<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/astrositesheader.jpg” />From an early age, I had an interest in astronomy and the night sky. My dad would take me out on a clear, crisp night and we would look up at the sky through his telescope. One of my favorite magazines was Sky and Telescope, mainly because they published beautiful full color photos of nebulas, galaxies and more.
With the advent of the internet, many of these photos are now available with a quick search. I wanted to share a few sites I use to get my astronomy fix now and again.
Astronomy Picture of the Day, or APOD as it is widely known, was launched in 1995 and is one of the earliest Astronomy websites on the world wide web. It is curated by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell who are both professional astronomers. Don’t be put off with the 20th century Times New Roman font. The images vary widely, and are always annotated with useful information which helps you learn about the image displayed for that day. The entire archive is available online, and many images make great backgrounds. This is probably my favorite astronomy site.
This site was created by the Hubble Space Telescope’s office of public outreach. Photos are in the public domain and this collection shows off many Hubble photographs and latest discoveries. It is an excellent location for a variety of space photos.
Nasa Images brings this idea of public education to the broader NASA images catalog. This is an excellent website which allows you to sort through photos by category. In addition to astrophotography, it also has images of spacecraft, astronauts and other NASA related media.
The Hubble Heritage project, who on first glance are similar to the Hubblesite photos, are actually quite different. Hubble Heritage takes information from a multitude of sources – photographs, spectrograph readings, x-ray and infrared sources – and compiles it into a photo which is more aesthetically pleasing than what you could see with your naked eye. They employ both professional astronomers and laypersons to compile the photographs and the result are beautiful renditions of the objects of our skies.
WikiSky is an interesting site along the veins of Wikipedia. It allows you to upload your own photographs yet also has a full collection of DSS (Deep Sky Survey) photos. It also works very well as a jumping off point to other websites that have astrophotography on them.
NASA Image of the Day focuses on different NASA projects. Not specifically an astrophotography site, this site publishes photos of interest to any space enthusiast. It’s worth checking out.
Finally but certainly not least, Flickr has some great sets of astrophotography and is probably the best non-NASA website for finding them. Other sites exist but typically feature a single amateur astronomer’s photos. Flickr has some great searches (such as the one linked above) and also groups (linked below) which have spectacular photos. The rights on the photos vary but typically they are free for personal use and some can be downloaded in their original resolution.
Do you have any sites you would recommend to download astrophotography pictures?