Using the Internet Resources

Perhaps the single greatest challenge in the study of Astronomy in the 21st Century is the almost unbelievable wealth of new information that pours in from researchers around the world. It seems as if every textbook is "out of date" by the time it hits the racks of a college bookstore. New information gained from improved telescope optics at various wavelengths are changing our understanding of the Universe at a pace that seems weekly. What makes this fast-paced changing field of study somewhat manageable is the advent of computer technology and the access to information and images via the internet. At the time of this writing, I am 35,000 feet above central Wyoming en route to my final swimming championships as a coach. I will be soon landing in San Francisco and watching swimmers compete at the new pool on Stanford University's campus. It seems only fitting that I write this piece about the internet from Silicon Valley where it was first conceived.

I am hopeful that you will take the time during this session of on-line Astronomy to visit some of my suggested websites. While there are site almost too numerous for this course to contain, those that I have listed here are among the best. So ... your mission for this day is to simply look at some of these webpages and enjoy what you may find.

JPL is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the site of mission control for many of the satellites that have explored out Solar System. The JPL is located in Pasadena, CA and open to the public at anytime. I have had the privilege of meeting several directors and team members during my teaching career, and count their contribution to Astronomy among some of the greatest techn ological triumphs in history.

NASA is the site of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration. Even today, I can clearly remember the evening of July 20,1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon. We celebrated the 35th anniversary of that event this past summer (2004). I was remninded of how old I am getting, but also so thankful that I was fully aware of the significance of the event at age 13.

Nine Planets is the site of Bill Arnett's exploration of the Solar system. This site is the most comprehensive website for learning about the Sun, nine planets and their ever-increasing number of moons, as well as the comets and asteroids that occasionally grace our night skies. This on-line course uses material directly from the nine planets site simply because it is unrivaled in scope and excellence.

HST is the site of the Hubble Spae Telescope. There cannot be too many Americans who have not seen at least one fabulous photograph taken by the space-based telescope. While Sean O'Keefe at NASA is currently suggesting no further shuttle missions to keep the Hubble in top condition, the image that provides the background for this very page is igniting a debate on Capital Hill. So much enthusiasm was generated by the Hubble Ultra Deep Field that House Representatives are now asking NASA to reconsider plans to allow the Hubble telescope to "die" and look at the possibility of a robotic repair mission.

NOAO is the site of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory which is now a consortium of large optical telescopes scattered around the globe, including the Gemini scopes atop Mauna Kea, Chili, Arizona, and elsewhere.

LANL is the site within the Los Alamos National Laboratory maintained by Calvin J. Hamilton whose focus is on the solar system. Just a week ago, this entire facility was shut down when secret documents were removed from the sprawling lab and security personal were looking at reasons for this mishap. While work at LANL may be stalled occasionally, the website still is an excellent resource for students of Astronomy, and you do not need to fear a visit from the FBI or CIA for looking at the site since all information contained there is for the oublic domain. is a nifty website for the space enthusiast who wishes to see what is currently happening in the world of Astronomy. is a fantastic place to find out what is happening in the Earth's weather related to solar events. Auroral forecasts are available, as are meteor and asteroid watches.


Sky & Tel


Okay, I hope you have enjoyed these few pages, and there are many others out there but are too numerous to place in this course. It is now time to move ahead to the Tour of the Universe, or else go back to Course Introduction or the Syllabus

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