Space is something that fascinates many. Every day there are technological advances, new research being carried out and even historical space related anniversaries. Where would we be without those valuable space dedicated blogs and websites? There are so many sources of information readily available at our fingertips these days, and I am sure you have your favourites, but here is my top 10 list of astronomy blogs and websites. I would love to hear if you have any others that are not on my list, website and blogs that I can try out too!
10 – Our local Astronomy groups websites
In the North of Ireland we are lucky to have two astronomical societies dedicated to night sky viewing, providing telescope advice and generally bringing astronomy to the masses! These sites provide a great source of information on events both at home and abroad and have forums to help with any night sky or equipment queries. From personal experience both societies are brilliant and excellent at what they do. If you haven’t visited their respective websites they are well worth a visit! Tell them Sinead from the Planetarium sent you!
9 – www.kidsastronomy.com
If you have children, or are a big kid yourself this website is for you! With both videos and games, the kids will have hours of fun whilst learning more about our world and the Solar System at the same time. It even has information on topics such as comets and meteorites. Working in the education team at the Planetarium I know that one of the most common questions from children is “How does a Black Hole work?” Well today I learned from this website that a black hole uses the power of gravity to pull things towards it, even adults can learn from this website too. The site is very easy to navigate and the information is in digestible chunks.
Astronomy Now is a great monthly magazine available to purchase, but they also have a very good website with astronomy news. You could read some of their articles online, and it could inspire you to take a subscription. Their archive of articles is extensive and is well worth a visit. They also provide a really nice printable star chart.
Looking to be kept up to date with all the latest space related news? If the answer is yes then Universe Today is for you. This blog is jammed packed full of all the latest astronomical news and events and encourages comments from visitors. It also boasts a great way for other blogs/website to get involved through its Carnival of Space feature. Each week a different webmaster or blogger hosts the carnival. Here they get the opportunity to showcase articles written on the topic of space. If you are just starting out it is a great way to reach the masses with your articles.
6 – www.slate.com
Formally known as Bad Astronomy on the Discover website, this blog now resides at slate.com and contains interesting and through-provoking stories. The popularity of the blog can be seen through how many comments are left after each article, tweets on Twitter and likes on Facebook. As an example the story about black holes posted 2 days ago already has 422 comments, 2995 likes on Facebook and has been tweeted 535 times! That is an amazing amount of feedback in just 48 hours. To get to the Bad Astronomy section on this website just click on “Health and Science” on the homepage where you will find other related stories and blogs. Then just look for the Bad Astronomy link.
5 – www.space.com
Launched in 1999, space.com claims to be the world’s No. 1 source for news of astronomy, skywatching, space exploration, commercial spaceflight and related technologies. It does truly have the latest discoveries, missions, trends and futuristic ideas. This is one of my favourite sites for the look and feel of the website. I love the black background with what looks like meteors; it gives it a nice “spacey” feel. It is also really easy to navigate around and has a really nice shop to get some ideas on astronomical gifts for birthdays, Christmas, or as a special treat for yourself! Their stories are short, sharp ad to the point which is great and a feature I really enjoy is their “Image of the Day”.
Sky and Telescope is a magazine available to purchase, but it also has a great website full of information, interesting articles and up-to-date space related news. What I like about this website is that it gives you beginner guides in all things astronomy from stargazing to astrophotography. Another really nice feature on his website is “This week’s sky at a glance”. Here you can study objects that you can expect to see in the night sky if it is nice and clear. It gives information on easy to spot constellations, the Moon phases and contains a Planet watch. It is number 4 on my list for a reason…. Give it a visit!
Ok, I will let you in on a little secret….. this is my secret obsession! I love this website! You can get star charts, information on the Solar System and so much more. It looks very basic, but the reason why I speak so highly of Heavens Above is because it gives up to date information on the greatest man-made structure in space, the International Space Station. All you have to do is input your location and it will tell you when the space station will appear. There can be weeks when it won’t be visible overhead, then all of a sudden you will have weeks filled full of ISS spotting. The website also gives information on the brightness of the ISS, the height and how long it will be visible for. When you see the space station from Earth it will look like a tiny bright star moving across the sky. Some people mistake it for an aeroplane and some even could believe it is a UFO! If you do nothing today please visit this site and see if the space station is visible tonight. When you spot it, just think that there are astronauts and cosmonauts looking right back down at you!
2 – www.nasa.gov
My list would be incomplete if I didn’t list the official NASA website in my Top 10. There is so much information on the site that it would take an eternity of sift through and read everything. There is information to suit amateur and professionals alike interested in all things space. My favourite parts of the site are the videos and images. NASA provides an “Image of the Day” feature which produces some amazing and wonderful images and NASA TV is also a favourite alongside their Twitter feed containing Tweets from astronauts. This is the ultimate website for space fanatics!
1 – Armagh Planetarium’s Astronotes
I have put the Astronotes Blog from the Armagh Planetarium at number 1. If you are reading this article and have a glance through the other articles on the blog you will see why it’s number 1. Our Astronotes blog has all the latest news and views from the fascinating worlds of astronomy and space exploration. The articles are written by the staff here at the Planetarium and the blog is produced and maintained by our Science Communicator Colin Johnston. Articles are categorised into 6 heading; Solar System, Our Galaxy, Universe, Space Flight, Monthly Sky Notes and Weird and Fun. We always try and produce relevant news, interesting stories and have a bit of fun at the same time. I hope you agree that it is great. We always welcome comments and love answering and queries and enjoy debate produced through our blog. So if you are reading our articles, leave us a comment!
(Article by Sinead McNicholl, education Support Officer)