Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Down Below

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the southern polar cap of Mars. Made up of mainly frozen carbon dioxide, the ESA's Mars Express has detected what might be a sizeable body of liquid water over 1 kilometer under the ground. What lies beneath? Salty water? Life? Let's go and see!

Just don't drink the water...

Monday, July 30, 2018

Moon Over

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day has the blood-red eclipsed Moon and the nearly equally blood-red planet Mars rising over Rio de Janeiro. Spooooookkkyyy!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

To the Core

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video depicting a journey to the center of the Milky Way. Where's Beowulf Shaeffer when you need him?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Close Mars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is the tale of two oppositions: Mars during a close approach in 2016 and in 2018. The globe-trotting dust storms have managed to obscure most of the surface features (can you hear the grinding of teeth of amateur astronomers everywhere?).

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Dark on Dark

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows dark molecular clouds, Barnard 228, in the constellation of Lupus the Wolf. Does that cloud itself look more like Goofy?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Edging Out

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us a common celestial object (a spiral galaxy) but seen but a less common vantage (edge on). Think about it. The most famous (or familiar) images of spirals are usually at an angle such that we look over and into the galaxy from above (or below...it's all relative!), not along the side.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Everything Merges with the Night

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us a merging of our world and the universe beyond: clouds of the skies of Earth (water vapor), clouds of the universe (clusters and streams and spiral arms, oh my).

Monday, July 23, 2018


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day are artist depictions of some of the discoveries made by the Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope. Science brackets? Why not?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Universal Plank

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an image of data collected by the ESA's Planck satellite which spent 2009 to 2013 to map our universe. As a result, we've been able to stretch the estimated age of the universe back to 13.8 billion years.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

RuneQuest Reboot

Really looking forward to this.

Sailing Sailing

Want to take a spin as a rower on a recreation of an ancient warship? Yes, please!

First Landing

It took a while for us to see the crisp images from Apollo 11, such as today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, as the initial images were somewhat grainy black and white television shots. I still remember that thrill (and the bigger thrill of the audio-only landing in which we ignorant "civilians" did not know of the drama of rocks and craters on the ground and computer overloads and low fuel warnings in the craft) and the thrill when the newspapers and magazines (especially Life and National Geographic) published the beautiful color images.

Drink it in. Dream mighty things.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Teapots Celestial and Grounded

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Death Valley (in the United States) at Teakettle Junction (suitably decorated). Adding to the grounded teapots is the asterism found in the constellation of Sagittarius (a great place to explore when it is visible—with either binoculars or telescopes!) known as the Teapot. Saturn and Mars are currently moseying through the area as well.

"Mouseover" the image in the link for a guide. Or look below!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bright Focus

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day focuses in on Cerealia Facula, on Dwarf Planet Ceres. As the Dawn vehicle reaches the end of its mission (fuel supplies are not infinite!), it has been put into a lower orbit around Ceres to make the most of the remainder of the mission. The object seen is (alas) not ice (as I had hoped) but deposits of salt (15 kilometers wide)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Ink Spill

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us an image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. What is happening on Mars? Whether it is dust, dry ice or actual liquid water or...spilled ink pots...nobody is 100% sure. Let's go and camp out and see it live!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the recent conjunction between the Moon and Venus as both head towards setting. Seen in the still "just past new" phase, the Moon will brighten towards full with a eclipse (total, if you're in the path) on July 27.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Active Hunt

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an artist depiction of a blazing quasar (blazar) where it is thought a neutrino, an elusive odd particle, has been confirmed to have been detected linked to a cosmological event. Neutrino Drive, anyone?

Sunday, July 15, 2018


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day combines ground-based and space-based images to bring detail to Messier 57, the Ring Nebula, in the constellation of Lyra.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Two Years Out

We're two years out from the second edition setting of this classic science fiction roleplaying game.

611 in 2001

You'll want to click on that one to get the full effect.

Beyond the Infinite

Caution: Weightless Condition

Bolt On

Emergency Maintenance


Edge Case Scenario

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is from the July 13, 2018 eclipse of the Sun. What? You missed it? Right there! That..nick...

Not all eclipses are total and not all partial eclipses are noticeable! That's part of the fun in eclipse chasing, getting those rarities.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a galaxy that had a bad day and is still in recovery mode. Centaurs A is an "active galaxy". Two galaxies "interacted" and the results can be seen in a jumble of star clusters, dust clouds and more. Top it off with a central black hole that is slowly consuming the dust and other material that comes its way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Variations on a Theme

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope view of variable star (stars, actually) R Aquarii. Hubble brings us fine detail such as this, but even a modest pair of binoculars can show the variations in brightness if you track the stars over time.

Variable stars are one area where amateurs can continue to make a contribution. There are so many to observe that there are not enough "professional scale" instruments to observe them. Amateurs have contributed observations for over one hundred years.

Might I recommend a book to you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing noctilucent clouds over the skies of Paris. I was treated last night not only to a nice view of such clouds, but also the Belt of Venus featured here a few days ago.

(The above image is from a prior APOD, by the way.)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Clear Approach

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a desert road at night...seemingly leading straight to Mars. If only we could get up enough speed to make the leap across that gap!

("Mouseover" the image in the link for a guide to some of the things visible in the picture.)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Plumbing and Politics

It appears that the United States is...raising a stink...over some of the sub-systems of the International Space Station that they have purchased from the Russians.

This is not the first time that this sub-system has been an issue. In March 2009, it was involved in a form of brinkmanship. Later that year, when 13 people were on the ISS at once, the US facility broke down, putting strain on the Russian facility.

Let's be honest, it's not like they can pull over at a rest stop.

Ring Structure

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the extended spiral structure found in the same field of view as LL Pegasi. It's not a spiral galaxy. Probably it is a planetary nebula in the making. If seen from the side, perhaps it would resemble a painting by Chesley Bonestell?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Perpetual Light

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a midnight scene in northern Denmark. During the summer season, the Sun never quite goes away!

Dragon in the Sea

From a 1968 book (Explorers of the Deep). Do I recognize a certain vehicle thought up by Frank Herbert, later patented by somebody else?


Alan Bean does a selfie. Of sorts. Apollo 12 visits Surveyor 2.

Mission Line

A visual mission history for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Some of these destinations need followup. Do we have the vision to do so?