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My Top Ten Picks
More Bad and Skeptical Pages
Other stuff about astronomy and astronomy education

My Top Ten Picks (and growing)

Okay, so there are more than 10. There are a lot of good sites out there!

  1. APOD banner To a large extent, people's interest in astronomy is due to the beautiful images we are now almost accustomed to seeing. Probably the best place on the web to find such stunning images is the Astronomy Picture of the Day, where Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell put pictures they have culled from many thousands on the web, along with a short easy to understand explanation of the science behind the picture (as well as lots of links). This is a great place to start a web browser, and they archive every image so that you can take your time looking through the Universe.
  2. Universe Today banner
    Looking for the current space and astronomy news? There are lots of news sites out there, and my friend Fraser Cain collects the best stuff on his website The Universe Today. It's updated daily with news and information about, well, the Universe today.

  3. The USENET news group sci.astro has an excellent FAQ. Some of it has been used as a resource for the Bad Astronomy pages as well. If that connection is slow, There is a text version as well.

  4. Ned Wright's Cosmology FAQ is also a fantastic place to answer any questions you have about black holes, the Universe and everything.

  5. One of my favorite sites on the web is The Nine Planets, an astonishingly complete and well-written tour of the solar system. This is up to date and extremely well done. For my money, this site is one of the reasons we have a web in the first place.

  6. This one is so cool: Heavens Above Satellite Visibility Page lets you enter your home coordinates, and then displays information about visible satellites! It lists Iridium satellites, Hubble and many others. You can also create local sky maps for different times, and track asteroids. Very cool. Try it out on the next clear night!

  7. Nick Strobel's astronomy lectures is a site with extensive information about basic astronomy with diagrams. He has great descriptions of things like the seasons, tides and the like. I have used his diagrams myself during talks.

  8. Sten Odenwald's Astronomy Cafe is an excellent site to get your astronomy questions answered. I'm not just saying that because he works down the hall from me; he has ben answering questions from around the world for two years now and has an extensive archive of answers. Check there before going any further!

  9. Every web page should have a link to the public page for The Hubble Space Telescope, and another to NASA. Don't forget the Hubble Heritage site, which puts up a new, beautiful Hubble image every month.

  10. James Randi is the skeptic's skeptic, ready, willing and able to debunk everything from psychic powers (he has put Uri Geller to the test many times) to UFOs, ghosts and well, everything else. A Must Read.

  11. It may seem weird to you, but I will put NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's Library as a top link. Why? Because it is a treasure trove of information, and not just a place to find books (though I use it for that a lot). They have web resources, links to online astronomical journals, a kids' page, and even electronic books: whole books online that you can read. Amazing!

  12. If you're trying to separate fact from fiction when reading a website, you might want to check out, which rates "alternative" science sites on their level of lucidity. The "cranky" sites are usually entertaining, while the "crankiest" may insight stomache aches. He lists "anti-crank" sites as well, if you need an antidote to the wackiness.

More "Bad" and Skeptical Pages

There are lots of Bad Science web pages out there, as well as pages for skeptical thinking. Here are a few for your perusal:

  • The first one I found, and the font for my idea: Alistair Fraser's Bad Science page, which deals with bad meteorology.

  • A fascinating page about the difference between science and pseudoscience.

  • CSICOP, aka the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal is one of the leading skeptical organizations out there. Fed up with claims about Bigfoot, UFOs and ghosts? This is the place to go. They also have a list of skeptical resources, too.

  • Sun-Earth Misconceptions, brought to you by the NASA Sun-Earth Connection folks.

  • The Bad Archaeology page has lots of bad and good archaeology on it, and links to skeptical pages too.

  • The Skeptic Friends Network has lots of resources for skepticism in general, as well as a fun bulletin board where folks discuss skeptical and gullible thinking.

  • answers the skeptic's most often asked question: "What's the harm in believing in pseudoscience?" This site keeps track of people who get bilked, who make wrong decisions, and yes, some who die because they believe in something when a bit of critical thinking would have saved them.

  • Banachek is an interesting fellow. years ago, he fooled a lot of parapsychologists into thinking he was The Real Thing. The story is on his site, and is pretty funny.

  • The Glossary of Mathematical Mistakes has a long list of common errors people make when they are unfamiliar with using math. That means pretty much everybody. He has the famous proof of "1 = 2" and lots of others.

  • Strange Science: The Rocky Road to Modern Paleontology and Biology is Michon Scott's loving website about historic mistakes made in those fields, including some cons and hoaxes.

  • Modern Myths Taught as Science is the webpage of Ken Fuller, a veteran seventh and eighth grade science teacher.

  • A Bad Chemistry page brought you by Kevin Lehmann.

  • The Science Hobbyist has a good list of science misconceptions.

  • Not all bad science is, um, well, bad. Science Made Stupid turns out to be pretty funny.

  • Another funny site is the Science Misstatements page at the University of Dallas Physics page. These are quotes from kids and adults about science.

  • The Doomsday Countdown Clock discusses asteroid scares.

  • This one isn't exactly bad science, but it is a great skeptical page which debunks a lot of nonsense: The Way of the Dodo takes on chemtrails, the face on Mars, and even hollow Earth theories.

    Other stuff about astronomy and astronomy education

  • Looking for an astronomy club, musuem, planetarium, or observatory near you? Then go to Sky and Telescope magazine's comprehensive list of such things. This list will save you a lot of time and trouble! And of course, here's the Sky and Telescope main page.

    Sky and Telescope has started a daughter magazine for beginner astronomers (young and old), called Night Sky. I happen to write a column fro them too, called "Straight Talk".

  • The Science Web, brought to you by the folks at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory has some great stuff on it. My favorite is a review of real science used in Hollywood movies.

  • Earth and Sky is a radio program that details current events in astronomy, and also has a question-and-answer page.

  • If you want top-notch educational materials, then your first stop is The Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Education page. This organization has just about everything you need, including a page about debunking pseudoscience.

  • PSIgate is a list of hand-picked science websites covering a vast array of topics. It's searchable too!

  • This isn't really the right category, but it'll have to do: The Scientific Defense of Astrology is a fair and even-handed treatment of astrological claims. Some of the web sites on that web ring (called "Boundaries of Science") are at best borderline crackpottery, but this site is a lot of fun.

  • KidsAstronomy has info and fun pages for the wee ones in your life.

  • The Science Education Partnerships Orcale has many links to places where you can Ask-A-Scientist all sorts of questions. The SEP links schoolkids to scientists via the web, a wonderful proposition.

  • Michael Richmond is a professional astronomer with an eclectic collection of answers to astronomical questions. His essay on "Will a Nearby Supernova Endanger Life on Earth?" is the definitive answer to a very frequently asked question. Highly Recommended!

  • The Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing has a series of interesting online courses of astronomy you can take. They focus on amateurs, educators and the intelligent layman. This is worth surfing around!

  • Eisenhower National Clearinghouse is an extensive website of information for teachers and other educators. I have only scratched the surface there and found a wealth of info. If you ever teach, this a great place to poke around!

  • The Stellar Visions Webring homepage is a slickly done site with many links to astronomy websites. It's a nice way to easily visit a lot of different astronomy sites.

  • My friend and colleague Jim Kaler, who is a professor of astronomy at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, has a link to Bad Astro from his Astronomy 101 Course page. Jim has written many popular astronomy articles and is also the author of a very successful textbook for undergraduate astronomy called "Astronomy!". I have a copy on my bookshelf right behind me and I use it as a reference all the time. It even has an image I took of a planetary nebula in it!

  • The STELLAR (Students and Teachers Engaged in Learning Laboratories through Astronomy Research) page has information for the astronomy teacher on both a local (Washington DC) and national level. This is a nice page with useful links.

  • The Astronomy Net has an astonishing list of astronomical resources on the net. This is a great place to look for something you need. They also have several bulletin boards for discussing different topics.

  • The Astronomy Mall is a good resource for people looking to buy telescopes and such.

  • The Amateur Sky Survey is a project designed to look for bright objects (comets, asteroids, supernovae, etc) over large areas of the sky. The project staff is comprised of both amateurs and professionals, and they hope to distribute these low cost cameras and support software around the world. This way, there would be 24 hour coverage of the entire sky. This is an ambitious project, and I am highly impressed by their determination and knowhow.

    ©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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