April 2014 Lunar Eclipse #astronomy #photography

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This past Monday was a total lunar eclipse where I live. The only trouble is, I live in the Pacific Northwest, land of clouds. It’s not as bad here as in Portland or Seattle, but it became an issue Monday night.  So I didn’t get to see all of the eclipse or the red color, but I did see a good hour.

The nice thing about the position of the moon was I could haul my telescope out of the garage and set up in the driveway. The moon was bright enough that the neighborhood lights didn’t interfere with my viewing. So yay on that. Double yay I didn’t have to stay up terribly late or get up at some unholy hour.

The eclipse began at 10:50 p.m. ish here.

Without further ado, my photos. By the end, the clouds became thicker, so those shots are not as clear.

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What I had to shoot through…

Elipse414One truly clear shot

Elipse414h Elipse414i Elipse414k Elipse414lSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCDid you see the eclipse this week? Share your story.

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Our Solar System Grows, Bright Spot on Mars, and Sand Under a Microscope – A Day of Discovery #astronomy #science

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Expanding horizons little and big. Our world is a marvelous place.

Beyond the familiar solar system of the planets we all know lies the Kuiper Belt with dwarf planets and other frozen terrestrial bodies. It begins beyond Neptune and extends a long way out. After New Horizons visits Pluto and Charon in 2015 for a year, it will venture out into the Kuiper Belt, the outer solar system, a place we don’t know much about.

Beyond it lies the ‘theorized’ Oort cloud, where some comets may originate from. In this edge of the solar system, only one object was known to exist, the dwarf planet, Sedna, discovered in 2003. 76 AU from the sun, it was the most distant object from the sun known to exist.

Recently, another was found, 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden. Its closest orbit brings it in to 80 AU [astronomical unit = 80 x 93 million, an astronomical unit is the distance from Earth to the sun and is how the solar system distances are measured. Beyond our solar system, light years is used as the measurement].

Newly discovered dwarf planet 2012 VP113

Three images of the newly discovered dwarf planet 2012 VP113 taken about two hours apart on 5 November 2012. Photograph: Scott S Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

Its irregular orbit hints at a larger planet beyond it, a planet 10x the size of our Earth. That’s exciting stuff. For more information, visit HERE

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The orbits of Sedna (orange) and dwarf planet 2012 VP113 (red). Also shown are the orbits of the giant planets (purple). The Kuiper belt is the dotted light blue region. Illustration: Scott S Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

 

 

Bright Spot on Mars

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Images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on April 2 and April 3 include bright spots, which might be due to the sun glinting off a rock or cosmic rays striking the camera’s detector.

You can see the glint in the upper left hand corner.

The image from April 3, from Curiosity’s Navigation Camera, is online at:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6135

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Sand Under a Microsope

And this is what plain brown sand looks like under a microscope. Taken by Gary Greenberg. You can find out more about it HERE

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Believe it or not, this is what the sand in Maui looks like up close. Very very close.
GARY GREENBERG

Something we think of as plain is extremely beautiful and complex.

Big and small, discoveries are fantastic. Aren’t they? Have you discovered anything lately? Please share.

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New Frontiers, Developing a New Series #Writing

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So far I have two series out in the world. One that sells and to which I keep adding [The Backworlds]. One that doesn’t that I’ll eventually add to but not yet [Hetty Locklear].

The Backworlds does all right [Just put book 5 out - Worlds on Edge], but I want something that sells better. So taking from my own example of what sort of worked and what didn’t work at all, I’ll use a similar formula to what sort of worked to release my next series, The Rifters: first book free, second book released very shortly after the first.

theriftersWEB

I want it to do even better than that mild success I had. So while I continue to write the first book, I’ve been thinking about marketing and an idea went off like a flash.

The Rifters is set in the fictional Oregon town of Settler. So why not begin by promoting Settler? I created a web page for it HERE and a FB page for it HERE, modeling it on travel sites and web pages for other small towns.  A friend of mine is creating a travel video for it, and I’m inviting real people to populate my town.

SettlerFB

You’ll see some businesses for sale HERE or you can make up your own. A doctor and a real estate agent would be great additions. How about a gym? You can use your real name or a made up name, and if you’d like I’ll link to your web page.

The series has its story and the FB page will develop stories of its own, reporting the daily happenings of Settler. However it goes, it’s a fun project.

So, that’s where I’m at… trying something new with marketing to launch a new series.

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PS, I’m teaching my first workshop this weekend. Info is in the sidebar. Hopefully, I won’t suck. If you live in Central Oregon, it’s at the COCC Redmond Campus this Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Topic is the page turner. Bring six copies of your first 3 pages to work on. Free for Guild members, $10 for others. MORE INFO

And I’m participating in AtoZ with Untethered Realms where we flirt with monsters and beasts… well, not literally, only in a literary sense.

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This is my April edition of IWSG. It meets the first Wednesday of each month and is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh.

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What Attracts You Most to a Story? #Writing

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Surprise! It’s my favorite thing – unpredictability, an uncommon path, different, original. Those things call to me like a Siren. A story about mummy dinosaurs? I’ll give it a try.

Have you seen The Killing? That show kept me guessing through two season as to who the killer was, and I didn’t come close to naming who did, but it made sense. [If you haven't seen this show, I highly recommend it, and I normally don't care for crime shows.]

That’s the stickler, huh? It still has to make sense. Reality and fiction depart in opposite directions there. Life doesn’t have to make sense and rarely does, but fiction must always make sense.

Moon of a Different Color

It’s more amazing when I can surprise myself, especially five books into the Backworlds.  I managed to do it several times in Worlds on Edge.

Here’s one of the things that surprised me: [excerpt, copyright 2014 M. Pax, all rights reserved]

Meelo leaned against the nearest wall and slid down it to get comfortable.

“Th-they won’t be able to come out here in the storm.” She half-heartedly pointed at the stairs and the house above.

“We not staying here.” The ranch hand, Dauffer, knelt at the corner under the stairs and pressed his palm against the wall. The panel popped, and he slid it to the side. “After you.”

Small as she stood, she had to duck through the entry. The walls beyond it had been carved out of rock. Hands on the rough-hewn surface, she felt her way forward. She sensed more than heard or felt the hidden door shut. The air changed, less stifling, cooler, the surface of Pardeep leaking inside. Dauffer caught up, and his biomechanical legs provided light, churning, purring, glowing.

Meelo’s fingers brushed over symbols: a sphere with rings, a sphere made of petals, and a circle of hash marks. The long and short slashes reminded her of rain. Shutting her eyes, she could smell it, could taste it on her tongue, mineral-filled sweetness. Craze had sworn not to stop improving Pardeep until the skies fell with rain. Could he do it? Such a dream couldn’t be let go — rain and forests and grass seas.

Her fingers lingered, coveting the downpour memorialized in the rock. Then she opened her eyes and continued down the tunnel. “Y-you put those here?” She paused to stare at a cloud covered in starbursts. Maybe it was snow. She ‘d love to experience snow before she joined Tasser and her family in the Afterlife.

“No. Pardeep has a lot of secrets.” More About Worlds On Edge

When I wrote that last line, I said to myself, “It has secrets, does it?” After some thought I left it. Why shouldn’t the dusty old moon have secrets?

Do you like surprises in your stories? Did you surprise yourself in your latest work?

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Bonus: Who was your first alien? Pop over to UR and we’ll talk about it.

UR Logo text

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Are We a Computer Simulation? Worlds on Edge, Backworlds Book 5 Now Out! #scifi

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bigstockphoto_freephoto-Circuit_Board_17554

Several years ago, I saw a news report that claimed something like there was a 33% probability that we were a computer simulation.

Really? It’s something I’ve mulled over since. What if we are a computer simulation? What if none of this is real?

I like toying with idea/perception of reality in my stories… such as what if everything we believe to be true is a lie? What do we do with that? I haven’t fully realized that what-if in a story yet, but I will. It calls to me, constantly beckoning and winking. Just like the news story about the computer simulation. They’re very related what-if’s, aren’t they?

I finally found the story to incorporate the computer simulation idea, and used it in revealing Earth’s story in Worlds on Edge, Backworlds Book 5. The title is the theme of the book – worlds on edge. This includes Earth, and I get around to telling what happened to Earth and it’s role in the enemy of the Backworlds, the Foreworlds.

Physicists on our Earth, real or simulated, have devised an experiment to test whether we are real or simulated. It’s a really fascinating article, and the experiment is being conducted by the University of Washington. CHECK IT OUT

 

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So how did this ‘what-if’ play out? Excerpt Worlds on Edge

Barnabus

Chapter 6

◙ Barnabus Manalo

Barnabus Manalo died for the sixth time. The crowd milling at the bottom of the cliff increased, forming a solid wall, mouths agape. They didn’t understand the world wasn’t real.

He willed the scrapes and broken bones away and pushed onto his feet, straightening to his full six-foot six-inches. Eyes twinkling, he winked at his stunned neighbors, altering the color of his irises from brown to blue to gold then purple, hoping one of his fellow citizens would admit they’d made the same discovery, that the mind had more relevance than the physical.

No one did. Everyone’s expressions remained wide and knotted. They pointed and whispered, “Barry Do-Right.”

Barnabus’s smile faded. He hated the nickname. “I’m Baranabus, friends. Bar-na-bus. Don’t call me Barry.” His fists clenched, and he grit his teeth. He called up a breeze to ruffle his golden hair and braced his hands on his hips to mimic a stance he’d seen posed by many superheroes in the comics. Because he willed it, a yellow cape materialized, snapping regally in the wind. This was how he wanted people to see him.

It inspired another round of whispers. “Barry Do-Right.”

Damn. Nothing he showed them sank in, they refused to understand. What could he do? From the rocks, he summoned a screen that replayed an old news report, one of his choosing.

“Remember this story?” Barnabus said. “The one claiming there’s a thirty-three percent chance we’re just a computer simulation? Well, it’s true.”

His efforts were applauded with laughter. His neighbors sputtered what they always did. “Ridiculous.” “Knew he was a loon.” “Anyone in tights and a cape is a loon.” “Where’s a mind doctor when you need one?”

“Didn’t you see me fall and return from the dead six times? How could that be possible unless what I told you is true?” They had to wake up. Why couldn’t any of them comprehend they controlled this world as much as Barnabus?

The cliff he’d summoned in the center of the city and had been tumbling from since sunrise disappeared, but he hadn’t erased it. Someone else did. He wheeled around, searching for his kindred soul. In a flash of harsh white the world vanished.

White and empty, neither warm or cold, no edges to speak of, not enough of anything to define this place as a room, yet Barnabus had no other word for it. His ability to impose his mind over matter diminished too. It took all his strength to remain himself. His cape and tights disappeared.

“H-hello?” He stumbled in a circle, peering into the white void. It swooshed and shuddered.

Tripping, he found himself on a dirt lane hugging the handle of an umbrella. He reminded himself the icy pellets biting into his hands weren’t real. Neither was the lane. He hadn’t created this. Who had?

He willed an end to the mud and for the environment to change to his liking. It took more mental power than usual to part the clouds. The rain slowed, but he couldn’t escape the puddle under his feet. The wet soaked into his shoes, seeping into his socks, chilling his blood. He shivered, but not from the cold lapping at his toes.

“Hello, Barnabus Manalo.”

Barnabus examined the weeping clouds. Not knowing where the speaker hid, his best guess was above. “Show yourself. I’ve been waiting for years for someone to talk to, someone who understands reality like I do.”

“You’ve barely scratched the surface. Nonetheless, we need a hero, and you’re the only one qualified for the job.”

His cape came back, draping him in gold. Barnabus drew it round his shoulders to drive off the goose bumps. This person’s control went deeper than his. “Everyone can manipulate code. Not as well as you and I, but they all can.”

“Yes, but you’re the only one who is aware you can.”

“Me? You seem quite aware yourself.” He searched the trees and sky. “Who are you? Where are you?”

A door materialized a few steps away from the puddle. It shimmered merlot in a meadow dotted with cherry-tinted blooms and swung open with a drawn-out creak. A person in a white robe appeared on the wet grass in front of it. The sleet stopped. Everything stopped.

Barnabus poked at a halted line of rain. Against the pad of his finger, it felt smooth and frigid. His finger disappeared then his hands, arms, and legs. He screamed.

“Your body is a sham too. You don’t need it anymore. Come through the door with me,” the figure said.

Barnabus couldn’t tell by the garment or voice whether the robed one was a man or a woman. “Wh-who are you?” His words rose higher in pitch. “Who?” Then his mouth vanished.

“Your guide to birth.”

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Worlds on Edge is now Available!

War is coming. A horde of merciless aliens poise just beyond the Edge. In a matter of weeks they will devour the worlds.

Racing ahead of the apocalypse, Craze returns to the Backworlds to warn them and plan a defense. Only he can’t go home. Banned from Pardeep Station, he must wage a more urgent battle. His moon is under siege, and his friends are dying.

Bad things come in threes, and the galaxy is no exception. An old enemy returns, attacking moons and defenseless globes, leaving a wake of destruction. Worse than that, they threaten to join forces with the alien horde.

Defeat seems inevitable. Craze may not be able to stop it. Yet home is worth the fight.

worldsonedgeWEB

Available in ebook:

AmazonUS / Amazon UK / Nook / Smashwords / iTunes / Other Outlets

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What ‘what-if’s’ haunt you?

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