Best astronomy websites
Compiled by Sandy Kerr
Space Link is NASA's "aeronautics and space resource for education since 1988".
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific was founded in 1889 "to increase understanding and appreciation of astronomy." It does a great job. The web site is very complete and well organised with lots of educational resources and links.
"Windows to the Universe" has a major section on myths about the sky. The stories that different cultures created to explain the sky are both fascinating and disturbing (how could anyone believe that?!, you will wonder).
CNN's space news has in-depth stories.
"Astronomy", one of the two leading astronomy magazines, has a comprehensive web site that includes a thorough "Scope Buyer's Guide" and an extensive "Parents & Teachers" section.
"Sky and Telescope", the other leading astronomy magazine, also has a comprehensive web site that includes monthly sky charts for the southern hemisphere.
"Sky and Space", Australia's bi-monthly astronomy magazine, does not have
a web site, but you can get it at one of the larger newsagents.
The ABC's "In Space: our gateway to the stars" includes "Southern Sky Watch", a very detailed guide to the night sky for the current month.
Quasar Publishing publishes "Astronomy 2002: a Practical Guide to the Night Sky, Eastern Australian Edition". This annual book and the large-size planisphere (star wheel) that you can also get from them are all you need to begin really enjoying the night sky.
Heavens-Above, once you've registered your location, gives you precise times and sky locations for observing satellites. It also gives you daily rise and set times for the Sun and Moon, twilight times (will it actually be dark enough to see that satellite?), and a time-and-date-adjustable sky chart for your exact location.
The Stanford SOLAR Center has many interactive activities that are fun and truly educational. This is the place to learn much about our own star.
Space Weather provides up-to-the-minute "science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment". After you've learned about the solar wind, sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and geomagnetic storms from the Stanford SOLAR Center (above), this is the place to keep track of these events as they impact our planet.
Inconstant Moon "will take you on a new tour each night, with maps, photos, explanations, animations, selected links, and even music!" This is a wonderful web site for exploring our wonderful moon.
PLANETS & ASTROBIOLOGY
The Planetary Society, co-founded by Carl Sagan, has long been a leader in promoting the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Their web site also has details on the exploration of Mars.
The Astrobiology Web, "Your Online Guide to the Living Universe", thoroughly covers the new field of astrobiology. Be sure to see "What is an astrobiologist?" This section includes "The questions astrobiology seeks to answer - and the types of people needed to answer these questions".
SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) has a superb web site with hundreds of pictures and full descriptions of nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.
"Buying Your First Telescope in Australia" gives lots of good, frank advice and includes a list of Australian dealers.
Orion Telescopes & Binoculars has probably the most complete and descriptive online catalog of astronomy equipment. Their Learning Center has "How to Choose a Telescope/Binoculars". However, if you shop around (see ads in astronomy magazines for the web sites of other astronomy equipment suppliers), you can find lower prices. Don't hesitate to negotiate a better price by e-mail; dot-com sales competition is fierce.
York Optical has a Brisbane store and the "Telescope Guide" on their web site is very good.
Celestron is one of the two leading astronomy equipment manufacturers.
Meade is the other leading equipment manufacturer.
Got suggestions for other websites you'd like to see on this list? Let us know.
This page was last updated on December 1, 2001.