May 27, 2015

Astronomy Video of the Week: Happy Towel Day from the ISS

Image credit: NASA

Don’t panic… the good crew of the International Space Station have got you covered on this Towel Day 2015. Today is not only the variable holiday of Memorial Day in the United States, but it is also Towel Day, marking author Douglas Adams’ landmark work that started it all, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As all fans know, if you know where your towel is, you’ll be able to face down whatever the universe can throw at you… on this, or any day. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Christoforetti even managed to stay on the international Space Station just long enough to mark the occasion: [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell Chapter 5

Here’s our ‘Free Fiction Friday’ offering straight out of our Solar Winds universe. Be sure to start back with chapter 1, or Read the first two tales Scorpius Cell and The Cloaked Promise on our author page.


Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 5


When she arrived at the space port, she found an automated one-way passage to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, awaiting her. Pretty unassuming, she thought, since Titan boasted the largest University at Cronus City. Still, Andrea never dreamed of attending, having never before left Mars Provincial. Who exactly was footing the bill, she wondered? [Read more...]

Review: Universe Between Edited by Dean Wesley Smith

On sale now!

Note: once we’d returned from our travelling expedition last month, we arrived to an expected stack of review books from the past year. Though our current writing obligations demand that we can’t go full tilt back in the world of book reviewing, we thought we’d crank out the current stack we found on our doorstep as part of our summer reading. As a writer of both fiction and non-fiction ourselves, we feel that just about every book deserves a fair shake, especially if someone gave us the privilege and obligation to read and review em!

The fantastic is often were you find it. Adventure awaits in the realm of the very small, the very large, and in time frames too fast or slow to be perceptible to the human eye. We always love the idea that the strange and wonderful is always riding side-by-side with us through life, if we only know where to look for it… [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Watch the Launch of AFSPC-5 Live

The X-37B during encapsulation.

Image credit: Boeing/USAF/ULA

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B takes to space once again this week with several high profile public missions aboard.

This will be the fourth flight of the automated reusable space plane for the USAF. Also aboard are the Planetary Society’s LightSail test demonstrator, a NASA experiment studying advanced materials and long term exposure to space, and the ULTRASat cubesat dispenser.

Launch is set to occur from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning May 20th at 14:45 Universal Time (UT)/10:45 AM EDT. The X-37B will ride into orbit atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket flying in a 501 configuration. The launch window is four hours long. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell Part 4

Here’s our weekly  installment of free sci-fi goodness. Our current tale is the first in our ongoing space opera saga set in the Solar Winds universe. Start back with chapter 1, or read Scorpius Cell and other works of science and speculative fiction in their entirety.


Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell

by David A. Dickinson

Chapter 4

The Professor squeezed his wine out into the cabin and gulped down the inky globules. Laughing, Andrea downed hers in swift swallows, the musky odor rushing to her temples.

“And me without my boots,” she said, kicking up her bare feet.

As the star closed in on them, it grew into a sharp elongated spindle. As they closed the gap between them, portal lights shining, lit from within by an amber glow, became visible. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Blues for a Martian Sunset

Credit: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M Cornell

Ever wonder what an extraterrestrial sunset looks like? It’s a surprising irony that, while the skies of our blue planet host crimson sunsets, the twilight skies of the Red Planet have just the opposite. The cobalt hues of the image above are not an artifact of processing, but how the sky really appeared from the point of view of the now defunct Spirit rover as the Sun set over Gusev crater back in 2005.

[Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell Part 3

Here’s Part 3 of our ongoing space opera set in the Solar Winds universe. Be sure to start back at Part 1, or read the tale and others like it written by yours truly in their entirety.


Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 3

Moving into the bay, Andrea kicked away the pistols as she led the others up to the bridge portal. Grabbing the deck communicator from the door, she spun and let it drift to Karl. “Time for your award-winning performance,” she said. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Tumbling Progress

Liftoff of Progress M27M.

Image credit: Roscosmos

It all started, as most drama in space does, with a routine launch.

Last Wednesday on April 29th, a Soyuz-U rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Progress M-27M. Progress was a routine uncrewed resupply vessel headed, for a fast-track docking to the International Space Station four orbits later. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell Part 2

Here’s your weekly dosage of free science fiction with Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell part 2. Be sure to start back at part 1 here. Let’s get right in to the action transpiring out in orbit ’round Uranus:

Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell

Chapter 2

by David A. Dickinson

Karl sprung out into the clear, firing both his and Andrea’s discarded sonic pistol into the fray. Remembering where the three armed guards had last stood, he carefully selected his shots. The compressed sound waves tore through the air, leveling two surprised soldiers.

“The Armory!”  The Professor shouted.  “Don’t let them secure the Armory!” [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Astrophe

Yearning to break the surly bonds…

(photo by author).

It’s a feeling that every lover of space has sometimes.

Exploration of the cosmos is truly a final frontier, a place that often seems to be our logical destiny. But sometimes, there’s a persistent nagging at the back of our primate brains, a feeling that, just maybe, the learning curve is too steep, and maybe space is too hard… perhaps, this still unquiet voice says, the true reason that we never hear from alien civilizations is that this final crucible of leaving the planetary cradle is just too tough. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell Part 1

Here it ’tis: our weekly Friday installment featuring the start of a brand new tale. This one is set in our Solar Winds universe, which fans will remember from our The Hunt for Beagle tale. This also begins the saga of Andrea Makati as an adult and the adventures of Scorpius Cell. We’ve been working on this story line for about the past decade now, and it is ready for prime time. the First two installments are  up on our Amazon author page,  and number three is forthcoming soon. We envisioned Solar Winds as a fast-paced serial installment, with a space opera-theme that’s Star Wars or Dune-sized in scale, but with the sensibilities of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gravity—or the lack thereof—works in the Solar Winds universe, and the laws of physics must be obeyed. And hey, you might just spot a dash of a Legion of Superheroes vibe in the tale as well.


Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell


David Dickinson


“Every trumpeted beginning brings with it the muted promise of an end.”

Hanna Jillian Sweeten,

The Violet Integer (2215, Old Earth Time)


The pressurized hatch protested then finally hissed open, revealing the three figures to the inner bowels of the ship. Finally, we are actually doing it, Andrea thought to herself.

She cleared the maintenance access hatchway and slid into the forward chamber. Everything looked just as The Shrink’s diagrams said it would.

“Gravity should be taking over,” Karl whispered to them. He slid down out of sight. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Catch a Close Pass of Asteroid 2015 HD1 Tonight!

Credit: The Virtual Telescope Project

Caution: low-flying space rocks!

A funny thing happened on our way back to Florida late last week. On April 18th, as we disconnected from the hotel wifi and the cyber world one last time, we admonished the universe not to send any ‘alien invasions or killer space rocks’ our way until we could get our base camp established in Florida on Monday. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Shadowfall Part Four

Fans of extrasolar eclipses and free science fiction rejoice: here is our final chapter installment of Shadowfall. Newcomers will want to start back on Chapter 1. And here, without further fanfare is the action-packed conclusion:


by David A. Dickinson

Chapter 4

“I’d stay back, fry-bait,” he called back to her. She was silent and pulled in closer. She felt beyond dead now. She’d let him waste precious breaths taunting her.

“Y’know, some folks just ain’t cut out to be Guardians,” he continued, reaching into his vest. “They ain’t cold-blooded enough to take the heat,” [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Chasing the Dragon- Watch the CRS-6 Launch Live!

The launch of CRS-5 in January 2015. (Credit: NASA/SpaceX).

Watching space launches can be an addicting pastime. We’ve got just such a chance for a ‘fix’ today, when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lights up the sky over the Florida Space Coast this afternoon with the CRS-6 mission headed to the International Space Station. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Shadowfall Part 3

And here it ’tis… part three of our four part eclipse tale Shadowfall. The idea for this story actually came up in a  late night discussion on just how bizarre eclipses could get in the far future. We had originally envisioned the gruesome competition described in the story as talking place in Earth’s far future, when the rotation of the plant had slowed down to the point that it was possible to actually chase after the shadow of the Moon on foot. We soon came to realize, however, that this would work much more effectively on a fictional exoplanet with a retrograde moon!


Chapter Three


David A. Dickinson

She stopped and lifted Yeara’s limp ragdoll body up on one shoulder and began hopping along with her. “We’re almost there,” she shouted.

“Kendra,” She shrieked back, pointing just ahead. “It’s Merak…” [Read more...]

Astronomy Video Of the Week: An Eclipse Time Lapse

Totality. Image credit: NASA/Griffith Observatory

Miss this past weekend’s total lunar eclipse? Yeah, us too, as we found ourselves in Maine, the only state that missed out on even partial phases of the April 4th total lunar eclipse. But skies were clear Saturday morning across western North America, affording observers fine views of the eclipse. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Shadowfall Part 2

Here it is; the continuation of our eclipse-fueled  science fiction tale Shadowfall. And this is just in time for the end of the first eclipse season for 2015. If you’ve ever wondered what sort of eclipses might occur on far-flung worlds, look no further than this tale. But beyond that, Shadowfall also considers just what humans of the far off era might make of such bizarre spectacles. Read more of our original scifi tales as well, and be sure to start at Part 1 for Shadowfall here.



Chapter 2


David A. Dickinson

Kendra and the others had all heard tales of the Swarmers and how they had entered the inner core solar systems of the Diaspora generations ago, nearly exterminating mankind. They were replicating machines, mindless drones with just a single directive: replicate themselves at the cost of any emerging civilization that stood in their way. Neither Kendra nor any of the others had seen a Swarmer; no one alive had. But evidence of the destruction that they had wrought was still strewn about the star system. Helium fusion generators turned into weapons had managed to save humanity then, but only the Guardians possessed such technology now. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Watch the April 4th Total Lunar Eclipse Live!

Totality as witnessed during the 2003 total lunar eclipse.

(Photo by author)

Ready for the next big eclipse? The big ticket celestial event for April is coming right up, with the first of two total lunar eclipses for 2015 occurring on the morning of Saturday, April 4th. This eclipse features the shortest lunar totality for the 21st century at just four minutes and 43 seconds in duration, and the eclipse will be visible from around the Pacific region, including most of North America. [Read more...]