Recommended Websites

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Highly recommended! Use their “search” function to get info and pictures on almost any astronomical topic.

Science news and information about the Sun/Earth environment. Check here for information about sunspots, auroras (northern lights), eclipses, meteor showers, and other things in the sky that come and go.


Daily updates on research throughout NASA in many areas, including life sciences and space commercialization. This might be the place to discover a great topic for a school paper or report.

Spaceflight Now

An excellent source for up-to-the-minute status reports on current and upcoming space missions.

Astronomy Now

This magazine from the United Kingdom gathers reports of astronomical discoveries from around the world.

Bad Astronomy

Astronomer Phil Plait’s site was originally dedicated to debunking baseless rumors such as the 2012 craze. More recently, Phil has moved to the fashionable Slate website and offers informed and opinionated articles on the wonders of astronomy and space exploration.

Space Flight

NASA home page

The home page of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the gateway to millions of pages with everything from planet pictures to the NASA budget.

NASA missions to Mars

This site, maintained by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, serves as a jumping-off point to information about U.S. space missions to Mars (past, present, and future) and to Mars facts and maps.

European Space Agency

ESA manages many important space missions, including the Mars Express/Beagle 2 mission, a major part of the Hubble Space Telescope research program, and the Huygens probe to Saturn’s moon: Titan.

Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan

Home page for the joint NASA/European Space Agency mission to Saturn and its moon: Titan.

Hubble Space Telescope

Get pictures and information from the most famous telescope operating today!

Chandra X-Ray Observatory

X-rays come from bizarre cosmic objects such as active galaxies and black holes, and Chandra is observing them. The Field Guide and Education links on this site are particularly good.

New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt

This space probe will reach the object formerly known as the ninth planet in 2015.

MESSENGER mission to Mercury

Follow the first space probe to visit the planet Mercury since the 1970s.

NASA Human Space Flight

Information on the progress of the Shuttle program, letters from astronauts aboard the Space Station, pictures of present and past missions, and astronaut assignments for future missions.

Sky Watching and Amateur Astronomy

Rochester’s Leading Astronomy Club

The Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science is a friendly group whose volunteers operate the Planetarium telescope. They welcome beginners at public star parties and other events through the year.

If you hear about a meteor, sunspot, solar storm, eclipse, or any other short-lived celestial phenomenon, check here for information and pictures.

Espenak’s Eclipse Page

When is the next eclipse and where will I have to go to see it? Check here for the answer. NASA expert Dr. Fred Espenak maintains detailed information on solar and lunar eclipses — past, present, and future.

Sunrise, sunset, seasons, solstices, equinoxes, time, calendars, etc.

The U.S. Naval Observatory is the authoritative source for celestial calculations. Their Astronomical Applications Department makes all this information available to you, customized for your location and date.

How to see the International Space Station and other satellites

When will the International Space Station or any other large satellite be visible in Rochester’s sky? This German commercial site tells you when and where to look and can even create sky maps.

Meteorites and how to identify them

Found a strange rock? Think it’s a meteorite? Professor Korotev in the Washington University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is here to tell you it almost certainly is not (but you can always hope)! Many pictures of meteorites and “meteowrongs.”

Rainbows, haloes, glories and other atmospheric phenomena

Have you seen strange and beautiful shapes or colors in the sky, especially near the sun, moon, or bright stars or planets? This site offers pictures and explanations of all kinds of sky effects related to clouds and atmospheric conditions.

Planet Earth

NASA Earth Observatory

A rich treasure of images, maps, and articles based on data from Earth-observing satellites such as Terra and Aqua. Explore topics such as atmosphere, heat, land, life, oceans, snow and ice, and human presence.

The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

Millions of photographs of Earth taken by astronauts from the Mercury missions of the 1960s to the present. You can search by place name, by clicking on a map, by mission, or by NASA photo number if you happen to have it. You can also request high-resolution versions of most of the recent pictures by clicking a button and waiting a few minutes.

NASA’s Global Climate Change site

This site is loaded with data and details, as is appropriate for the complex topic of climate change. Headings include evidence, causes, effects, key indicators, and uncertainties.

Our Solar System

The Nine Planets

An overview of the history, mythology, and current scientific knowledge of each of the planets and moons in our solar system. Each page has text and images, some have sounds and movies, and most provide references to additional related information. Especially helpful if you want to get to a specific fact quickly.

NASA Solar System Exploration Home Page

Different from The Nine Planets (listed above), emphasizing how we learn about our solar system using telescopes and space probes. This site also includes information pages on the planets, major moons, and small objects, in a different style.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory

Pictures of the sun, taken from space, updated several times a day. Follow the progress of sunspots and solar storms as they happen!

NASA Near-Earth Object Program

Check here for reliable information on space objects that come near Earth.

The Planetary Society

The Planetary Society is an advocacy organization that campaigns for solar system exploration missions, but their website also includes a fine selection of news items, pictures, and informative articles.

Other Solar Systems

Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia

California & Carnegie Planet Search

Both of these sites document the search for planets orbiting stars other than our sun. Much of the information is meant for professional researchers and those who want to analyze statistics, but you can find introductory information if you explore a bit.


Dr. Jim Kaler's Stars Page

If you’re interested specifically in stars (as distinguished from galaxies, planets, meteors, etc.), this site is loaded with useful information. Dr. Kaler, a leading expert on the subject who maintains the site, spoke in the RMSC Distinguished Scholars Lecture Series in 1995.

Big Bang, Cosmology, Etc.

NASA Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe

By measuring the heat left over from the “Big Bang,” the WMAP satellite is providing epoch-making information about the very early universe. From the home page, click on “Universe” to get “Cosmology 101,” an excellent overview of the Big Bang picture and the evidence for it.

Ned Wright’s Cosmology Tutorial

Maintained by a UCLA astronomer, this site uses science and math at about high-school level. The “News of the Universe” and “Frequently Asked Questions” sections are especially good.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory

NOAO includes observatories at Kitt Peak, Arizona; Sacramento Peak, New Mexico; and Cerro Tololo, Chile. The image gallery pages are especially easy to use.

European Southern Observatory

Here you’ll find stunningly beautiful photographs of the southern sky, taken by the giant telescopes at this observatory in Chile.

W. M. Keck Observatory, Hawaii

With main mirrors 10 meters across, the twin Keck telescopes hold the current record for largest in the world.

U.S. Naval Observatory

Here’s just about everything you’ll ever want to know about time, seasons, dates of solstices and equinoxes, sunrise and sunset times, phases of the moon, and much more, from the authoritative source.


Do you want to work for NASA?

Check out the NASA Jobs page.

Do you want to be an astronomer?

The American Astronomical Society is the leading organization of professional astronomers. The AAS site includes a jobs page that gives a glimpse of careers in astronomical research.

Do you want to work in a planetarium?

The International Planetarium Society, a volunteer-run association, provides web links to planetariums around the world, and even has a jobs page.

Are you interested in museums and science centers?

The Association of Science-Technology Centers website has job listings plus inside information on how science centers are organized and operated.

Do you need official statistics on employment for your report?

Go to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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