Astronomy on the Internet

No other discipline of the natural sciences can instill fascination like the oldest one, astronomy, can.  Even though astronomy has its roots in astrology, the (rather futile) hope to read ones future from the positions of planets and stars, it came to the forefront early.

Hardly anybody knows that the first absolutely certain date in human history, the battle between the people of Medea and Lydia on May 28, 585 BC, is this only because a total eclipse of the sun - actually forecast by Thales of Milet (abt. 624 - 550 BC) ! - happened mid-morning of that day which both sides took as a very bad omen.  Consequently, they both left the battleground without battle.  Computing precise dates and times for eclipses of the sun and moon is possible into the far future and the distant past.

Every human being occasionally ponders some of the really fundamental questions like, e.g., the origin of the universe, the earth and life.  Today, astronomy has come a long way in giving answers to these questions or at least very good ideas about what might have happened.  According to mainstream astronomy, based on modern observations, our universe began its existence about 14 billion years ago in a "Big Bang".  Our solar system is about 5 billion years old, with earth being hardly younger.  It is known that life existed quite early in earth history.  Some fossilized simple life forms have been dated to be 3.8 billion years old.  The majority of biologists and biochemists believe the remaining about 700 million years since the birth of earth too short for the development of life without external help.  Thus, in recent years, ideas about "priming" of earth with organic materials are gaining ground.  These organic compounds are formed in the huge and cold empty spaces between the stars.  The study of this fascinating subject is done predominantly with radio astronomical techniques. 

Like all modern natural sciences, astronomy uses almost exclusively the english language.  Practically all important scientific journals use it.  Only popularized articles are written more often in local languages.  However, the following links point also to some german links.

German: MPI für Radioastronomie, Bonn
MPI für Astronomie Heidelberg
Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam
Universitäts-Sternwarte München

Geschichte der Astronomie

Treffpunkt für Astronomie
English: European Southern Observatory
Space Telescope Science Institute
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
American Astronomical Society
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
UA Astronomical Image Galleries
Canadian Astronomy Data Centre
List of Observatories

History of Astronomy

SETI @ Home
Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing
Here my own BOINC statistics:

This list of links was supposed to be updated occasionally.  I'm willing to accept contributions by interested readers if they would only come.  However, only links I find informative and interesting myself as an addition here will be included ...

©  April 20, 2009
Otto-G. Richter