General Astronomy News This has been my primary source for the past year for finding "news" items to present to the class.  The site has a nice mix of scientific content and amateur contributions.  The entries in this blog are all done by professionals. News and reports on solar and near-Earth happenings. 

Videos and Presentations

Asteroid discoverys 1980-2011 Video:

Amateur Astronomer Resources For the amateur astronomer, this is a must-use site, in my opinion.  The community of CloudyNights members is amazingly helpful, and the moderators are quite good at keeping on top of enforcement of rules of good on-line behavior.  Beginners are enthusiatically welcomed to the site, and answers to even the most basic questions are given promptly. Sky and Telescope is probably the best magazine for amateur astronomers.  After registering at the site for free, you can get access to a variety of observing tools, including interactive applets which show the current positions of Jupiter's moons. For observing with just your eyes, or binoculars, or a small telescope, this site provides a simple printable monthly star chart - for free - which details objects of interest that can be seen without advanced equipment.


(All of these are free packages, and I've personally downloaded and run them, so I can vouch for their safety).

Celestia is a graphics simulation package that allows realistic views of objects both inside and outside our solar system.  I think its best use is for solar system objects, to get a sense of the vast distance between the planets relative to their size.  If you stick with the pre-written scripts that take you through "tours" of the solar system, it is a very useful tool for education.  I found it quite difficult to use once you start trying to manipulate it on your own - the user interface I found very confusing.

Orbiter is a spacecraft simulator.  Want to learn how to fly the Space Shuttle?  Want to understand how complex the problem of docking with the International Space Station can be?  This system will definitely help you understand the basics of spaceflight from a non-science fiction perspective.  I enjoyed playing with this, though I really didn't have the time that was needed to master it. You will want to read the users manual before you get too far using this!

Cartes du Ciel is a tool for serious amateur observing, though it can be used for just simple naked eye observing as well.  It is my primary tool for planning observations, as well as analyzing photos that I've taken, or visual observations I've made.  There are two versions to choose between.  Version 3 is "prettier" than Version 2, but I find Version 2 to run a bit faster and provides better control over the features I use most frequently. Version 3 :  Version 2:  The documentation is pretty good, though the fact that English is a second language for the authors is fairly apparent.

Virtual Moon Atlas is written by the Cartes du Ciel folks.  This is a great resource for exploring the Moon.  I've had some issues running VMA on my older PC due to memory and video limitations, but on machines younger than ~3 years, this should run just fine.


SOHO observatory site (Solar flares, coronal mass ejections, sun-grazing comets):

Casini Mission (orbiting Saturn):

Galileo Mission (ended in 2003, orbiting Jupiter):


Last modified: Sunday, 5 February 2012, 11:16 AM