Sunday, August 31, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the largest human-created-and-inhabited (currently) structure in space: the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour in May 2011.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Merlin In His Crystal Cave

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows as starfield as seen from a cave: Hollow Hill Cave in New Zealand and a sprinkling of "stars".

Friday, August 29, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of NGC 7380 and its embedded nebula, popularly known as the Wizard. Can you spot the wizard? (Hint: it helps if you "mouseover" the image, magic the stars disappear like magic!)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Towards the Core (001)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives us only one of many stunning views you can see as you look towards the center of our galaxy. Messier 20 and 21, a nebula (the Trifid) and an open cluster, both in the constellation of Sagittarius. Sweep the sky in that region (preferably dark, still and low humid skies!) with a pair of binoculars or a telescope with a wide view/low power eyepiece. You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Tadpole's Tail

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Arp 188, a galaxy in the constellation of Draco. A bit of...ahem...interaction distorted the galaxy and gave it the feature which leads to it's popular moniker: The Tadpole.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

An Obscured Dot

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a strange speck on the Sun. Sunspot? No, Mercury transiting across the face of the Sun, obscured by terran clouds.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Arrow Through Heart and Soul

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2) passing through IC 1805 and IC 1848 in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The paired nebula are better known as the Heart and Soul Nebulae.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

They're Back!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a "naked-eye" view of our current Morning Stars: Venus and Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quiet Lagoon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a favorite observing target for my clear summer nights: Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula, in the constellation of Sagittarius. This image goes well beyond the capabilities of our modest backyard instruments and focuses in on the center of the nebula.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day illustrates the ESA's quandry: where to land the Philae probe (currently being carried on Rosetta) on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko?

Monday, August 18, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows star trails caused by a long-exposure of a camera. If you look down from those skies over Indonesia, there are a few terrestrial sights worth looking at as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Young Atlas

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the daughter of the photographer seemingly holding up both Jupiter and Venus in the night sky!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Observational Null

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows recent supernova SN 2014J in Messier 82 (a dwarf galaxy near the constellation of Ursa Major). The orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory looked for expected x-ray emissions from the supernova (as predicted by current theories). No x-rays! Time for a new theory?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Infalling Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a Perseid caught under the light of the Full Moon. Next year? New Moon! Dark skies!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


In this episode of The Three Hoarsemen, we geek out over the movie The Guardians of the Galaxy, plus the various iterations it has gone through under the Marvel Comics banner. Since first working with Jeff Patterson and John Stevens on this, my reading of comics has gone from near zero to a fairly regular dose.

Ghost Moon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the "supermoon" rising through wispy clouds.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Subtle Details

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes Messier 57, better known as the Ring Nebula (in the constellation of Lyra) and stacks images from several telescopes (and therefore several frequencies of light) into one. Suddenly the very familiar central "ring" becomes a much larger object as you see the bubbles of gas expanding outwards from the central star!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Collapse North of the Valley of the Mariners

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a wonderful image from the ESA's Mars Express orbiter. Have a look at a view that is almost unbelievable in its detail: a partial collapse of a mesa known as Hebes Mensa in the Hebes Chasma, slightly north of the Valles Marineris.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cometary Vectors

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing Rosetta's approach to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Another cosmic peanut!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Big Sky Keeps On Turning

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the stars wheeling overhead, luminous foam and a protective lighthouse. Victoria Lake at night!

Friday, August 8, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 6744 in the constellation of Pavo. Wonderful image showing the spiral structure!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Interesting Times

Rovers on Mars for more than a decade. Orbiters around Mars for even longer. An orbiter around Saturn. A probe approaching Pluto. Craft around Mercury, Venus, in the Belt, approaching Jupiter.

And now a probe about to orbit a comet and attempt to land something there.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us a view of Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko as the ESA's Rosetta probe makes a close approach.

Astounding stuff, folks.

War and Rumors of War

Fandom is at war! Fandom is divided!

Or is it?

Mountain, meet molehill. We have always "been at war" or rather: we've always talked. Make it into a mountain, but it is still a molehill. There have always been "factions" make it into a war if you want, but it isn't.

Dear Publisher, stop getting into politics and work on your books instead. Grow your market because at some point it's going to shrink when people get tired of the factionalism.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an artist conception of our blue world in the year Four Billion BCE. Looks a lot more like all the other moons and rocky planets of the system, doesn't it? Amazing what a little erosion and active geological processing can do to your looks.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. A dead moon? Hardly! Jets spewing water vapor are seen silhouetted against a dark background in this picture from the venerable (and still hardworking) Cassini orbiter.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014


Dave Langford is back with the August issue of Ansible! It's better than Cats! I want to read it again and again!

GREGORY FEELEY, reading a Hugo nominee, was 'fascinated by the eruption of eyebrows beginning in Chapter 5. Although it was only with the arrival of the character Strigan that eyebrows began to be raised, cocked, and twitched, pretty soon other characters were doing it, too. Is the author telling us, with Wolfean subtlety, that some kind of infection is spreading among her characters?' Thus, Dept of Ancillary Eyebrows: 'Strigan held the icon out, raised a steel-gray eyebrow.' 'She raised an eyebrow, tilted her head slightly.' 'Strigan said nothing, only twitched one gray eyebrow.' ...' I didn't answer, didn't even raise an eyebrow.' 'I turned my head [...] and raised an eyebrow.' (all Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice, 2013)

All this and much, much more! Every month!

Two Rivers

Today's Astronomy Picture Picture of the Day shows the night skies over the Snake River in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming.