|My favorite astronomy links|
These links are here first for me. I hope others find them useful, but I use this page as my home page - the page my browser opens to first - and I created this list so I could quickly find what I want. They're annotated because I forget what's what. And this first mini-list of just links is here because these are the places I visit most often. But I annotated them below as well for the benefit of those who like to have some idea of where they are going to land before they leap.
For the new enthusiastIf you're just getting started, some of the links on this page may give more information than you want. Here's a collection of links especially helpful to new observers, although Iurge you to pick and choose from the others as well.
These are sites I consult when planning an observing session, or revieweing what I observed and trying to learn more.Know where you are!
For some Web activities and many astronomical ones, you should know your latitude and longitude, or at least the coordinates for a nearby city. If you don't, go here to find out. (Very useful for the most precise setting in a computer-controlled telescope.)
Know when you are!
Get the correct time right now, right to the second - also very useful in astronomy.
and know the Star Time
Go here for a Sidereal Clock. Once you start to understand astronomical coordinates - right ascension and declination - you'll appreciate how knowing the sidereal time helps you know what's up in your area on any given night.
Sunrise-sunset, Moonrise - moonset.
Sun or Moon Rise/Set table for one year for your location courtesy of the US Naval Observatory.
Moon phase calendar
Whether you're studying the moon or avoiding it's star-stealing glare, knowing the phase is a must.
This is an interactive planetarium that you adjust to your location. With it "you can produce maps . . . for any time and date, viewpoint, and observing location. If you enter the orbital elements of an asteroid or comet, Your Sky will compute its current position and plot it on the map. "
Images and essential data helpful for observing - visuals all from Digital Sky Survey, so consistent.
Messier Objects Plus
For a much more detailed look at the Messier Objects - and many other astronomical objects - visit the SEDS site and search for a particular object by name or number. (SEDS is Students for the Exploration and Development of Space)
Double Star Maps
100 maps in groups of 10 related with Telrad finder charts and basic data - relates to Astronomical League Double Star Award,
Transparency is clear, but 'seeing'?
Astronomical "seeing" - what is it? Look here for a visual demo and explanation. Then if your mind is still spinning from the technical explanation - mine is - go to this site for a simple and practical scaleyou can use to evaluate seeing on any given night.
CalSky Astronomy Calendar
I was enthuasiastic when I first saw this, but I now consider it too techy for my uses.
> Look up almost any astronomical object.
The Lunar 100
Hey - if you don't have the book - the Modern Moon - go here. Well, if you do have the book, go here. I recommend the book. In nearly half a century of amateur astronomy it was what at last awakened me to the fascination of the moon and the "Lunar 100" is an excellent observing list developed by the author. Charles Wood. Honestly - I'm not a list kinda guy - but if you like checking things off in a systematic fashion, this is a must! Very well done. Go here for the article introducing the idea.
Lunar Atlas (quick view)
This I like - very useful tool for planning. obsering or identifying what caught your eye in an observing session.
Lunar Atlases (everything)
For complete lunacy - oh well, for those who are really into this stuff and neeed to look at several image resources to find what they want, this is the starting point. (I haven;t gotten to this stage yyet - but one of these days ;-)
Jupiter's Moons (What's where, right now!)
Invaluable utility, very well done. Of course it's useful only when Jupiter is in the night sky, but then you can have a lot of fun. I like to check Jupiter, mak anote of the moon, and see if by their brightness and position I can determine which is which - then I check my observations against this site.
Saturn's Moons (What's where right now!)
Just like the Jupiter moon utility and just as useful - especially when Saturn gets into a section of the skyw ith lots of background stars easily mistaken for moons.
Minima of Algol
What gets me about Algol minima is they happen nearly every three days - so you would think observing one would be a piece of cake. Not so. Finding a minima that fits your sleep pattern and the weather - and, of course, the position of Algol in the sky, makes seeing one not nearly as common as you might think. This is a great place to start, though.
Interactive Messier Object ChartMouse over an image, wait a moment, and you'll see the identity of that object. If you want more information about it, click on the image.
Mind-expanding astronomy sites
As I've said, it's all about awe. And as Einstein has said - if you're not in awe of this stuff, you're dead - or at least sleep-walking. Sorry - but that's the way I see it too. What keeps me awake is the night sky. (For others it may be something else - there are many, many paths to awareness.) But I want to be out there with the universe raining starbeams on me. I want the real experience. Still every once in a while the virtual world turns up something really cool that captures some of the awe. Here are a few site I think are in that league put together by folks who are way out of my league.