6 Funky Astronomy Sites to See How Cool Space and the Universe Are
World Space Week begins on October 4 to celebrate the glory of the world beyond Earth and the contributions of humanity. The official theme for 2022 is Space and Sustainability, and it’s an important topic. But you know what’s more exciting? Looking at how cool the space is. And these sites are there to show you the splendours of our universe in all its glory.
Astronomy is inherently intriguing to humans. For centuries we have gazed up at the sky and slowly peeled back the layers of the greater cosmos beyond. It’s fascinating, it’s mysterious and it’s downright fun. From space exploration in a tab to taking on a giant telescope in Mexico through your browser, these websites emphasize the fun elements of space while teaching you a thing or two. .
1. Who’s in Space (Web): Astronauts (and Other Things) Currently in Space
Did you know that at least a few humans are not on Earth at any given time? The International Space Station has a crew of astronauts and scientists who do remarkable things while floating in space in orbit around the planet. Who Is In Space (WISS) is the story of these explorers and what they do.
Directed by Destin Sendlin of Smarter Every Day, one of the best educational YouTube channels, WISS shows a portrait of each individual in space right now, as well as the total time they have been in so far and the mission who started it. And then there are other fun parts, like the total number of toilets in space right now or active robots exploring space beyond what humans can do.
WISS also collects interesting space stats, like which astronaut has spent the most total time in space or how many humans have escaped Earth’s surly bonds. Sendlin is a space nerd, and the site also links to some of his videos about the importance of space exploration and the cool explorers who get up there.
2. Space in Browser (Web): Explore the space through a desktop browser
Space In Browser is a unique way to explore the afterlife through the Internet. It doesn’t look good on phones, so make sure you’re using a computer with a modern browser. The site is still fairly new, and the developer promises several additions, but it’s a promising start that’s already worth checking out.
For the most part, you can explore the earth, things in low earth orbit, the moon, and Mars. Click on any of these objects to highlight them. You can rotate them to see various aspects of their appearance while getting additional information about them in the sidebar.
For example, with the moon, you will find information on all Apollo missions undertaken by NASA. Click on a mission and its landing site will be marked on the moon. And you can even listen to John F. Kennedy’s speech launching the Apollo program. All together, it’s a cool and fascinating look at space and humanity’s relationship with it.
3. NASA’s Eyes (Web): NASA’s Best Space Visualizations for the Ordinary Man
Eyes is one of NASA’s coolest places to explore space. Using real data from satellite and telescope images, as well as graphics rendered by NASA’s Science Visualization Studio, Eyes gives a never-before-seen look at the universe, all from your browser.
The main building blocks are the solar system, the asteroids around the Earth, the exoplanets and the Earth itself. In each, you’ll get a 3D interactive experience, where you can zoom, pan, rotate, and click on objects to learn more about them. The visualization of the solar system is the most detailed, but the others are not left out. It’s 3D Google Maps of the universe, in a nutshell.
If you install the NASA Eyes app, you’ll unlock a few other features besides what you see in a browser. Eyes offers guided tours of things like the Voyager mission or our solar system’s eclipses, explaining everything in simple terms for the common man to understand.
4. iTelescope (Web): Remotely control high-end telescopes to view space
Not everyone has a telescope at home, let alone the type of professional telescopes needed for observing distant galaxies or for astrophotography. But the Internet will give you free access.
Register on iTelescope and all members will have access to a telescope in the United States and another in Australia. Paid members can access more telescopes. You can set when and where to point the telescope, as well as click on a photo.
It’s a bit confusing if you’re a newcomer, with lots of technical terms thrown at you, but iTelescope has detailed guides to walk you through the steps. You can also view other members’ setups to see where they’re pointing their telescopes, which is a great way to learn more.
5. See a satellite tonight (Web): simple and free application to see the satellites pass above you
No telescopes or equipment, just your naked eye watching the satellites whizzing by in the night sky. It sounds hard to believe, but it’s easier than you think. See A Satellite Tonight (SAST) will tell you when and where to look.
Simply grant the app access to your location, and within minutes it will give you a list of satellites that will pass overhead and be visible without tools. SAST adds illustrations of how the satellite looks from the ground (and its path through space), so you know exactly what to look for. It’s so easy, it’s no wonder SAST is one of the most amazing sites for space and astronomy fans.
6. The Size of Space (Web): Interactive Visualization of the Scale of the Universe
You know the universe is really, really, really big, but our brains can’t visualize exactly how big it is. The Size of Space is a fun and interactive website to try to show the true scale of the known and observable universe.
You start with an astronaut, then scroll right to other objects that are in space. And you keep scrolling through asteroids, satellites, planets, stars, galaxies, and clusters to see how big everything is (and how insignificant we are). It’s a cool way to get perspective, but also fun to see how there can be moons bigger than planets or how small the sun is compared to other known stars.
Try DIY space projects!
If you still haven’t had enough space with all these different and cool websites, then here’s the funniest thing you can try: do something for space yourself! No, you don’t need a rocket or NASA-level funds. There are several DIY space projects you can build yourself to get a personal touch with the great beyond.