Get ready! Next month Mercury will pass in front of the Sun in a rare event
Here's how to watch the transit of Mercury.
By Fiona MacDonald

If you’re not already excited enough that Earth is about to experience spectacular meteor showers as it moves through the tail of Halley’s Comet, then wrap your head around this - at the start of May we’re also going to be able to watch the littlest planet Mercury travel in front of the Sun.

Because Mercury’s orbit is so tight, its transit is more common than the twice-in-a-century transit of Venus. But it’s still a rare event, and the planet won’t travel between our star and planet again for another three and a half years, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to feel humbled by just how giant our Sun really is. Here’s everything you need to know to watch.

The transit of Mercury occurs when Mercury passes between the Sun and Earth, and happens around 13 or 14 times each century. This year the event kicks off on May 9 just after 7am EDT (9pm AEST, 11am UTC), with the planet taking around 8 hours to make its glorious way across the Sun.

The good news is that the entire event will be visible to those on North America’s east coast, as well as most of South America, western Europe and the west coast of Africa. And stargazers in western Asia and western North America will also be able to see part of the transit. You can see the full visibility map below.

Continue Reading.

Google Maps Eat Your Heart Out

The goal of mapping the heavens has existed for as long as the science of astronomy. The first known comprehensive star catalogue was drawn up by Greek astronomer Hipparchus 2,000 years ago, and in 1989 the European Space Agency continued his legacy and launched the High Precision Parallax Collecting Satellite (Hipparcos for short), which mapped 120,000 stars over three and a half years.

Now, ESA’s next sky cartographer is Gaia (Global Astrometric Interfermeter for Astrophysics).

Gaia was launched on December 19 and is now speeding to the second Lagrange point 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, where—free of the bother of the atmosphere—it will carry out 40 million measurements per day and produce a 3D atlas of the cosmos. Over five years it will chart 1 billion stars (1% of the Milky way’s inventory) with forty times the accuracy of Hipparcos. ESA describes: “If Hipparcos could measure the angle that corresponds to the height of an astronaut on the Moon, Gaia will be able to measure his thumbnail.”

The mission is expected to yield some incredible discoveries—it will shed light on the distribution of dark matter, track half a million asteroids, find new supernovae and novae, observe millions of galaxies and quasars, and discover over 30,000 exoplanets.

Gaia will repeat its measurements 70 times to ensure accuracy, and by combining all of these, astronomers can construct a final, incredibly precise map. This information will give us clues about the stars’ history, so Gaia will help us build a family tree of our home galaxy.

Here’s a painting I did of a tortoise. ^____^

He’s getting kinda old, but still wants to be useful, so they put him on guard duty. There hasn’t been conflict in over five hundred years though, so it’s more of a token position.

Still, he enjoys the quiet, the scenery, and the fact that he gets to nap a lot. In all honesty, he’s actually pretty bad at his job, but he doesn’t realise it, and everyone thinks he’s too cute to call him out on it.

Thanks to Adam Paquette for the sage advice he gave; the ‘finished’ piece (IS ANY ARTWORK EVER TRULY FINISHED) is a lot better for it! ^__^

Review - Parallax

Genre: Fantasy, Battle

Parallax is a comic about a college student called Lomax, who receives a mysterious gift from a teacher, which allows him to don a magic suit of chainmail and have trippy vision for a while. It’s described on Hiveworks as “A story about action and mystery, about growing up, making friends, and battling inner and outer demons.” and that’s it. That’s all I got, mostly due to some issues with the site itself (but more on that later). I even struggled to find the name of the author, although there is one M. Falke credited as copyright holder in the site itself.

Let’s start with what I think is the highlight of the comic.

Art Skills: The art is polished and very eye catching. There’s a good use of colors, especially to create a mood. The use of dramatic shadows, flexible inking and wild perspective also helped in that regard. Although stylized, the anatomy is great, and I couldn’t find a single panel that seemed off to me.The panelling is nice and leads the eye well, generally not being very fancy with a few, nicely pulled off exceptions. I give it 4.5 out of 5 mood lightings.

Art Style: As mentioned previously, there’s a lot of color mood setting and dramatic lighting, which adds a lot to the art style. It’s not what I’d call unique, but it’s not generic either, and it’s very pleasing on the eyes. I wouldn’t say it’s impressive most of the time, but it’s certainly not boring. It suits the story well; I didn’t feel like there was a clash at all, as it works very nicely both for the serious tone of the story, and the more comedic moments. My favorite things come down to two points: It’s incredibly expressive and fluid, and the background characters are very fun to look at. I also enjoy the main characters fluffy hair, but more on that later. 4.5 out of 5 little hair spikes.

Now, this is where we start slowly descending into plot hell.

Story: I wanted to like Parallax. It has the sort of plot that I tend to enjoy, and the art is phenomenal! But, at 8 months of updates, the story is thin and flat, and hasn’t managed to quite grab me. The prologue is generic, and it takes 24 pages to actually have the main plot point happen. For a comic that seems to update weekly (although I’m not sure, because, again, site issues) this is deadly. I would’ve prefered to been thrown into the gist of things with some action, then maybe have some flashbacks. As it is, it’s simply so thin and slow I can’t be interested. As a print comic, with several chapters of story, it would’ve done fine. But as a webcomic with a slow update rate, it’s not quite a drag to read through, but it’s not pleasant.

With that being said, I can’t actually point out any flaws in the storytelling. Mostly because there’s not enough storytelling to have any big flaws. 3 out of 5 glasses of water.

Characters: Lomax… Something. I already forgot his last name, but it’s long. Anyway, Lomax is your bland everydayman insecure character who gets thrust into magical fantasy combat calling. Mr. Rogers is the wise mentor with a dark troubled past. Lomax’s parents are apparently well meaning but distant.

Again, this comic suffers from being thin and on the generic side. Lomax is certainly relatable, but so far that’s all there is to him. He has a very fun design, especially in his magical boy knight form. Mr. Rogers looks like a teacher. Parents looks like parents. Background characters look like fun and interesting background characters. 3 out of 5 personal insecurities.

Diversity and Sensibility:  Eh. I don’t have enough happening to make a judgement. It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, and there’s no POC with speaking roles that I can recall. But then again, there’s only like, five speaking characters and one of them shows up on one page and nothing else. For now, I’m considering this category null.

Delivery: Boy, this site is pretty good looking. The logo kind of looks like a band logo more than anything but it’s not bad. I do love that the comics are big and horizontal and take up the screen without scrolling or any sort of distractions on the sides. I have to wonder how it would look on lower resolutions.

It has, of course, all the usual Hiveworks fixin’s.

But on the other hand, there’s a big issue with lack of information in the site. None of the pages are finished besides the archives. All I knew about the comic was what I read on the Hiveworks site.

The comments are also night unreadable in those colors and I dislike the way the dark background from the comics progresses into a white background for the comments. A softer gradient and less drastic colors would be appreciated. At least it looks nice and isn’t broken. 3 out of 5 unknown authors.

Conclusion: I’ll give it to you straight, you should probably read Parallax if you are the least bit interested in the plot, or the art. Just keep your expectations low. There’s less than 60 pages as I’m writing this. It shouldn’t take you long to read, and it does have a lot of potential.

Overall, I give it 3,6, rounded to THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS (but with a lot of room to grow!) 


- Ezzy

BOOK THREE: Destined, Jessie Harrell (three and a half stars)

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Eros and Psyche since sixth grade, when our English and social studies classes did units on ancient Greece (which culminated with Greek Night, when we all had to do some presentation involving an aspect of ancient Greek culture; my group did a skit called Medusa’s Hair Salon). I’ve read a few books/short stories with this myth as a basis, and even attempted to write my own during NaNoWriMo a few years back.

Destined was not one of the best of the adaptations.

Oh, it was an easy read, and cute. I liked Psyche’s personality. She had enough moxie that it wasn’t grating and didn’t read like faux girl power. However, I didn’t like the POV change–Psyche’s chapters are in first person; Eros’s in third. It disrupted the flow for me.

If you’re looking for a light, fluffy reading of the story, by all means go with this one. But if you’re left dissatisfied by Destined, I’ll suggest one of my favorite retellings: Cupid by Julius Lester. I read it at the start of last year, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

I got to ban three people from Slate Star Codex today. That’s about half of my List Of People To Ban As Soon As I Can Find A Flimsy Excuse For Doing So. I am so delighted right now.

Review: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Genre(s): Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ★★★½

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. - via Goodreads

My Thoughts: I think this book is more of a 3.5 for me. My rating on Goodreads is a 4 because I round up.


For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader - other than dystopian novels, I’m 99% sure this is my first sci-fi novel - but it wasn’t too bad! What I enjoyed the most was how dark the story got. Originally, I didn’t think it was that creepy but the further into the story I got, the more I realized just how dark what was taking place in the novel was and that, along with the satisfaction of knowing without a doubt who the “bad guy” was, was what drove me to keep reading.

So it probably goes without saying that when I first grabbed the book I thought it was going to be heavy on the romance. But that wasn’t the case at all. I’ve heard about a lot of books that are “sci-fi” that are really just romance in a sci-fi setting and Across the Universe wasn’t one of them. I don’t know how the second and third books will pan out but I think the problems presented in AtU definitely lend themselves to being explored and dealt with in the next books.

One of the main problems I had with this book was the murderer. The moment that character was introduced, I had already pinned them as the culprit. It wasn’t hard to figure out so I grew annoyed that Amy and Elder overlooked it for so long. However, given everything going on within the novel, I’m willing to cut them some slack. 

My other issue is the lack of ladies. In total, we have five we know by name, one of whom we never see, and other than Amy, we never actually get to know the other women. Of course, there is a “mean girl” we see occasionally - sigh. It would’ve been nice to see Amy develop some kind of real relationship with another girl aboard the ship since there are eight guys we know by name, five of whom she interacts with on an almost daily basis. I’m not going to hold out too much hope for female companionship in the next two novels, though.

Would I recommend this book?: Yes.

Pork Belly Ramen with Crackling

Tales of ramen making are often epic in the time taken to make the perfect stock. This was a challenge to see if I could make a good ramen from scratch in under two hours, and it worked pretty well.

You’ll need: pork belly with skin, egg noodles, beansprouts, leeks, coriander or thai basil, spring onions, egg (optional), rice vinegar, soy sauce, star anise and black pepper.

Remove the skin from the pork belly, cut it into pieces of around 5cm x 5cm and poach it in a mixture of 4 parts water to half a part rice vinegar and half a part soy sauce, with three star anise and a teaspoon of black peppercorns. Keep it at a low simmer, and start checking after 90 minutes. At some point it will become really tender and start falling apart. You can fish it out at this point and set aside somewhere warm.

Finely slice the leeks, rinse the beansprouts and slice the spring onions so you’re ready to assemble and serve.

Set the grill to high, salt the pork skin and grill until crispy. If you’re adding the egg, boil in the shell for six minutes and set aside.

When it’s ready, cook the noodles. While you do this, check the pork cooking liquid, and add a little vegetable dashi and if necessary more soy sauce.

Drain the noodles, and assemble the dish in warm bowls, before ladling over the stock. This was really delicious – the subtle anise in the pork broth, and the vinegar give it a complexity, and the meat and crackling themselves are cooked to perfection.

It’s been three and a half season of Richonne on screen. three and a half of waiting, hoping this will be the season that Rick and Michonne will finally admit their feelings and be together. On February 21st 2016, episode 10 of of season 6. They finally hooked up. It finally happened guys. it finally happened.

Lightning at Bourheim by Larry Selman

“Technical Sergeant Joseph A. Farinholt, known as “Lightning Joe” to his buddies, had already earned three Silver Stars in the five and a half months since his unit had landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944. A Guardsman from Baltimore, Maryland, Farinholt was acting platoon leader for the anti-tank platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 175th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division when he earned his fourth and final Silver Star in late November, 1944. No known enlisted man in the U.S. Army earned four Silver Stars during the entire war, much less over such a short span of time.

“On November 26, 1944 the 175th Infantry was spread thin around the outer perimeter of the town of Bourheim, which it had captured three days earlier. For the sixth time in those three days, a German armored column attempted to recapture the town, a key to their defense of the strategic city of Julich on the Roer River. The enemy attack opened with such an intense artillery barrage that the 29th Division’s After Action Report cites as it as ‘…the worst suffered by the division during the war.’ Then the German infantry and their supporting tanks pushed forward. Men in the outlying areas fell back toward the town and it looked as though the enemy might finally break through.

“Farinholt quickly went into action. One of his three 57 mm antitank gun crews, after firing several rounds at the enemy, all became casualties when a German shell hit a tree near their position. Knowing that the 57 mm gun did not have the penetrating power to pierce a Tiger’s armor, Farinholt loaded, aimed and fired at the tread of the lead Tiger tank, disabling it and halting the advance of the column. However, the tank returned fire with armor-piercing machine gun bullets, wounding Farinholt in more than 20 places and shattering the bones in his right leg below the knee . Despite his wounds he managed to drag himself to his jeep and drive to the battalion headquarters to alert them of the strength and direction of the German attack. Weakened by his injuries and unable to control both the clutch and the gas pedal, Farinholt crashed his jeep into the Headquarters building but refused first aid until he gave his report. Because of his actions and those of his platoon, the German advance was stalled for almost an hour and then diverted to another sector, buying time for the 29th Division to move troops and summon air support to successfully defeat the attack.

“The Germans never recaptured Bourheim. Farinholt’s wounds were so severe that he was returned home and spent nearly two years in the hospital. Though he lived nearly 60 more years, he never fully recovered from his injuries.”

(National Guard)

“Would Beyonce be who she is if she didn’t look like she does?” asks TCA Jed Root talent agent Tracy Christian. “Being lighter-skinned, more people can look at her image and see themselves in her. In Lupita’s case, I think she has two-and-half, three years. If she can find a franchise – a Star Wars or a Bourne Identity – a big crossover film, or if she’s cast by a significant filmmaker, then she’s golden, she’ll have carved out a unique path for herself.” Yes, she faces obstacles, agrees a prominent casting agent, but they are not insurmountable. “For someone who looks like her, with a distinctly black, African face, maybe she’s someone who can change the direction for darker-skin actresses, actresses who are definitely not European-looking, but it may require some forward-looking director to push for her.

While the stage would appear to be set for (Lupita) to ascend to the A-list – just as Jennifer Lawrence did after her best actress win for Silver Linings Playbook last year – it’s not that simple. For while there have been a handful of African-American actors, from Sidney Poitier to Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and Will Smith, who have reached that status, there’s never been a black actress who has become the equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie. Whoopi Goldberg came closest, following her best actress Oscar nomination for 1985’s The Color Purple and supporting actress win for 1990’s Ghost, but despite an occasional hit like 1992’s Sister Act, she didn’t maintain that momentum. Hollywood also flirted with Angela Bassett, Thandie Newton, Halle Berry and, most recently, Mandela’s Naomie Harris, without ushering any of them into its very top tier.” - Hollywood reporter

This Willie Lynch stuff is giving me a headache. 


I was trying to figure out what to watch while I was back at my hotel in Italy, and I figured that Netflix would be a pretty good thing to put on. My laptop was on the side of me, so the opportunity was wide open. And of course I take it, and I start looking through the different categories of what to watch. My friends come in, and they’re looking for us to do something and I just tell ‘em to lay down on either side of me, and we continue together, looking through all the different movies. Now everyone that knows me, knows that I’m a horror-movie type of girl, so obviously I look through the horror section. I skim through a few movies and I come across one that has about three or three and a half stars; figured that it wasn’t that scary, but the summary of the plot looked pretty good to me. So I turned it on – 'The Fourth Kind’ – that’s what it was called,and I have to tell you that I’ve never been so scared of a movie before, in my entire life. It was based off a true story, and I know sometimes when it says 'based off a true story, it’s just bullshit, but no – this had actual footage, and it was just bizarre and so freakin’ creepy. It’s been about two days, and I still can’t help but cringe and try not to cry when I think about it. It’s about alien abductions and whatnot, and it’s kinda’ hard to explain, so I won’t go into too much detail. But it creeped me out, and I had to sleep with the lights on. I’m a little ashamed of that, but hey; anything to make me sleep, y'know? I will never watch that movie again, and never think that just because a movie has less stars in the horror or thriller section of Netflix, that that automatically means that it’s no good. I don’t suggest people at the age of three to twenty-one to watch that, or you will want your mom beside you wherever you go for nearly four days. I’m ashamed to admit this to everyone, but just thought it’d be best if I warned everyone beforehand, so they don’t end up watching that movie.


Next. It’s a word that nods to the future with a wink to the past. Next year. The next generation. It reminds us that tomorrow is more important than yesterday and that the best question you can ever ask is: What’s next? At MLS, we’ve been asking What’s next? since the league’s founding nearly 20 years ago. And recently the answers have been exciting and remarkable: new clubs, new stars, new media partnerships, new stadiums, and new fans. It’s all part of what’s next. And it deserves a new brand identity. Welcome to #MLSNEXT.

Explaining the crest:

WORDMARK: MLS stands for Major League Soccer.
SLASH: The slash refers to soccer’s speed and energy. The slash begins outside the perimeter and drives upward at a 45-degree angle to illustrate both the nonstop nature of our game and the rising trajectory of our league. It bisects the crest to create a “first half” and “second half.”
STARS: The three stars represent the pillars of our brand: For Club, For Country, For Community.
PERIMETER: The perimeter represents the lines that mark off the field of play.
FIRST HALF AND SECOND HALF: The first half contains MLS and the three stars. The second half is an open white space that brings you in and out of the MLS world.

Find out what’s next here. And download your team’s personalized MLS crest there too!