“Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery” Site Support Notebook

Important Websites

Includes websites from the Space Telescope Science Institute, websites that allow you to look at the universe through your computer, websites about careers in astronomy, websites for students about astronomy, and websites related to television broadcasts.

1. NASA web portal for International Year of Astronomy, external link

2. “Amazing Space”
The Space Telescope Science Institute’s “Amazing Space” website uses the Hubble Space Telescope’s discoveries to inspire and educate about the wonders of our universe. Within the website are the following important activity/resource areas:

A. “For Educators and Developers” ( external link ) contains teaching tools and astronomy basics for educators and program developers.

B. “For Everyone” ( external link ) contains a number of activity areas: external link
A monthly guide to the night sky. external link
“Capture the Cosmos” contains aconline adventures, downloadable pictures, games, Q and As, and other activities on topics such as the Hubble Space Telescope, black holes, the solar system, comets and asteroids, galaxies, stars, and the history of science. external link
This section contains a number of “online explorations” with interactive activities, teaching tips, homework help, and other resources on topics such as comets, galaxies, stars, black holes. Of particular interest to the International Year of Astronomy and “Visions of the Universe” are: external link
This area, “Telescopes from the Ground Up,” explores the history of telescopes, from Galileo to NASA’s great observatories. Includes online interactive activities covering all eras of the telescope, scientific background, teaching tips, diagrams, and images. external link
“Solar System Trading Cards” asks questions about astronomical images and awards trading cards to those who select the right answers. external link
“Galaxy Hunter: A Cosmic Photo Safari” explores galaxies found by the Hubble Space Telescope.

3. “Hubblesite,” ( external link )
Everything you need to know about the Hubble Space Telescope in a colorful, comprehensive and interactive website for all ages. The following areas are of particular interest: external link DO NOT MISS
Breathtaking images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, with a movie theatre, astronomy printshop, tours of the Hubble images, photos of the telescope itself, computer wallpaper, and other features. external link
Examines the science behind the beautiful images and what major discoveries have been made through the Hubble Space Telescope; includes and interactive exhibit and other image tours.

4. International Year of Astronomy Discovery Guides, external link
A discovery guide for every month featuring a theme for the month, a hands-on activity to explore the theme, and a featured celestial object and how to find it in the sky.

5. Take photos of celestial objects, external link
The MicroObservatory, created by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, is a network of robotic telescopes that users can control over the Internet to take their own images of celestial objects, free of charge. The site contains a special section for the International Year of Astronomy that allows users to take images of the objects Galileo saw, and describes what Galileo observed and what we know now.

Websites That Turn Your Computer into a Planetarium

  • World Wide Telescope, external link
    WorldWide Telescope (WWT) from Microsoft Research enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world. Experience narrated guided tours from astronomers and educators featuring interesting places in the sky. Can be used only with Windows.

  • Google Earth, external link
    You can now soar throughout the night sky using Google Earth, zooming in on astronomical objects at their precise location in the heavens. The Space Telescope Science Institute has developed a video with instructions for using Google Earth to view images from the Hubble Space Telescope at

  • Celestia, external link
    A free space simulation that lets you explore the universe in three dimensions. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

  • Stellarium, external link
    Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

Careers in Astronomy

General Astronomy Websites

  • Astronomy Magazine, external link
    Very nice interactive website with lots of informative features for all ages. Subscribers to the magazine have access to premium web features.

  • The Astronomy Café, external link
    Termed “a website for the astronomically disadvantaged,” this site was created in 1995 by NASA Astronomer Dr. Sten Odenwald. Includes an “Ask the Astronomer” section with more than 2,000 questioned answered.

  • NASA Astronomy Club Partner Program—“The Space Place,” external link
    Astronomy Clubs throughout the United States and beyond are invited to partner with The Space Place to bring news of specific NASA projects to their members and to help spread the excitement of space and Earth science, as well as the technology that advances the science.

  • NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program, external link
    The Solar System Ambassadors Program is a public outreach program designed to work with motivated volunteers across the nation. These volunteers communicate the excitement of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities.

  • Night Sky Newwork, external link
    Helps astronomy clubs bring the wonders of the universe to the public. Much information about International Year of Astronomy activities.

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Education Gateway for Amateur Astronomers, external link
    Features monthy video podcasts and monthly updates about

  • The Discovery Channel Space Website, external link
    Videos, news, quizzes, lists, and links to other websites.

  • Planetariums, external link
    Links to the websites of planetariums around the world.

Websites Related to Television Presentations

Other Websites for Teachers and Students about Astronomy

  • external link
    The Universe in the Classroom is an electronic educational newsletter available free for teachers and other educators who want to help students of all ages learn more about the wonders of the universe through astronomy. Available in English, Spanish and French.

  • external link
    This website for educators lists coast to coast NASA-related astronomy activities suitable for children on a variety of topics. Organized from K through higher education and informal education. Includes activities specifically for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

  • external link
    NASA Learning Center for Young Astronomers. Contains lesson plans for teachers in the Teacher’s Center: external link

  • external link
    Astronomy for children, students, and kids of all ages., part of the KidsKnowIt Network, is the free astronomy resource designed to teach children about the exciting world of outer space.

  • external link
    Ask an Astronomer for kids.

  • external link
    “In the Footsteps of Galileo: Observing the Moons of Jupiter” is a Powerpoint slide show describing an astronomy activity for the International Year of Astronomy. Any group can do this activity together. This write-up offers choices for flexible presentation to a variety of groups. Teachers and group leaders without astronomy knowledge can successfully follow them. The rest of the material is background material and ideas for extending the activity and adapting it for different groups. The activity has been done successfully with mixed age groups and groups grade three through adult. These are some of the groups who should try this activity: school classes, after-school groups, families, home-school groups, scouting groups, and any other group that wants an authentic science learning experience.