Astronomy Links

Looking for more information on quasars, red shifts, black holes, gamma bursts, quarks, comets, or dark matter? Interested in seeing how the New Horizons mission to Pluto is faring? Want to find an image of a supernova or a binary star system?

Then check out these websites:

Useful Tools
Solar System

Terrestrial Planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

Jovian Planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

Other Solar System Stuff: Pluto, KBOs, Asteroids, Earth’s Moon

Images of the Sky

The Sun

Stellar Evolution, Galaxies, and Cosmology


Useful Tools
Perhaps the best single site for general astronomical information.
Predictions of when the Belk Observatory will have good weather conditions for astronomical seeing over the next two days. Click on the “Topo Map” link on this page to see the exact location of the observatory!
Pronunciation guide for bright stars and constellations.
Pronunciation guide for planets and satellites.
An atlas of the universe: this will quickly put you in your proper place!
A wonderfully detailed sky map. It lets you not only see cool images of objects, but learn where they can be found in the sky as well. Great resource!


Solar System
A great source of general information about the solar system (and yes, they know there are only eight planets).
More detailed information about the solar system.
Forty years of NASA images of the planets–including Earth!
(From the home page): The history of Soviet planetary and lunar probes has been neglected in the West, and the pictures returned from these missions are difficult to find. This catalog brings together most of the available images from the moon, Mars, and Venus.
The Astronomy Workshop: lots of good stuff, focusing on the solar system.
A wealth of information about past and future eclipses–both solar and lunar.
The Planetary Society: if you want to join a club, this is the one to join. Even if you don’t, the site is full of great information.


Terrestrial Planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars
Messenger mission to Mercury: spacecraft launched in August 2004; will not arrive in orbit at Mercury until 2011.
Magellan mission to Venus: this orbiter mapped the surface of Venus in the early 1990s by using cloud-penetrating radar.
Venus Express: a European Space Agency mission designed primarily to study Venus’s atmosphere in detail. Achieved desired orbit around Venus in May 2006.

Where, when and how to see satellites (or the International Space Station) passing over your location.
Mars Global Surveyor: even though contact with the spacecraft has been lost, it provided some of the most detailed pictures of Mars ever taken from orbit.
How can you not love the Mars rovers? They put the Energizer Bunny to shame!
Mars Express: the European Space Agency’s orbiter–excellent pictures and science.
An even more powerful imaging system than the Mars Global Surveyor; arrived at Mars in March 2006.
The Phoenix lander found water ice just below the surface of Mars in the spring of 2008.
Find information about all the U.S. Mars missions–past, present, and future.


Jovian Planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune
The two Voyager spacecraft opened up the Jovian planets to us starting 30 years ago.
The Galileo mission to Jupiter orbited the planet from 1995 to 2003. The best pictures ever of Jupiter and its moons are here.
The Cassini spacecraft went into orbit around Saturn in July 2004, and continues to add new information weekly.


Other Solar System Stuff: Pluto, KBOs, Asteroids, Earth’s Moon
The New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt launched in January 2006 and flew by Jupiter in February 2007. Pluto in July 2015!
Michael Brown is well-known for his work in discovering many Kuiper Belt Objects, some of which are apparently larger than Pluto. His home page has several links to his thoughts about how we should define the word “planet”.
Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) are icy objects in the outer solar system. Pluto is the first discovered and the best known, but it is no longer the largest.
Interactive map of the near side (detailed) and far side (less detailed) of the Earth’s moon.
Near Earth Objects (NEOs) asteroids: this has a wealth of information, including Java applets that let you view asteroid orbits in three dimensions.


Images of the Sky
Astronomy Picture of the Day is one of the most popular sites on the web. It’s not hard to see why.
The Hubble Space Telescope is perhaps the most productive scientific instrument of all time. Most of the images are in the visible light region, or close to it.
The World At Night is a project to assemble photographs of the world’s most beautiful and historic sites, set against backdrops of stars, planets, and celestial events. The title of the article in Sky & Telescope Magazine describing the site says it quite well: Earth and Sky United.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory Image Gallery: images galore of galaxies, nebulae, etc.
One hundred thirteen nearby galaxies are shown here, and you can see how color images are constructed from images taken through different filters.
Two Micron All-Sky Survey: these are ground-based infrared pictures of almost the entire sky. Lots and lots of images of regions obscured in visible light.
Chandra X-Ray Observatory: X-rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, so the only way to see them is from a space-based observatory. The objects visible in X-ray wavelengths are very hot.


The Sun
Sun-Earth Viewer: VERY cool real-time images of the Sun (in several wavelengths) and of the Earth’s aurorae. Cool movies, too!
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory has a treasure trove of pictures of the Sun.
More solar images (from the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer spacecraft); these are mostly in the X-ray region.


Stellar Evolution, Galaxies, and Cosmology
Hubble Ultra Deep Field Viewer: A “deep” image in astronomy is one where we can see the very dimmest objects. This is a mosaic of 800 Hubble images, with an effective exposure time of 11 1/2 days. The area of sky this covers looks blank and empty without these long exposures. Why are the galaxies so dim? Mostly because they are so distant, which means their light comes from the very earliest eras of the universe’s history.
All about galaxies. Great source of information!
The CfA (Center for Astrophysics) survey of how the galaxies are distributed in space was one of the first. Lots of maps here, along with clear explanations of what this all means.
NASA site on cosmology: another excellent source of information.
Cosmology tutorial: excellent stuff from a UCLA professor.