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  Not April Fools it's a real A* art show!Mar 31, 2016 10:14 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Okay, not an April Fools joke, not a hoax or fever dream, I *will* be hanging out at the reception for my new A* art show at Frame Up Studios (map) in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood tomorrow, Friday April 1st, from 6-9 pm. Come for the art, stay for the free refreshments!
 
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Update 4/1: Photos from the show!
 
 
 
 
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  A* art up at Frame Up in Fremont, SeattleMar 30, 2016 9:25 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Okay, it's official: by now the display of framed A* art is up on the walls of (warning: auto-playing video with sound) Frame Up Studios at 3515 Fremont Ave N, Seattle (map)—about midway, as it happens, between the nearby statue of Lenin and the famed Fremont Troll public sculpture; and yes, from 6-9 pm this Friday, April 1st, the A* art display at Frame Up will be free to the public too, complete with complementary refreshments, which I will be there eating. Stop on by! : )
 
 
 
 
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  A portrait in inkMar 29, 2016 9:07 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Whaaaat it's another ink sketch that I sent to a reader as their monthly reward for supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign:
 
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Thank you! I couldn't keep doing this comic without the support of readers through Patreon! : ))
 
 
 
 
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  Fighting fantasy rocket shipsMar 28, 2016 7:41 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:You can help me keep making this comic by signing up to contribute a buck or two a month to my endeavors through the A* Patreon campaign! It's a big help and I owe a great deal of thanks to those readers who have been helping out so far—I couldn't keep doing this without you! Here's an ink sketch I sent to a reader recently as their monthly reward for supporting the comic through Patreon:
 
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Thank you!!
 
(Is that a rocket ship or a battle axe? Yes!)
 
 
 
 
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  A* art reception in Seattle next Friday!Mar 26, 2016 4:53 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:An art agent of mine (thanks, dad! ^_^) checked things out and we will indeed have a swanky art show reception with tasty refreshments for the public (and the artist :d) *next* Friday, April 1st, from 6-9 PM, and this art show shindig filled with brightly colored big shiny A* prints in frames will be going down at (warning: auto-playing video with sound) Frame Up Studios in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, at 3515 Fremont Ave N.
 
I'll be hanging out there for pretty nearly the whole time, probably, so stop by if you're in the area, check out the show and say hi! The reception is free, the refreshments are free, talking to the artist is free if you can corner him when he doesn't have refreshments in his mouth, so it should be a good time for all. : D
 
 
 
 
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  Another A* art show (& reception?) in AprilMar 24, 2016 10:24 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Seattle A* art show updates! My stuff will be up on the walls of Wheelhouse Coffee in downtown Seattle through the 28th of this month, at which point we (me and my nefarious art show crew!) will spirit it away to an as-yet-undisclosed location elsewhere in Seattle for a new show in April! And I'm not sure yet but I *think* that one will be swanky and have an opening reception for the public (that means you! : D oh yeah and I would be there too) with tasty pretentious snacks and stuff, and *if* that does happen it would likely be on Friday, April 1st, from approximately 6-9 pm.
 
I will have actual info about this April show in a near-future blog update, probably on this coming Tuesday, March 29th. By the way, if you ever want to check if A* artwork is up on display somewhere (usually in the Seattle area : D), the store: original art page always lists the current show, if there is one.
 
 
 
 
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  Space Bat ShuttleMar 23, 2016 8:29 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:My brother tipped me off to the incident involving the bat clinging to the Space Shuttle Discovery during launch seven years ago; the bat glommed on to the external fuel tank during countdown and stayed there through launch:
 
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images by NASA
 
Analysis of its posture by a wildlife expert (Wikipedia calls them a "bat doctor" : o) revealed that the bat "likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist." This may explain why it did not fly away, even in the turbulence of pre-launch and launch (plus, the position it chose on the fuel tank stayed a nice 70 degrees).
 
Analysts at the Kennedy Space Center concluded that the bat "remained with the spacecraft as it cleared the tower." It is believed that the bat must have lost its grip and burned up in the booster exhaust soon after it and the Shuttle flew out of camera range, but NO ONE REALLY KNOWS. : ooo
 
(Conspiracy theorists take note: NASA mentions that this was not the first bat to land on a Space Shuttle during countdown: a bat also landed on the external fuel tank during a countdown to launch for Columbia in 1998.)
 
 
 
 
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  Housecleaning rainbowsMar 23, 2016 12:49 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Just some boring housecleaning today, you see I used to host non-A* images that I still wanted to show in the blog or on my forum through one of those old time free image hosts, but those are pretty much gone now, or cost money (as in my case), and why keep paying for that? : P So I moved the ones I wanted to keep over to this very server, and the others can just go vanish into cyberspace.
 
In the process of making sure all the images in old blog entries were saved to my own server, I found a bunch that the image host had lost in a bit of a snafu a year or so ago (;P), and was able to restore some of them from my own computer, at least, so that's something, and I just tidied up the others so you won't even know they were ever there. >_>
 
It was also kind of a fun trip down memory lane, since I was editing posts going all the way back to 2010 (2009 escaped unscathed somehow!). For instance, the post I wrote back in September 2012 about airplane rainbows on Google Maps had lost its punch, since the maps it linked to had since been updated to non-rainbow photos, but I found one in my old news photo folder, so the internet is saved!
 
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I got'cher back, Google. ^_^
 
 
 
 
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  Hey it's a top-down view : oMar 21, 2016 8:25 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:The A* Patreon campaign is a handy service you can use to send me a little support each month so I can keep making this comic. : ) Each month I send out a bunch of rewards to folks supporting the comic through Patreon; here's a reward sketch I sent off to a reader a while back:
 
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Thanks for your help! :^)
 
 
 
 
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  Unexpectedly massive stars and spiralsMar 18, 2016 11:45 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:A reader tipped me off to NASA's discovery of "super spiral" galaxies—the largest galaxies tend to be blob-like elliptical galaxies rather than neat spirals like our own, modestly sized Milky Way, but an analysis of old data, recently collated from multiple archives, found that 53 of the brightest of 800,000 nearby galaxies *do* have a spiral configuration, even though they're up to 10 times as massive and four times as broad as our own, forming stars up to 30 times as fast—they're so large, in fact, that theories of spiral galaxy formation will have to be re-assessed: typically, spiral galaxies grow by gathering cool gas from intergalactic space, but eventually their mass reaches a point where the gas comes in so fast that it heats up, disrupting the star formation process, thus naturally limiting the maximum size of spiral galaxies.
 
So how do these "super" spiral galaxies get so big? The scientists aren't sure, but four of the 53 that they found had two galactic nuclei (that means two supermassive black holes), indicating that they were each two galaxies that are now nearly finished merging together—so it seems that two galaxies can merge in such a way that their collective material forms neatly into one huge spiral.
 
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image by NASA, ESA, P Crowther (University of Sheffield)
 
And on the subject of NASA discovering bigger than expected things out in space, Hubble found nine stars over 100 solar masses each in star cluster R136, situated 170,000 light years away in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. The already-known current record holder for stellar mass, star R136a1 (265 solar masses), resides in the cluster—which is just a few light years across, but easily visible in the lower right of the above Hubble photo—and three other very large stars (all over 150 solar masses) had already been known there too, since 2010, but finding five more 100+ solar mass stars (along with dozens of 50+ solar mass stars) was a real surprise, because stars this big already push the limits of what we had understood of the normal star formation process; one theory had been that the four big stars had formed from the merging of other, smaller stars, but with more than twice that many there, it seems very unlikely that they all formed from merging stars.
 
More factoids on these big stars: they're exceedingly bright—the nine together are 30 million times as bright as the Sun, and they "eject up to an Earth mass of material per month at a speed approaching one percent of the speed of light, resulting in extreme weight loss throughout their brief lives."
 
 
 
 
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  High-energy cosmic rays come from A*?Mar 17, 2016 11:26 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:A reader linked me to a new article on Ars Technica titled Searching for the particle accelerator at the heart of the Milky Way, which describes a new scientific paper theorizing that the very high-energy cosmic rays (charged protons) we've detected here on Earth from time to time may have come from the supermassive black hole, called Sgr A*, at the center of our galaxy. They tallied gamma rays coming from the core—specifically, those matching the profile of gamma rays thought to be the product of one of these supercharged cosmic ray protons hitting another proton—and found that while a single supernova could produce sufficient energy to account for them, it is unlikely that there are enough supernovae going off to account for the total supply of these cosmic rays seen over time. So, the obvious long-term suspect in the core is A*; it isn't currently active enough to be producing reactions that would create these cosmic rays, but it would just have to swallow a design-sized chunk of matter to create some, so maybe it's a better candidate for producing them over time than sporadic supernovae. It's still just a theory but there you go!
 
 
 
 
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  A sketch for you thanks to Patreon!Mar 16, 2016 9:56 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Readers help keep this comic coming to you day in and day out by sending me a buck or two or whatever each month through the A* Patreon campaign! Every little bit helps, believe you me! I also get to send rewards back, for instance here's a sketch I mailed to a reader as their monthly reward a little while back:
 
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Thank you! : D
 
 
 
 
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  Comet Siding Spring vs Martian Magnetic FieldMar 15, 2016 9:47 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:NASA's recent Close Comet Flyby Threw Mars’ Magnetic Field Into Chaos article describes the effect comet Siding Spring's 2014 flyby of the planet Mars had on the red planet's atmosphere and magnetic field as observed by their MAVEN ("Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution") spacecraft, which had entered Martian orbit just weeks earlier. The comet's core passed within "140,000 kilometers (roughly 87,000 miles)" of the planet, more than close enough for its million-kilometer-wide envelope of gas—the outer coma—to surround the planet, bathing it in charged particles: "The comet's powerful magnetic field temporarily merged with, and overwhelmed, the planet's weak field"; "the encounter blew away part of Mars’ upper atmosphere, much like a strong solar storm would."
 
 
 
 
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  The reader-made A* wiki!Mar 14, 2016 9:47 PM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Reader HaJo has created an A* Wiki! A wiki is web site with a collection of articles on a topic or topics (such as the granddaddy, Wikipedia) that anyone can create, edit, and add to. So if you've been making notes on little things that have popped up so far here in A*, this wiki would be a place you can put them for everyone else to see. There's already a good deal of stuff there, like info on a lot of the characters and places that have appeared in the comic. It's neat! Thank to HaJo and everyone who has or will collaborate on this A* wiki project! I've added a link to it from my about page.
 
(Also now I'm really paranoid about being caught in a story continuity error. ^_^)
 
(By the way, did anyone notice the backwards hand on the previous page? I sure didn't! (And bonus: what's the *other* problem with that hand?) Jeez. I gotta start getting more sleep : PP)
 
(Also I wasn't able to stream the drawing and painting today, Comcast had a big network outage in Seattle that lasted most of the day >_<)
 
 
 
 
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  Erase for instant atmosphere!Mar 12, 2016 4:05 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:If you've been following this blog for a while, you already know how I like to show off sketches I've given to readers as monthly rewards for their support through the A* Patreon campaign, because it's a really important thing that makes it possible for me to keep making this comic day in and day out. Also I like giving out rewards! : D So here's another sketch that made its way to a supporter some months back:
 
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Thank you!
 
 
 
 
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  Smaller faces are way easier to drawMar 11, 2016 12:03 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Did you spot the thief's face in the background of yesterday's page? You may also have spotted him in the background of page 44!
 
 
 
 
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  The down side of erasing a lotMar 09, 2016 10:49 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Off to order some more erasers! Also some more brush pen ink cartridges; I've been posting little brush pen doodles daily on my Instagram.
 
 
 
 
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  Galaxy GN-z11, new most-distant object?Mar 08, 2016 9:53 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Three or some weeks back I wrote a little bit about some of the most distant objects known—small and very old galaxies, for the most part—and wouldn't you know it but a new one just popped up, as I found out in a recent BBC article: galaxy GN-z11 is 32 billion light years away, and its light reaching us now is 13.4 billion years old, as measured spectroscopically by Hubble; this is 200 million years older than the previous record holder, and is pretty much as far back as Hubble is expected to be able to look, because not long before that, the universe was still a plasma-filled glowy thing that you couldn't really see stars through; the BBC article mentions that Hubble's successor space telescope, the infrared James Webb telescope, should be able to see through that stuff and catch the first stars as they began to burn in it (and burn it away), another 200 million years earlier.
 
The BBC article was updated to note that the dating of GN-z11 as 13.4 billion years old was made by an instrument on Hubble that is lower resolution than the earthbound instruments normally used to measure the age of light coming from very distant objects (this is done by measuring how much the spectrum of light from the object has stretched, or "redshifted," as it has traveled through the expanding universe), so its age will still have an asterisk next to it in certain scientific circles until it can be confirmed by other instruments.
 
Anyway, as Wikipedia says, "compared to the Milky Way galaxy, GN-z11 is twenty-five times smaller, has 1% of the mass, and is forming new stars about twenty times faster" and "the fact that a galaxy so massive existed so soon after the first stars started to form is a challenge for some current theoretical models for the formation of galaxies." So maybe that's because it isn't really quite as old as Hubble's instrument says it is, or maybe it's back to the drawing board for galaxy formation theories!
 
 
 
 
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  Must be that relativistic timeMar 07, 2016 8:46 PM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Oh man! Okay I really gotta make myself stick to my daily schedule (no matter how late I was up finishing the previous day's page!), 'cause otherwise things end up catching up with me on Mondays (and the weekends are super-short :"P). Sleepy time!
 
 
 
 
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  Must be all those protein shakesMar 05, 2016 3:14 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:It's a new month so this weekend I get to send out a fresh wave of rewards to folks supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign; for instance, I'll be emailing A* e-book download links to folks at the $3/month support level, and I'm optimistic that I'll also get a round of pencil sketches drawn and mailed off to the hard core supporters at the $10/month level, like this one here that went out some months back:
 
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Even $1/month earns you my eternal gratitude! The support I get from readers through Patreon is really important to keeping A* coming to you day after day, so a big thanks to everyone who's able to help me out there. : )
 
 
 
 
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  Maybe after this I can just go abstract : pMar 04, 2016 3:48 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I almost always look forward to scene changes but then I'm reminded that it means doing establishing shots, and those always drive me nuts. This was a lot of tea house interior to draw all at once! And somehow drawing ten people in a single panel seemed like a good idea at the beginning... : P (Hm maybe it was to make up for not really getting to draw any yesterday : o)
 
 
 
 
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  Well who the heck really knows, anywayMar 03, 2016 1:34 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:Change of scene! I wanted to set this in a traditional Japanese-style tea house, but as far as I can tell from Wikipedia, there really wasn't such a thing—not as a public venue, at any rate—so I sort of made this up; a nice thing about these themed settings in the world of "The Pearl" is that their primary purpose is not historical accuracy. u_o
 
 
 
 
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  Maybe now I'll be able to wear tinier shoesMar 02, 2016 1:46 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I've heard from a reader who's already come across the show of framed A* art that went up on the walls at Wheelhouse Coffee in downtown Seattle a day or so ago (yesterday's blog entry has the details!), so that's pretty cool! : D
 
I guess the world *is* getting tinier : oo Will we still have room for all the art? I know the shelves storing my A* original artwork here at home are getting kind of full, so feel free to use the gold "original art" links you see at the lower left-hand corner as you browse through the comic to liberate some and save me from being squished in this planetary shrinking : D
 
 
 
 
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  A* art at Wheelhouse for March!Mar 01, 2016 2:21 AM PST | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I've got another art show at Wheelhouse Coffee, 2113 Westlake Avenue in downtown Seattle (map: it's the northerly part, near the new Amazon-ia region—in fact, it's right across the street from their Seattle-area 1-hour Amazon Prime shipping center)! My art was there this past October, and now it's back already—it'll be there throughout the month of March—with some new additions from recent A* pages. : ) Here's some of the stuff on display:
 
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Thanks to my dad for getting the gig in the first place and helping with the setting up (he was tidying up that dangly wire you see on the lower right there but dodged out of camera shot ;), which was unexpectedly exciting this time since they didn't have their handy-man on site so it was left up to me to be the person running up and down the 20' ladder : o. Amazingly, no one was hurt and I didn't even drop any artwork. : D
 
So anyway if you're in the area before the end of March, drop by the Wheelhouse for some fancy coffee, prime views of all the new buildings built and being built down there, and pretty decent views of the fancy framed (my dad also does the framing!) glossy prints of A* artwork on the walls. : )
 
 
 
 
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