Category Archives: REMOTE SENSORS

Our Sensors have detected…

A few items collected over the past week or so while I was away from the keyboard.
  • Highlights from Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines
  • Burt Kwouk (1930-2016)
  • Trailers for Star Trek series & new MacGyver series
  • Hugo Awards, how to foil the Puppy slates
  • Cybercrime

2007 OR10: Largest unnamed world in the solar system (Astronomy Magazine)

Astronomers combined data from two space observatories to reveal something surprising: This dwarf planet is significantly larger than previously thought.
Dwarf planets
New K2 results peg 2007 OR10 as the largest unnamed body in our solar system and the third largest of the current roster of about half a dozen dwarf planets. The dwarf planet Haumea has an oblong shape that is wider on its long axis than 2007 OR10, but its overall volume is smaller.  Read more.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, May 27 – June 4

May through June:   Have you been watching the Mars-Antares-Saturn triangle change shape? It’s stretching as Mars moves westward away from the head of Scorpius. This will continue until the end of June. Then Mars will start to slingshot back to fly right between Antares and Saturn in late August. Plan to watch this slow summer drama!

As darkness arrives these evenings, look south about halfway between Jupiter and Mars. One star there stands out: Spica, in Virgo. High above it shines brighter Arcturus in Bootes. Half as far to Spica’s lower right is the constellation Corvus, the Crow, eyeing Spica to steal it from Virgo’s hand as she looks the other way.  (complicated way to find Spica, IMO, esp since Jupiter and Mars move around. Better to use this tried and true method: Find the Big Dipper. Use the handle to “Arc to Acturus, then spike down to Spica. You can’t miss Arcturus, it’s bright orange.  –CPL)

 Is your sky dark enough for you to see the Coma Berenices star cluster naked-eye? As soon as twilight is completely over, look above Jupiter by about 25°, about two and a half fists at arm’s length. The cluster is dim but big, at least 5° wide, the size of a golf ball at arm’s length. Its brightest stars, near its middle, form a sort of inverted Y shape. Binoculars bring its stars right out.

Thursday, June 2:   Now it’s Saturn’s turn at opposition. It’s the second-brightest point in the area of Mars, 16° to Mars’s lower left.Finding Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars







Friday, June 3

• For much of the spring at mid-northern latitudes, the Milky Way lies right down out of sight all around the horizon. But watch the east now. The rich Cepheus-Cygnus-Aquila stretch of the Milky Way starts rising up all across the east late these nights, earlier and higher every week.

Cassiopeia at its lowest

Cassiopeia inches along sideways low in the north at dusk.

Saturday, June 4

• New Moon (exact at 11:00 p.m. EDT). A new lunar month begins. Unlike a calendar month, which averages 30.437 days long, a lunar month (from one new Moon to the next) averages 29.531 days. So, on average, you’ll see the Moon in the same phase about 1 day earlier every month bu the calendar.


Burt Kwouk (1930-2016)–obituary/

Best know for his role as Cato in Pink Panther Films, but also had genre roles in the Curse of the Fly and various TV series.  Hop over to IMDB for a full listing.

Trailers for Star Trek series & new MacGyver series

At the CBS Upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall in New York on May 18, CBS unveiled the logo for the new STAR TREK television series within the first-ever promotional video for the highly-anticipated program. (Only the premiere will be available on CBS, after that it goes to streaming.)


A reimagining of the television series of the same name, following a 20-something MacGyver as he creates a clandestine organization where he uses his knack for solving problems in unconventional ways to help prevent disasters from happening. Written by CBS

Happy PuppyHugo Awards, how to foil the Puppy slates (or any other kind of slate)

The whole messy Puppies/Hugo situation– this is a thread on File 770 in which various ideas on how to stop slates from screwing up the Hugo awards are discussed and dissected.  Last year, there were 5 no awards because those 5 categories were owned by Puppies.


Since Steven’s presentation on cybercrime and the series, CSI Cyber, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the subject. It’s worth checking into blogs such as this one from the Norton Community Forum

Cybercrime in Canada is growing.

Cybercrime: an overview of incidents and issues in Canada is the RCMP’s first report on cybercrime, and focuses on aspects of the cybercrime environment that affect Canada’s public organizations, businesses and citizens in real and harmful ways.



Long Range Sensors: Astronomy

    • Asteroid Day June 30
    • Scientists discover hidden galaxies behind the Milky Way
    • Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell dies at age 85

♦ Asteroid Day is held on June 30 — “the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recorded history, at Tunguska, Siberia in 1908. The first Asteroid Day was launched in 2015, and attracted more than 150 events worldwide, attended by tens of thousands of scientists, academics and public citizens, with media coverage exceeding 4 billion impressions.

brianMay_160211“Participants included co-founders Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and co-founder of the rock band Queen; filmmaker Grigorij Richters; ESA Director Franco Ongaro and AIM Mission Manager Ian Carnelli; astronauts Dr. Tom Jones, Dorin Prunariu, Dr. Ed Lu, Col. Chris Hadfield, Rakesh Sharma, Soyeon Yi, Anousheh Ansari, Helen Sharman; Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt; Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye; British Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees; astronomer Dr. Amanda Sickafoose, of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO); media partner Discovery Science; and world-renowned scientists and asteroid experts.”

READ MORE from Astronomy Magazine

Scientists discover hidden galaxies behind the Milky Way: “The discovery may help to explain the Great Attractor region, which appears to be drawing the Milky Way and hundreds of thousands of other galaxies towards it with a gravitational force equivalent to a million billion Suns.”

READ MORE astronomy magazine

READ MORE from Sky & Telescope

EdgarMitchellApollo14Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell dies at age 85

Mitchell and Shephard set mission records for the time of the longest distance traversed on the lunar surface; the largest payload returned from lunar surface; and the longest lunar stay time of 33 hours

READ MORE from Astronomy





Very long range sensors detect…

  • A wrinkle in time: Gravity Waves prove Einstein right!
  • Water on Pluto
  • The sky this week-naked eye observing
  • Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away
  • Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS

BHsim-600Gravity Waves Detected:  LIGO scientists have announced the direct detection of gravitational waves, a discovery that won’t just open a new window on the cosmos — it’ll smash the door wide open. Read more in Sky and Telescope, lots of pictures, graphs, diagrams….Also read more from Astronomy Magazine, though I found the format of the page rather strange.

Water on Pluto: Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought.  Read More from Astronomy Magazine

The sky this week:  Check out the winter constellations, most of the observations mentioned in this article are visible to the naked eye. The winter hexagon is easily picked, even in light polluted skies of Montreal.  From Sky and Tel.  Printable star chart for February can be found here.

Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away:  The Pictor A Galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center, and a huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls toward the event horizon. From Astronomy Magazine, read more.

Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS: Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys are the most Mars-like place on Earth. They make up one of the driest and most hostile environments on our planet, where strong winds scour away even snow and ice.  Read about ISS experiment.

Long Range Sensors Detect…

From National Geographic, some seriously weird stuff:

Help! I’m Trapped in a Drop of Water!  A fish is entombed in a water droplet in zero gravity … Or is it? No creatures were harmed in the making of this video.  Read more.

The 99-Million-Year Erection: The best—and worst—day of this ancient arachnid’s life is preserved in amber. Read more.

There’s a Forest in Your Mouth: To bacteria, a human mouth is an entire world. The tongue, teeth, and gums are all different habitats, each with its own fauna.  Read more.

500 Kinds of Bugs May Be in Your House: And that’s a conservative estimate. Spiders, beetles, book lice—oh, my.  Read more.



Long Range Sensors Detect…

With thanks to File 770 for pointing us to these stories:

  • Lots of Star Trek news
  • Rowling’s official sorting hat goes live
  • Moffat, OBE, Dr Who & Sherlock
  • Steve Green launches Ghostwords TV

Let’s start with the Trek news.  CBS is launching the new series in January of 2017, but it’s going to air primarily on an SVOD service. The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series Leonard_Book Jacket_William Shatnerand the current movie franchises.  Shatner’s biography of Leonard Nimoy is reviewed here.  As Shatner says at one point, “When I think about Leonard, my memories are emotional more than specific.” His memories often read that way, tooTREK PARODY ON STAGE. Boldly Go!, a musical parody based upon Star Trek, opens February 26 at Caltech Theater in Pasadena, CA.  A series of short videos about the production can be viewed at the site.

Rowling’s sorting hat is not making friends, many fans found themselves in what they consider the “wrong houses”. Give it a whirl, and do let us know how you fare. Click on the “Comment” button above.

Steven_MoffatSteven Moffat was presented with his OBE by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace for services to drama. After the ceremony, he confirmed that the 10th season of the Doctor will consist of 13 episodes and Sherlock will have 3.  Read more. 

Back in 2009, when World Con came to Montreal, Steve Green won the Steve-GreenTAF, and came to visit.  MonSFFA was honoured to spend some time with this British fan, hosting a fun dinner at a smoked meat restaurant. So you might be interested in knowing that he and Chrissie Harper  have released the first episode of Ghostwords TV, a fortnightly vidcast devoted to horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, comics and telefantasy.

The opening installment offers a lengthy chat with author Ramsey Campbell, including a discussion of the recent controversy over the World Fantasy Award, tributes to David Hartwell and David Bowie, the TV series Ash vs Evil Dead, the latest releases from comics legend Steve Ditko, personnel changes at Doctor Who, Graham Humphreys’ new artbook.  Interesting show, I’m looking forward to more. Watch the first episode here.


Long Range Sensors

Most of these links come thanks to the File 770 Pixel Scroll. The first and second items merit discussion. Don’t be shy to click on Comment!

  • 10 Women who changed SF
  • The X Files returned to broadcast following a 14 year hiatus
  • Neil Gaiman’s poem “Orphee” and Documentary on the myth
  • Marvin Minsky, pioneer in AI, passes away
  • Star Trek: Mission New York
  • Town names streets after Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books (not recent news, but it was new to me.)


  • 10 Women who changed SF, according to a BBC Radio 4 documentary I would agree with nearly all, but not sure ALL of them CHANGED SF.  For some reason, there are photos ofLeckiePhoto-160x240 only 9 of the women, so I bring you a picture of Ann Leckie. I think is is a bit too soon to claim a lasting effect on the genre, but her universe could well be a game-changer, especially as regards the use of AI and ancillaries, though it’s the non-gender roles that get the press.
  • The X Files returned to broadcast following a 14 year hiatus: The most interesting part of the article comes below the images, when the author ponders whether we can actually call the X-Files science fiction. There is a history of how the paranormal crept into the genre. He concludes by wondering if readers of SF are more inclined to be sceptics of the paranormal. Very interesting!
  • Neil Gaiman’s poem “Orphee”: Lovely, free verse, poem based on the Orpheus myth.  You can read it here.  Neil Gaiman’s documentary on the myth and its universal theme of bringing back the dead.  With contributions from writers Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Carroll, the late Russell Hoban and his daughter Phoebe Hoban, songwriter and cartoonist Peter Blegvad, and composer and conceptual artist Hannah Catherine Jones.   It’s 30 minutes, and well worth the time to listen to it. Would you look back?
  • Marvin Minsky, pioneer in AI, passes away:  a pioneering explorer of artificial intelligence, work that helped inspire the creation of the personal computer and the Internet, died on Sunday night in Boston. He was 88….Well before the advent of the microprocessor and the supercomputer, Professor Minsky, a revered computer science educator at M.I.T., laid the foundation for the field of artificial intelligence by demonstrating the possibilities of imparting common-sense reasoning to computers. Read the NY Times obit.
  • Star Trek: Mission New York:  A celebration of the 50th nniversary of Star Trek, Taking place Sept. 2-4 at the Javits Center, Mission New York comes from New York Comic-Con organizers ReedPOP. Lance Festerman, global svp for the company, said in a statement that the new convention “will be a completely unique fan event unlike anything seen before, giving [fans] the chance to go beyond panels and autograph signings, and immerse themselves in the Star Trek universe.”
  • Town names streets after Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books (not recent news, but it was new to me.)
    If you go down to Wincanton in Somerset today you can wander down Peach Pie Street and Treacle Mine Road, named after Sir Terry Pratchett’s fantasy series Discworld. Pratchett visited the town today to unveil the road names at a new housing estate, and was greeted by hundreds of fans – many dressed in costume.  Wincanton was twinned with the city of Ankh-Morpork from the novels in 2002, becoming the first UK town to link with a fictional place.


Remote Sensors check the latest on fb

Stories found circulating around Facebook, backed up by more reliable sources.

  • Costumers & the US Supreme Court
  • Gender discrimination ( and Cathy’s rant)
  • Tributes to David Hartwell
  • Cosplay Goes to the Supreme Court : The Supreme Court of the United States may get to decide the legal status of all those Jedi robes you’ve got squirreled away. The Supreme Court is considering a case that will set the standard for when clothing and costume designs can be covered by copyright—and when people who mimic them (such as costumers) can be sued for potentially enormous damages.

This article gives a really good explanation of the issues involved. Running a Google search on cosplay and the Supreme Court called up quite a few interesting links, esp from costumers. I read an article I thought gave a really good explanation of the problems, more in-depth understanding of the laws, but also another twist:

We’ve devoted a lot of time to copyright owners, but what about the cosplayers themselves? Even though cosplay is about the characters, there are still normal people behind the armor (for a given value of normal), and these people all have their own right of publicity. The right of publicity is an individual’s right to control the commercial use of their identity; however, unlike copyright, the right of publicity is a state law action.

  • Gender Discrimination: Lack of diversity in the arts is making headlines, especially with the “Lily-white” Oscar nominations. SF/F fans are well aware of how hard it is for “minorities” to have a voice in the genre.  I put minorities in quotes because I don’t consider the female half of the human population to be a minority. But we all know of authors who have had to hide their gender, and we all know about the Puppies (both the Sad and the Rabid–yes, they are still out to mess with the Hugos again this year.)  And we know about GamerGate–and the threats on the lives of women involved in the gaming industry.

Guess who doesn’t rate an action figure?

Guess who's missing?

The big brouhaha of this winter of our discontent is the toy industry, Disney in particular.

“One or more individuals raised concerns about the presence of female characters in the Star Wars products,” Boehm reports. “Eventually, the product vendors were specifically directed to exclude the Rey character from all Star Wars-related merchandise.” Allegedly, the industry insider was told, “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”

When I was a kid, I KNEW all the good toys were in the boys’ aisles, the good books had titles the started with, “The Boy’s Big Book of….” That was  50-some years ago, and nothing has changed.

For a look at gender discrimination in the comics/graphic novels department of the genre, look here. 

  • David Hartwell, respected editor, who died recently after a fall, is being remembered by friends, colleagues, authors, and readers.

Click here to view tributes on his facebook page

Click here to view Kathyrn Cramer’s post on fb. Apparently, a nurse spent 5 hours compressing a blue rubber bulb that substituted for the action of David’s diaphragm. It didn’t matter to his survival, but the fact that the nurse had to do this is really awful.

Rather, if you are thinking of David tonight and wish you could have done something, please follow THIS LINK and make a donation earmarked to buy ECH its own mechanical respirator. 

From Mary Robinette Kowal, an explanation of the unusual fashions he embraced. It wasn’t because they were tacky.

David Hartwell’s sartorial splendour 1941-2016


Remote Sensors

Remote sensors have detected:
  • X-Files: Still want to believe?
  • See 5 planets at once
  • Dr Who Spin-off series
  • Scottish National party wants to establish Europe’s first spaceport in the UK
  • In 2002, the FBI closed the X-Files and our investigations ceased, but my personal obsession did not.” Mulder

Sunday, CTV, Fox, at 10PM.  Watch the timing if you are recording, it’s scheduled to follow the  NFC Championship Game.  Looks like all the main cast characters are back in their roles. has a trailer.

  • A treat for early risersSee 5 planets at once this week.   You need a really clear horizon to the SE to see Mercury, but the other four planets and the stars Spica and Antares should be obvious even from the city.

5 planets

  • Doctor Whospinoff series “Class” will air stateside in 2016 on BBC America, it was announced Friday at Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif.

    The eight-part series is from young-adult author Patrick Ness, who is known for writing the “A Monster Calls” books. The series is exec produced by “Doctor Who’s” Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin and is a co-production between BBC America and BBC Cymru Wales. It is filmed in Cardiff in the U.K.

  • The SNP MP Philippa Whitford led a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday on the future of the UK space industry, which she concluded by giving the Vulcan salute. The MP made the case for a spaceport to be established in her constituency of Central Ayrshire. Great mimic of Scotty fretting over the Dilithium crystals.  Watch video.

Remote Sensors: Pubbing the ish

Sensors received the November issue of the BCSFAzine. It’s a bit late, but what else is new in fandom? Contrary to common belief, we do have lives! Edited by Felicity Walker, this is the clubzine for the British Columbia Science Fiction Association,  Includes report on the October meeting and the first part of a review of VCON. Lots of LoCs, a funny one from Taral Wayne.

Very remote sensors–had to send a probe out to  search e-fanzines –found that Dale Spiers of Calgary has published Opuntia 331. Back in the Good Ol’ Days, Opuntia and WARP traded paper copies. His new look is quite glitzy–great pictures of New Year’s Eve in Calgary. Coyboy Santa?

The remote probe also ran across Broken Toys 45, the Christmas Issue, by Taral Wayne, Toronto.  I only meant to scan it, but ended up reading it all. He’s a wonderful writer. He reminisces on Christmases past, and follows this up with a Fraggle Rock story: Rock and Yule.

Recently, our sensors picked up a transmission from well-known Canadian fan-ed, R. Graeme Cameron outlining his plans for publishing a semi-pro zine that would put the spotlight on  new Canadian authors.  (

Graeme has now got a Go Fund Me campaign underway to finance the first issue. The name has (thankfully) been changed from Polar Yites! to Polar Boreal. “I realise the title of my proposed zine “POLAR YITES!” was essentially a self-indulgent in-joke, and not at all professional, but I figured it would get people talking till I came up with something better”

If you like the idea of helping writers new to the genre get their first sale, not to mention funding an old phart’s crazy hobby, please donate whenever you feel like it. The more issues I can publish, the greater the number of beginning writers who can get their first break. Sound like a great idea? I like to think so.

I think so, too, and sent a few bucks his way. The cover is by Jean Pierre Normand.

Remote Sensors: We shall not see their like again…

For the SF/F fans, 2016 started with a series of losses. I guess it goes with the greying of fandom, that we also see the passing of people who touched us along the way.


  • Hungarian-born cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, winner of an Oscar for his achievements on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and a nominee for “The Deer Hunter,” “The River” (1984) and the “The Black Dahlia” (2006),  died January 1st, aged 85. Read obituary in Variety.

And I’m floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today….

Gates McFadden (Dr Crusher on Star Trek TNG) choreographed Labyrinth.  Watch McFadden working with actors on dance sequences for Labyrinth, with commentary by Jim Henson.

By Grabthar’s hammer… by the Suns of Worvan…