April 23, 2014

Declassified: The True Tale of Project Orion.

Artist's conception of an Orion vessel about to depart from Mars orbit. (Credit: NASA). Ever wondered if man will ever head to the stars? Certainly, the magnitude… [more]

Declassified: The True Tale of Project Orion. Declassified: The True Tale of Project Orion.

Astro-Challenge: Daytime Planet Spotting!

A daytime Venus post-occultation in 2007! (Photo by Author). Here’s a fine neighborhood experiment to try. Next time the Moon is around 1st or Last Quarter, show… [more]

Astro-Challenge: Daytime Planet Spotting! Astro-Challenge: Daytime Planet Spotting!

Astro-Event: What’s in a Name? Black & Blue Moons through 2020.

The August 2011 Full Moon rising as seen from Astroguyz HQ. (Photo by Author). (Note: This week’s lunar-related event is a fitting tribute to the life of astronaut… [more]

Astro-Event: What’s in a Name? Black & Blue Moons through 2020. Astro-Event: What’s in a Name? Black & Blue Moons through 2020.

30.10.2012: A Weekend of Apocalyptic Fun at the NecronomiCon!

How many Baktuns in a Pectun again? (Credit: Stone Hill.org). The “busy ‘Con season” for Astroguyz has arrived. Sure, it may have came and went with only one event,… [more]

30.10.2012: A Weekend of Apocalyptic Fun at the NecronomiCon! 30.10.2012: A Weekend of Apocalyptic Fun at the NecronomiCon!

Week 4-The Quest for Dark Skies: Into the Appalachians.

A very slender Moon... (All photos by Author). The mountains always beckon. In the end, all astronomers must heed the call of dark, pristine skies and head into… [more]

Week 4-The Quest for Dark Skies: Into the Appalachians. Week 4-The Quest for Dark Skies: Into the Appalachians.

The Top Astronomy Events for 2013.

It has arrived. Welcome to our official guide to the fascinating, the unique, and the down right bizarre in the realm of astronomy coming to a sky near you in 2013.… [more]

The Top Astronomy Events for 2013.   The Top Astronomy Events for 2013.

Featured Posts

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Astro-Vid of the Week- Captured: Venus Occults a Naked Eye Star

Our chart of the passage of Lambda Aquarii behind Venus on April 16th. Created using Stellarium. We love it when backyard observers rise to the challenge. We wrote recently about the prospects for catching the occultation of the +3.7 magnitude star Lambda Aquarii by the planet Venus on the morning of April 16th. Most occultations [...]

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Upon a Sea of Stars by A. Bertram Chandler

A scifi classic! Don’t mess with John Grimes, and don’t ever dare to call him a pirate. He prefers the term privateer, thank you very much. This week, we take a look at the very latest collection of tales of the Galactic Outer Rim by A. Bertram Chandler, collected in one volume for the first [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Adventures in Eclipse Webcasting

Totality! The April 15th 2014 Total Lunar Eclipse. (Photo by Author). Backyard astro-tech has certainly gotten much more sophisticated since we hand-sketched our first lunar eclipse as a kid back in the 1980’s. During this week’s total lunar eclipse, we thought we’d try our hand at live streaming the event. We’ve been a voracious consumer [...]

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Review: Five Billion Years of Solitude by Lee Billings

On sale now! Where did we come from as a species, and where is the party headed? What’s the expiration date for life on Earth, and just how common — or rare — are we? Those are the big questions in modern day science. This week’s review tackles the latest thinking concerning all of these [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Happy Birthday Mars Odyssey!

Mars Odyssey as seen from Mars Global Surveyor in 2005. Credit: NASA An often overlooked but crucial mission celebrates its 13th full year in space today. On April 7th, 2001, a Delta II rocket lifted off into the late Florida morning from Cape Canaveral carrying the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Mars Odyssey was designed to study [...]

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April 2014- Life in the Astro-Blogosphere: Tales of Lunar Totality

A time exposure of lunar totality shot on ye ole film. (Photo by Author). Eclipse season is neigh for 2014 this coming week, with the first of two total lunar eclipses for 2014. Lunar eclipses are always the big ticket astronomical events for any year, and the total lunar eclipse occurring on the night of [...]

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Review: Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd

Out on April 8th! If there’s one thing we love, it’s a non-stop space opera action adventure. Military science fiction has really come of its own over the past decades, as first popularized by Robert Heinlein and his classic Starship Troopers. But what of the soldiers themselves? And what of a world where soldiers are [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: An Online Messier Marathon

On your marks, get set, Messier Marathon! ‘Tis the season when it’s possible to hunt down all the 110 of the deep sky objects in Messier’s famous deep sky catalog in one night. We recently wrote about the potential for carrying out this feat of astronomical observation for 2014.

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Review: A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton

On sale now. So, you think you know maps? Author and historian Jerry Brotton will show you otherwise. This week’s review takes us through a fascinating trip back through history from an unusual perspective. A History of the World in 12 Maps looks at how we’ve perceived the surface of this planet we inhabit throughout [...]

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Astro-Vid of the Week: Watch the Launch of Soyuz Live!

The crew of Soyuz TMA-12M (Credit: NASA). The population of humans in space is about to increase by three tomorrow night, when Soyuz TMA-12M takes to skies over the Baikonur cosmodrome in a brilliant night launch. The launch is set to occur at 21:17 Universal Time (UT) or 5:17 PM EDT on Tuesday, March 25th [...]

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Review: The Enemy Within by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Out this coming April. Ready for political intrigue? This week, we break tradition a bit from our usual review of science and science fiction books to journey back into the tie-dyed era of the early 1960s and a murder mystery that takes the reader into the darkened recesses of Washington politics.

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March 2013: This Month in Science Fiction

Ahh, the month of March has arrived. A time of growth, renewal and taxes. Spring is in the air, although it may not feel it for those of you stranded in snowier climes. And yes, we do indeed realize that for folks down under in the southern hemisphere, the reverse is true, as this month [...]

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Life in the Astro-Blogosphere: On Vigilance and the One That Got Away

Look! There it is! Credit-The Virtual Star Party. Now the story can be told. You just never know when the universe is going to dangle a discovery right in front of your eyes. We amateur astronomers often pride ourselves on being “visual athletes,” patient steely-eyed observers who let little slip by us. But we too [...]

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Astro-Vid of the Week: Chasing Occultations

The Moon approaches Lambda Geminorum (arrowed). The morning was damp with dew and the hour was late. I silently hoped for batteries and gear to hang on, and dared not jitter the scope or camera, for fear of bumping off kilter the perfect alignment of optics and settings that was now producing an exquisite image [...]

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Review: Mission to Mars by Buzz Aldrin

On sale now! America’s premier space pioneer has a vision for space exploration. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has been there. A veteran of Gemini 12 and Apollo 11, Aldrin was the second man to walk on the Moon after Neil Armstrong and has since been a vocal proponent of manned space exploration. And it shows, in [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Catch the Cosmos Reboot Online

Staring into the heart of Sol… Credit: Fox TV. And so it begins…. Last night, the series premiere of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aired on Fox TV. The reboot of the popular documentary series had been years in the making, and has been one of the most anticipated events of 2014. Like many space enthusiasts, [...]

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Review: The Man Who Sold the Moon & Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

On sale now! This week, we return to “Lessons from Science Fiction 101,” with a look at a master of scifi. We’re talking, of course, about American science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein. One of the “Big 3” next to Clarke and Asimov when it comes to golden age science fiction, no one was better [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Down with Daylight Saving Time

Time for sundown on DST? (Photo by author) This coming weekend, most of North America will perform that yearly Spring ritual of setting their clocks one hour ahead to Daylight Saving Time, or DST.  Now reckoned as the second Sunday of March, the DST shift for 2014 on March 9th falls nearly as early as [...]

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Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield

On sale now! By now, you’ve seen the video. Last year, astronaut Chris Hadfield’s cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity went viral on YouTube. This capped a hugely successful stint for Hadfield aboard the International Space Station for the Canadian Space Agency astronaut, and a great ad hoc publicity campaign via social media.

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February 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Boy, how about that recent polar vortex, huh? It’s a good thing that February is the shortest month of the year, at least from the climatic perspective of residents in the northern hemisphere. Of course, we’re writing this from our sunny refuge in Florida, where a “cold snap” means that one must dig through the [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Tracking the 2017 Solar Eclipse

The path of the 2017 eclipse over the U.S. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/A.T. Sinclair). Where will you be on August 21st, 2017? That date isn’t as far away as you think. Just over three and half years from now, a total solar eclipse will span contiguous United States from the Pacific Northwest to the southeastern Atlantic seaboard. [...]

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Review: The Forever Engine by Frank Chadwick

On sale now! Saddle up and batten down those airship hatches… steampunk and alternate science fiction timelines lay ahead in this week’s review. We’ve said it before, and we’ll briefly paraphrase ourselves once again. Steampunk is a genre that’s crying out for a flagship franchise. And it’s ironic that, with the legions of Con fans [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Catch the Launch of GPS 2F-5 Live!

A GPS -2F satellite being hoisted into position atop a Delta 4 rocket. Credit: United Launch Alliance. Live on the Florida Space Coast? A launch is about to light up the skies Thursday night with the liftoff of a Delta 4 rocket carrying the fifth Block 2F navigation satellite into orbit for the United States Air [...]

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Review: My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel

On sale now. It’s a curse and mystery of the mind. What drives anxiety? Is it a disease of modern living, or an affliction that went under many guises before modern science finally shed light on it? This week’s review offers a fascinating look at the affliction from a unique perspective. My Age of Anxiety: [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: When Satellites Collide

A replica of an Iridium satellite at the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: ideonexus, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license). A landmark event occurred on this day back in 2009, one that has grim implications for the future of spaceflight. On February 10th around 4:56 PM Universal Time, the defunct Cosmos [...]

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Review: Mars, Inc. by Ben Bova

On sale now! It’s a destination that always seems to be “20 years away.” But just how will we get to Mars? And why should we go? Science fiction author Ben Bova’s most recent book Mars, Inc.: The Billionaire’s Club out from Baen Books shows us just how those first steps might be made.

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Astro-Vid Of The Week: Mission Juno: Catch the Full Documentary

Juno at Jupiter. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech). So you think you know Juno? Launched on August 5th, 2011, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is headed to probe the secrets of Jupiter. The mission will be only the second spacecraft to enter orbit around the largest planet in our solar system (after Galileo) and will also be the first mission [...]

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Life in the AstroBlogosphere: February 2014-How Many Space Relics Are Out There?

An artist’s conception of Pioneer 10 drifting silently around the galaxy. (Credit-NASA). The Drake Equation may be due an overhaul. Its fun to sit and think how many extraterrestrial civilizations might be out there.  First expressed by astronomer Frank Drake in 1960, the Drake Equation frames the question of how many civilizations might in our [...]

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Review: Empress of the Sun by Ian McDonald

Out on February 4th! Ever wonder just how many alternate realities are out there? Are there universes were JFK was never assassinated, or strange dystopian worlds where Justin Bieber is President of the United States? Though strange (and terrifying) to contemplate, it sure does explain the bizarre goings on in this here plane of reality, [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: New Horizons Encounter Video

An artist’s conception of New Horizons on approach to Pluto and Charon. (Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute JHUAPL/SwRI) We’re just one year away now from the beginning of a historic solar system encounter. In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will thread its way past Pluto and its retinue of moons. [...]

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Review: The Man-Kzin Wars XIII Created by Larry Niven

On sale now! Galactic interspecies war has never been hotter. And one of the most enduring conflagrations in modern scifi-dom has been between humanity and the cat-like Kzinti. The Kzin were first introduced by science fiction author Larry Niven in his 1966 short story “The Warriors,” and went on to become frequent players in his [...]

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January 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Welcome to 2014! Yeah, I know, we will spare you the spiel about how we’re all supposed to have flying skateboards by now. Still, it is strange to think about just how many science fiction red-letter dates are coming right up. It’s just plain hard to be a prophet of the future, though perhaps all [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: A New Look at LIGO

The entrance to LIGO Livingston. (Photo by Author) An exciting astronomical observatory is finally be getting the recognition it deserves. We’ve written about the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) before. LIGO consists of a pair of L-shaped arrays, one based in Hanford Washington and one in Livingston Louisiana which we toured in 2010.  LIGO first went [...]

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Review: Life at the Speed of Light by J. Craig Venter

On sale now! Genetic engineering may well be the next big revolution of our age. Sparked with the discovery of the DNA double-helix by Watson and Crick in 1953, we may just now be on the edge of being able to custom tailor life. And no one has been farther out on the cutting edge [...]

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Astro-Vid Of the Week: Landing on Titan

An artist’s conception of Huygens, now silent on the surface of Titan. (Credit: ESA). History was made nine years ago today, when the European Space Agency’s Huygens spacecraft successfully landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Released 20 days prior on Christmas Day, Huygens survived its descent and lasted 1.5 hours on the icy moon’s surface [...]

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January 2014-Life in the Astro-Blogosphere: Bizarro Astronomy

Our (Familiar?) Moon… Photo by author Weirdness is where you look for it. This was drove home to me while observing the Transit of Venus back in June 2012. While we strugged to grab a few brief views of the event through the pervasive cloud cover, we noted that life around us was going on [...]

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Review: Fire Season by David Weber & Jane Lindskold

On sale now! Feline-esque alien species are an under-appreciated realm of extraterrestrials in modern science fiction. And if the prevalence of kitten pics on ye ole internet is any indication, we just can’t get enough of cats. But alien races, such as Larry Niven’s Kzinti of his Known Space/Man Kzin Wars saga, show us just [...]