Friday, September 2, 2016

Soponyai's "A Day in the Astro Camp"


"A Day in the Astro Camp" is a composite photograph taken by Gy├Ârgy Soponyai. This image is a composite of images taken over 33 hours and planned for over 2 years. This 360x180 photo appears to show a tiny planet, with a field and trees on its day side and the red streamers and lights of the local inhabitants partying on its night side. The image was taken at the annual Astro Camp of the Hungarian Astronomical Association, so those inhabitants are probably some space nerds in their own right. The little world presented in this image almost seems to be lofted over a sea of star trails. The arc of the orbit of the International Space Station adds the little off-set arc below the globe. You can find more info about this image at Soponyai's Flickr as well as on the Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Down to the Wire

This cosmobiologist is finally in the death throes of a Ph.D. program. I recently learned that I have to have my dissertation finalized here in the coming early months of this fall. Yikes! It's going to be a pretty stressful time finishing everything up, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next part of my life (maybe a part where I can get paid for more than only a small fraction of my work). Here's to hoping that I can crush this thing and be ready to give an awesome dissertation defense at the end (which is coming sooner rather than later).


Friday, August 12, 2016

Hoping for Clear Skies


We're heading out to the west of the state of Colorado today to hike into the woods somewhere nice and dark to go camping. Most importantly, we're hoping to get clear enough skies to see the Perseids Meteor Shower. This year's shower has been touted as possibly being even more stunning than usual. Here's to hoping for clear skies!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Squirrel On the Run

Not much to say today, so here's a video of a squirrel stealing a GoPro camera and running through the trees with it.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Wild Moon Dance

I write a little bit of fiction almost every morning. I find it helps me to keep myself sane, by releasing some of my pent-up creativity and my thoughts. Though I usually don't have full control over the writing as it comes, sometimes I like what I've written enough to share it. 

Lately, I've been using some daily flash fiction writing challenges from Writing.com to prime the engines. They're really just suggestions of using three words together in your short story, though I sometimes just use them as a prompt to find another idea (and I don't always write a full story). Today's challenge was to use the words 'trance', 'moon', and 'wild' in one writing, so I wrote the following story. Here it is, for your amusement, "A Wild Moon Dance":

Ian stumbled along the side of the road. The light from the near-full moon shining through the trees cast zebra stripes of light against the dark of the night on the road. The crickets and cicadas and other insects of summer were blasting their raucous symphony of screeches and buzzes into the night’s air. Ian kicked at the larger pebbles on the side of the road as he walked. He’d watch them tumble away, never moving in a straight line. “She’d kick me like one of these stones if she could,” he thought to himself, “but that’s what I get for thinking it would work out this time.” 
Ian was wrapped in his own thoughts, so much so that he hadn’t even noticed when the trees had ended and the road had set out in the middle of some large fields. “No one about for miles,” Ian said aloud once he had lifted his head to see where he now was. He had walked this way dozens of times before, and driven down this road too many times to count, but now the road and the fields, set within a moonlit summer evening, had something different about them. Ian felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise up as he looked around at his world. That glowing orb of moonlight cast mini shadows behind every blade of grass and every little stone. It gave the world a depth that made Ian feel comforted. 
Not knowing why, Ian stepped off of the road and onto the grasses in the field beside him. He hiked along the field as it rose to a hill. At the top of the hill, Ian looked around: the road back behind and below continued off into the hills, the forest where the road emerged, more trees and hills now in the direction that Ian had hiked. Nothing but fields and forests, hiding out the rest of the world only miles away where people slept in their homes, drove in their cars, or worked at their businesses. “No one but me,” Ian thought, “No one but me.” 
Ian felt his feet start to kick from under him, stomping back and forth. One foot would kick out and his hips would twist, then the other foot. Without knowing why, Ian started to dance. He spun his whole body about, and began dipping his head up and down. His arms startled twisting and pumping along with the rest of his body. Taken up in a trance, Ian danced in the moonlight on the top of the hill. He felt a wildness beat into his heart. He smelled the Earth and the grasses and the world on the wind. He began stomping his feet down a bit harder, giving himself a rhythm, drumming a beat that the Earth had known longer than humanity. The wild worked itself into Ian. He felt sweat begin to drip down from his forehead as he lost himself in the night. 
But then, a familiar and yet distant noise broke into Ian’s perception of the evening. Ian spun toward the forest where the road emerged to see the approaching lights of a car. Ian kneeled down in the field at the top of the hill and watched. The lights danced about as they grew stronger, ripping through the trees as the car emerged from the wood. The sound of the engine assaulted the night. Ian watched as the car continued on, knowing that the person driving most likely had taken no notice to the wild out here in this moment of the night. As the car passed along the hills and disappeared into the night, Ian chuckled to himself. This was real. He was here. This was the night and he was alive. 
Ian stood up and began to slowly walk away from the hilltop in the field. He had a long walk ahead of him yet before he made it home, but he knew that this night he would enjoy every single step and be more alive in the walk. “No more worrying about what might have been and what might be,” Ian told himself, “Not tonight, at least.”

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Cosmobiologist's Bust in the Stars

I've been playing around with some graphic design lately using the program Affinity Designer by Serif. I used to do quite a bit of graphic design work when I was working for my father's sign business, Impact Signworks, back in Pennsylvania. Now I'm learning more graphic design to help make myself a better communicator of science. I took a photo of myself from the Famelab USA 3rd Season national final from this past May and created a bust of myself out of it. I figured I'd set it in some stars and share it here. I definitely have a long way to go, but it's a start.



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cosmic Traveler: Photo by A. Garret Evans


Today's APOD is this beautiful composite image of the Milky Way, Saturn, and some of our closest stellar neighbors over a stargazer's head in Maine. Some detail has been added to show where constellations and Saturn are at. Just looking at this picture makes me want to get out and go stargazing as soon as I possibly can. The heavens above have so much to offer, for sights and for thoughts.

Here's some info on the picture from APOD: 

"What if you climbed up on a rock and discovered the Universe? You can. Although others have noted much of it before, you can locate for yourself stars, planets, and even the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. All you need is a dark clear sky -- the rock is optional. If you have a camera, you can further image faint nebulas, galaxies, and long filaments of interstellar dust. If you can process digital images, you can bring out faint features, highlight specific colors, and merge foreground and background images. In fact, an industrious astrophotographer has done all of these to create the presented picture. All of the component images were taken early last month on the same night within a few meters of each other. The picturesque setting was Sand Beach in Stonington, Maine, USA with the camera pointed south over Penobscot Bay."