February 10, 2016

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...]

Exploring the Largest Telescope in Florida

An amazing scope! (all photos by author)

Florida isn’t known for ideal dark skies and astronomy. Humid bug-filled nights, coupled with hazy washed out skies make for less than optimal viewing conditions to say the least. The state does at least host warm temps, making the wintertime an ideal season for astronomy.

Along with a host of intrepid amateur astronomers, Florida does have a scattering of professional observatories, mostly run by universities. We recently had a chance to explore the largest observatory in the state: the new 1-meter telescope at the Embry-Riddle Campus in Daytona Beach, Florida. [Read more...]

The Flavors of the Days: Exploring St. Augustine, Florida

Vertical sundial sighting in St Augustine

(all photos by the author)

Wanna explore an East Coast city with a European feel? We had a chance to do just that yesterday, as we poked around and explored the streets of old Saint Augustine, Florida.

This was one of the first true ‘adventure days’ we’d had on our current sabbatical. Long term travel and working on the fly presents its particular challenges. Sure, it might feel like vacation, but somehow, the work (or in this case, the writing) needs to somehow get done. [Read more...]

Review: Vigilantes by Kristine Katherine Rusch

On sale now…

Ready for some legal action of astronomical proportions? This week, as part of our campaign to wrap up some of the review books we received last summer after our return back to Florida from our great American road trip, we’re reviewing Vigilantes out from WMG Publishing by prolific author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This is a novel set in her Retrieval Artist universe, and book six in the eight part Anniversary Day saga. [Read more...]

Traveler’s Tales of Gravitational Waves

We brake for gravitational waves…

(all photos by author)

This past week the science community held its breath, as rumors swirled once again that researchers had accomplished direct detection of gravitational waves. Sure, we’ve been down this road before, but with Advanced LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) resuming operation in late 2015, there’s good reason to believe said detection could come at any time. [Read more...]

Hacking Entertainment on the Road

On fire with the Amazon Firestick

(All photos by the author)

Just because we’re homeless, doesn’t mean we have to live like savages. This week, we’d like to tackle something that we researched a bit over the past year, and found very little straightforward information on online.

Being a TV Zero family on the road has never been easier. When we first heard of devices such as Google’s Chromecast, our minds went immediately to using it on the road. Could we use it in a hotel environment to say, watch Man in the High Castle or the latest season of Sense 8 on the big screen? [Read more...]

Hitting the Road for 2016

Our next ride? A KC-135 tanker over MacDill Air Force Base

Happy New Year 2016!

As the calendar flips, we’re planning on trying something new here at Astroguyz. Actually, its something old. As we mentioned last month, we wrapped up our Astronomy Video of the Week and Free Fiction Friday to take this blog back to its roots, back to what blogging is all about. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Syzygy Gambit Part 6

On sale now.

Here it is, the action-packed conclusion to our third tale set in the solar winds universe. Don’t forget to start back on chapter one, or you can read The Syzygy Gambit and other original tales by yours truly at our Amazon author page.

And stay tuned for a special announcement at the end…

 

Solar Winds: The Syzygy Gambit

Chapter 6

by

David Dickinson

 

In the main projector dish, the several hundred pound charge of high explosive placed by Pell a few moments before promptly detonated. The blast was brief, but enough to rattle the entire complex through the forest of transmitter dishes, which fell like dominoes. The deep space network, effectively the eyes and ears of the Terran Legion, was down. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Syzygy Gambit Part 5

On sale now!

Ready to tear the solar system asunder? Can’t make it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Here’s our latest free fiction Friday offering from 2222 AD and the Solar Winds universe.  Don’t forget, you can read this tale and other original works of fiction in their entirety, and be sure to start from part one.

 

Solar Winds: The Syzygy Gambit

by

David A. Dickinson

Chapter 5

 

The Armageddon on Tap was pointed back with its stern sunward and was now parked at the Terra-Luna system’s far L2 Lagrange point. The repaired sunshield was now deployed, giving Karl and the Shrink a small shaded micro-environment in which to operate. They both moved slowly forward, despite their bulky spacesuits. Valkyrie and V.I.C.A.R. were visible through the cabin’s plexi-glass viewport. The large, nickel-iron asteroid seemed suspended above them in the ship’s capture cradle. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Syzygy Gambit Part 4

On sale now!

Dear Solar Winds fans… here’s this week’s installment, another extended helping of space opera action and adventure. Like what you read? be sure to start back at part 1, or read the entire story and other original tales by yours truly.

 

Solar Winds: The Syzygy Gambit Part 4

by

David

Dickinson

 

Andrea watched Mars recede in their aft view until it was once again a tiny glowing orange ember. Now there was nothing to do but prepare for the three-week trip to Earth’s Moon. She knew that this roundabout transit would drastically reduce the critical time they needed on Luna to prepare for the assault. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Syzygy Gambit Part 3

On sale now!

It’s out!

We’re pleased to announce that our third installment of the Solar Winds saga, The Syzygy Gambit is published and available, along with other original sci-fi tales by yours truly. This week, we thought we’d step things up a notch, and give fans a larger excerpt/serving than usual, so we can wrap up the tale by the end of 2015.

And don’t forget to start back on chapter 1!

 

Solar Winds: The Syzygy Gambit

Part 3

by

David Dickinson

 

Two figures moved through the dust-laden swirl. They seemed to be inspecting her encampment. It’s a Legion patrol if they’re paired up, she thought. She bit her lip as she remembered the military patrols that wandered Saganopolis central square where she grew up. They acted as if they owned the very soil of Mars itself. They had an open disdain for the “colonials” as they sneeringly called them, and would often leer at Andrea as she made her way to school. Many of the ones stationed on Mars, she knew, were Legion criminals, men who would probably get shipped off to the prison on Mercury Prime if they spent an afternoon on Earth. She knew from talking with Karl that this wasn’t a mistake: the worst were always posted on Mars. [Read more...]

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

by

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...]