Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Few Skywatching Resources

As far as club members go, I'm fairly new to stargazing.  I took astronomy in college, remained interested in the sky above me, and perked up when something special was happening, but I didn't start taking it seriously until a couple of years ago.  My growing interest in photography led me to pointing my camera at the sky, which made me want to know more about what was out there.  This is by no means a complete list, but I wanted to share some of the resources that I use to know what's going on in the sky above me.

I remember how cool it was that you could see the International Space Station fly over.  I would watch whenever I could, even taking a few photographs.  While that's probably the brightest man made object in the sky, it's by no means the only one you can see with the naked eye.  There are many other satellites flying over at every hour of the day and night.

One of the most comprehensive sites for this kind of information is heavens-above.com.  As well as satellite passes, it has positions of most of the celestial objects, including asteroids and comets.  For a site focused on comets, try Comet Chasing.

There are also many general interest astronomy sites that I read on a regular basis.  Some are associated with magazines, and some are not.  The articles they publish range from news about various space programs to unique skywatching opportunities.  Each are good resources for general news, as well as weekly or monthly guides to the night sky.  They are:

One of the authors of many of these articles is Bob King, who has his own blog called AstroBob.

Lastly, I want to mention Phil Plait.  He has a column at Slate.com called Bad Astronomy, but he also has a series of short videos called "Crash Course Astronomy".  He has covered the basics and is working his way through the planets as we speak.

Everyone has their go-to sites, and this is by no means a complete list of resources, but I wanted to share where I get my information from on a regular basis.  Enjoy!