December 2, 2015

Astronomy Video of the Week: Skiing the Eclipse

A screen-cap from the Svalbard eclipse documentary.

Image credit: Salomon FreeSki TV

What’s more thrilling than a total solar eclipse? Mounting an expedition to capture one from a unique and unseen angle…

A recent team from Salomon Freeski TV did just that. Earlier this year, a total solar eclipse graced the high arctic. A few hardy souls braved the fickle weather of the North Atlantic sea to witness the brief moments of totality. Getting to the eclipse was tricky, as it only crossed over land for the Faroe and Svalbard Islands. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Syzygy Gambit Part 2

Out soon… (Image credit: NASA)

Here it tis… a continued sneak peek at the upcoming Solar Winds tale, due for publication in the next week. Don’t forget, start back on last week’s chapter 1, and read the first two Solar Winds stories and other original tales of sci-fi by yours truly.


Solar Winds: The Syzygy Gambit

Part 2


David Dickinson


Andrea topped a small rise, puffing a bit under the Martian gravity. She stopped to survey the twilight landscape around her and make some sense of her bearings. “I’ve been cooped up on a space tub too long,” she said to herself, as she panted and rubbed her burning calves. What would Terran gravity feel like now? Her suit and supplies would allow her to survive about a week unsupported in the Martian desert. “Thank Jove for super-compressed O2,” she said, laughing. She knew she would have to make good time tonight, and then pitch camp by dawn. Hopefully, she would only have to overnight in the Martian desert. Unless the Terran Legion has found our friends first, and created a new Martian crater, she grimaced. She knew that the closest Martian settlement was over 500 klicks away in the wrong direction.

Blinking, she thought she caught the glimmer of metal in the twilight. Wreckage? The snaking sands were uncovering things all of the time. Anyway, it was on her path, and it seemed like as good a fixed point to walk towards as any. Cinching up her pack hard against her shoulders, Andrea trotted off down the slope.

The Commandant pulled the thought-node from his skull and glared out the view plaz towards the lunar disk that always hung stationary from this Lagrange point station between Terra and Luna. He had decided early on in this posting at Terran Legion Headquarters that he hated the eternal waxing and waning of the lunar cycles. He preferred the dark depths of space. Next cycle’s lunar eclipse would provide a welcome respite, with a brief, cold slide into the shadows.

The door to his office slid open and a young Lieutenant drifted through. An augee, he thought. Most Terrans had been either mechanically or genetically altered, or both. Few were whole anymore, except maybe some religious fanatics on the lunar far side. And we’ll take care of them soon enough, the Commandant thought.

“Dispatch from Martian Central, sir; it’s on a priority alpha grid,”she reported smartly. This girl’s augmentation, like his own, didn’t show. Still, he sensed her Legion ID on the neural grid, and he noted that those amber cat eyes weren’t the product of blind natural selection.

“Connect me to the down link,” he barked, plugging the thought-node back in. I’ll ferret her out on sex grid later, he thought. Instantly, images from Martian orbit flooded his cyber-nodes. He saw the sleek, one-person spacecraft dive for the Martian surface. The Cartel! He ran a neural cross-check. It was identical to the one that had escaped from Titan and another pair that had wreaked so much havoc on Ganymede. He currently had half of the Legion battle fleet scouring the outer solar system searching for these scum. They wouldn’t dare step foot into the inner system! The craft bared a striking resemblance to the set Holderson claimed were stolen some months back. Holderson was still out of communication on Amalthea. What, by Jove, does he do there?

A consciousness bore through the grid towards him. It was the Lieutenant. “We still have our agent on the inside,” she said. “Shall I contact her?”

“Standby,” the commandant called out. He didn’t feel like discussing their sleeper agent’s status once again, especially with a subordinate. “I want the whole band of bastards this time.”

He looked out at the slimming disk of the Moon. This was going to be fun.

Phobos had risen in the east, not that the tiny moon provided Andrea with much illumination in the Martian night. Andrea thought she could just make out its distorted potato of a phase as it drifted across the sky. She mostly relied on her infra-ocular to navigate through the darkness. The wreckage was in front of her. One exposed panel revealed a yellow hammer and sickle against a red background. An old lander, no doubt, sent by one of the old nation states. She dimly remembered The History of Early Earth Space Exploration from school. China? Russia? It looked as if the lander had come in too shallow and busted up on a large boulder. She wistfully remembered hiking out as a girl and discovering the crash site of the old Beagle 2 lander. The solar system seemed strewn with human wreckage. Hopefully, she thought, Cartel craft won’t be added to the pile. Still, Martian archaeologists would be fascinated by her find. Too bad I can’t tell them, she thought as she unpacked her shelter. But the damaged craft would make an excellent wind break for the night.

Andrea awoke with a start. The sandstorm had picked up to a slow hum against her visor plate. She scanned out beyond the strewn wreckage of the lander. Her visibility, even with the infra-ocular, was down to mere yards. It was easy to get disoriented out here in the drab Martian desert. Her heart beat faster as she remembered being lost as a young girl in a sandstorm on the great Isidis Planitia plains. Zack had kept her from going mad that night. Now she was totally alone, her soft life lay bare before the onslaught of Mars.

Mustn’t panic… she knew she was done for if she lost it out here now. A flick of her visor, a push of her decompression safety latch, and it could all be over. She shuddered to think of an early lost Terran colony where many were found later to have done just that. Bodies were unearthed decades afterward, perfectly desiccated by the near vacuum that passed as the tenuous Martian atmosphere.

But a certain breed of stubbornness refused to let her go out that way. This environment might have been alien to the first Earth-born settlers, but she had practically grown up living in spacesuits and airlocks. She knew that if she had to, she could dig in deep and huddle beside this wreckage until her air gave out days later.

Still…she thought she sensed motion in the storm. Andrea slowly worked her way out beyond her makeshift camp. There seemed to be a definite purposefulness in the grayish-brown swirl. Legion? It wasn’t entirely impossible that they tracked her here from Amalthea, although she was pretty certain that they had nailed that probe in orbit. It was much more likely that the Martian Underground had double-crossed them. Andrea unclipped her maser pistol. Had Karl and the others been captured? It was certainly possible. V.I.C.A.R. was the only Cartel member she had had contact with, and he may have been reprogrammed. Don’t panic…

An alarm went off in her helmet headset. Andrea instinctively hit the dirt. Someone’s scanning me! Andrea peered over the rock outcropping and saw the lumbering form of a long-range sand creeper moving past the wreckage. Andrea hoped the metallic body of the lander would mask her signature. She didn’t doubt that she would find a Legion emblem on the crawler’s hull.

To be continued…

Be sure to follow the Solar Winds saga and other original tales of science fiction by Dave Dickinson.

Review: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

In theaters now…

The circle and the saga are now complete.

This week, as consumers of turkey and Black Friday sales take to the malls, we thought we’d add our two cents on the completion of The Hunger Games film franchise. We’ve been a fan of the saga since seeing and reviewing the first film, and the wife and I actually went on to read and review the second and third books prior to the release of the movies. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week-Captured: the Reentry of WT1190F

Reentry of WT1190F.

Image credit: The International Astronomical Center

They caught it!

We recently wrote an article for Sky & Telescope magazine online discussing the mystery object WT1190F. This two metre-sized body reentered over the Indian Ocean south of Sri Lanka on November 13th, 2015, and a team from the SETI Institute and the International Astronomical Center in Dhabi managed to capture the event from the air. The feat required careful planning on the part of the observers, a modified Gulfstream 450 business jet, and luck that the weather and cloud cover cooperated. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Syzygy Gambit Part 1

A look at a cover to come…

Image credit: NASA

We couldn’t wait.

We’re moving ahead and trying something a bit different here at Astroguyz for this weeks’ free fiction offering. What follows is a sneak peek at something in the works: a rough draft of the third installment of our Solar Winds epic, in its largely unedited glory. Feel free to critique, provide input and let us know what you think; its your commentary that’ll make a good tale great. [Read more...]

Review- The 2015 Rhysling Anthology edited by Rich Ristow

On sale now…

Did you know: science fiction poetry is a thing? We’ll make the confession that we barely knew that the sub-genre (and the sub-sub genres within) existed before we got into the reviewing and writing game of the modern web. [Read more...]

AVOW-Gaia Catches a Solar Transit… of Earth’s Moon

A graphic of Gaia’s perspective.

Image credit: ESA

Sure, you’ve seen a total solar eclipse. You might’ve even caught sight of the historic 2012 transit of Venus… but check this out.

ESA’s Gaia spacecraft recently caught an interesting perspective and hybrid of the two: a transit of the Moon across the disk of the Sun. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: More Fantastic Tales to Come

A look at a possible cover that never was…

(photo by author).

Well, we’ve caught up with the story pipeline this year, featruing science fiction stories we’ve published thus far. Publishing a free chapter a week has been a good ‘kick in the pants,’ inspiring us to write more to keep up with the demand. Here’s a look at the stories we’ve offered up thus far since the project began in early 2015: [Read more...]

Review: The Peyti Crisis by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

On sale now…

Things are heating up in the Retrieval Artist Universe.

We just finished Book Five in the Anniversary Day Saga, entitled The Peyti Crisis. Out earlier this year courtesy of WMG Publishing, this eight part series by prolific author Kristine Kathryn Rusch follows a surprise attack on Earth’s Moon and the confusion and mystery that follows.

You can read our reviews of Book 2 (Blowback), Book 3 (A Murder of Clones) and Book 4 (Search and Recovery) as well. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Dead Comet Turned ‘Skull Asteroid’

Boo! Image credit: NASA/JPL/Arecibo

The universe certainly has a sense of humor.

On Halloween, asteroid 2015 TB 145 safely passed Earth.

Discovered by the PanSTARRS-1 survey in early October 2015, 2015 TB145 orbits the Sun once every 3.1 years in a path that takes it from inside the orbit of Mercury out past the orbit of Mars. It also has a high orbital inclination relative to the ecliptic at 40 degrees. The asteroid zipped 298,500 miles past Earth on October 31st at about 17:01 UT/1:01 PM EDT. That’s just over 1.2 times the Earth-Moon distance. The asteroid didn’t quite break binocular visibility at +10 magnitude, and thus didn’t quite make the ‘is an interesting backyard object’ cut in our book. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: A Standard of Deviation Part 9

On sale now…

And here it is: the conclusion to our original story A Standard of Deviation. And here’s our weekly spiel to A).Start back on chapter 1, B). Read the story in its entirety, and C). Read others like it as well.

This also brings us to the end of every story we’ve written and published thus far… we’ve got another Solar Winds tale in the works, but first, a question: do you want to continue seeing these Friday freebies? If so, leave us a comment on this or any other story, and a review on Amazon of any of our tales would be great!


A Standard of Deviation

by David Dickinson

Chapter 9

What would become my final stop on this run was a world that I looked forward to most of all; the Van Takcrafans of Navi Prime. They were almost frighteningly advanced. How these sentient flying spider-snakes hadn’t stumbled upon quantum transport technology is a small wonder in of itself. Stranded in this remote corner of the Milky Way, they had instead enshrouded their host star in an enormous Dyson Sphere to capture every available erg of energy it produced.  [Read more...]

Review: Kepler and the Universe by David Love

On sale now…

One of the greatest and most tragic tales in the history of astronomy is the life of Johannes Kepler. And though many are familiar with the 16th-17th century scientist, mostly due to his laws of planetary motion, few know the story of Kepler the man. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week-Catch a Space Walk Live

A ‘Spacewalk Selfie’ taken by astronaut

Scott Kelly during last week’s EVA

Image credit: NASA

It’s probably the most enviable office space out of this world. Later this week, astronauts Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren will perform a routine spacewalk, their second in just over a week. The focus of Friday’s spacewalk—often referred to as an EVA, short for Extra Vehicular Activity—is the repair of an ailing ammonia cooling system along the port truss of the International Space Station. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: A Standard of Deviation Part 8

On sale now…

It’s a rough job, being a quantum courier these days… Here’s the long (well since last Friday, at least!) anticipated penultimate Chapter 8 for A Standard of Deviation. If you’re new to the saga, be sure to start back on chapter 1, and you can read A Standard of Deviation and other thrilling and original tales of science fiction by yours truly in their entirety.


A Standard of Deviation


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 8

“Human contact with the Hivers (a local term for the Burnham’s Wasps) has stripped Terra of her cosmos-given rights…” Their leader would say in issued statements. He would go on for hours about how they could “decimate the system” (his own words) if their demands weren’t met. I could tell that they had no clue what to do with the Standard now that they had captured it, and were frightened by the imminent reply from the Confederation and what would probably be their last stand. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Two Live Events from the Virtual Telescope

A similar occultation of the bright star Antares by the Moon.

Image credit: Dave Dickinson

There’s some great events on tap as we head into Halloween weekend. Clouded out, or live on the wrong side if the planet? Have no fear of ghosts, goblins or low hanging cumulus clouds; The good folks over at the Virtual Telescope project have got you covered, with two rapid fire webcasts of two amazing astronomical events. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: A Standard of Deviation Part 7

On sale now!

Ready to jump back in to our latest saga? Then without further fanfare, here’s chapter 7 of our latest sci-fi tale. Remember, if you’re new to the tale, to start back with chapter 1, and you can read A Standard of Deviation and other tales like it in its entirety online.

A Standard of Deviation


David Dickinson

Chapter 7

But such wanton fantasies were to be quickly abandoned in favor of the present. I was wakened early by the sergeant at arms to flashes beyond the port bay window.

“Ma’am,” he called out as he shook me in a calm manner that hid the urgency of the situation. “You’re going to have to depart, immediately. The Scrappers have found the station.” [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Celebrating SOHO’s 3,000th Comet

There it is: SOHO’s 3,000th comet.

Image credit: NASA/SOHO

Has it really been that long? The joint NASA/European Space Agency’s Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) celebrates two full decades in space in just a few short weeks. Launched on December 2nd, 1995, the mission keeps a continual watch on the Sun from its L1 vantage point. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: A Standard of Deviation Part 6

On sale now…

Has the Universe got you down? Reality is certainly crashing down hard around our main protagonist this week… remember through, we all have the means to shake the game up a bit, in our very own special way. If you’re new to the tale, be sure to start back on Chapter 1. Or hey, you can read A Standard of Deviation and other original tales of sci-fi by yours truly in their entirety as well.

Anyways, onward to Chapter 6:

A Standard of Deviation


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 6

But that would mean that our monopoly on galactic trade would also be over.

I finally got a chance to sit down and read Lila’s message the night before departure from the system. I was back on the Lagrange point station which would serve as our departure area to the portal where I would pick up the Quantum Standard and head to the next system on the run. I had notes from our surface survey to organize, and I plugged in Lila’s transmission as the station slid into the shadow of the dead world. [Read more...]