Star party!

Little E and I went to our first Star Party, held each month by the Arkansas/Oklahoma Astronomical Society – and much to our delight it was really more of a planet party!

The event is held at the wonderfully light-pollution-free Janet Huckabee Nature Center in Chaffee Crossing, on a ridge next to Wells Lake Road. The guys from the AOAS had a 10-inch telescope set up, which is great for ogling the confluence of celestial bodies on view right now.

Me and E got there waaaay to early for stargazing, giving us an opportunity to explore the grounds, meet a gaggle of geese, and relax while the sun disappeared from the sky. It was finally time to peer at planets!

Star Party
The moon and Venus – sky’s still too bright for Jupiter to emerge.

The best time to catch Venus is just as the sun is setting or starting to rise. The planet showed off a nice, easily identifiable crescent shape, bright white as always. This wasn’t an astrophotography setup, so I recorded what I saw the old-fashioned way: I sketched it on paper, scanned it, and inverted it on the computer! In much the same manner as the ancients!

Star Party

Sadly, we missed Jupiter – Little E was trying to catch lightning bugs. But when it was darker, the telescope was re-aimed at Saturn.

Star Party
Yep, about that dark. Cell phone photo enhanced to make Jupiter more visible.

Not only were Saturn and its rings visible, but its largest moon, Titan, could also be seen.

Star Party
Saturn and Titan

We had lots of fun and stayed up well past Little E’s bedtime (hey, it’s not a school night).

Meanwhile, at the edge of the outer solar system…

Star Party
The Pluto Party awaits.

Scenes from a birthday party

ParTAYThe scene: birthday party for one of Little E’s classmates. Due to bad weather (i.e. incessant rain), the party has moved from the park to indoors at the church the birthday boy’s family attends. It’s still pretty good fun, pizza, cake, the whole works. At one point there’s an attempt to do a hula hoop contest (spoiler: the repeated “contest” attempts fall into chaos pretty quickly and the kids go back to doing what they were doing before). One of the hula hoops is missing though. “Where’s the other hula hoop?” (more…)

WARP!1 pre-launch status update

WARP!1WARP!1 has engines, I’m just loading the last few bits of dilithium in them.

Well, okay, that’s rather a glib way of putting it. My third book is very much in the same “extensive critical guide to a TV series” wheelhouse as the first two books, but to be totally honest with you… this is my favorite. It’s been my favorite to work on, and my favorite to go back weeks/months later and re-read bits of.

WARP!1 examines the “Roddenberry era” of Star Trek in depth: the original Star Trek, the animated series, the original cast movies, The Next Generation, and the Next Generation movies. It examines Roddenberry’s non-Trek work from the same period, namely his string of 1970s TV projects that never got past the pilot stage. It examines how others have taken the Original Series and reinterpreted it, reviewing the J.J. Abrams movies to date and a cross-section of the better fan-made series to date. It also examines Star Trek’s immediate antecedent, Roddenberry’s single-season series The Lieutenant, both on its own merits and in light of what came later. (more…)

First book… second edition… now available!

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