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the best view yet of the mysterious bright spots in the crater named Occator on Dwarf Planet Ceres. Ice? Another material? The answer awaits a lower orbit by the Dawn vehicle and more scrutiny from additional instruments.

Monday, September 14, 2015

In His House at R'lyeh

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Cthulhu Regio area of Pluto, as imaged by the New Horizons vehicle. Will these (so far) temporary names be "official"? One can hope!

Sunday, September 13, 2015