Discrete Auroras on Mars in New, Impressive Images

Recent images taken by the Hope spacecraft launched by the United Arab Emirates show an improved view of auroras on Mars.

The auroras on Mars don’t just appear over the poles, however, but all around the planet. The Emirates Mars Mission didn’t discover these discrete auroras, but Hope’s images are, apparently, the most impressive captured so far.

Nature EMM Hope Discrete Auroras

Left: a spectrometer image captured by Hope; right: an artist’s impression of discrete auroras on Mars’s night side, both by Emirates Mars Mission via Springer Nature Ltd

As a fan of aurora borealis, I find it fascinating to get to see them on a neighboring planet. Yay, science!

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Second Trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The first of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s full-on Asian movies, The Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is coming in three months, and the studio has released a second long trailer.

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | Official Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

As I wrote in my reaction to the first trailer, if there aren’t enough pre-launch links (no pun intended) to familiar characters or events, I’ll probably skip this movie.

It didn’t look like there were any additional links in this trailer, either. However, Andrew Tejada’s writeup at Tor.com did speculate whether two characters have “huge potential connections” to the MCU. One is the Abomination played by Tim Roth in The Incredible Hulk from 2008 (written by Zak Penn and directed by Louis Leterrier with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler leading the cast). I wouldn’t have been able to recognize the character, and even if I had, completely opposite to Mr. Tejada, his return certainly is far, far, far down the list of things that might entice me to the theater.

The action looks gorgeous, yes, not to mention beautifully shot. However, if I wanted to see skilled Asian people perform feats of martial arts on screen, with occasional flares of the fantastic and/or superheroic, I would’ve been watching Hong Kong flicks all along.

What I’m looking for in the MCU is individual stories that connect and interweave in arcs multiple movies wide, impossible to tell in one or two or three movies. So far the Shang-Chi trailers aren’t giving me that. (While I’ll always enjoy origin stories like the first Iron Man, it’s in connecting his story to the rest of the Avengers’ that makes the MCU so special.) And that is a real shame, since I dearly want more of the world outside the Anglo-American one on the MCU screen.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

More Trailers and Clips for Black Widow

The original release date for the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie Black Widow was, unfortunately, eaten up by the pandemic. Out for round two, we have a new long trailer.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow | New Trailer by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Mostly recycled footage, but a few entirely new clips. Unlike the earlier ones, this trailer seems to underline Natasha’s connection to the Avengers: glimpses gleaned from the rest of the MCU stories are pasted in, and the Avengers’ theme swells in both in the beginning and at the end. I wonder how much the pandemic might have affected the decision to include them?

I also wonder whether the shorter clips linked to below, ranging from half a minute to three quarters, released in June 2021, might have to do with the careful re-opening of our movie theaters and wanting to drum up more interest, yet not going overboard in case theaters need to be closed again? (I certainly do not envy health care officials who have to make those hard calls.)

Let’s Go | Marvel Studios’ Black Widow by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Got This | Marvel Studios’ Black Widow by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Spy | Marvel Studios’ Black Widow by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Control | Marvel Studios’ Black Widow by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Finally, Marvel has uploaded a short film clip titled “In Pursuit”:

“In Pursuit” Film Clip | Marvel Studios’ Black Widow by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Okay, apart from the falling bit, it feels good to see an all-female team chased by an all-female team. The gender of the action heroes shouldn’t matter, if you ask me, but since we still live in a world where it does, I’m going to be rooting for Black Widow

…as long as it’s actually good—2005 Elektra, I’m looking at you!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

First Trailer for Eternals

The Western world is vaccinating their citizens furiously against covid-19, and societies are clamoring to retun to normal. It’s therefore no surprise that we’re seeing more movie-related news.

The first trailer for Eternals has been out over a month now:

Marvel Studios’ Eternals | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, it apparently follows a group of immortal, human-shaped beings who’ve lived on Earth for centuries in secret, until something (or someone?) forces them to come out of hiding.

As opposed to the first Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer, there is at least one reference to the rest of the MCU, as bare and uninformative as it is, but I still don’t have a good idea of how these people connect to the rest of the characters we know.

Whether I’ll want to watch this is still up in the air; maybe the second trailer will give us more to go on. A talented, big-name cast should be interesting to see and Ramin Djawadi’s music awesome, if nothing else. Oddly (since I’m not especially keen on the early history of the Near East), one of the things I would enjoy seeing more of is Babylon and the Ishtar Gate, of which we see a short glimpse in the trailer.

At this writing, Eternals is set to release on November 05, 2021.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Beautiful, Breathtaking Planetary Embroidery by Ophélie Trichereau

Scotland-based French artist Ophélie Trichereau illustrates fantastic visions in gouache and watercolor. It is her embroideries, though, that I find most impressive, especially the planetary ones. Below are a few of my favorites.

At this writing, she has two different views of Jupiter available. I like this one:

Etsy Ophelie Trichereau Jupiter

Here’s Callisto:

Etsy Ophelie Trichereau Callisto

Last but certainly not the least, the Sun:

Etsy Ophelie Trichereau Sun Embroidery

So impressive! Every shade of every color is carefully selected, and shapes created with the stiching make the whole even more expressive. The intricacy of the patterns means they can’t be a fast project to create, but, then again, is anything worth doing worth doing sloppily? Trichereau’s effort really shows. Kudos!

See more of Trichereau’s work on Etsy or via LinkTree.

Found via N.K. Jemisin on Twitter.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

On the Move

You may have noticed that we’ve been posting less often recently. Also, usually in the beginning of June we write a blog anniversary post, but this obviously isn’t one. This year, we just don’t have the requisite spoons, because we’re moving. Not just houses. Not just states. Not just countries. Continents.

My Finland in the Sky

Gosh, even saying that out loud wearies me out. A trans-Atlantic move is challenging at the best of times, never mind during a pandemic.

If you have well-wishes to spare, we’d appreciate it if you sent one our way. Please and thank you.

Announcements from your hosts.

Quotes: Time Belonged to a Higher Realm

There’s a lot (a lot!) I liked about Karen Lord’s scifi novel The Best of All Possible Worlds. This snippet, for instance, puts words to a childhood wonder I remember from elementary school when learning math:

Karen Lord The Best of All Possible Worlds

“Standard Time was invented by Sadiri pilots. Most Sadiri procedures and quantification followed straight lines and linear progressions, created for the convenience of the ten-fingered. But Time… Time belonged to a higher realm. It could not be carried in human hands, not while it constantly carried human minds. It was all circles, wheels within wheels, a Standard year of three hundred sixty Standard days coiled up in twelve months, which in turn were composed of the small whirlings of twelve hours day and twelve hours night, tiny spinning minutes and seconds, ever-cycling breaths and blinks and beats.

“To be described as having a pilot’s mind was both curse and compliment; it could mean being unable to tell the difference between prophecy, memory, and mere déjà vu.”

– Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds

I just couldn’t fathom why the decimal system is different from time measurements, and remember that for a time trying to reconcile them was very confusing. But time—heh, heh—helped with that, of course, along with more advanced classes, in addition to a certain amount of shrugging and just getting on with life.

It’s intriguing when a book serendipitously reminds you of thoughts you thought were long buried, isn’t it?

Lord, Karen. The Best of All Possible Worlds. New York: Ballantine Books, 2013, p. 40.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

First Trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The newest trailer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Um, okay?

If I knew little of the Avengers upon first being untroduced to the MCU, I know absolutely nothing about this Shang-Chi and his (their?) connection to the rest of the Marvel characters. Disappointingly, the trailer itself didn’t answer a single question of how they’re connected either. Oh, we got a lot of fisticuffs and action—speedy fight scenes handsomely filmed, sure—but no answers.

If the rest of the trailers aren’t going to link Shang-Chi to the characters or events we already know, I doubt I’ll want to see the movie in the theaters. I might not even rustle up the enthusiasm to see it on disc via the library.

At the time of this writing, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to open September 03, 2021, in the U.S.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

The Connection of a 8th-Century Saint and Finnish May Day

In Finland, May the first is known as vappu (Finnish) or as vappen (Finnish Swedish), and it is one of the four biggest holidays in the country. Sometimes it’s translated into English as Walpurgis night (as opposed to May Day). I’d always just shrugged my way past that weird translation until I ran into the history of vappu: the phrase comes from Saint Walburh’s Day.

Saint Walburh was an English nun, missionary, and abbess in the 8th century. She was a part of Saint Boniface’s famous mission to German lands beyond the old Rhine-Danube frontier. The tidbit on Walburh below comes from Kathleen Herbert’s work:

“For example, St. Walburh trained at Wimborne in Dorset, then went with her two brothers to join the German mission. She became abbess of the double monastery of Heidensheim, which had a distinguished scholarly record. Her feast day is May 1st, so in her district the rites of Spring become traditionally celebrated as Walpurgisnacht. This is not a sarcastic joke but a tribute to her power, ranking her locally with such mighty ones as St. Michael and St. John the Baptist.”

– Kathleen Herbert, Peace-Weavers & Shield-Maidens: Women in Early English Society

Clearly Saint Boniface is the more prominent character of the two in history, but it’s intriguing to me that Saint Walburh’s name is still, well over a thousand years after her death, attached to a spring festival celebrated on the day of her canonization. (Granted, it helps that May Day had long been celebrated as one of the transition points in the yearly cycle; cf. Beltane).

So, in a minor way, even though we mostly don’t care or remember in the middle of everyday hullabaloo, we keep passing her name to future generations. That’s more than Saint Boniface can boast in Finland.

I sometimes wonder how much else in our culture that’s passed on without remark has similar hidden histories. I suspect more than we’d imagine.

Juhannus Bubbly Sm

Anyway. Hyvää vappua! Glada vappen! Happy May Day!

Herbert, Kathleen. Peace-Weavers & Shield-Maidens: Women in Early English Society. Anglo-Saxon Books, 2013, p. 44.

In Live and Active Cultures we talk about cultures and cultural differences.

Living Vicariously Through Social Media: Dragonfly in Morning Dew

I can’t say I’m a night owl, but I nevertheless am definitely not a morning person. That makes me a little wistful sometimes, since mornings can be beautiful.

Case in point: nature photographer David Chambon’s dew-laden insect photos. They are. Just. Stunning!

[Content note: extreme closeups of insects!]

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Read the whole post.