July 26, 2014

Review: The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder

A sci-fi classic!

Alt-history Steampunk has never been hotter. We recently finished up the fifth book in a brilliant science fiction series courtesy of Pyr Books.  We’re talking about The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder, out earlier this month. This is the fifth and (final?) book in the outstanding Burton and Swinburne series. We’ve chronicled our addiction to this series in the past, starting with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack up through The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon and The Secret of El Yezdi[Read more...]

Week 8: Of Angles and Astrophysics

The CHIPS neutrino detector in the lab.

All photos by author.

Us men are forever looking for a clandestine domain to call our own. Batman has the Batcave, Superman has his Arctic Fortress of Solitude, and supervillians seem to be forever finding secluded islands on which to build their secret lairs. And while one could argue about the psychology that underpins the drive to head to such a remote locale, said heroes and villains would have plenty of islands to choose from in our present base of operations at Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota. [Read more...]

Week 7: Parks, Planetariums and More

Looking out over Lake Superior.

(All photos by author).

Well, it’s great to be up north in the summertime once again. Summer season, whether it’s in Wisconsin or our home of Northern Maine, is so drop-dead gorgeous that it can convince you to endure the depth of a long winter, one more time. Of course, it’s not that winter doesn’t have its own charms… and while the past week has seen us slow down our pace for the long Fourth of July weekend a bit, we did manage to take in some unique sites, along with a very distinctive planetarium. [Read more...]

Review: The Cosmic Cocktail by Katherine Freese

A stellar recipe!

It’s the hottest topic in modern astrophysics. What exactly is dark matter and dark energy? It is kind of amazing to think that astrophysicists do not yet completely understand just what most of the universe is made of. [Read more...]

Week 6: Into the Wilds of Wisconsin

Grand Yerkes!

Ahhh, cooler weather at last… and while the sixth week of our North American adventure has yet to see us encounter a run on clear skies, we have gotten  back out camping once again for the first time in six years. This week has seen us explore the great state of Wisconsin, from its southern Illinois hinterland across to its farmland heart. [Read more...]

Week 5: Amish, Aliens and Astronomy

Observatories, old and new at Yerkes…

All photos by author.

This past week, we ventured into the crossroads of two future eclipses.

Where will you be in 2017? Last week, we crossed paths with the upcoming total solar eclipse that will span the United States, now just over three years away. It’s not too early to start planning on where you’ll greet the Moon’s umbra now, as the residents of Hopkinsville Kentucky already know. [Read more...]

Week 4: Panning for Travel Gems

The Knoxville Sunsphere. All photos by the author.

Well, week three on the road is now in progress, and the past week has seen us span from northern Georgia to eastern Tennessee. Unfortunately, weather hasn’t been our friend thus far during the trip, and while it is indeed cooler here in the Appalachian Mountains, it hasn’t been clear much either. [Read more...]

Week 3: Going Wireless in the Woods

A properly ring’d Jupiter at the Wetherbee Planetarium in Albany, Georgia. Photo by Author.

Summer’s here and our thoughts have turned northward. Our first full week of Dark Skies 2014 has seen us traverse the great state of Florida into the wilds of western Georgia. And never fear… we’re just entering dark sky territory now.

First up was the Wyndham Orlando Resort on International Drive. Newly refurbished, the Wyndham is favorably located a short shuttle ride from Universal Studios. [Read more...]

Week 1: Riding and Writing (from the) Road

The Hubble at the new Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center.

(Photo by author).

It has begun.

Last week, we issued the preamble to all that is Dark Skies 2014. This week sees wheels a rollin’ with a quick stop over on the Florida Space Coast. A small step (for a) man, sure, and not the darkest skies, but a stop over at the Kennedy Space Center is a must for any space fan. We’ve been by the KSC both as press and as a tourist about a dozen times over the past six years, and there’s always something new to be seen. Atlantis is now up for exhibit, and we always find that the Holiday Inn in Titusville is a great jump off point for hitting the Space Center. [Read more...]

Dark Skies 2014: The Journey Begins

Astro-Lab, ready for departure…

The first single step is almost upon us…

Welcome to the brave new world of Astroguyz. Ever since we decided to “check out that blogging thing” seven years ago in May 2007, we’ve been about change.  Sure, the web has changed and we’ve evolved along with it.

This week, we’re taking that evolution a step further as we prepare to embark on an extended sabbatical across the United States, and perhaps, beyond. Starting in Florida next week on June 1st, we’ll be meandering northward in search of that most elusive and mythical beastie of all: truly dark skies. [Read more...]

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Exotic SETI

Cepheid variable star RS Puppis. Credit: NASA/HST.

It’s arguably one of the greatest questions in modern science. Where are they? Are we truly rare as an intelligent species, or does our brand of curiosity permeate the cosmos?  We recently watched a fascinating presentation in the SETI Talks series by Tony Zee that brought up one interesting possibility, a mode of communication that might be staring us in the face right now. [Read more...]

Review: The Nebula Awards Showcase 2014

Out May 20th!

It’s out! One of the most prestigious awards in all of science fiction-dom is the annual Nebula Awards. Hey, Hollywood has the Oscars and the Grammys, and sci-fi has the Hugos and the Nebulas, as well as a scattering of other secondary awards. And every year around springtime, Pyr Books puts together an outstanding compilation of the “best of the best” as selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. [Read more...]

May 2014: This Month in Science Fiction

Ah, tis the month of May.

Perhaps April showers may bring May flowers, but here at Astroguyz HQ, it also marks the very precipice of science fiction movie blockbuster season. The X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man 2 are all on our must see list. Is Marvel about to rule the world? And keep an eye out for those dark horse unknowns that often jump the gate just ahead of those sure-fire bets just prior to Memorial Day weekend. And hey, next year we’ll get a third Hunger Games, an Avengers sequel and a reboot of the Star Wars franchise… can the internet survive? Will fans take a shine to a galaxy far, far away according to Abrams? In the meantime, here’s some science fiction and more hot off of the press to keep you satiated: [Read more...]

Astro Vid Of the Week: Catch the Moon Occulting Saturn Live!

Coming up this Wednesday.

Credit: The Virtual Telescope Project.

One of the most photogenic celestial events of the month occurs this Wednesday, as the waxing gibbous Moon meets the planet Saturn.

And although this conjunction will be a near miss for most of the planet, observers in southern Australia and New Zealand will see the Moon occult (pass in front of) the ringed planet around 12:00 Universal Time (UT) on the evening of May14th/15th. [Read more...]

May 2014: Life in the Astroblogosphere: Two Ways to Observe the Universe

Astro-gear, old and new.

It was one of the biggest blessings and curses as a teenager and astronomy enthusiast growing up in Northern Maine back in the pre-internet days of the 1980’s.

An interest in astronomy – or any academic pursuit, for that matter – was largely a solitary affair, conducted mainly in a vacuum. Once I had devoured the two outdated books on astronomy or any topic of interest at the local public library, it was up to me to simply approach and learn the night sky. The Bangor Daily News ran one monthly column on astronomy by science writer Clair Wood, and the Farmer’s Almanac gave local rising and setting times for my location. [Read more...]

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Watch the Full-Length LIGO Documentary

It’s not the Death Star… firing up the laser at LIGO.

Credit: NSF/LIGO, Used with permission.

It has arrived.

The search for gravitational waves is big news right now, and the hunt has heated up thanks to direct evidence for inflation in the early universe from the BICEP 2 project based in Antarctica.

But there’s another unique observatory on the hunt for gravity’s ghost: LIGO, or the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. [Read more...]

Review: Liberty 1784 by Robert Conroy

On sale now!

What if? Is a great historical thought exercise to play. What if the Germans got the bomb first? What if Gettysburg had ended differently? Are we existing in some sort of strange alternate history now, and is there a reality in which Paris Hilton is the lizard-tailed President of the United States? [Read more...]

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Stalking the Elusive Annular Eclipse

A simulation of the April 29th eclipse from 1 km above the Arctic.

Created using Stellarium.

This Tuesday, a “ring of fire” annular eclipse will occur that no human eye will witness. This is because the path of the April 29th annular eclipse only briefly touches down for just over 12 minutes over a remote area of Antarctica. In fact, the central part of the Moon’s shadow — known as the “antumbra”— will be for the most part cast off into space, missing our planet entirely.

[Read more...]