Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Touring The Summer Sky With M. Pax, Spacedock 19, & Knight of the Cosmic Table

Before I introduce this week's Speculative Fiction Writer, star-gazer and writer extraordinaire, Mary Pax, I have a couple of announcements.

Firstly, Mary and I have swapped blogs today. You can find me over at Spacedock 19. Please drop by and give me a wave through your portals or space visors.

Secondly, I've been made a Knight of the Cosmic Table! So with my newly bestowed knight magic, I've split myself in two and you can also find me at the Cosmic Laire of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I had a blast, thanks to the Top Knight himself, David Powers King.

Now over to Mary.

Touring the Summer Sky

I’m switching blogs with Ellie Garratt today. She’s awesome and talented and we both love writing speculative fiction.

For six summers I’ve volunteered as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory. It’s a fantastic gig. I get access to a 24” Cassegrain telescope and some astoundingly intelligent people — scientists, an aerospace engineer, a guy who used to work on the Chandra project with NASA.

I’m the resident expert on Neptune and Triton. Not a whole lot else. I can navigate the sky with a telescope very well, though.

I have a secret to confess… I had never looked through a telescope before in my life until I started working at the observatory. Wow, had I missed out!

Now I have a telescope of my own, and I point out the wonders of the night to all of our guests.

I usually start by running my green laser across the line of the Milky Way. We still have relatively dark skies in Central Oregon and can see it pretty well. That cloudy line is one of the spiral arms of the galaxy. It’s the one we call home, the Orion Arm. Almost every star we can see by eye is in this arm of the galaxy with us and is within 40 light years.

Then I’ll point out a big exception, the galaxy Andromeda, which can be seen by eye. I’ll show them how to find it. I’ll point out the major constellations, and the central bulge of the galaxy visible near Sagittarius. In that 150 light year span, there are over 100 million stars. Within 150 light years of our Sun, there are 50,000 stars.

We’re about 70% out from the center toward the edge.

Depending on the night and what my astronomy boyfriends are showing in their telescopes dictates what I start mine on. If a planet is up, we’re sure to have one telescope on the planet. This summer we were graced by Venus and Saturn.

I like to show Andromeda. I love star clusters. I love the Lagoon Nebula and the subtle green arc of the veil nebula [a super nova remnant]. Most of all, I love filling my eyes with so many stars that I dream of them when I get home.

Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

M. Pax-- Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at:

Thank you, Mary. It was an absolute pleasure having you here today. I must admit I'm rather envious of your summer job. I was lucky enough to visit the Norman Lockyear Observatory a few years back, and found it a fascinating and rewarding experience. 

Well, that's it for today. I'll be back on Friday with a cover reveal from Jay Noel and details of my NaNoWriMo 2013 plans. Have a great week until then.


  1. I didn't know this about you, Mary. Very cool! The sky has always fascinated me. Learning about it is one of my bucket list adventures.

  2. A whole new world opened up for you six years ago, Mary.
    And congratulations on becoming a cosmic knight, Ellie!

  3. Thanks for having me here, Ellie. The view is fabulous.

    It was one of mine, too, Sheri, so it makes me giggle to think I'm actually doing it.

    It sure did, Alex.

  4. That sounds absolutely beautiful. It's amazing how much inspiration can be gotten just by looking up at night. :)

    Congrats on your knighthood, Ellie!

  5. It's just plain awesomesauce. No wonder your writing is so inspired.

  6. It is, and I'm digging the photos Eric has been taking with the new camera, Christine.

    I find perusing Pinterest can help, too, Gwen. It can be distracting, though.

  7. Interesting post, thanks for sharing Mary!

  8. I've never been to an observatory. I need to try to find one in my area. Thanks Mary!

  9. Thanks, Nicole!

    Thanks for stopping in, Kelly.

    You'll love it, Michael.

  10. Sounds like a wonderful time to spend a night. :-)

  11. Still catching up with the rest of the world, so belated congratulations on becoming a Knight. Mary is really lucky, although I have a telescope, where I live is so light polluted you cannot see the Milky Way let alone any deep space objects. I have just started reading Backworlds on my ancient Kindle, I will have to get the next book soon.


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