How to access the stars from your home

In an era of news saturated with celebrities, scandals and lots of drama, take a break from it all by accessing these “real news” resources to learn about current advances in space technology that are flying under the radar, but important to know. (It’s a good way to get the kids off social media, too!)

Internationally, there have been massive steps forward in space technology and lunar missions, but unfortunately, they often don’t make the headlines. This is an important age in understanding our universe with so many issues that can and will affect us here on Earth; should we mine the moon for precious resources, should funding go toward rocket upgrades or space stations, should the use of “clean” space equipment be used by all (satellites, rovers that don’t emit greenhouse gases/use less fuel), etc. For those wanting to stay in the loop, here are a few websites and apps that will educate, entertain and just plain “wow” with news about the stars that the whole family will enjoy. 

Unleash Your Inner Astronaut with NASA

Providing you with over 15,000 images, and all the latest news within astronomy, there’s a lot to take in. You can view over 13,000 NASA videos, check out upcoming sighting opportunities and watch live NASA TV. There are also free downloads, areas for the kids, links to NASA social media, podcasts, ebooks and so much more.

Track the International Space Station

Explore and find sighting opportunities to watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up. Visible to the naked eye, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster! You can also sign up for alerts when the ISS will be in your area.

Stay Current on Space News

  • com: Get the latest space exploration, innovation and astronomy news from around the world. With an average of 85 new posts each week, Space.com keeps readers up to date on the world’s expansion into the final frontier.
  • Space Flight Now: Breaking news from around the world, launch schedules, mission reports and more.
  • Space Flight 101: “Space News and Beyond” is what they promise, and they deliver with detailed articles about current events, news analysis, and special sections for rockets, the International Space Station, commercial ventures such as SpaceX, country-specific updates, and more.

Take a Walk Through the Solar System

The Solar Walk app provides a stunning model of the solar system that shows you all the planets and satellites with incredible detail and accuracy. You can navigate through space and time, see all the planets close-up, learn their trajectories, composition, surface temperature, history of their exploration, points of interest and more. You can go below the surface and study the layers, play with different angles and even watch the sunset from Mars.

Images from Space

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California has a great website for viewing current and past images in space. Click on an image and a new page will open with detailed information about that image that will captivate adults and children too. For instance, check out this recent image of a “Space Butterfly,” that is home to hundreds of baby stars. If you click on the menu icon in the top, right of the home page, you can also access JPL information about missions in space, current events, tours, and educational resources.

 

Kristy CooperHow to access the stars from your home