It’s said that every second child harbors dreams of becoming an astronaut and flying into space. Maybe one day we can take that dream for granted. Donning a space suit still requires one to be among the elite. What we can take for granted today is to look up at the heavens and stoke our curiosity with the many educational and knowledge tools we have available. The wonders of space are gradually being pieced together, and for space and astronomy buffs there’s no dearth of information. Hobby telescopes don’t quite cut it anymore.
Today, you can easily become an armchair astronomer thanks to apps like Google Sky and Google Mars. Thanks to NASA, interactive online applications will give you the feel of space in your browser. Then there’s lots of great informative content to keep space buffs in the know. But if more is still less, check out these six astronomy websites that can take you on a journey through space.
The site features a high resolution sky map with celestial objects that are outside our solar system mapped out. The sky map interactive chart is useful for both amateur and professional astronomers. There are options you can pick to view the skies. You can also use the chart to browse all space and astronomy related news via the News@Sky section. Sky-Map is still an ongoing project.
Gigagalaxy Zoom shows the full sky as it appears to the unaided eye. The second zoom view is of one that appears with a hobby telescope. The final zoom level reveals the details of an iconic nebula. The idea behind the project is to serve as an aid for the untrained observer when he (or she) looks up at the night sky without the help of a telescope. The ultra-high resolution zoom levels can be used as a visual aid.
If you have some basic knowledge of galaxies and how they are classified, this worldwide project could do with your help. It’s all about directing the power of Internet users to work through sixty million galaxies and help classify the galaxies according to specific patterns like shapes of spirals and color. The space images have come from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This is the second installment of the volunteer project. A sister project is Moon Zoo.
This is a browser-based simulated planetarium that allows you to observe stars, constellations, and planets by specific location. The interactive website is Flash based and the most surprising thing about it is that it’s the handiwork of one man who loves designing interactive tools. (As an aside, check out his other cool tools too).
Last year it was the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing. The site was set up to commemorate that historic event. But you can still take a peek into the past on this interactive website. The mission is recreated in precise detail right from pre-launch with actual voiceovers. You can change the views and also click on hotspots to view related media galleries. The site is divided into 11 sections where you can watch photos, videos, and other archival content. The site is an effort of the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Check out a similar celebratory website here which is about the 50th anniversary of NASA which fell in 2008.
Landing on Mars is an inevitability. This website simulates a tour through the Martian landscape and a human colonized habitat. The walkthrough is a lesson in the science, technology, and design challenges that will be required to land man on the Red Planet.
These six astronomy websites work not only because they are cool, but because they combine precise facts with imagery which helps us to understand the vastness of space. If you are looking for a few more tools, the World Wide Telescope and Celestia are a couple of the better ones.
Do you have any interactive space based websites worth a deeper look? Do let us know.