25 Amazing Astronomy Resources
Astronomy is a branch of science that studies celestial bodies such as the stars, planets and galaxies. It attempts to understand and explain the nature and movements of these bodies as well as other phenomena in space. The term astronomy has been derived from two Greek words, astro meaning stars and nomos meaning law or arrangement. It deeply involves other scientific disciplines especially physics and mathematics.
Astronomiae Historia / History of Astronomy: Information and several thousand links on all aspects of the history of astronomy and related fields: observatories, people, items, archives.
Window to the Universe: Attractively presented and very informative--this site provides an introduction to the Universe. Topics include, "Our Planet," "Space Missions," "Our Solar System," "People," and much more.
Astronomy Picture of the Day: This excellent site gives you something new to look at every day.
Astronomy: The world's top astronomy magazine with tons of information
History of Astronomy
Man has always wondered about the heavenly bodies in the sky. This curiosity led to the study of these objects beginning thousands of years ago. Stories about the creation of the universe, the sun, stars, and moon can be found in almost all civilizations. Several views about the nature of the earth were held such as it being stationary and flat. The Babylonians were possibly the first to study the celestial bodies, later the Chinese made a lot of contributions and then the Greeks helped it blossom.
A brief history of Astronomy: This site by the University of California presents important historical information about Astronomy
History of Astronomy: A site devoted to information about historical figures in astronomy that cannot be found elsewhere on the internet
These are some of the remarkable eras of astronomical discoveries:
4000 BC to 100 AD: During this period, Asian and Greek astronomers made important discoveries like determining the size of the earth, developing calendars and celestial maps, and calculating the distance to the moon. Stonehenge, an archeological site that many historians consider an astronomical observatory of sorts, was also built during this time.
0 AD to 1599 CE: Ptolemy developed the geocentric theory of the universe; Chinese astronomers observed supernovas in Taurus; observatories were built in Egypt, Iran and Central Asia; Copernicus published the heliocentric theory of the universe; Tycho Brahe discovered a supernova; and the Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII.
1600 to 1699: The first practical telescope was invented by Hans Lippershey; Galileo discovered the four moons of Jupiter by using a telescope as well as the Milky Way Galaxy; the three Laws of Planetary Motion were proposed by Johannes Kepler; and Newton built the first reflecting telescope.
1700 to 1799: Edmund Halley predicted the return of Haley's Comet, William Herschel discovered Uranus and Charles Messier discovered galaxies, nebula and star clusters.
1800 to 1899: The first asteroid, Ceres, was discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi; Johann Galle discovered Neptune and Asaph Hall discovered Martian moons.
1900 to date: the existence of other galaxies outside the Milky Way was proven by Edwin Hubble; Ejnar Hertzsprung described giant and dwarf stars, the first radio telescope was built by Grote Reber, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, the Russians launched the Sputnik, the US launched Explorer, Quasars were detected, the existence of dark matter was announced by Vera Rubin, Hubble went into orbit and the Big bang model was developed.
Astronomy throughout History: This site presents a timeline of important events in astronomical history.
A Virtual Journey into the Universe: This site explores the planets in our solar system on many different levels.
CosmoNet: Explore the origins of the universe, theoretical physics, and more on this excellent ThinkQuest site.
Branches of Astronomy
There are two primary branches of astronomy: observational or optical astronomy and theoretical or non-optical astronomy.
Optical astronomy: This is the most commonly used and oldest branch of astronomy. It involves observing celestial objects through telescopes and using the images to extract information about the nature, evolution and structure of these objects. In ancient times, images of celestial bodies were drawn by hands, then photographic equipment was used for this purpose in the 19th and 20th centuries and now digital detectors are used to record images. Although optical astronomy is credited with some very important discoveries such as the mountains of the moon, the spots on the sun and Jupiter's satellites, it has certain limitations. These limitations include the narrow optical spectrum and the earth's atmosphere, which blocks and reflects light and distorts the visual images.
Optical Astronomy Sites: This site provides a list of links to the world's largest observatories and telescopes.
Peoria Astronomical Society: This well-designed site offers an interactive astronomical handbook. Click on the names of constellations to see detailed star maps and pictures of the star formations, or explore the life cycle and physics of black holes.
Gigagalaxy Zoom: An amazing sky map from the European Southern Observatory (Chile). Comprehensive and engrossing content, something that all sky observers will love - especially city slickers.
Hubble Telescope: Black Holes: Take an interactive voyage into the universe of black holes with the folks who operate the Hubble Space Telescope.
HST Greatest Hits 1990-1995 Gallery: Spectacular images from space taken by the Hubble Space Telescope
Non-optical astronomy: Although optical astronomy is considered to be the best method for astronomical research, the costs associated with building large telescopes and then sending them into space is prohibitive. This is where non-optical and theoretical astronomy come into play. Radio signals, microwave, x-ray and high energy gamma-rays are used in non-optical astronomy for collecting information about the nature and structure of universe. There is also theoretical astronomy in which various tools such as analytical models and computational numerical simulations are used.
Hubble Telescope-Explore astronomy: A site by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which shares the amazing discoveries made by the Hubble telescope.
Astronomy Online: Gives an overview of the solar system, the Milky Way, extra-solar planets, cosmology and astrophotography. This site was nominated for a Webby Award as one of the five best science websites of 2006.
Nine Planets: This website provides an overview of the history, mythology and the current knowledge of the planets, moons, stars and other celestial objects.
Black Holes and Neutron Stars: Learn about black holes and neutron stars in this simple and very focused page
Sub-specialties of Astronomy
Beyond the two basic branches, astronomy is further subdivided into several specialties:
Planetary Astronomy: In this specialty, planets and other objects within and outside our solar system are studied. Both observational and theoretical research is carried out in planetary astronomy. The observational researchers concern themselves with matters like formation history and evolution of planets. Theoretical astronomers, on the other hand, focus on the dynamics of these objects.
Gravitational astronomy: It focuses on the study of the gravitational waves, which are caused by specific movements of large astronomical objects. Most of the astronomical observations are conducted using electromagnetic radiations which are emitted when atomic particles are excited. Gravitational waves, on the other hand, are generated by the variation and motion of celestial objects and this presents many new possibilities.
Solar Astronomy: One of the frequently studied objects in the field of astronomy is our sun. Solar astronomy researchers study the events that occur in and around our sun and try to predict its behavior and the resulting effects on the earth.
Views of the Solar System: An educational tour of the solar system. It contains images and information about the sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids found within the solar system.
Stellar Astronomy: The study of the birth, evolution and death of stars is called stellar astronomy. It is one of the most actively studied areas in astronomy.
Microwave astronomy: Here, high energy radio waves are used to develop an understanding of the birth of the universe. Large telescopes are used from space to observe microwaves, especially the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is the radiation remaining from the birth of the universe. The most recent microwave telescope has accurately calculated the age of the universe.
Galactic Astronomy: It is the study of the Milky Way galaxy in its entirety including all of its components. The structure, evolution, composition and distribution of stars and gases are the focus of galactic astronomy.
Extragalactic Astronomy: This is the opposite of galactic astronomy because extragalactic astronomers study all galaxies other than the Milky Way. The aims of this study include gaining an understanding of the grouping of galaxies and the interaction between them.
Infrared astronomy: In this specialty of astronomy, infrared radiation from various objects in the universe is studied. Since almost all of the objects in space emit infrared radiation, the scope of infrared astronomy becomes really vast. Infrared astronomy shows what exists between stars and galaxies and provides a good understanding of the gases and dust that are not visible.
Cosmology: The study of the origin, evolution and impending fate of the universe is known as cosmology. Researchers in this field of astronomy study the state of the universe soon after the Big-Bang.
WMAP's Introduction to Cosmology: This site provides in-depth information about Cosmology.
Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Humankind: This site traces the cosmic origin and evolution of matter and energy from the Big Bang to 12 billion years later.
Amazing Space: A great resource for information on black holes, comets, galaxies, gravity, the solar system, stars and more through classroom oriented resources.
Bad Astronomy: This site uses popular misconceptions about astronomical phenomena and "bad astronomy" from the movies and on television as a starting point for astronomical education.
365 Days of Astronomy: A project to provide an astronomy podcast every day of the year, written, recorded and produced by people around the world.
Astronomy | Video Courses on Academic Earth: Free astronomy video courses and lectures from leading university professors.
Astronomy Education Review: Astronomy Education Review (AER) is a web-based journal for everyone who works in astronomy and space science education.
Planetariums & Observatories on StartLocal
Canberra Observatory & Planetarium - Dickson, ACT, 2602
Science Centre & Planetarium - Fairy Meadow, NSW, 2519
Sydney Observatory - The Rocks, NSW, 2000
Magellan Observatory - Lake Bathurst, NSW, 2580
Gilgandra Observatory - Gilgandra, NSW, 2827
Koolang Astronomical Observatory - Bucketty, NSW, 2250
Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium - Toowong, QLD, 4066
Natures Way Museum & Wappa Falls Observatory - Yandina, QLD, 4561
South Burnett-Maidenwell Astronomical Observatory - Maidenwell, QLD, 4615
Planetarium - University of SA - Mawson Lakes, SA, 5095
Scienceworks Museum/Melbourne Planetarium - Spotswood, VIC, 3015
Gingin Observatory - Gingin, WA, 6503
Pingelly Heights Observatory - Pingelly, WA, 6308
Microscopes, Binoculars & Telescopes on StartLocal