There is something truly magical about the night sky. Whether you’re a spiritual being that believes in star signs and the impact of the moon, a science enthusiast that longs to know more about the world above our heads, or just somebody that appreciates natural beauty, astronomy is a great way to connect with the wider world.
Despite this, astronomy can be an intimidating subject to learn about. There’s a lot of science behind it, for a start; this can leave a novice feeling as though they are reading a foreign language. In addition, there is no shortage of tech and equipment vying for your dollar. How much of this is actually essential, and how much is simply designed to part enthusiasts from their hard-earned money?
This guide will discuss all you need to know about astronomy, and how you can watch the skies from the comfort of your own backyard. By following our advice, and that of the sources we direct you toward, you’ll be eligible for NASA in no time at all.
Everybody needs to walk before they can run. Don’t try to leap straight into astronomy without first learning the basics; you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. Instead, take a little time to learn the lingo and build the foundations of your understanding.
- The Physics department of the University of Toronto offers ten great basic astronomy facts to get anybody started. Britain’s Manchester University, home to the Jodrell Bank Observatory, takes the introductions one step further with a free PDF.
- The Khan Academy is a great resource for all things pertaining to astrology, helping you understand the many and varied components of the night sky.
- ThoughtCo provides an article simply entitled Astronomy 101, which will furnish you with all the basic information you may need.
- Amazing Space is a great place for younger astronomers to visit, offering classroom-friendly information and data.
- Sky at Night Magazine provides ten basic lessons for learning astronomy.
- To expand your education, why not visit a Planetarium? The International Planetarium Society boasts a full database of such attractions.
- In the Sky will give you an idea of exactly what you’re likely to see from your location, using tailored information entered into the site.
- EarthSky is a constantly updated resource, providing real-time updates on what planets and stars are brightest ‘ and the best locations throughout the United States to observe the night sky.
- Of course, we cannot ignore such basic but critical information sources as NASA and Space.com. If either of these sites do not contain data, it isn’t worth knowing.
Astronomy Equipment and Applications
Once you have a very basic understand of astrology, you can start to think about investing in the appropriate equipment.
- The Planets provides a breakdown of the best telescopes, ensuring that you’ll find something that suits every budget and experience level.
- Astro Backyard details information on cameras, for anybody keen on taking snapshots of a particularly beautiful night sky. A smartphone camera will struggle to capture the majesty!
- If you’re a little more experienced, Cornell University provides recommendations on equipment for a more advanced stargazer.
- We Love Weather provides recommendations for smartphone and tablet apps that will enhance your astronomical experience.
Learning More About the Moon, Stars and Planets
Depending on geographic location, how clear the night sky may be and what equipment is in use, astrologists can identify all kinds of fascinating sights. Of course, learning the history behind what you’re looking at means that you’ll enjoy the experience a lot more.
- Nine Planets is an essential bookmark, packed with information about the moon and all the planets in our solar system.
- My Moon is the online home of the Museum of the Moon, a touring exhibit from a British astronomer.
- National Geographic dedicates a detailed section of their website to the stars in the night sky. The Natural Navigator expands on how you can use the stars to aid your sense of direction.
- Star Date is a great source of education on star constellations, and how you can find them using a telescope. The University of Wisconsin-Madisonalso provides more information on constellations.
- Sciencing provides data and information on all the planets that share our solar system.
- If you prefer to do your background reading on the printed page, check out Futurism‘s guide to the best books on backyard stargazing.
If watching the night sky has left you hankering to explore the stars for yourself, you’ll have to wait a while. Unless you’re a particularly well-connected millionaire, travel through space isn’t yet an option.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot prepare yourself, though. There is a range of sources online that discuss the exploration and discovery of space.
- SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, shows video footage of space exploration, in addition to providing regular updates.
- Phys.org provides a range of updates, explanations and the history of human investigation of space.
- The Planetary Society regularly update on space missions and exploration, constantly refreshing their site to prove up-to-the-moment data.
- The Council on Foreign Relations discusses where the United States stand in the current ‘space race’, explaining what other nations to doing to stake their claim for an astonishing discovery.
It may have been fifty years since Neil Armstrong famously took, ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ after landing on the moon, but our fascination shows no sign of calming down. With these resources, you can remain in the loop, and ahead of the curve of the next huge development.
Summary of Useful Links
Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information found within this guide? Don’t worry ‘ we have collated all the links discussed into one handy summary below.
- Amazing Space ‘ www.amazing-space.stsci.edu
- Astro Backyard ‘ www.astrobackyard.com
- Cornell University ‘ www.curious.astro.cornell.edu
- Council on Foreign Relations ‘ www.cfr.org
- EarthSky ‘ www.earthsky.org
- Futurism ‘ www.futurism.media
- International Planetarium Society ‘ www.ips-planetarium.org
- In the Sky ‘ www.in-the-sky.org
- Khan Academy ‘ www.khanacademy.org
- Manchester University ‘ www.jb.man.ac.uk
- My Moon ‘ www.my-moon.org
- NASA ‘ www.nasa.gov
- National Geographic ‘ www.nationalgeographic.com
- The Natural Navigator ‘ www.naturalnavigator.com
- Nine Planets ‘ www.nineplanets.org
- Phys.org ‘ www.phys.org
- The Planetary Society ‘ www.planetary.org
- The Planets ‘ www.theplanets.org
- Sciencing ‘ www.sciencing.com
- Sky at Night ‘ www.skyatnightmagazine.com
- Space.com ‘ www.space.com
- SpaceX ‘ www.spacex.com
- Star Date ‘ www.stardate.org
- ThoughCo ‘ www.thoughtco.com/astronomy-101-3071080
- University of Toronto ‘ www.physics.utoronto.ca
- University of Wisconsin-Madison ‘ www.astro.wisc.edu
- We Love Weather ‘ www.weloveweather.tv