Resources and Education

Here you’ll find the resources you need to get started observing, photographing, and more — your essential introduction to astronomy. Find out which telescopes are best for starting out, the basics of using a star wheel, and what terms you need to know.

And that’s just to get your started. As you delve into the hobby, you’ll want to start using our interactive observing tools and star charts, and maybe you’ll even try your hand at astrophotography. Whatever you try, good luck and clear skies!

perseids_meteor_shower

What is a meteor shower?

Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through a stream of meteoric material. The brief streaks of luminescence we call meteors are caused by meteoroids burning up as they pass through the atmosphere.

Andreas Cellarius's illustration of the Ptolemaic System (17th century), which shows the solar system and signs of the zodiac with the Earth at the center.J. van Loon, National Library of Australia

Astrology vs Astronomy: What’s the difference?

The practices of astrology and astronomy have common roots, but they have evolved into two separate fields. Astronomy studies positions, motions, and properties of celestial objects. Astrology attempts to study how those positions, motions, and properties affect people and events on Earth.

New Comet Machholz

California's comet-hunting veteran Don Machholz bagged his 11th discovery on March 23 and 26, 2010. It's a faint diffuse comet, low in the morning sky.

Possible Fireball Outburst Sept 9-10

An unexpected meteor burst was detected on the night of September 8-9. Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center is urging meteor watchers to see if the activity continues on the night of September 9-10.