Astronomy is obviously the oldest and most popular of space hobbies. Even the occasional backyard skywatching by unaided eye or a small telescope can be a marvelous experience.
There are innumerable web sites already devoted to general astronomy and so we start below with just a guide to some introductory sites and a few of the major astronomy link lists.
We will focus here more on sites related to astronomy projects where amateurs can make significant contributions.
One of the most wonderful aspects of astronomy is that amateurs still make significant contributions. Comets, for example, are often discovered by non-professional astronomers.
We put many topics involving near-earth and solar system based phenomena, e.g. meteor show observation, aurora investigation, etc., into the Space Science section. (This is an arbitrary division but is consistent with the HobbySpace emphasis on our solar system.)
Note that the Satellite Watching section also includes astronomy related information and links such as tracking programs, utilities and references. In addition, the offline and online software sections include some star chart program links.
Astronomy related sections at HobbySpace
ASTRONET Carl Koppeschaar’s ASTRONET provides links to astronomy and space sites. Also, daily news reports available. Sections include
Astronomy Cafe Sten Odenwald’s cafe offers you some exploration with your coffee:
“Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be an astronomer? Do you have any questions that you would like an astronomer to answer? Would you like to hear the latest about hyperspace, black holes, time travel and quantum cosmology? Well, at the Astronomy Cafe you’ve come to the right place! Sit down, grab a cup of coffee, and have a far-out adventure at the outer frontier of space and time.” – web site.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific A very large and active organization with members worldwide. Their Mercury Magazine is a bi-monthly with articles accessible by a wide audience. A selection of the articles are online. There is also an online shop for posters, software, globes, etc.
Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews Great site with lots of resources such as:
An astronomy addition to Google Earth.
Griffith Observatory This observatory & planetarium is dedicated to public education in astronomy and space exploration. Sky Information
Guide to the Universe Annemie Maertens takes you on trips through our galaxy and on out into the universe. Beautiful images and descriptions of the sights along the way. (In both Dutch and English)
Inconstant Moon Beautifully designed site that offers multimedia tours of the lunar surface. Includes “maps, photos, explanations, animations, selected links and even music”.
Que tal in the Current Skies An entertaining and readable monthly newsletter for the casual backyard astronomer. Gives the highlights of night skys for the coming month.
Rose Center for Earth & Space New York’s famous Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History has been replaced with the $210 million Rose Center. The center includes a new Planetarium and much more. The web site describes the new facility and also offers many online activities and resources.
SEDS Galaxy The website for the Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) provides a broad array of astronomical related links. Also, see the astronomy images in their archive.
Stig’s Sky Calendar Stig Ottosen’s site is dedicated to his Java astronomy and space events calendar program that provides info on happenings both celestial and on the ground (e.g. upcoming conferences.)
“Use the Sky Calendar to keep yourself up to date on local and global sky events. It will display sunrise/sunset, twilight and lunar phase and visibility at a glance, and also includes a Planisphere, Planet Finder and Planet Round-up display. You can even customize your sky calendar setup with My Sky Calendar.”
There is both an online and offline version.
SkyLights Professor Jim Kaler provides this site for amateur astronomers. Includes weekly updates and astronomy news.
StarDate The University of Texas McDonald Observatory presents the popular StarDate radio show about skywatching. This web site provides lots of astronomy links and useful tips, especially for the backyard astronomer.
The Starpages An enormous searchable database for space and astronomy web resources. Called the “astronomy yellow pages”. Sections nclude:
The Telson Spur — The Snark Hunter’s Page Link list site with an enormous number of astronomy and space & astronautics links, arranged in an innovative classification scheme. See, for example, sections on Amateur Astronomy, Sky&Weather.
John Walker’s Fourmilab Programs John Walker offers several online and offline (freeware) astronomy programs, as well as interesting information. See, for example,
Microsoft will release this tool in the spring of 2008. It sounds like it will be a powerful competitor to Google Sky
Astronomy Magazines The websites for astronomy magazines typically provide lots of information and resources for astronomers ranging from the beginner to the pro.
Astronomy Day (April 16th) + Globe at Night April 16th each year is the time to celebrate our cosmos and the hobby of astronomy and to participate in astronomical observations.
They developed a very elaborate website with many resources that are still available.
to go outside, look skywards after dark, count the stars they see in certain constellations, and report what they see online. This Windows to the Universe Citizen Science Event is designed to encourage learning in astronomy!
It is part of the Citizen Science program at Windows to the Universe.
Dark Sky Preservation Light pollution has caused most of the cosmos to fade from view for people who live in urban/suburban areas. Extraneous night time illumination, e.g. streetlights that send wasted light upward rather than reflecting it downward, reduces the sensitivity of not only scientific telescopes but of our own eyes to see the dimmer stars and Milky Way from your back yard.
Here are resources that discuss the problem and efforts to combat it.
Organizations for amateurs and students
Astronomy Tourism – Eclipses, Northern Lights, Meteor Showers, etc. It is becoming more and more popular to travel to some exotic location to observe an astronomy related event. The most common such trips are to areas where eclipses will be visible, but now these also include expeditions to view aurora and meteor showers.
Orrery (Solar System Simulator) An Orrery shows the planets and their orbit around the sun. Mechanical Orreries have been around for centuries, typically as beautiful, clockwork-like devices in brass and wood.
Here’s a big orrey project meant to run for a long, long time: Long Now > Projects > Clock > Orrery
Now one can find them simulated in software but there are still mechanical versions around. The software versions offer a lot more options but a mechanical Orrery offer a more tangible, intuitive and esthetic experience.
Miscellaneous lunar info and resources:
Science Topics Here are some miscellaneous astronomy related science topics of interest
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HobbySpace – Astronomy