AAS Links to Related Web Sites


Austin Weather Information

Observing objects beyond the Earth's atmosphere obviously depends on whether it's clear or cloudy. In many cases, though, it also depends on the general atmospheric conditions above your location. Here are some resources to help you determine how good the view is going to be tonight.


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Austin-Based Astronomy Resources

Austin is fortunate to have many dynamic organizations that support public astronomy programs. Here are some links to more information.

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AAS Members' Astronomy/Space Web Sites

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Astronomy and Space News

Here are some links to astronomy and space news sites, selected for being (hopefully!) up-to-date, well-organized, authoritative, and with very different designs and styles.

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Getting Started In Astronomy

Everyone is a novice at least once. Most of us are novices many times! But that's because we're interested in learning new things. If you're interested in learning more about amateur astronomy, check out the links below, which will take you to collections of general information that do not assume any prior knowlege about astronomy or amateur observing.

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Current Time And Position Information

What you can see in a clear sky above you depends on when you look and from what position on the Earth's surface. In most cases, you won't need precise measurements, but for those times that you do, here are some resources to help you determine what time it is and where you are. Note, the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is the official timeskeeper in the United States, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is the official determiner of positions in the United States. We've also included links to general resources for learning more about the science of precisely determining time and position.

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Observing Equipment And Techniques

An amateur astronomer's fundamental observing equipment is the eye. Naked eye observing of the sky is simple, inexpensive, and immensely rewarding. But the unaided human eye is limited in what it can see. Observing instruments such as binoculars and telescopes extend the eye's capabilities, while imposing limitations of their own. Here are some resources to help you sort through the myriad possibilities to find the right tools and techniques for the types of observing you want to do.

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Earth-Orbiting Satellites

Many of the objects orbiting our Earth are visible to observers on the ground. These objects include the International Space Station, NASA's Space Shuttle during a mission, the Hubble Space Telescope and a variety of other operational satellites, and even orbital debris, such as spent rocket boosters. Some of these objects appear as steady points of light undefined very similar to stars undefined moving in a slow arc across the sky. Other objects appear to "flash" or "flare" as they move across the sky. Very lucky observers get the rare opportunity to see the atmospheric reentry of an object undefined truly a spectacular sight! However, the (re)entry and impact of a large object could be disastrous. So some astronomers keep a close watchful eye on potentially threatening objects.

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Human Space Flight

Since Yuri Gagarin's inaugural human flight into space on 12 April 1961 aboard Vostok 1, the prospect of personally exploring our solar system and beyond has thrilled and inspired hundreds of millions of passengers on Spaceship Earth. For those who were alive on 20 July 1969, the landing of Eagle, and Neil Armstrong's first human step upon our Moon, was a tremendously emotional capstone to the excitement that had built throughout the 1960s. Sadly, general public interest has steadily waned since then, seeming to resurge only for events like the near-disaster of Apollo 13 in mid-April 1970 and the tragedy of Challenger on 28 January 1986. But human space flight has continued, and with projects like the near-future International Space Station and the farther-future human mission to Mars, we are still reaching outward.

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Earth-Orbiting Astronomical Satellites

Many very important astronomical, astrophysical, and cosmological discoveries have been made possible only by the successful development and deployment of astronomical satellites into orbit above the Earth's atmosphere, which interferes with and even prevents observations of important regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Here is a listing of various active orbital astronomy missions and links to information about past and future ones.

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Deep Space Probes

Human space flight may be thrilling, as well as necessary to accomplish some missions, but for reconnaissance and massive data gathering, space probes are indispensable. These relatively small, often quirky-looking, platforms have repaid their cost many times over with extremely valuable information about the solar system in which we live. The list below is a small sampling, representing the most recent and planned probes to major neighboring bodies.

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Our Solar System

How big is Saturn? What does Io look like? How hot does it get on Mercury? Could life exist beneath the surface of Mars? What are all these comets that had everyone in a tizzy? (See also space probes.)

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Stars, Galaxies, And More

Beyond our solar system lie glories that can be only partially glimpsed through our eyes and instruments. The size and distance and radiated power of these objects is incomprehensible on our human scale. Mystery. Awe. Wonder. So little is known. So beautiful they are.

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History Of Astronomy

Astronomy is the oldest known quantitative, empirical science. Bone artifacts dated to 36,000 B.C. -- 38 thousand years ago! -- carry markings that appear to count days between major lunar phases. From about 4500 B.C. onward, the archeological evidence of astronomical knowlege is irrefutable. The importance of astronomy to the development of agriculture, navigation, mathematics, and all other sciences, as well as religion and society in general, cannot be overstated. Quite simply, without astronomy, we would not be who we are today.

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Other Amateur Astronomy Organizations & Star Parties

There are astronomy clubs like the Austin Astronomical Society (AAS) throughout the U.S.A. and around the world. Here's a list of umbrella organizations, other Texas organizations we've found on the Web, and some star parties in our general region.

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Commercial Astronomy Products And Services

The Austin Astronomical Society (AAS) does not endorse any commercial products or services. This list of commercial sites we have found on the Web is undoubtedly incomplete. It is provided for your information only.

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Astronomy And Space Image Collections

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Astrophotography

 

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Other Good Jumping-Off Points

 
 
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Austin Astronomical Society
P.O. Box 12831, Austin, TX 78711
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Supporting members of the Astronomical League , Night Sky Network and International Dark Skies Association.

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