Astronomy Websites

We've split this area into two: entertainment and practical.

Entertainment websites allow you keep up-to-date with the latest astronomy discoveries or learn more about the night skies, while the practical sites offer valuable assistance with observing or areas of wider astronomy-related interest.

Clicking on the icons will take you to any of the sites - they're all our own picks based on the quality of their content. Delve in and enjoy! 

Entertainment

It goes without saying that one of the greatest astronomy resources around will be brought to you for free, courtesy of the agency that made Shepard and Armstrong household names, put footsteps on the moon and continues to send men and robots into space.

Containing mission updates and news, planetary and asteroid images, podcasts, a video archive and current speeches from the NASA administrator to give you insights into what's next for the US' space agency, this website is a treasure trove that I can't possibly do justice to here. Go and check it out for yourself!

 

BadAstronomy is a blog run by Dr Phil Plait on the Discover Magazine website to debunk a whole range of astronomy related misnomers and conspiracy theories. Blending astronomy with scepticism, this site reports on the latest findings in the universe while ensuring that media rumours and flights of fancy don't get a free ride. 

The real value of this site is knowing that whatever is written here has been reported by a professional astronomer who ensures everything is fact-based and fact-checked. Further archived Bad Astronomy debunking can be found here.

 

Another resource brought to you by the National Aeronautics and Space Adminsitration, APOD (or Astronomy Picture Of the the Day) says it all: 'Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer'.

The pictures comprise beautiful images submitted by amateur astronomers, professional observatory portraits and unique images from NASA's own back catalogue from decades of sending snap-happy humans and robots to each corner of the solar system. 

 

Edited by the presenter of the Astronomy Cast podcast, Universe Today has been brining us astronomy related resources since 1999.

This easy-to-navigate site delivers space-exploration and astronomy news with social media and a sceptical forum (courtesy of Bad Astronomy) to create a rather all-inclusive web presence that promotes new astronomy groups/sites and gives lucid, but in-depth, guides to almost any astronomy related topic you could think up.

 

Space Daily is a good resource for keeping up-to-date with the latest space and astronomy news. 

With an emphasis on space flight activities in the news, this site does cast the news net wider with articles relating to rocketry, physics, computer science and many other tentatively space-related subjects that give you an eclectic mix. 

 

Space, the final frontier  is a blog which excels in its field through the labours its creator takes to update the site many times a day. This means that science and astronomy news content is  always current.

The site hosts some stunning videos and imagery from NASA and elsewhere, as well as links to interactive content, astronomical societies and astronomy aids.

 

Practical

Heavens Above is a fantastic resource for finding when and where the International Space Station, an Iridium satellite, or other bright discernible objects, will orbit overhead.

Also in its armoury is a map of comet positions, spacecraft leaving the solar system (Voyagers, Pioneers and New Horizons), minor planets and asteroids so you can spare a thought for NASA's exploratory workhorses and attempt a glimpse of dwarf planets and asteroids.

 

Cometography is a really thorough guide to discovering which comets are currently visible, with convenient resources to help you locate them. But that's not all with this site. It's packed full of information on anything you could think of in relation to these celestial visitors. A very intuitive website that delivers all the information you'll need. 

Also an essential website whenever you decide to go comet chasing for yourself.

 

Whether (pardon the pun) you're interested in auroras, sunspots or solar flares, Space Weather gives you constantly updating images of the sun in various favourable light wavelengths along with the information and maps you'll need to make the best of your solar observing sessions and predict the likelihood of auroral activity.

There's also information on satellite flyovers and near-Earth asteroids, along with a submitted solar and aurora image gallery. A real trove of information, not just on solar weather but much wider astronomy interest.

 

Astronomy Wise is a complete website for the beginner and seasoned astronomer.

Packed full of information to enable you to get the best out of practical astronomy, this site crams just about everything you'd want into one site. It has it's own e-zine (Astronomy Wise), stargazing guides links to valuable resources and, as if that wasn't enough - they run their own astronomical society too - near Scarborough, UK.

 

Solar System Live gives you a simple and quick look at the layout of the planets' orbital positions as if you were looking down on it. This allows you to see when favourable oppositions are approaching. 

You can also input orbital elements for a chosen comet or asteroid and it will add that object to the diagram too.

 

The good people at the Astronomical Data Centre of Strasbourg provide us the Aladdin interactive sky chart, VizieR library of published astronomical catalogues and data tables and Simbad database of over 5 million objects outside the solar system.

Simbad is particularly useful  for amateur astronomers as it cross references star and deep sky object names - so, for example, if your Goto mount doesn't accept HIP numbers you can find its SAO number here.

 

The Progressive Astro Imaging Group, or Paig, is a refreshingly honest and blunt forum (though they prefer the moniker 'group') which aims to improve your astroimaging abilities through constructive criticism and advice from other astrophotographers. Whether you use webcams, DSLRs or CCDs, reading threads on this site will soon have you taking images good enough to be posted up on this site for some technique-boosting advice.

 

Aimed squarely at children, this easy on the brain Hubble Space Telescope-heavy resource shows images from the space-based-wonder along with its history and capabilities. But what's good for children is often a great introduction to astronomy for the not yet initiated adult too. 

A further welcome resource on this website is a very amateur-friendly 5-10 minute video, updated monthly, under the Tonight's Sky tab.

 

The British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies aims to preserve and restore the beauty of the night sky by campaigning against excessive, inefficient and irresponsible lighting that shines where it is not wanted nor needed.

As the scourge of every astronomer - and a problem that will only ever get worse - it's good to know that someone is campaigning, and you might want to get involved yourself!