May 29, 2016

Crossing the Pillars of Hercules

Follow the arrow…

We’ve arrived.

As we mentioned in last week’s dispatch, our mission this past weekend was to exit Spain into Morocco, for a brand new 90 day reset on our visa… and of course, to explore brave new lands.

First off, everything went off with ‘nary a hitch. We ditched the rental in Gibraltar, pre-positioned ourselves in Algeciras, and caught the ferry across the straights of Gibraltar from Tarife to Tangier. Where invasion fleets and cannon balls used to fly, lies a now placid straight mainly plied by sun-seeking tourists. [Read more...]

Crossing Continents

The Pillars of Hercules beckon…

Image credit: Dave Dickinson

There’s an old adage that says no battle plan actually survives combat, and the same could be said of travel.

This weekend sees us on the move once again, getting ready and in position to jump across the straits of Gibraltar from Spain into Morocco. [Read more...]

Keeping a Running Regimen on the Road

How many pairs of footwear do YOU travel with?

How do you maintain an exercise regimen whilst traveling? And no, we’re not talking about skipping down to the hotel gym before buffet breakfast, although we’ve done that as well. We’re talking about staying true to a regimen while independently traveling. [Read more...]

Waiting for Mercury: Tales of Transits

Our humble station.

There’s another insidious danger that awaits unwary solar astronomers.

This coming Monday on May 9th, the planet Mercury transits the fair face of our host star as seen from our Earthly vantage point. Unlike, Venus, Mercury is tiny, meaning amateurs everywhere will be scrambling to make solar filters for their telescopes this weekend. [Read more...]

Book Review: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2016

On sale now.

Ready for some of the very best in science fiction? Every year since 1966, the Nebula Awards recognize the best of the best in all that is speculative fiction. It’s a tough call, sure, boiling and distilling down the field from all of the diverse and excellent sci-fi prose that’s out there. But the Nebula Awards compilation is always a rewarding and exhilarating read. [Read more...]

Adventures With Air BnB

Working by the fire…

Wow.

Let me tell you about our latest addiction. As long time fans of this weekly column know, we’re long time travelers. We’ve stayed in many a hostel and hotel of various configurations, and we’ve always thought that there should be another niche, something between a weekend hotel and a full on rental. [Read more...]

Where We’re At: Updates From the Road

We can now see Gibraltar from our workspace…

Well, our time in Jimena de la Frontera is just about at an end. It has been a great stay in a tiny Andalusian white pueblo town, a foothill village topped with a stunning 9th century Moorish castle. We suspect you’ll be hearing more about Jimena soon, as recent archaeological finds date the roots of the town back even further, to Roman times. Stone Age art found along the river suggest that humans were here even earlier, plying the region for thousands of years. [Read more...]

Astro-Image Processing: How Far is Too Far?

NOT a fake…

Image credit: Dave Dickinson

Alright. We’re going to touch on a hot button issue in astrophotography on this week’s soapbox rant. After years of watching the discussion come ’round, we’re going to add our two cents. When it comes to post-processing, how far is too far? When is an image no longer an accurate rendition of reality? [Read more...]

A Peek at Our New Tale, ‘Peak Season’

On Sale Now!

We couldn’t resist. Our latest science fiction tale is live and available on Amazon.com, and we thought this weekend that we’d harken back a bit and offer readers the first 1000 words free. You can read Peak Season and other original scifi tales by your’s truly in their entirety.

 

Peak Season

By

David A. Dickinson

 

I never thought that I’d find my most interesting and life-changing assignment as a new hotel manager in the backwater town Carbondale, Illinois. [Read more...]

Astronomy on the Go

A lucky shot from Seville, Spain…

(Photo by author)

Do you always remember to look at the sky, wherever you are? Sometimes, an astronomical event comes to us, but often, we have to instead go to it. Total solar eclipses or witnessing the northern lights from the high arctic comes to mind.

It’s easy to keep up astronomy as a daily pursuit when it’s the primary goal of an expedition… but what do you when it isn’t? [Read more...]

Road Rules: Driving Internationally

Driving abroad… it’s not all ‘clouds and castles.’

(photo by the author)

Well, we finally picked up our rental steed at Seville airport in Spain this week. Driving and renting while traveling internationally has its pluses and minuses; it can give you the flexibility to really get out into the countryside on your own schedule… [Read more...]

Travel Old and New

A confirmed vertical sundial sighting in Seville, Spain…

(photo by the author)

The more things change, the more they stay the same… or do they?

This past week saw us change basecamp from Cadiz, Spain to Seville. No huge move, just a few train rides and a short hike with the luggage. We always love it when a moving day is shorter than six hours duration from door to door. [Read more...]

Tramping Around Old Cadiz

Not a bad way to spend winter…

All photos by the author.

Well, one week into country, and we’re settling in to our very first international Air BnB in Cadiz Spain. The oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, the old walled city of Cadiz is very walk-able. In fact, we’ve taken to jogging the perimeter around the old seawall nearly every morning, a route that covers a good five kilometer route.

A run in the morning, then write ’til noon, then off for lunch and adventure around the city seems to be the daily rhythm we’ve struck, not bad. We’re slowing down a bit, though we fully expect to be on the move again shortly.

Among the markets, museums and alleyways, we made a remarkable find yesterday: the oldest camera obscura in Spain, and a still functioning one at that. It resides atop the Torre Tavira along one of the longest streets in the old city, Calle Sacramento. Our Air BnB is just a few blocks away, and we’d walked right by the tower about a dozen times in the past week before deciding to go in yesterday afternoon.

And we’re glad we did. A camera obscura is a pinhole projection camera. Early man probably stumbled upon the idea way back when; you can imagine his amazement, as scenes from the outside world were projected onto the cave walls via pin hole cracks. These early types of projectors became quite advanced in medieval times, and the camera obscura atop the Torre Tavira is a remarkable device.

In fact, we’d recommend this as a first stop, to get your bearings and orientation around the city. The camera is a sort of periscope device, and has a rotate-able 360 degree view of the city. The projection is done on to a large parabolic dish about two meters across in the darkened room below. It’s magical to watch and a bit eerie, looking on as the ant-like citizens of Cadiz go on about their daily lives. You can see along the rooftops, alleyways, markets and far out to sea. Go on a clear day, as you can see all the way out to Morocco and the coast of northern Africa.

It’s definitely worth the six euros for the 30 minute demonstration of the camera, followed by the view from the top of the tower along the rooftops. Cadiz is a city of watchtowers with over a hundred, essential for merchants whose livelihood depended on knowing just who was coming in to harbor. Cadiz was a thriving port in the 19th century, as its position near the Straits of Gibraltar made it an enviable location for commerce.

And as mentioned, the old city is very runner-friendly as well. We’re a morning runner, and we like to get up early and knock out a good run before we immerse ourselves in the obligations of the day. The time zone challenge, however, serves to offset us a bit: though Spain is the same longitude as the United Kingdom and sits along the Greenwich Meridian, it seems to have opted for some reason to stay on Central European Time at UT+1… it would be interesting to know the exact history of why this is, while Portugal and Morocco opted for UT+0 time. This means that, in the winter months, sunrise doesn’t occur until past 8 AM local, and the offset back to summer time in late March only serves to nudge this back a bit farther.

But, as with our times living in Italy, all woes can be solved with good food and good wine.

What’s next? Well, we’ve got two major itineraries brewing in our brain: one is to head to Seville, rent a car and see Andalusia; the other is to bus it to Algeciras near Gibraltar, check off those sights, and take the ferry over to Morocco and the coast of North Africa…

More to come!

The 2015 Nebula Awards Showcase

On sale now…

Looking for the very best in science fiction? Along with the Hugos, the Nebulas honor the very best of the best in sci-fi without the -y’s. Reviewing the Nebula awards has become a sort of institution here at Astroguyz as well, and serves as a great way to not only digest the finest of the genre, but gives us a great scope of all the cutting edge stuff. [Read more...]

Getting There: Adventures in Space-A Travel, Part 2

Our ride to Spain!

Photo by Author.

We caught the flight! Last week, we discussed our adventures with Space Available military travel, and how we were stranded in a holding pattern at Norfolk, Naval Air Station awaiting a flight to Rota, Spain. Well, turns out the fifth time is the charm, and we now find ourselves in sunny southern Spain. We actually got to ride on a C-17, a first for us. [Read more...]

Adventures in Space A Travel

Eternally pack’d…

Photo by author.

Wanna travel the world for free? Well OK, it’s no big surprise that nothing in this reality is truly free, and what you save in money, you generally end up paying back in time and effort. Hungry? You can hunt (time) and scavenge (effort) to cook a meal from scratch (for less money). Or you can reverse the axiom and pop a five dollar 7/11 burrito in the microwave… [Read more...]

Moved by Gravitational Waves

Where history was made… LIGO Hanford.

Photo by the author.

By now, you’ve heard the news: Gravitational Waves have been detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) for the very first time. We’re now in a post-gravitational wave detection phase of astronomy; as a species, we can now examine the universe in a mode completely separate from the electromagnetic spectrum. [Read more...]

The Lions and Tigers of Spring Hill, Florida

Rajah the Siberian Tiger up close and personal.

(all photos by the author).

Ever wonder what’s in you very own back yard? We recently journeyed for months around Florida, bouncing from the Atlantic Space Coast back to the Gulf of Mexico side, only to discover that adventure was only ten miles down the road. [Read more...]