Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Road Trip

In this "interim" episode of The Three Hoarsemen, Jeff Patterson and I make the journey (his was much longer!) to visit with John Stevens in his recuperative center and talk (for the first time ever!) face-to-face.


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows one of our nearest neighbors, on the extra-galactic scale: Messier 31, the Great Galaxy of Andromeda.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Spirit in the Sky

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a "sky portal" in New Zealand. A little wrap-around fish eye camera work and...another dimension appears!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Horse of a Different Color

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us Barnard 33 in Orion, the Horsehead Nebula. Today's image combines several pictures taken in different frequencies of light to shed some detail in the the dark.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dusty Isle

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 253 in the constellation of Sculptor (giving it the more commonly known name as the Sculptor Galaxy).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Soft Shell

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Crab Pulsar inside the Crab Nebula, found in the constellation of Taurus. The image is partly in visible light, partly in x-ray "light", courtesy of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, celebrating 15 years of orbital operation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reflections Of

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows reflection nebula IC 4603 in the constellation of Ophiuchius. Has anybody answered the hotline recently?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tumbling Dice

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as imaged by the ESA's Rosetta vehicle (on approach to both orbit and hopefully land a probe on the comet). Found a peanut! A tumbling peanut!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Our Peaceful Star

It was recently announced that there were zero (none at all) sunspots to be found on our system's home star. From the viewpoint of today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, it doesn't look all that peaceful!

Friday, July 18, 2014

From the Deeps

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Ou4 (fourth entry in the catalog of discoveries by French astro-imager Nicolas Outters) in the constellation of Cepheus. Giant squid from the depths, indeed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We're Going to Need a Bigger Printer

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Eta Carinae star system and the bipolar nebula around the star known as the Homunculus Nebula. The Nebula is now available to be printed as a three-dimensional model in a 3D printer. How about one-to-one scale?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beyond the Limb

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day has Saturn being eclipsed by the dark limb of the Moon. I saw an occultation once between the two, where Saturn almost looked like a flying saucer coming in for a landing on the Moon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frederick I Ordway III

Frederick I Ordway III, a man who helped shape 2001: A Space Odyssey, has passed away. He was involved in the early days of rocketry in the United States after World War II, wrote or co-wrote many non-fiction books on space travel and astronomical art (I even have one signed by him!) and more.

You probably don't know his name, but you've seen his impact given the impact that 2001 had on many other movies, television shows, books, paintings and more.

Addendum: Washington Post obituary.

J.J. Abrams Had Nothing To Do With This

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a galaxy cluster seemingly surrounded by lens flare. The flare is caused by gravitational lensing, allowing us to see much "deeper" than we normally would be able to.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows auroral activity over the skies of Yellowknife in northern Canada. Note the link on the page leading to video from the same time.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moon and Launch

A view from Wallops Island last night, the Antares launch vehicle with it's Cygnus cargo carrier under the full Moon. And today, a view from Wallops Island as the Antares leaves the launch pad.

Inside the Eye

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes us inside NGC 2818, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Pyxis.

Lost Castings

A fascinating look at the unfinished movies of Stanley Kubrick. Oh, if only Napoleon had been made!


It's almost over, but I have a feeling the crew of the ISS will be watching the World Cup from orbit.


Just another quiet day on our home star.

Support Structure

The launch gantry moves away from the Delta II being readied for the (recent) launch of the Orbiting Carton Observatory-2.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Active Process

Thanks to the long missions of various orbiters, we continue to see Mars evolve from being a "dead planet" to one where active processes shape the surface. Are gullies formed by dry ice?


If all goes well, tomorrow will see the launch of another Antares rocket with a Cygnus supply module launched from Wallops Island in Virginia. Alas, not a night launch (I've seen three night launches from my backyard in New Jersey from that facility).

Light That Candle

Sure wish this was flying and not just a pretty artist conception.


Let's see you do this with your iPhone!


Springtime on Mars! When the dry ice starts to sublimate and the dunes are exposed once again.

Into the Aurora

Nice view of a sounding rocket being launched into the auroral skies of Alaska.

At the Headwaters

Europa, one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter has been seen with what appears to be plumes of water vapor. This image shows the potential location of the plumes. Landing site for a probe carrying a robotic submarine?


Just another day in orbit, deploying tiny satellites.


If I saw today's Astronomy Picture of the Day in a Star Trek movie, I'd complain about how something like that couldn't exist. But it does. SN1006, a supernova remnant. What mad universe!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Star Spotting

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows our home star rising over the skyline of Brisbane. Looks like the Sun has had an outbreak of spots.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Noctilucent Clouds

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows noctilucent clouds over the skies of London. Plus a giant wheel that has been featured in a couple of episodes of Doctor Who.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Possible "Twin"

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an artist depiction of the closest possible (again: possible) habitable extrasolar planet (found to date). Not quite a identical twin!

Monday, July 7, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a radio frequency image of a galaxy (J1502+1115) with three supermassive black holes rather than the more usual one. Why the difference?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Light Tunnel

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the 2001 apparition of Manhattanhenge. Next occurrence of this is coming up later in July.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spectral Spread

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 106 (NGC 4258) in the constellation of Canes Venatici. Several frequencies of light are combined to show us more detail in the structure of this galaxy than any light by itself would.


Fan meets author, eventually writes essay, which crashes.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the night launch of the OCO-2 satellite. "Mouseover" the picture to help you identify the stars. I've been lucky enough to see three night launches now (in New Jersey!) from Virginia (alas, the next resupply mission to the ISS from that complex will be during the day, so I'll miss it).

Monsters from the Id

Concept art from Ralph McQuarrie and Syd Mead for a failed attempt to remake the classic movie Forbidden Planet. It looks, to me, like they did a good job of capturing the style and look of the original (while updating that look) but it makes me wonder (once again): why remake something like this?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Peak Shorts

In the latest episode of The Three Hoarsemen, we are joined by Fourth Hoarse Jonathan Strahan, who somehow manages to produce many fine anthologies whilst hanging upside down from our perspective.

Beyond the Wall

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a detail of the complex nebula structures in the constellation of Cygnus. Known as the Cygnus Wall, it is part of a more well-known structure, The North American Nebula (featured in a science fiction story written to celebrate a certain countries bicentennial a few years ago).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


He's back! And better than ever! The indefatigable Dave Langford rounds up all the news that's fit to...transmit. Ansible! Ansible!

"CAPTAIN KAYE" is the reported pseudonym for the subject of this Daily Mirror silly-season headline: "Retired US Marine claims he spent 17 years on MARS protecting five human colonies from Martians" (23 June). "He added that training took place on a secret moon base called Lunar Operations Command, Saturn's moon Titan, and in deep space...Captain Kaye says he retired after a 20 year tour of duty, describing a retirement ceremony on the moon that he claims was presided over by VIPs including ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." Gosh.

Not So Quiet

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us how lucky we are our home star is mild and quiet.