Category Archives: Uncategorized

Down with the LMC–let me hear you say Large Magellanic Cloud

Down with the LMC–let me hear you say Large Magellanic Cloud. I took some wide field images of a small portion of the LMC, centered on the Dragon’s Head Nebula (NGC2035), that colorful stretch of star-forming cloudiness in the middle of the pic. Astro specs: 8 stacked 300 sec exposures, Takahashi SKY90 APO, SBIG ST2000 XMC camera, Paramount PME. Now, before you go thinking that I’ve teleported to the southern hemisphere, which is where you have to be to see our nebulous galactic neighbor, the Large Magellanic Cloud, I assure you I haven’t. I have merely bought a tiny slice of observatory time on some fantastic hardware that happens to be located at the Siding Spring Observatory, New South Wales, Australia. I will also tell you that I can fly from here to Australia seven or eight times–first class–for what that equipment setup costs. It’s so much easier pretending to be there under the stars near Coonabarabran, using some totally badass astronomical gear. And it’s easy, and inexpensive. Besides, it’s pouring rain here, and I miss seeing the sky. Wait, I don’t have to justify my imaginary stargazing trip to Australia to you! Go check it out yourself: http://www.itelescope.net (The observatory in Spain is lovely as well).

NGC 2035

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Astro setup update: INDI, Ekos, KStars, on a Raspberry Pi, Oh my!

I spent a few hours this morning installing Ubuntu Mate on a Raspberry Pi3, along with the full Ekos toolset and foundational INDI libraries. And now I’m talking to every piece of astronomical equipment remotely from the Mac–and I mean everything: the Atlas EQ-G mount, Atik CCD, Atik filter wheel, focuser, ZWO CCD guide camera, even the freakin’ Weather Underground API. I leaned heavily on the docs written by James Taylor–find those here:
Of course, this whole Ekos, Kstars, INDI thing wouldn’t exist without Jasem Mutlaq, who has created some seriously cool software and systems here. Info on Ekos: http://www.indilib.org/about/ekos.html – Ekos is an advanced cross-platform (Windows, OSX, Linux) observatory control and automation tool with particular focus on Astrophotography…
Still some testing and an actual astro imaging session to roll through, but this is so promising. I’ve been an EQMOD guy up to this point, but I’m on the edge of ditching all of that for INDI, Ekos, and KStars. My goal is be able to set everything up way out in the backyard, run 110v AC out there–already doing that, and be able to sit in the cool or warm–depending on the season–house to run complex astrophotography sessions, schedule half a dozen target across the sky, and just let the machines do their thing.
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Shooting the moon with Nikon and William Optics

I’m just starting out on this astrophotography adventure, with a nice camera and a nice scope. I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs for a while, moving up to my current main camera, a D750–full-frame, 24MP. I just got a William Optics GT-81 refractor, a beautiful piece of equipment. I’ve added a pic of my camera before putting it on the scope in case you’re wondering what I’m using for the setup. The second pic is my GT81 set up for viewing, with red dot finder, mounted on the AltAzimuth–that’s what I use for the moon because it takes some time before it wanders out of frame, and you’re probably not going to be shooting exposures longer than 1/30.

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Here’s my setup for visuals:

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And here’s shot of the moon (Nikon D750, 1/1600, ISO 4000, single shot–no stacking, prime focus with the William Optics GT-81)

Luna-Earth-20150824-ChrisHoward

 

Character Concept for the Salvage Comic – Laenia

Salvage character concept for Laeina, who is seaborn (note the webbing between her fingers). The comic’s based on the book Salvage (Masque, 2013), but I’m bringing the fantastical elements of the story closer to the surface in the comic, ship-sinking monsters, people who live in the sea—the Seaborn. (Salvage is part of the Seaborn series). http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

ChrisHoward-SalvageComic-LaeinaConcept

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The Wine of Ravens is live!

I’m happy to announce that my story collection, The Wine of Ravens, is live! (I have to add that I love this cover!)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks

Like a lot F&SF readers, D&D players, and geeks in high-school and college in the 70s and 80s, I was into Norse mythology, Vikings, longboats, and everything that went along with that chaotic, and often violent, world–although I probably went a bit far, and thought Vikings so passé that I changed my focus to the Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and Frisians instead. Enter my character, Aldred the Saxon, a sort of geeky version of a teenager living at that time, among the chaos, expansion, tensions with a fading Rome, and other territorial disputes.  If you ever liked Robert E. Howard’s Cormac Mac Art stories, or Andrew J. Offutt’s Cormac books, you’ll be a fan of Aldred.

From the back cover:

If you can see into the future, gods will take notice of you. Aldred’s brother is killed unjustly, and Aldred is forbidden to bury or honor him. He defies the decree, and makes a pact with strangers, an old man who won’t show his face and a giant who requires a final battle before he lights the pyre for Aldred’s brother. Aldred returns to face his doom and discovers that an agreement he has made in life pursues him after death.

The Wine of Ravens is a set of six stories that cover a good part of the life of Aldred the Saxon, from his first meeting with old One-eye (Diminisher of Peace), his journey across Europe, tangling with the unjust, with various forms of death, to the Near East exploring belief among the ruins of the once great Roman city of Caesarea Maritima (The Breaker of Gods), and then back north to his homeland and across the channel to Britain.

The story “Diminisher of Peace” was originally published in The Harrow, and later as part of the short story collection Always Becoming. The other five stories, “The Witch of Khoreios”, “The Breaker of Gods”, “The Feeder of Ravens”, “Wonderdeed”, and “The Wine of Ravens”, along with Diminisher, were serialized in Sacred Twilight. Together they form a fairly complete tale of the life of Aldred, a Saxon who can best be described as a researcher with a gift, working around 420 CE for Wodan, a god who gave up one of his eyes for wisdom. This apparently gave him a leg up on how to deal with the Ragnarok, but also gave him the drive to spend a good deal of time trying to plan and prepare for that final battle of the gods. Aldred was presumably just one of several people Wodan gathered up from an unfortunate end to send on dangerous missions.

I started writing about Aldred in the early 1980s, and wrote the first drafts of most of these stories around that time. I refined them in the mid-1990s, and did a complete edit pass before sending them to Sacred Twilight around 2006. Look for the comic edition of Diminisher of Peace in 2015!

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Fifty-percent Friday: Teller

I have posted 50% of my novel Teller as a free download.

Get it here in ePUB format:
Teller-ChrisHoward-FIFTY.epub

Andin Teller can change the world with a pencil and paint brush. Teller isn’t just his name. It’s what he is—someone who can change memories, reality and even shift time with the right story. But it doesn’t come without a cost. When he discovers his mother is part of an otherworldly organized crime family in the middle of a secret war—and has been kidnapped by a rival family, Andin sets out to rescue her with his only two friends, Taryn, a crazy mathematics genius, and deep-thinking, motorcycle-driving Itoshi. With their help, Andin navigates a world he doesn’t understand, taking on family betrayers, killers, and others like himself who have powers greater than his own.

 Amazon.com Amazon.uk
 Barnes & Noble
 Apple iBooks

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Are you a Kobo reader?

Good news then! The Seaborn books are now available direct from Kobo books.

SeabornTrilogy2013Covers

Magic in the Night

About three hours in Art Rage and CS6.  Still have some detail work to do, but here’s where things stand right now.  More of my stuff down the portfolio link on my site: http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

NightMagic-ChrisHoward-DISP

 

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Seahorse

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Mermaid

Early look at the cover and title for Mermaid.

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