Astronomy on the internet.

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astronomy femalefocusonline april24Fear not, I'm not going to guide you through all the mass of technical scientific articles available to anyone with a computer. It's true that a huge amount of such information is available, but if that interests you, I doubt you'll be reading my humble efforts.


I think it would be fair to say that many budding astronomers searching online are either looking for information such as when will the Moon rise etc. or an explanation of something new to them. One of the most useful web sites is called 'time and date.com', it has a simple but good space section where you can find a great deal of stuff presented in a simple way. If you want to know about where the Moon or Planets are, or know about eclipses and plenty of other stuff, this is the site I'd recommend, and there are few, if any annoying pop ups and adverts.
Another tried and tested web site is 'heavens-above.com' This is terrific for information about satellites, including the international space station. It also includes much more such as a good star chart, and the positions of constellations and the planets. I use and recommend this site because it's simple and quick to use, easy to understand and you won't be bombarded with adverts.
Naturally there are a huge number of other web sites available, and the choice is yours to make, but those two will take care of all the needs of the casual observer without any hassle.
Next we come to YouTube, a vast resource where anyone and everyone seems to be an expert. Our group makes extensive use of it, but we're quite selective about what we share. As an example, if you search the site for Mars, you'll get a vast range of videos to see, many are excellent, some are plumbing the depths of stupidity. As a general rule, the more sensationalist a video title, the less you should trust it. Also if the presenter is one of those who is rambling, and wants to sound clever rather than be clever, steer clear. Another thing to beware of is that You Tube remembers what you look at, and tries to offer more of the same, so if you watch a few silly videos, you'll be offered more like them.
So, what would I recommend on YouTube? Obviously there are the main space agencies, you can trust what you hear to be correct, they won't claim Elvis is on an alien Mars base, and yes, that was once claimed.
My current best suggestion is called 'Mars in 4k'. It uses video from the Curiosity Mars rover in very high resolution, and it is as close as you'll ever get to standing on an alien planet. One last thing, my wife has one of those 3d headsets, a fantastic toy she got during lock down. If you try Mars in 4k on one of those, you really do feel like you are there, and you'll never forget the feeling.

Charles Oates, Vega Baja Astronomy Group.

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