Saturday, June 30, 2018

Heavy Traffic

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the full Moon trying to navigate rush hour traffic on East 96th Street in New York City.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Messier 24

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a deep, detailed look at the star clouds of Messier 24 in the constellation of Sagittarius. One of the wonders of the northern hemisphere summer sky, it is best viewed (if you don't have long-exposure photographic equipment!) in binoculars or a low-power, wide field-of-view telescope.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

South Celestial Pole Sights

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the rich star and nebular fields near the South Celestial Pole, in the constellation of Octans. Astounding stuff! "Mouseover" the image in the link for a guide to Sigma Octantis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What's Up for the Summer?

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us a map of what is up for the summer months. Mars! Venus! Jupiter! Saturn! The summer Milky Way! Globular clusters! Planetary nebula!

Now if we only had longer darker nights to go with all the good stuff! You just can't win, sometimes, as an amateur astronomer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ink Spots

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows dark nebula embedded in the reflective nebula across the constellation of Taurus. Spooky!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lovely Plumage

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the shadow of the plume left by Space Shuttle Atlantis (in 2001) seemingly pointing towards the Moon. We're still waiting to go back!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Dust Plumes

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a June 15 self-portrait of MSL Curiosity. We're still waiting word on MER-B Opportunity which, being solar-powered, was affected by the dust and went into a low-power mode in the hopes that it would be able to wake up when the dust cleared.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Clouds and Curtains

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows noctilucent clouds and auroral activity over the skies of Canada. I've seen noctilucent clouds on a pretty regular basis but the Northern Lights more rarely. On the few occasions when they have journeyed this (relatively) far "south"...amazing things happen in the skies!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Life Below—Life Above?

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows stromatolites (today's version of a very ancient life form) in Australia under the arch of the Milky Way. Are there planets out there that support a similar form of life?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Orbital Uber

The concept of an orbital tugboat and/or taxi has been around for a long time. Here's a diagram showing one recent concept (the claim is that it would significantly cut orbital transfer costs).


Even the Apollo astronauts needed a roadmap, it seems.

Blue Origin

Something about this image posted recently by Blue Origin strikes me as...familiar...


Today's dual image Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the global impact of dust storms on Mars. From 2001, a few months apart, all detail is wiped from these Hubble Space Telescope pictures.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Global Storm

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a small glimpse of the dust storm that has engulfed Mars. Taken by the MSL Curiosity, nearly all visibility has been wiped out by the particles in the air. On the other side of the planet, the solar-powered MER-B Opportunity has been put into a state of suspension in the hopes that it can be wakened when the rays of the Sun again strike its solar panels.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Launch from a Small Planet

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the launch of a Soyuz carrying members of Expedition 56 and 57 to the International Space Station. What's up with the "ground" in the image? Was the Earth shrunk by a quantum black hole?

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows planets stacked up over the skies of Yosemite. Three planets in the sky, one that you stand on. Jupiter is sinking into the west as the sun sets, but both Mars and Saturn are giving good views at the moment (if you can apply a global dust filter to Mars, that is!). "Mouseover" the image in the link for a guide to the planets visible in this image.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Side by Side

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video comparing the sizes of known planets (and stars) in the universe. How does the Earth stack up?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rise Up

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a Delta II rocket lifting from the smoke and steam around the launch pad. Locked inside the protective shroud at the top is GLAST, the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, later named the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which we just visited recently.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Big Cat

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 6543, popularly known at The Cat's Eye Nebula, found in the constellation of Draco. The Cat's Eye is a planetary nebula (originally named as the first observers thought they resembled the fuzzy blobs of planets they also observed), the final paroxysms of a star being played out for our enjoyment.


Star Cops

Star Cops was a great late 1980's show cut short by a strike and a studio. Alas, the video hasn't made it to this end of the pond, but I keep hoping (episodes are on YouTube, not sure how legally). Some life seems to be coming to the franchise with the release of an eBook and the first (hopefully of many) audiobooks.

(Weirdly, the audiobook keeps showing as "unavailable" and so far there's no Audible downloadable edition. Hopefully this changes.)

Driving Me Backwards

We're going to Mars! No, we're going to the Gateway! We're going back to the Moon! We're privatizing the ISS! We're deorbiting the ISS! We are building (forever) the SLS!

Just send up the Toybox, already.



Over at Tor Dot Com, James Davis Nicoll looks at one of my favorite (alas, gone) book imprints: Timescape Books.

Back when it was a going concern, it introduced me to many authors (new and old) that have become favorites. Gene Wolfe. Jack Vance. Vonda N. McIntyre. A revitalized Star Trek Line. New books by old favorite authors.

What a line of books.


Nightflyers is a novella by George R. R. Martin, from when he appeared in the pages of Analog and wrote science fiction. Some great stuff from that era, and I recommend that fans of Game of Thrones who are waiting for the next book or the next season would take a look.

Nightflyers was a so-so movie that appeared post-Star Wars as part of the mini-boom that generated a number of low to mid-budget films (Galaxy of Terror, anyone?). Most are forgotten today, but there is some gold in there (whether it is comedy gold is up to you).

Nightflyers is coming as a television series. Not sure how this will all work (especially as some reports are that is based more on that movie than the story, but...).

Nightflyers is out in two new editions, including an illustrated edition.

Over at Tor Dot Com, some of the history of Nightflyers.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mars Summer

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a bright Mars (currently outshining Sirius) rising over the hills, under the arch of the galaxy.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Crashing Galaxies

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 3256 in the constellation of Vela. This oddly shaped spiral is the result of a collision between two galaxies, NGC 3256 and the one that got away.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Complex Interface

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the complex interplay between cloud belts on Jupiter. The Juno Orbiter is returning great scientific data...and mind-blowing images.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Black and White

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Saturn's enigmatic moon Iapetus. Dark materials have coated half the surface, standing in stark contrast to the other lighter half. Even before being visited by the Pioneer and Voyager flyby missions and the Cassini orbiter, it was known that Iapetus had two strikingly different faces (and this even played a role in the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke). What strange universe!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Welcome to RuneQuest (Part 01): What is RuneQuest?

One of my favorite roleplaying games is going through a renaissance and reboot! Sartar Forever!

Ebbs and Flows

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows geological activity (volcano, anyone?) from the Kilauea caldera on the "Big Island" of Hawaii under the sedate stars of the Milky Way.

Friday, June 1, 2018

On Approach

In today's Astronomy Picture of the Day: the planet Mars is making a "close" approach (conjunction) with us in the night skies. You'll need something more than a modest telescope to get a good view (and very steady skies), but see if you can get out there and catch a glimpse of the dark areas or the polar caps. Just beware of the regular hoax that circulates whenever Mars approaches.