They’re Back! Win a Copy of the 2016 Year in Space Wall Calendar

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: when the new Year In Space Wall Calendars become available! These wonderful calendars are back for 2016: they are big and are the perfect gift for all the space enthusiasts on your holiday shopping list.

This gigantic wall calendar is full of amazing color images, daily space facts, historical references, and it even shows you where you can look in the sky for all the best astronomical sights.

Thanks to calendar creator Steve Cariddi, Universe Today has 5 copies of the Year in Space wall calendar to giveaway.

To be entered into our giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this article (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Wednesday, December 2, 2015.

If this is the first time you’re registering for a giveaway from Universe Today, you’ll receive a confirmation email immediately where you’ll need to click a link to be entered into the drawing. For those who have registered previously, you’ll receive an email later where you can enter this drawing.

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This is a gorgeous wall calendar that has over 120 beautiful photos of space, and at 16 inches by 22 inches, it is much larger than other wall calendars. Plus it has great illustrations and information that every space fan will appreciate.

Each month you’ll see:

— An in-depth exploration of human space flight, planetary exploration, or deep sky wonders
— Multiple images and detailed captions
— A mini-biography of famous astronomer, scientist, or astronaut related to the topic
— Background info and fun facts
— A sky summary of where to find naked-eye planets
— Space history dates
— Major holidays (U.S. and Canada)
— Daily Moon phases graphically displayed
— Room for notes and appointments

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These calendars normally sell for $17.95, but Universe Today readers can buy the calendar for only $13.95 or less (using the “Internet” discount), and get free U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping. There are also volume discounts. Check out all the details here.

There’s also the 136-Page Desk Calendar at a similar discounts.

You can preview the entire calendar at the Year in Space Calendar website.

It’s published in cooperation with The Planetary Society, with an introduction by Bill Nye. Plus there’s a nice blurb about Universe Today! Our thanks to Steve Cariddi for providing this giveaway opportunity for our readers!

Book Review and Giveaway: “How We’ll Live on Mars”

Every great adventure begins with a dream. Explorers look into the unknown and set a course for discovery. Many years ago, the US launched men off planet Earth and hurtled them to the Moon. The next great space milestone is certainly to put a human boot print on Mars. In this dream and adventure of exploration, women and men will not only walk on Mars, but inhabit it.

This aspiration of putting humans on Mars is not a new one. As a spacefaring nation, we could have reached there decades ago. In How We’ll Live on Mars, author Stephen L. Petranek examines how we’ll get to Mars within this century and discusses the opportunity for a potential settlement on the Red Planet.

Find out below how you can win a copy of this new book.

As a species it seems necessary and imminent for humans to exist off this singular planet we currently reside on. How will our journey to Mars happen? What are the pitfalls? And, most importantly, who is leading the charge?

Petranek discusses how private companies are filling a vacuum left by NASA’s mothballing of the Saturn V. NASA’s primary focus on the shuttle and then its retirement has left us currently unable to launch humans from US soil. Elon Musk and his Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) are given proper attention in this book thanks to their accomplishments thus far and their push for further achievements including a goal of Mars. Other private companies and in fact, other nations, are setting their sights on sending rovers to and eventually occupying Mars.

Chapter 6 of this book is titled “Living on Mars.” Petranek aptly notes, “Humans need four things to survive on Earth – food, water, shelter, and clothing. Humans need five things to survive on Mars – food, water, shelter, clothing, and oxygen. The successful procurement of these five essential resources will secure humanity’s future as an interplanetary species.”

This presents a major hurdle. For example, an important goal is finding accessible water – a key ingredient for human survival. Making potable water on a planet far from home is not a simple task, but it is a possible one. The challenges for survival do not end there.

How We’ll Live on Mars, a TED Books original publication, is a quick and worthy read. Stephen L. Petranek’s writing style is fluid; the information is well presented and thoughtful. The first human footprint on Mars is fast approaching reality. As a species we will tune in to watch the broadcast – albeit one with a delay for the signal travel time – of a major milestone in history. This book gives a concise examination of where we’ve been, what we’re likely to see on the road to get there and what will happen once on Mars. I recommend adding this to your reading list.

How We’ll Live on Mars is published by Simon & Schuster. Find out more about the book here.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, Universe Today has three copies of this book to give away to our readers. The publisher has specified that for this contest, winners need to be from the US.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Wednesday, July 15, 2015. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing. If you’ve entered our giveaways before you should also receive an email with a link on how to enter.

Book Review and Giveaway: “Most Wanted Particle” by Jon Butterworth

Most Wanted Particle is an insider’s tale of the hunt for the Higgs boson, the field which imparts mass to, well, nearly everything. Written by Jon Butterworth —- a physicist working with the ATLAS team at the Large Hadron Collider —- the book documents the construction of the Large Hadron Collider, the catastrophe after it was first turned on, and the global excitement as evidence for the Higgs boson grew incontrovertible.

Most Wanted Particle has already received glowing praise from the likes of Brian Cox and even Peter Higgs —- for whom the boson is named -— and I’m sure that several physicists reading this site already have the book on their ‘to read’ list. But what about the rest of us? As a biology PhD whose last physics class was about 15 years ago, I decided to see if the book was accessible enough for your average science geek.

Find out how you can win a copy of this book, below.

First and only warning: the book discusses some very fundamental physics, and if you’re afraid to learn about topics like quarks, gluons, and hadronic jets, then this book will be tough going for you (all three of these are introduced on page 22, for instance). This complexity should be largely expected given the subject matter of the book; the alternative would be like a WW2 book that didn’t mention Normandy. So if learning some jargon scares you, you’d best stick to reading the news headlines from CERN.

With that caveat out of the way, Butterworth is a stellar writer and teacher, and he employs a number of tricks to make Most Wanted Particle extremely readable. First of all, equations are largely absent—they are described rather than displayed. (More kudos are due for making it over halfway through the book before the first Feynman diagram appears). Second is Butterworth’s impressive facility with analogy: often, even if you are struggling with the specifics of a concept, you will be able to grasp the broad brush strokes, and that’s enough to follow along with the tale.

Finally, there is the journalistic style. The book is written as a passionate first-person account, and the main narrative is pleasingly interrupted by diversions. It’s not uncommon to have a dense description of, say, super symmetry, broken up by a blog-like chapter discussing an international trip to a conference. (Other topics include meeting etiquette and ‘taking things offline’; what makes a good acronym; and a particularly memorable drunken night for the author and friends in Hamburg.)

Do you have friends who are scientists? If so, you will feel at home reading this book, and it took me a while to understand why. It’s because the general impression that I get from this book is very similar to taking a scientist friend to the pub, and having them describe their work to you over a beer. Sometimes you’ll get a little lost in the more thorny parts of the science; often you’ll get carried off by a tangent; but overall you’ll just enjoy a rollicking good tale, told by an intelligent storyteller.

This book comes highly recommended!

Most Wanted Particle is published by The Experiment Publishing. Find out more about the book here.

Thanks to The Experiment, Universe Today has one copy of this book to give away to our readers. The publisher has specified that for this contest, winners need to be from the US or Canada.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, April 13, 2015. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing. If you’ve entered our giveaways before you should also receive an email with a link on how to enter.

Book Review and Giveaway: Know It All: 132 Head-Scratching Questions About the Science All Around Us

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Benjamin Franklin

One of the greatest qualities we possess as humans is our ability to ask questions. Our quest for knowledge and answers about the world carries us beyond our everyday borders and attitudes. Curiosity may not have been good for the cat, but it is an essential growth tool for the human mind.

Know It All: 132 Head-Scratching Questions About the Science All Around Us, is a fun and educational collection of thought provoking questions and answers. Although the collection is edited by Mick O’Hare from New Scientist magazine, the contributors are drawn from the scientific community and amateur experts found around the world. Taken directly from the “Last Word” column at New Scientist, this assemblage is a diverse assortment of Q&As ranging in scope from the microscopic to the hypothetical.

Find out how you can win a copy of this book, below.

The most appealing part of the book is its global spirit of science and thirst for knowledge. One gentleman out of South Africa provides many insightful answers to questions originating from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia. Have you ever wondered why your legs may feel wobbly when standing at a cliff top? J. Richfield from South Africa gives an adept explanation.

On pg. 223 a New Scientist reader from North Carolina, USA brings up the Costa Concordia disaster and asks why there was concern about being ‘sucked under’ if the boat sank. The two cited answers are from the well versed contributor in South Africa and from a gentleman in the UK.

Among my wanderings within the book I have gained insight into the value of regularly using mouthwash and what medicines may last longer than their expiration date and why. I am thankful to the correspondent who asked why trick birthday candles can’t be blown out; now I know that the wick has magnesium powder in it and the accompanying science that goes along with it.

Hungry for answers to a wide assortment of questions? Dive into this book and find a treasure of answers.

Thanks to The Experiment Publishing, Universe Today has one copy of this book to give away to our readers. The publisher has specified that for this contest, winners need to be from the US or Canada.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, February 23, 2015. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing. If you’ve entered our giveaways before you should also receive an email with a link on how to enter.

We’re only going to use these email addresses for Universe Today giveaways/contests and announcements. We won’t be using them for any other purpose, and we definitely won’t be selling the addresses to anyone else. Once you’re on the giveaway notification list, you’ll be able to unsubscribe any time you like.

Giveaway: Win a Copy of “How to Build a Universe”

The story of our Universe has twists and turns, and from The Big Bang to the discovery of the atom to the eventual death of the universe, author Ben Gilliland uses his skill as an illustrator to explain it all with wit and detail in his new book “How to Build a Universe.”

You can read our full review of the book here.

Universe Today is proud to announce that thanks to Sterling Publishing, we have three copies of this engaging book to give away. The publisher has specified that for this contest, winners need to be from the US.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Sunday, February 15, 2015. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing. If you’ve entered our giveaways before you should also receive an email with a link on how to enter.

We’re only going to use these email addresses for Universe Today giveaways/contests and announcements. We won’t be using them for any other purpose, and we definitely won’t be selling the addresses to anyone else. Once you’re on the giveaway notification list, you’ll be able to unsubscribe any time you like.

Giveaway: Win a ‘Year In Space 2015’ Wall Calendar!

We say it every year, but Steve Cariddi’s wonderful Year in Space Wall Calendar is the perfect holiday gift! It’s full of amazing color images, daily space facts, historical references, and it even shows you where you can look in the sky for all the best astronomical sights.

The 2015 edition is now available to order, and thanks to Steve, Universe Today has 5 copies to give away!


This is a gorgeous wall calendar that has over 120 beautiful photos of space, and is larger, more lavishly illustrated, and packed with more information than any other space-themed wall calendar. It’s a huge 16 in. x 22 in. when hanging up!

Other features of this calendar:
– Background info and fun facts
– A sky summary of where to find naked-eye planets
– Space history dates
– Major holidays (U.S. and Canada)
– Daily Moon phases
– A mini-biography of famous astronomer, scientist, or astronaut each month.

You can read our full review of the 2015 calendar here.

To be entered into our giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this article (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Tuesday, December 9, 2014.

If this is the first time you’re registering for a giveaway from Universe Today, you’ll receive a confirmation email immediately where you’ll need to click a link to be entered into the drawing. For those who have registered previously, you’ll receive an email later where you can enter this drawing.

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These calendars normally sell for $17.95, but Universe Today readers can buy the calendar for only $13.95 or less (using the “Internet” discount), and get free U.S. shipping and discounted international shipping. There are also volume discounts. Check out all the details here.

There’s also the 136-Page Desk Calendar at a similar discounts.

You can preview the entire calendar at the Year in Space Calendar website.

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It’s published in cooperation with The Planetary Society, with an introduction by Bill Nye. Our thanks to Steve Cariddi for providing this giveaway opportunity for our readers!

Want to See Some Pretty Pictures? Here are the Winners of the 2014 Photo Nightscape Awards

We told you earlier this year about an astrophotography contest held by Ciel et Espace Photos in France, called the Photo Nightscape Awards. This is the first year of the competition and the winners have now been announced — and they are gorgeous!

They had two categories: pro and ‘espoir’ (amateur, or literally, ‘hope,’) and more than 100 photographers from around the world participated. Above is the winning entry for the pro category, a wonderful shot of a geyser field located in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile with a beautiful night sky overhead, taken by Jean-Marc Lecleire.

See a video compilation of the winners and other submissions, below, along with more beautiful images:

PNA 2014 - First in the 'Espoir' (hope) category: ‘Milky way over Baobabs.’ Credit and copyright: Mohammad Taha Ghouckkanly/PNA.
PNA 2014 – First in the ‘Espoir’ (hope) category: ‘Milky way over Baobabs.’ Credit and copyright: Mohammad Taha Ghouckkanly/PNA.

The organizers of the contest said they are looking for “astrophotography that mixes photographic art and poetry. The judge for the contest was Miguel Claro, whose astrophotography we feature often here on Universe Today.

Other winners were 1st prize ‘Pro’: Tommy Eliassen; 2nd prize ‘Pro’: Mohammad Taha Ghouchkanlu for the “Baobabs” image, below; 1st prize ‘Espoir’: Pascal Colas; 2nd prize ‘Espoir’: Jérémy Gachon; 1st prize in young astronomers 9-12 group was Louis-Hadrien Gros and 2nd 9-12 was Justin Galant. 1st prize in the young astronomers 13-17 group was Tess Gautier, 2nd prize ’13-17.

You can see all the winning photos at the website here, where you can also learn about next year’s competition.

PNA 'Pro' Category 2014: ‘Still Untouched’ Credit and copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo/PNA.
PNA ‘Pro’ Category 2014: ‘Still Untouched’ Credit and copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo/PNA.

Giveaway: Win a Copy of “Astrophotography” by Thierry Legault

A newly published English version of the book, “Astrophotography” by Thierry Legault provides detailed, step-by-step instructions of how to start or improve your photography of astronomical objects. But this is not just a dry manual: Legault tells stories and explains details in a manner that seems like he is talking directly to you, and he shares the expertise he has garnered from over 20 years of amateur astrophotography.

You can read our full review of the book here.

Universe Today is proud to announce we have several copies of this engaging book to give away, and two ways to win.

NOTE: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for everyone’s participation!

The first way to win a copy is our usual “giveaway” process where we have two copies available to winners. In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Monday, September 22, 2014. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing. If you’ve entered our giveaways before you should also receive an email with a link on how to enter.

The second way to win is through Facebook. Again, two copies are available through this avenue. Please see our Facebook post for this giveaway, then we ask you to “like” the Rocky Nook Publishing Facebook page. Your “like” to Rocky Nook will be considered an entry to the contest. From there, a winner will be chosen and the winners will be notified through Facebook.

The publisher has specified that for this contest, winners chosen from the US will be sent a copy of the book, while winners chosen from other countries will receive an ebook.

Continue reading “Giveaway: Win a Copy of “Astrophotography” by Thierry Legault”

Wow! See the ‘International Earth & Sky Photo Contest’ Winners

Need a little eye candy? Look no further! Here are the latest winners of the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. This was the 5th annual contest, which is organized by The World at Night (TWAN), the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and Global Astronomy Month from Astronomers Without Borders. This contest stresses the importance and awareness of dark skies, look for images that portray the “TWAN style” —showing both the Earth and the sky—by combining elements of the night sky set in the backdrop of the Earth horizon, often with a notable scenery or landmark.

The 2014 contest had two categories: “Beauty of The Night Sky” and “Against The Lights.”

“Both contest categories provide a visual awareness of the disappearing starry night sky and hopefully an understanding as to its cause,”said contest judge Connie Walker, associate scientist and education specialist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. “The added hope is that the photos will provide an incentive to be more actively involved in reasonable light pollution solutions and therefore dark skies preservation.”

Click on each of the image here for larger versions.

The first prize in Beauty of the Night Sky category was awarded to Luc Perrot from Réunion Island of France (southern Indian Ocean), for his image “Over the Top,” below, shot on Feb 28, 2014. A volcano in the Reunion Island peaks out of a sea of clouds and rests under stars.

“The photograph beautifully captures a scene that is eternal, the central bulge of the Milky Way is rising majestically over Piton de la Fournaise volcano,” said contest judge David Malin, who is widely known as a pioneer in scientific astrophotography “The image shows no sign of human presence, and is a reminder that the foreground landscape and the dark dust lanes in the Milky Way are made of the same elements, seen here as delicate clouds and solid mountain peaks.”

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Here are the “Beauty of the Night Sky” top winners:

1- Luc Perrot, Reunion Island (France)
2- Ben Coffman, USA
3- Nicholas Roemmelt, Austria
4- Ibrahim Elawadi, Egypt
5- Phil Hart, Australia

We loved this image, below, from Nicholas Roemmelt of Austria for his outstanding capture of aurora over Kirkjufell waterfalls in Iceland in a moonlit night of March 2014, titled “Kirkjufell Nights” which won third place in the “Beauty of the Night” category.

Contest judge and long-time National Geographic photographer James Richardson regards this image “a fantastic confluence of the forces of nature. This is, of course, just one small corner of our universe, and yet we see swirling all the waterfalls carving at the rocky landscape, the mountain resisting erosion, the aurora sweeping around the pole and the stars beyond, part of the whole. The organizational power of this photograph is just wonderful.”

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The first prize in “Against the Lights category” (and the overall contest winner) goes to Giorgia Hofer of Italy for his photo “Light in the Sky” taken on January 1, 2014 from Cibiana Pass in the Dolomites (Alps), northern Italy.

“I tried to portray the mist produced by the drones launched fireworks on the evening of new that were illuminated by a nearby light tower. in the only dark part of the sky the Big Dipper (the prominent part of constellation Ursa Major) is perfectly framed by the rays,” said the photographer.

Contest judge James Richardson said of this photo, “This captures the great ambiguity we feel about the night and night lighting. It is at once beautiful and beautifully composed. But it is also night lighting obscuring the beauties of the night. A beautiful image that confronts us with our own, conflicted desires.”

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The entire “Against the Lights” winners are:
1- Giorgia Hofer, Italy
2- Alex Conu, Romania
3- Majid Ghohrudi, Iran
4- Mark Gee, New Zealand
5- Song Hongxiao, China

We also loved the fifth place winner in the “Against the Lights” category. “Heavenly Street” by Song Hongxiao of China is a long-exposure photo sequence of March 30, 2013 that captures star trails from the sacred Taishan or Mount Tai. Says the photographer: “Its been an ancient China tradition that people climb to the top of Mountain Tai to watch the beautiful sunrise and pray. In this picture thousands of people are walking across the Heavenly Street. The lights from their flashlight interplays with the stars in the sky.”

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There are also 70 images as honorable mention which you can see in the video below, or in the contest Guest Gallery. The images were submitted (or taken) from 55 countries and territories.

You can find out more about this contest and the judges here. Keep your eye out for the chance to participate in next year’s contest at TWAN’s contest page.

Book Review and Giveaway: Earthrise: My Adventures As An Apollo 14 Astronaut by Edgar Mitchell

Book review by David Freiberg: Universe Today Book Reviewer

Most of us get up in the morning, shower, eat breakfast and sleepily make our way to work. Whether we work in an office, outdoors, with the public or in any number of exciting Earth-based careers, our daily commute can hardly compare to that of a moon astronaut! In Earthrise: My Adventures As An Apollo 14 Astronaut, Edgar Mitchell shares his personal story of how he came to share a career with a scarce 11 other people in history.

This new book tells the story Mitchell’s life; he started out as a farm boy from a small town in New Mexico who grew up in a normal family and lived a normal life but he worked hard enough and got lucky enough to go to the Moon. He wasn’t born into it, and he wasn’t so supremely gifted that he aced everything he tried in his life. He had the willpower to work through years of training, and he had the courage to get into a gigantic rocket that would launch him a quarter of a million miles through space, even though the last people who had tried to go to the Moon were lucky to get back alive.

And, being a real person doing an extraordinary thing, he came back changed by the experience.

Despite the trials and tribulations of training, of flying there, of a close call with a malfunctioning “abort” button, and of the moonwalk itself, Edgar details how the ride home was the most life-changing part of the entire journey. As he saw the Earth shining in front of him, he described a sensation he called metanoia that was to shape the rest of his life. He’d explored as much of outer space as current technology would allow: now he wanted to do the opposite and explore the mind. Though he’d always been interested in topics like ESP (he even conducted his own ESP experiment with a few doctors on Earth during the mission), it was easy to see how it changed his perspective on everything. And, from his descriptions, he’s not the only Apollo astronaut to have a different perspective on life after the mission: they were real people, after all, and if you went to the Moon, you’d probably be changed as well.

That’s where “Earthrise” really shines: you get the idea that you too could do the same thing if you were willing to work for it. This book is strongly recommended for all children who are interested in space; as Edgar Mitchell was inspired by stories of Roswell and of Buck Rogers when he was young, perhaps a child who reads this very book will someday fly around the Moon and watch the Earth come up.

About the authors: Dr. Edgar Mitchell was a pilot in the historic 1971 Apollo 14 mission and the sixth man to ever walk on the Moon. He is the author of “Paradigm Shift,” “The Space Less Traveled,” and “The Way of the Explorer,” and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, three NASA Group Achievement Awards and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He is the founder of the renowned Institute of Noetic Sciences and lives in Lake Worth, Florida. Ellen Mahoney has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering and produced radio features for the BBC Science in Action show. She is an instructor of journalism at Metro State University of Denver and lives in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Brian Cox is a professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester School of Physics and Astronomy, Manchester, England. He presents space and science programs on BBC radio and television, including “Wonders of the Universe.”

Universe Today and Chicago Review Press are pleased to be able to offer three free copies of “Earthrise: My Adventures as An Apollo 14 Astronaut” to our readers. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only. In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Wednesday, April 30, 2014. If this is the first time you’re registering for a giveaway, you’ll receive a confirmation email immediately where you’ll need to click a link to be entered into the drawing. For those who have registered previously, you’ll receive an email later where you can enter this drawing.

If you are not lucky enough to win one of our three free copies, or if you don’t want to wait, you can purchase the book from Amazon.com.