Thursday, April 30, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice inverted (negative, if you want to go "old school") hydrogen filter image of the Sun. The Earth/Moon "system" is added to give you a little perspective.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Warming Crescent

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image taken by the ESA's Rosetta craft, operating around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet is warming as it approaches the Sun and is starting to show signs of outgassing. Will the Philae lander awake from slumber as the power of the Sun increases?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Northern Spiral, Red Tinge

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day combines data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Subaru (ground-based) Telescope to show great detail on NGC 2841, a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Them! Them!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is another image celebrating the anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope: Mz3, the "Ant Nebula" in the constellation of Norma (yes, Norma!).

Saturday, April 25, 2015

After the Heat

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is another Hubble Space Telescope anniversary image. Off in the constellation of Carina, we find a rich star-forming region of Westerlund 2.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Eternal Questions

A lovely article at The New Yorker about Gene Wolfe.

Wolfe has published more than twenty-five novels and more than fifty stories, and has won some of science fiction and fantasy’s most prestigious awards. But he has rarely, if ever, been considered fully within the larger context of literature...Wolfe himself sees the trappings of science fiction and fantasy, the spaceships and so on, as simply “a sketchy outline of the things that can be done.” But even within fantasy fandom, Wolfe’s work presents difficulties. His science fiction is neither operatic nor scientifically accurate; his fantasy works are not full of clanging swords and wizardly knowledge. But ask science-fiction or fantasy authors about Gene Wolfe and they are likely to cite him as a giant in their field. Ursula K. Le Guin once called Wolfe “our Melville.”

The article seems to imply that Wolfe should be more well known outside the field. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Wolfe seems to do well enough within the field even if, as it is implied in the article, his works are somewhat like the works of Samuel R. Delany (especially Dhalgren): more owned than read. No big deal, there are fans who appreciate Wolfe (as there are fans who appreciate Delany) and spend endless hours (decades) debating Wolfe's works.

His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.

And there's his worth and why you should read him.

From the Ocean, to the Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows stars in the ocean and stars in space: bioluminescence from plankton lights the water and stars of the Milky Way light the sky.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Northern Clouds

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day explores the rich beauty to be found in the constellation of Cygnus. The Milky Way's "attic" constellations are not as rich as the skies of Sagittarius or Scorpius, but still contain wonders.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ring Around the Galaxy

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows AM 0644-741, a "ring" galaxy in the constellation of Volans. The image is part of the anniversary events around the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Final Approach

The MESSENGER probe to Mercury is on the last few days of mission life as the probe runs out of fuel and spirals down to the iron planet. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows how the view is becoming more and more...intimate. Thanks, MESSENGER, for a look at our innermost neighbor!

Friday, April 17, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a great shot of sky treasure Messier 46, in the constellation of Puppis. Look carefully when you observe an object like this; you never know what other treasures are found buried inside!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Missing Matter

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 4725 in the constellation of Coma Berenices. Where's the other (at least one) galactic arm?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dust Clouds

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day focuses in on the Carina Nebula and the fantastic shapes that stellar nurseries assume as young stars distort them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Evening Star

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Venus, currently in it's "evening star" mode. Take a look outside, it is fantastically brilliant in the post-dusk sky. Overhead, not quite as bright, you should be able to spot Jupiter.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Missing Messier

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is spiral galaxy NGC 2903. A bright galaxy in the constellation of Leo, it was overlooked by Charles Messier and his catalog of non-cometary objects.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Extended Gas

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows various "active galaxies" with glowing greenish light (caused by excited oxygen atoms). What's particularly interesting about these is that they were discovered thanks to the efforts of "citizen scientists".

Friday, April 3, 2015

Little Black Books

No, not the classic little black books from the classic SF roleplaying game Traveller. Penguin has paper little black books of out of copyright titles (therefore available at Project Gutenberg and elsewhere) that seem to be selling like little brown pancakes.

Double Double

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of a rare sight: same place, opposite times of day: a ice halo surrounded the Sun (day shot) and Moon (night shot).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015