9-ZA4Z IX, Jester's Trek

Mission Update: 4k and Beyond!

When I first started this journey in yc111 (December 2009), I had every intention of finishing, yet at the same time was doubtful that I ever would. For those that are new to the blog, my original mission was to visit every planet in every K-Space (known space) system in New Eden. I had only two phases in mind: Phase I – Exploration of Empire space and Phase II – Exploration of Null Sec. After a couple of short lived attempts and restarts, I finally finished Phase I a year ago in yc116 (July 4th, 2014). That accounted for 1,907 systems completed out of 5,431 systems in K-Space. Now one year later on 04.07.yc117 (July 4th, 2015), I finished my 4,000th K-Space system. To put it in perspective, that’s 2,093 Null Sec systems in just one year which is more than I’ve done in all of Empire over four and a half years. That puts me at 73.6% of K-Space explored. What does that look like on the map?

Systems 20140704

Map one year ago

Systems 20150705

Current map

New map currently

New current map

Honestly, never thought I’d get this far and if I stay on track, I should finish K-Space by the end of the year. If I stick to it, that would be it, no more, I would retire. Oh, you’re probably wondering why I’ve not shown systems explored via the new map. Well, I do like the new map, especially being able to zoom all the way into a system view. I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of it. The stats, however, leave a little something to be desired. It’s honestly more difficult to see where I’ve been. Also, zooming out, the region names disappear. Sigh… here it is, see what you think.

Stats 20150705Let’s look at some more numbers. Adding W-Space (wormhole) and S-Space (shattered wormhole) to the list, and assuming no new system discoveries, there are a total of 8,030 systems in all of New Eden. As of today, I’ve completed 4,025 which officially puts me past the 50% mark. Hmmm… 50%… how can I stop if I’m already past 50%? So, I’ll be adding Phase III – Wormhole space. There’s no doubt in my mind that W-Space will be the greatest challenge simply because of its ever changing nature. At first, finding wormholes I’ve not explored will be easy, but as more and more are completed, it will become difficult to find the ones I lack. Ultimately, and this is the real kicker, unless a way opens up, I’ll not be able to completely explore all of New Eden. There are several regions that are currently unreachable in K-Space.

Yet, even knowing that expanding my goal to all of New Eden is unattainable in the long run, I’ll go on for as long as I can. Why? Because I can’t say enough about my corp, Signal Cartel, and the encouragement I receive from them. I’ll continue because our tag line says it all:

You can’t stop the Signal!

Shout out to Radical Divinity, fellow corpmate, what a surprise seeing you in local 4F9Y-3, Perrigen Falls!

A1F-22 V, 3LL-O0 Gate

A1F-22 V, 3LL-O0 Gate


LightSail: Real Life Solar Sailing Spacecraft

LightSailOccasionally, I like to talk about real life science and exploration. This blog entry, I’d like to tell you about a new Kickstarter project that’s close to its ending date and so very close to reaching a major stretch goal. I’ll be honest and say this new era of internet crowd funding, with sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, makes me a little nervous. I’m an easy going, laid back, supportive type person. When I hear of a need and it’s something I feel I can help out with and it’s within my means to do so, I’ll do what I can. So, over the years I’ve been taken advantage of, given to things that ended up being a scam. I’ve not lost great sums of money, I’m not that crazy, but it still hurts and my faith in humanity deteriorates a little each time. From those experiences, I’ve become more critical of my giving, even for the kind of things that I believe in.

Which brings me this Kickstarter project that I feel I can’t ignore, LightSail: A Revolutionary Solar Sailing Spacecraft. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, it’s easy to see I love exploration both in game and out. I’m a big fan of science, especially in terms of space exploration, and I admire folks like Carl Sagan, Michio Kaku, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye… and so on. Exploration is just part of my soul.

Bill Nye (yulp, the Science Guy) is currently the CEO of the Planetary Society which is a membership funded organization whose mission is to “Empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration.” Basically meaning, your voice and funding goes directly to projects that promotes humanity’s future in space, exploration, and our next generation of creative young minds, around the world. The Planetary Society was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman, and one dream of theirs was the solar sail and it looks like… no… it IS becoming a reality today.

So what’s it do? Basically, it’s like a sailboat but instead of wind energy, it utilizes the sun’s energy, or light/photons, for momentum. The Kickstarter project is an opportunity to support and help launch LightSail, a craft that will help prove the concept and hopefully promote it as a means to support low-cost citizen projects (relatively speaking, of course). With its success, and I’m sure it will be successful, who knows what new horizons will be found as dozens of these could be launched on missions of all kinds.

With the backing of the Planetary Society and the promotion of folks like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, there’s no doubt in my mind this particular Kickstarter is the real deal. At this moment, they’re just short of 1 million in support, coming in at $984,874, with only 5 days to go. You can give as little as a $1 or as much as you like. How can you not, if you’re an explorer at heart?

(PS: You’ll be able to see it from the ground as it orbits the Earth, like you can with the ISS. How cool is that? Especially, if you can point and say you had a part in it.)

New Eden Explorers: Katia Sae

Katia Sae (Original)

Katia Sae (Original)

“Aura, tell me again why I’m doing this.” I stated more than asked, already knowing the answer. It was a delaying tactic after all.

“Of course Katia,” Aura replied, “You have had several inquiries about your New Eden Explorer Series and when you were going to provide an interview about yourself. You added a reminder within my programming to alert you at an appropriate time. Since it has been some time since your last interview, I proceeded to…”

“Alert me. Yes, I know.”

“My apologies, Katia.” I could hear the programmed confusion in Aura’s voice. “If you already knew the answer to the question, then why…”

“Because I really hate talking about myself.” I sighed and wondered for a moment if it bothered Aura when I cut her off.

Katia Sae

Katia Sae (Current)

“Shall I begin the questioning?” She asked, seemingly not bothered in the least about my lack of social decorum.

I sighed again.

“My apologies Katia, but I did not understand your reply.”

“Sure… alright… if you insist.”

“I did not mean to imply…”

“Just get on with it.” I grinned, getting some enjoyment from harassing my ships AI, even if it didn’t bother her.

“Very well then.” She replied with what seemed like a hint of pleasure. Did Aura feel she was getting me back? I shook my head at the thought, of course it didn’t feel. I think I’ve been in space without any human contact for far too long now. With many more months to go in Null Sec, I’m fearful I might just find myself out of my mind by the end of exploring K-Space.

I sighed again.

Tell us why you became a capsuleer. What was it that appealed to you to become a pilot in a dangerous and unforgiving environment? (What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?)


Katia Sae Portrait by Mynxee

Because of my Grandfather, honestly. He saw in me, when I was a child, my fascination with the stars. My family are Achura from Saisio III in the Okomon Constellation, Forge region. It’s often said of our race that we are reclusive, introverted, care little for the material world and desire to unlock the ‘secrets of the universe’. Granted, generalizations are often not fair, but in my case, those descriptors are woven into my soul. My Grandfather saw that and it wasn’t until a few years after I completed my tour of duty for the Caldari State and became an explorer of New Eden, that I learned he was the person responsible for funding my application, clone creation, and schooling to become a capsuleer.

I owe him for making my dream come true, but sadly it was his passing and beneficiary of his will that provided the funds, so it’s kind of bitter sweet. I miss him and would love to know what it was he did to afford the kind of funding it takes to become a capsuleer. All I know is he served on ship as crew. I’ve heard it was a capsuleers ship, but don’t know for sure or who.

((OOC: Even though Katia’s journey began in December of 2009, my oldest character’s birthday is June 8th, 2003, so I’ve been playing Eve Online off and on since the beginning. I’m trying to remember specifically what attracted me to the game other than I’ve loved SciFi all my life in all mediums: Books, Movies, TV, Art, Games, you name it. I was playing Earth & Beyond and enjoyed it (they even had walking in stations! lol) but it seemed to not be taking hold with the players (and died a year or so later). EvE Online was starting up and the only other option really. So, I tried it, liked it, and here I am.))

What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else? (How would you describe your characters career path?)

Katia StandingAt the time I didn’t know who had provided the funds for my becoming a capsuleer, nor how they had the connections and pull to get me accepted into the Caldari State War Academy, but I wasn’t about to question my good fortune and gladly accepted the terms of enrollment. I had to work hard, both mentally and physically, it was after all, still up to me to fully qualify for the capsuleer program and I knew it would be the only way I would ever be able to see the stars on my own. So, I graduated from the academy, served my tour of duty in the military then underwent the capsuleer transformation. I had enough funds left over from my unknown benefactor at the time (my Grandfather), to purchase my first exploration ship.

((OOC: Katia’s career path is straight forward: Master of Exploration and the ships she flys. My other characters are varied from industry, mining, hauling, and a pirate PvPer, granted I don’t take her out much, it’s really not me, lol. So, for the most part carebearish player, but not exclusive to High Sec.))

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

I look at the stars and wonder what’s out there. What beauty can be found? What terror lurks in the shadows? The universe is huge and it truly is a mix of beauty and the beast. I enjoy living on the edge, exploring, and being places where often times I’m not wanted. My goal is simple and yet enormous at the same time. It is to explore all of New Eden, one system at a time. To boldly go, sailing forbidden seas. I’m still at it after five and half years. You can see my stats on my blog in the upper right hand side as well as my flight log to see my progress.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

K-XJJT VIII, Jester's Trek

Jester’s Trek at K-XJJT VIII, The Spire

Jester’s Trek. Named in honor of Ripard Teg, who retired a couple of years ago. A capsuleer and fantastic blog writer who had answered my call to the community for an exploration fit Tengu that I intended to fly in Null Sec. His is my favorite for that reason as well as turning out to be exactly what I needed after proving the fit by safely navigating 1,947 systems in Null Sec so far: escaping camps, bubbles, actively being hunted, and so on. That’s as many systems as there are in Empire Space. I haven’t lost him yet…

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

The residents of New Eden. I’ve encountered the kindest hearts that have offered their support and encouragement of my exploration journey. Without them, I think I would have stopped long ago. As much as I am doing this for myself, for the memory of my Grandfather, I also do it for those that follow and hearten me. Of course, there can be no measure of the goodness that New Eden has to offer without having a darkness to compare it against and I have encountered that darkness.

I’ve been taunted, ridiculed, laughed at, targeted, shot at, chased, cornered, and trapped by those that would wish me harm. Some do it out of self-defense and a lack of understanding about my mission. That’s something I completely understand and even honor. I am, after all, an unwelcome visitor and honestly, I can’t take time to reach out beforehand entering a new area of space to ‘ask permission’. Mainly, for one, I can’t accept an answer of no. I believe space is free to be explored without limits or hindrances other than what nature herself has placed before us. I understand the risk and I accept them, fully taking responsibility for my own actions and that there will be those that will defend ‘their’ space. That’s fine.

But then there are those that are truly evil. There’s just no other word to describe them. Their only intention is to harm and destroy life and they’ll go out of their way to do just that. The depths of the darkness that they expose provide the necessary balance to the heights of goodness I’ve experienced. Odd as it sounds, I’m thankful.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

New experiences are often preceded with fear: fear of the unknown, fear your abilities will not suffice, fear of failure. The unknown is nothing but ignorance and ignorance can be overcome with knowledge. Old abilities can be strengthened, new abilities can be acquired – both physical and mental. Failure only comes if you give up. In anything you do, learn from your mistakes, ask for guidance when needed, and don’t give up.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

You’re joking, right? You want me to pick just one out of the over 30,000 plus that I have? You pick it from my gallery! This interview is over…

Grand opening: EVE Scout Observatory!

Wowza by G8keeper

Wowza by G8keeper

G8keeper and Johnny Splunk approached me a couple of months ago with a great idea of starting a Gallery for hosting screenshots. I was thrilled with the idea and when they offered me the opportunity to be the curator, I couldn’t say no for what I know will become a great site of sights. The Observatory will also grow beyond just images, as we’ll try to include links to other exploration resources as well. We kick-started it with our Alliance membership and are now ready to open it to the public for viewing and submissions.

Astero by Mynxee

Astero by Mynxee

With that, it’s my pleasure to introduce the EVE Scout Observatory. I believe it’s fair to say the majority of, perhaps even all, explorers share a common love for the beauty that New Eden has to offer. As we travel the stars, we often try to capture and share the wonders we find along the way with our fellow capsuleers via the images that we take. We post and share them in many different ways on many different sites. There’s no one place to go, no observatory, no gallery that showcases the marvels of our cluster.

EVE Gate by Mushroom Greene

EVE Gate by Mushroom Greene

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to one site to peruse images of New Eden? A place where you can download and use images for things such as desktop backgrounds? That’s the idea behind the Observatory. This will be a place for our pilots to share their amazing images with the rest of New Eden. I can’t think of an Alliance or Corp that’s done something like this. I believe this will be a first and it fits nicely with EVE Scout’s and Signal Cartel’s credo of being a service to all of New Eden and embracing what it means to be a true explorer.

With that in mind, as curator, it will be my task to ensure the quality of the gallery. We’re not looking for quantity here, so please, don’t submit images by the cargo load. Only submit images that you are truly proud of and wish to share. Images that you don’t mind if others will download and use. We’ll not be watermarking these or making any other kind identifying mark. We want this to be a public, creative commons license for all to enjoy as they see fit. If you have an issue with that, then don’t submit. I will be creating an album for each astrophotographer, so your work will be associated with you, and I’ll be adding “by pilot name” to the title.

Nebula by Triffton Ambraelle

Nebula by Triffton Ambraelle

I’m not going to be too critical, so please don’t be afraid to submit an image. There’s only one scenario that I’ll flat out refuse and that’s if the GUI is showing. If that’s the case, see if you can trim the image down, cutting the GUI out, then submit it. If requested, I’m happy to provide feedback and if I do reject an image, I will be sure to let you know why. We’ll be housing the gallery on Flickr, then submitting the best to Tumblr and Twitter.

Screenshot tips see “Astrophotography 101”

To submit your work, please email a link from a location you’ve stored the image such as Imgur or Flickr. Imgur is easy to use and you don’t have to have an account!

Email: shots at eve-scout dot com

Quit and Curious by Ned Thomas

Quit and Curious by Ned Thomas

Include at a minimum the Title, Pilot name, and System Name (if possible). Optionally please send all the details you can so I can tag the image accordingly. Such as ship class, planet name, station name, etc. Please, I don’t have the time nor am I going to take the time to fill in any gaps. Don’t assume I’ll know what kind of ship it is or place or whatever. I just don’t have time. Please fill in as much as you can about the image.


Once accepted, your image will be posted at our Flickr gallery, in our albums and our collections.

Truly exceptional images will then be shared to our Observatory on Tumblr and Twitter on a regular basis, perhaps daily or weekly, depending. We’ll see how it goes.

Below are a few images that recently won our kickstarter contest to get the Observatory going. I think our judges did an excellent job of picking some of our pilot’s best submitted works.

by Teclove duVall

by Teclove duVall


Vista by Dr Zemph

Vista by Dr Zemph


Astero Porn by Ishtar Komarovo

Astero Porn by Ishtar Komarovo


4O-ZRI IX, NEU-UD Gate, Bubbles

Temporary Hibernation

“That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.” – Leonard Nimoy, Actor

04.04.yc117 DK0-N8 < XHL-TZ Constellation < Cobalt Edge

Alley Cat

Alley Cat

Sailing through Outer Passage and Cobalt Edge has been challenging. For the most part, it’s been stretches of silence filled with pockets of terror. Several gate camps were run and hunters evaded. Then in the last pocket today, one that I was already fearful of, I received a communication that encouraged me from Alley Cat of Eternal Monolith. He asked me what I was doing in the area and I replied truthfully about my exploration intentions, sharing my gallery and log. He replied with “Nobody from our corp will attack you. We respect what you’re doing.” Relieved and thankful, I expressed my gratitude and finished the constellation.

Now for some much needed down time to rejuvenate. Going silent into hibernation mode. I’ll have Aura wake me in a week. Enjoy some of my favorites from the two regions while I sleep.










J-0KB3 VIII, Lolitas Standbar Station

J-0KB3 VIII, Lolitas Standbar Station



FV1-RQ VII, Jove Observatory

FV1-RQ VII, Jove Observatory







2ID-87 VI

2ID-87 VI



4LNE-M V, HXK-J6 Gate

4LNE-M V, HXK-J6 Gate



New Eden Explorers: Sven Viko VIkolander

I dabble in a lot of things in EvE across multiple characters. Katia, however, is my main and always will be because of my love for exploring and sailing dangerous seas. My next New Eden Explorer guest is no stranger to the same philosophy with the exception that he doesn’t just dabble, he fully dives in and masters each area all the while sharing his experiences via his blog, EVE Lost and Found. Sven Viko VIkolander is an explorer, trader, hauler, PvPer, and I’m sure is in other areas I’m not aware of. I simply admire his goals which you can read on his blog – one of which, visiting every system in New Eden, is one that I fully appreciate.


Sven Viko VIkolander

Personally, it seems to me that successful long term EvE players are ones who have multiple characters specializing in specific careers. That way, if you become bored in one area, you can switch up and do something else for a while. Sven has found that to be true and I can’t think of too many bloggers that share all of their experiences in a single location. It makes sense for blog to be focused, but I like reading about a single players multi-character experience because that seems to accurately reflect a typical EvE player.

Oh, one last thing, Sven mentions his favorite ship the Confessor and just a little over a week ago he lost his first one (not his first ship ever, but his first Confessor, the first ship he had really grown attached to). Ouch! I hated reading that, because I know it means my time is coming… ack!

Be sure to check out EVE Lost and Found, there’s some really great tips across multiple careers to be found there.

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

I first started EVE a little over 3 years ago on a whim, and immediately wished I had started sooner. From my days playing early MMOs, I had always wanted a game with real risk and the possibility of meaningful loss. EVE also suited me as a highly long-term game that rewarded knowledge at least as much as skills and items. Even though EVE is a time sink of epic proportions, it is also surprisingly well suited to “career” or “grown up” schedules than many other multiplayer games, which might help explain why many older individuals are attracted to EVE.

How would you describe your characters career path?

Like many players, I got hooked on many different activities in EVE largely through the community. I read blogs about all things EVE Online from the start and my list of goals in game—or at least things I wanted to try—grew exponentially, to the point that I soon wanted to try a bit of everything, and that’s where I still am today. From my early days on, I wanted to PVP, primarily solo, but I knew it would be a long road to not being terrible, but it has been a blast learning. In my first days in game, for instance, I heard about the “Not Red Don’t Shoot” policy in Providence, and I tried (and failed) to move there and live on my own. Sugar Kyle started her blog on low sec living right around the time I started playing, and tSvenVikoVIkolander-1hat got me hooked on living in dangerous low security space. After dying to some very helpful pirates—another common experience—I joined Red Versus Blue to learn the basics of PVP. I stayed much longer than I expected—over a year, joining back up occasionally for their insanely fun free for all events—but in the meantime I found the exploration videos of JonnyPew and others on youtube. So, I created an alt and moved into an isolated area of low sec. That’s when I became obsessed with exploration almost as much as PVP, and decided to start blogging about both.

More recently, I’ve been branching out, trying new forms of PVP, getting into market trading and industry, but I still see myself in that learning phase of the game. My issue is that I enjoy everything I’ve tried and end up spending much more time in it than I expect, so even after 3+ years the majority of the game still “unknown” to me, including null sec and wormholes for the most part!


What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

Exploring to me is much more than running exploration sites and making isk, and much more about exploring new areas, new regions, and meeting new people. The exploration and scanning systems are simply a good means to those ends. The goals I have are personal, and in some sense “completionist.” I am in the process of visiting every system in game, living in new regions in the process, joining lots of different groups, and PVPing in just about every ship and in just about every way/style.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?

My preferred exploration ship has changed over the years, and I’ve used and enjoyed almost all of the them. For a while, and maybe still, the Stratios was my favorite, but now, I’m in love with the new T3 destroyers. The Confessor can do almost everything incredibly well, particularly PVP at the frigate and destroyer level, but it is also great in PVE roles. There are a lot of decent fits for the Confessor, but two modules are key to its exploration role as I fly it:



First, the Expanded Probe Launcher for using combat probes. T3 destroyers get a rare probe launcher fitting reduction, allowing them to use combat probes on almost any standard PVP or PVE setup. The expanded probe launcher allows you to scan down cosmic signatures, of course, and the Confessor can easily manage many of the lower end combat sites. The huge cargo bay on the ship opens up the possibility for carrying a mobile depot from which you can refit in space for specific sites, such as data/relic sites. However, the expanded launcher also lets you scan down POSes, mobile structures, drones, and of course other players, which opens up a new world of exploring. Some days you can find me out in my Confessor scanning down mobile structures; other days I’m out collecting drones left in a system; other days I am scanning down POSes and being nosy investigating them. And of course I’m often on the lookout for players I can probe down and…meet!

Second, a 10mn afterburner. The limitation of T3 destroyers as exploration ships is that they cannot fit covert ops cloaks, but a 10mn afterburner (combined with the speed bonuses in propulsion mode) is one of the best survival tools in game.

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

I think it has been the way players and groups shape the places they live. Starting out in game, all the systems might seem relatively similar, but overtime you learn that it is the people—individuals and groups—who shape them. When a major group like Brave Newbies Inc. moves into an area, it completely changes the “game” in that system/region, but this happens even with individual players who can make their “mark” on a system. This is one of the best ways that EVE is a sandbox and unique among games available.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

My advice would depend on whether the player is interested in exploration primarily for making isk, or as a more general way of playing the game. To the former players, especially new pilots, I suggest they check out the great youtube videos and blogs about exploration to get a feel for how to find and run sites effectively, and to try and join a good corporation with experienced explorers. For players interested in exploration more generally: take risks! Go to dangerous places and try new things and meet new people.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

Sven's Favorite

Sven’s Confessor, sadly recently lost…

Astrophotography 101

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” – Sean O’Connell, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

I figured it’s about time to share some astrophotography tips. After taking 30,000+ images, I’ve learned a thing or two that I hope you will find helpful. However, I’ll be the first to confess that my gallery is more about quantity rather than quality for the simple reason of time. If I truly took the time required for each and every image capture, I’d still be exploring my first region. There are moments when I simply have to stop and take in the beauty of New Eden and try my best to capture a quality shot and that’s what this blog entry will focus on today. TLDR – Astrophotography is serious business!

Camera Control

Centered subject

Centered subject

We’re fortunate to live in an age of technology that allows us as capsuleers to focus on the subject, rather than the technical aspects of taking a picture. No longer do we have to worry or fuss over aperture, shutter speed, focus, etc, as all of that is taken care for us. We can now concentrate on the artistic aspects such as composition and framing. It’s quite honestly point and shoot today.

How to work your camera controls. Here’s the image capture command sequence:

• CTRL-F9 (Turns off the HUD)
• PrtScn (Captures the image) | MAC OS use Command (⌘)-Shift-3
• CTRL-F9 (Turns on the HUD)

Same subject, off center

Same subject, off center

You may want to setup a single command that executes the sequence for ease of execution and reliability. More than once I’ve found myself in a hostile system and was thankful I could quickly line up a shot, take it, and move on, with the execution of a single command.

Depending upon your pods operating system, your images will be processed and placed in your data repository at the following or similar location:


Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

The first rule is, there are no rules. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to take an image. It is, after all, what intrigues or interest you, that moment in time you wish to capture, cherish, and share with others. So, as long as it’s pleasing to your eye, then you have achieved your goal. But as in all things, you’ll learn in time and experience to master your craft and instead of taking fair or good images, you’ll be taking great ones.

Rule of Thirds


Planet upper left cross hair, sun on top line


Moon lower left cross hair, sun flare parallel

Well, it’s more of a guideline than a rule but it’s a good one to follow and should be broken in the right circumstances. Beginning astrophotographers, or someone who’s in a hurry like myself, usually line up the main subject in the center of the image. It’s only natural, as humans we look directly at our subject of interest. There’s nothing wrong with that per say and it can work, but often times it fails to provide a balance and it can eliminate an interesting environment surrounding the subject. Remember, looking at an image is more than just looking at the main subject, because your eyes will want to wander. A good astrophotographer will capture the main subject in its natural environment as well as provide a balance to the scene.

Here’s how the Rule of Thirds works. Break your capture resolution up into thirds along the horizontal and vertical axis and visualize nine equal areas on your screen. Now, where the lines intersect, imagine cross hairs, there should be four of them.


Planet right third, sun flare parallel

With the lines and intersections visualized, you now line up your main subject, as well as other things of interest, at the intersections and along the lines. Why? The thought process is it will provide a natural balance to the scene that your viewer will be able to interact with. Take advantage of lines and curves to lead your viewer on a journey around your image.


Frame 1-1Mastering the Rule of Thirds is a great start to taking good images, but as you line up your shots, you’ll want to watch the outer edges and see if you can “frame” your subject. If possible, you can use other objects and/or the environment to provide a natural frame. Try to include natural lines and curves in a manner that will highlight, but not distract from the main focus. If you need to cut into your main subject, do so in a manner that looks appropriate. For example, making sure the object still looks whole and that the bulk of it remains.

Frame 1-2You may end up bending or even breaking the Rule of Thirds to properly frame an image, but that’s fine if the end result takes a good picture and makes it a great one. Watch, however, because in general you don’t want to cut objects in half. Either position yourself or your camera to include them fully or eliminate them entirely.


Frame 2-1There are however, times when cutting an object in half will enhance the frame, but only if it’s large enough to cover more than half of that particular edge. Again, not necessarily a rule, just a guideline, you have to experiment to see if the final image is going to look and feel right.

Frame 2-2Taking a look at these two examples, we can see in the first one I’ve cut into the planet leaving some space to be seen behind it as well as cliping it along the bottom. A minor adjustment to the camera position takes care of that issue. In the second example, I’ve cut the customs office in half which really distracts from the overall image. Simply zooming the camera out moves the office completely into the scene and it helps to break up the bleak blackness of that part of the image.


I’ve often heard that black and white photography is the most difficult to master. You may ask why, because it’s simply black versus white, but therein lies the catch. It’s not about black and white at all, it’s about shades of gray. (Not fifty shades of gray, mind yourself!) A great black and white photographer succeeds by taking a picture with as many shades of gray as possible. ContrastFrom the blackest of blacks, to the whitest of whites and all the grays in between. The same is true in color photography in trying to show stark contrast with shades of color. See how many shades of color you can achieve. For planets, I try to capture the shades from the night side to the light side. A fully sun lit side of a planet can be dull, but there are the extremes, like silhouettes, that can provide for some truly amazing shots.

Interesting Textures

TexturesOther than colors and contrast, textures can provide an interesting subject matter as well. After taking so many pictures of planets, they all begin to start looking alike, and you have to turn to something else to make it interesting. You may not think of planets in terms of textures, but they do indeed have them. Especially from high in orbit, where the details of a civilization begin to vanish, and the oneness of the planet begins to prevail. A famous astronomer once referred to his home plant as the “Pale Blue Dot”. Look for textures in your images and see if you can pull them out by highlighting them via the rule of thirds and framing.

Leading the Viewer


Be on the lookout for minor subjects that can help lead your viewer to your main subject. There are many interesting things in space, use them to your advantage. For me, the planets are my main subject matter in all of my shots, but I don’t always have them front and center. Sometimes they’re way off in the distance, but I always have the planet in there somewhere. In those cases I try to use nearby subjects and/or the environment to help the viewer find my main subject. Human eyes naturally follow lines and curves, so it’s fairly easy to find them and then utilize them to pull your viewer in.

Ordinary to Extraordinary

This is a difficult one, as it just comes from experience and many times, there’s just nothing in the scene nearby that can help to take what is an ordinary picture and make it into an extraordinary one. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying, nor preventing you from taking the picture anyway, if nothing else for the experience of it. Just be aware of your surroundings and see if perhaps a better position between you and the main subject will help you to pull in other things that can provide some additional interest or contrast. In the case of astrophotography, you may be able to position yourself to utilize the sun, for example, to help make some rings really pop out. ExtraordinaryOr maybe you can create an artificial sunrise or sunset. Don’t forget about other subjects like your own ship to help spice up a scene. Once you start looking, you’ll begin to see some things you can use. Move around from moon to moon, or objects like customs offices and stations, you just never know what you may find that will turn that first image you liked into something that you’ll love.

Final Words

Go out and have fun, learn by doing, there’s no better way. Sure, you’ll take some bad images, just look in my gallery, but you’ll start getting those great shots that will have others asking for more. Enjoy yourself and share, don’t be afraid of what others think. Not everyone is going to “get” your image, but you really didn’t take it for them anyway, right? Besides, there are many more who will see what you saw and that’s the greatest feeling of all, when others share in your experience.

W4C8-Q XI, E5T-CS Gate

W4C8-Q XI, E5T-CS Gate

New Eden Explorers: Sugar Kyle


Sugar Kyle

More than once I’ve been surprised while doing this series to learn of someone that enjoys exploration, whether on a main or alt character, seeking out new horizons or for treasure in the void like my next guest. Now, I’m not one that usually discusses money, politics, or religion among friends and rarer still on an open public forum, but I’m proud to say I voted for my next guest last year for CSM 9 and she definitely has my vote for reelection to CSM X this year. She’s proved to be one of the hardest working CSM representatives we have, Sugar Kyle.

So, how did an explorer like myself come to vote for a Low Sec representative? Simple, I’ve got a Stay Frosty Pirate alt, Yarr! 😉 Granted, I don’t take her out much, I’m really not a PvPer, lol, but I agreed with Rixx Javix and voted for her based on his recommendation that we needed a representative for Low Sec. Not only has she represented Low Sec as promised, she’s also taking time to listen, research, ask questions, and come to understand other areas of Eve Online with an open mind. That’s the kind of candidate I want.

Since this is one of those rare occasions I’m talking politics I’ll go on to say that I for one fully believe and support that you don’t have to be an “expert” in your area as long as you are willing to learn and offer a fresh perspective. Sometimes you can be too close to an issue, biased, stubborn, etc., and not see the bigger picture. How many times have you looked at an issue and couldn’t see the problem? Then someone comes up, looks over your shoulder, and points right at it. It was in front of you the whole time. I believe that’s the kind of perspective Sugar Kyle brings to the table.

The approved candidate list will be up tomorrow and voting begins on Wednesday, February 25th. Here’s a post about the details as well as a surprise this year from CCP. Also, Cap Stable Podcast has done, yet again, a fantastic job of doing candidate interviews and analysis shows. You can find them via this link. I just ask you to do your research and vote for those you’d like to represent you. (I promise and swear to you I didn’t time this interview with the elections. It just worked out that way and it’s a great way to bring attention to the upcoming CSM X!) Well, enough politics. You now know who’s at the top of my list. :) (and if you do wish to know who else is on my list, just watch for Evoganda’s post tomorrow, it’s close to mine, just a slightly different order.)

Truth be told, I didn’t start following Sugar’s blog, Low Sec Lifestyle, until after the elections. So, it did come as a surprise while reading that I come to learn of her explorer’s ways. Well I’ll be…

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

I started in November of 2011 and I’ve just passed my third birthday in the game. I found out about Eve from a cracked.com article about one of the Eve Bank scams and I thought it sounded amazing. A bit of looking into the game told me that it was an open world where other pilots could kill me to take my stuff. My first online game was a MUD that had open world like this and it sounded like it would be a great time.

What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?

SugarKyle_Standing2Exploration was one of the main ways that my corpmates made their ISK. This was pre-odyssey exploration where you had to scan the system to find out if there were signatures. I enjoyed the discovery aspect and then the hopeful hunt for treasure that followed after it.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

I’m more a treasure hunter than one that seeks new horizons. I pillage and slink away to sell my goods on the market for whomever wants them. I’ve not had the time to go out in space and ply my wealth from the results of my scanner probes of late and I truly miss that activity.

Later, when I was elected to the CSM I started working to get some of the inconsistencies and broken bits fixed. It was a continuation of my campaign to bring low level DED complexes to low sec. This led to the rebalancing of escalations and anomalies which is something I am very proud to have been a part of.

But none of that beats spending my time slipping through space seeking what is hidden.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite? Would you mind sharing your fit?



I settled on an exploration Legion in the end. I picked a T3 because I could nullify it. I often send my exploration character out to seek and seek until her cargo hold is full. She logs off in unknown systems and creeps, as unnoticed as possible, through the sovereign empires.

During your research and travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that surprised you?

Wormhole space relic and data sites have the most amazing structures. I’ve taken so many pictures of the shattered remains, oddly illuminated, cast in shadow and dust. They are beautiful monoliths and I understand why wormholes inspire their advocates. Wormhole space in general I have often found utterly enchanting due to the beauty and mystery. Just looking around Eve and taking pictures of nebula and planet can occupy hours and hours of my time.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Take time to look at things and enjoy the scenery. One of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen was a lava planet in null. Read the descriptions and visit the monuments that you will find out in random systems.

For those who seek wealth, remember that it is not owed to you. You may seek but not find. Don’t be discouraged at a run of bad luck. You didn’t pick exploration for consistency but for that incredible payoff.

Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

9PX2-F VIII, N3-JBX Gate


“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – André Gide, Author

15.02.yc117 NSBE-L < QI1M-Q Constellation < Scalding Pass

03-OR2 II

03-OR2 II

Joining Signal Cartel was, indeed, the right decision for me. Hearing the corp chatter in channel has been refreshing, from the challenges of the rookies to the experiences of the veterans, it’s been great to be among fellow explorers. The corp is growing having hit 100 members in a short time and the culture is a positive one, just what I needed and wanted. I’m trying to do my part from afar, which is challenging in and of itself while exploring Null Sec, as the corp grows and settles in. Mynxee sums up nicely our ways in her blog post “Musings on the Explorer’s Way” and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find you can still be yourself, yet be a part of something greater. If you’re interested in joining Signal Cartel, follow this link.



Since joining the new corp, I’ve had some interesting conversations in Null Sec. I’ve been asked a couple of times if there was a wormhole entrance to Thera in system. At first, I was thinking to myself how would I know and why are you asking, when it hit me, oh yeah. The rule of the day in Null is know who’s in local. I use tools like EVE Pirate’s Little Helper as well as bringing up pilot information and reading Bio’s, checking Corp, and Alliance information, when I’m in system with others. It’s a good first step to get an idea if you’re in hostile territory or not.

Sophia Hawkwood

Sophia Hawkwood

So of course it makes sense that I’m being checked out as well and with EVE-Scout quickly making a name for themselves with the hard work and dedication to Thera wormhole scouting, it’s only a natural when seeing my alliance of EVE-Scout Enclave to assume I’ve just come from there. It’s been rather funny trying to explain that I’ve no idea if there’s a entrance nearby, so I refer them to the EVE-Scout site, and go on to explain my personal mission. It’s actually been a great ice breaker and provides the opportunity to promote both Signal Cartel and EVE-Scout.

Setele Ymont

Setele Ymont

It’s refreshing to have that long eerie silence finally broken between the in corp and alliance channels as well as the questions in local, but also by the casual and encouraging conversations about my journey. On two separate occasions this last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of fellow capsuleers. Both were pleasant and curious about my exploration. Sophia Hawkwood of Hawkwood Executive Interstellar Secure Transport, I met in system 5-MQQ7, and Setele Ymont of Phoebe Freeport Republic, I met in system 4-CM8I. I do wish to express my thanks to Phoebe Freeport Republic for their kind offer of docking as well as allowing me to pass through unhindered.

All in all, this past week has reenergized my spirit, like getting my second wind, while I look to the remainder of Null Sec exploration.

Fly clever!




* Images from Scalding Pass Region

10 3-0FYP X, Jester's Trek

Can’t stop the Signal

“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” – Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut

31.01.yc117 04-EHC < V2S-RH Constellation < Insmother

Perhaps this has happened to you, that moment when you first meet someone and feel like you’ve known them a lifetime or more. Or maybe you’ve read something that resonates with your very being, to your core, and you know it to be true. Or that moment upon hearing or seeing something and you know it’s meant to be.

03 KS-1TS III, Cat in Station

KS-1TS III, Cat in Station

When I began my exploration journey over five years ago now, there wasn’t any exploration corporations to be found. They didn’t exist, nor did I think they ever would. Likewise, I knew due to my own personal mission, I could never devote the necessary time and effort to grow a corporation and see to the memberships needs to make it successful. Yet, there have been a few exploration corps since then. Some successful and some not, but none that resonated with me. So, I had started Sagan Explorations as a personal corporation to accommodate my needs with the intention that I would never grow it.

11 Q-3HS5 XI


But, the loneliness of deep Null Sec exploration has been eroding my determination to see this to the end. At first, it seemed that in every Null Sec region, I would always find someone that would strike up a conversation, ask about my journey, and wish me well. Lately, however, the journey has gone eerily quiet. These last few regions have been completely silent, with hunters now and then trying to seek me out without a word in local. It’s one thing to be hunted quietly, yet still continuing to receive words of encouragement from others. It’s another to be hunted, when you’re feeling completely alone in the silent depths of space. I’ve come to realize I needed that social interaction, that camaraderie of likeminded souls, to feel a part of something bigger than myself, to encourage me, to keep me going.

As fortune would have it or perhaps fate, Mynxee whom I had interviewed previously as part of the New Eden Explorer series, tweeted about forming a new corporation for explorers, Signal Cartel. Upon reading, I felt that tickling of the soul one gets when something is meant to be. I immediately replied with words of my support and encouragement for her new endeavor. Then I read the Corporate Credo and the envisioned Corporate Life and my soul began to sing. Home… has found me.

Portions of the Credo and Life that resonated. Click here to see them in their entirety and how to join if interested.

Signal Cartel

Signal Cartel

“Signal Cartel is a service corporation to all of New Eden… our goal is to look for a graceful resolution and set an example of dignity and friendship through our actions.”

“We embrace the attitude of a true explorer: we are friendly to others in our travels, neutral and never initiating aggression… In suffering losses, we respond with good cheer and shed no tears. In this way, we aim to be recognized and respected by all across the cluster and left in peace to do our work.”

“Among our own ranks and with others, we are patient and generous with knowledge, ideas, and experiences…”

“Signal Cartel members tend to be solo wanderers, opportunistically exploring New Eden far and wide to discover its secrets, wonders, and buried (or abandoned) treasure. Yet we are all connected by the ideals behind our corp credo which encourage open communication, cooperation, helpfulness, and a generous spirit.”

“To aid newer players who aspire to that lifestyle (Exploration)…”



As excited as I was, I didn’t want to immediately jump on the opportunity. I have a great deal of respect for Mynxee, her past experience of growing a unique corporation certainly gives credence that this one too will likely be successful, but would it be the right move for me? Sagan Explorations was more than just a haven, it was a tribute to Carl Sagan and Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, the one who first had awakened the explorer within me. I’ve always known I was an explorer, but watching Cosmos as a young teen, my eyes were opened to the wonders around me. It would be hard to give up that corporation name and tribute.

I slept on it overnight and by morning when I awoke, I couldn’t deny my explorers heart. How could I not join this new and growing exploration corp? So, that was that, my mind made up, I spent a great deal of time scanning down a connection to Empire space and after twenty systems finally found one. Landing in Orgron, Metropolis, I docked up for the first time in seven months, then respectfully dissolved Sagan Explorations and accepted the offered invite to join this new exploration corp. It’s not just about wanting what Signal Cartel has to offer, I had decided, it was about need. I only hope that I can offer as much as I’m sure it will give.

You can’t stop the Signal.



* Images from Insmother Region