Ping's Spacy Page

As long as I can remember, space has fascinated me. As technology also interests me, I'm an avid reader of sci-fi. This combination was what prompted me to dig deeper into information about our solar system, as I at one time wanted to write a sci-fi novel placed in the near future in our solar system. In order to make the setting as realistic as possible, I started researching asteroids with emphasis on the asteroid belt and the Near Earth Asteroids - the "Apollo", "Aten" and, "Amor" class asteroids. Later I expanded the search to the Jovian trojans. This led me on a chase across the WWW, which again led to some interesting sites, some of which you will find below. The book however, was never written, as central parts of the plot were in conflict with the reality - too bad, as it was beginning to look like a good story.

Lowell Observatory's Near-Earth Object Search

University of Arizona's Spacewatch Program

NASA's Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards

Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking Program

Complete List of Impact Structures

International Meteor Organization


Asteroid 253 Mathilde, main belt

Amors. Mars-crossing but not Earth-crossing asteroids; with perihelion distance 1.017 < q < 1.3 AU.

Apollos. Includes most Earth-crossing asteroids (except for the Atens): with semimajor axis a > 1.0 AU, and perihelion distance q < 1.107 AU.

Atens. Asteroids with orbits largely inside the orbit of the Earth; with semimajor axis a < 1.0 AU and aphelion distance Q > 0.983 AU.

Naturally, I didn't restrict myself to researching asteroids, so here are a few more general links. Some are listed for their information contents, while others are listed for their images - some of which are quite stunning.

Københavns Astronomiske Forening

International Astronomical Union (broken)

Jonathan's Space Home Page

International Space Station

Mars Pathfinder Mission (broken)

Latest HST Pictures

STScI-HST Pictures

The Web Nebulae

Join the search

Not only am I interested in astronomy, but as a proud (worrying) father, I want to provide my children with options to hanging out on a street-corner, so I plan to build our own telescope. This (given time, money and another place to live) will propably lead to wanting to build a small observatory. Thus, I have looked a bit into both Amateur Telescope Making (ATM) and construction of observatories:

Books on ATM

Build Your Own Telescope
Richard Berry,
ISBN 0-9433-9642-5

This book has complete plans for five different telescopes - a 4" equatorial, a 6" Dobsonian, a 6" equatorial, a 10" Dobsonian and a refractor. The featured telescopes are simple to build without special tools and each should be able to fit within even a very tight budget. There is a chapter on grinding your own mirrors and also one on testing them. I intend to build the 6" Dobsonian together with a friend. It is simple and cheap to build, while capable of producing images that are as good (or better) as any you can buy..

The Dobsonian Telescope : A Practical Manual for Building Large Aperture Telescopes
David Kriege & Richard Berry, Willmann-Bell,

"The" book if you're thinking about building a telescope. Excellent, interesting, and practical treatment of how you can build a state of the art, large to "giant"(8" to 40"+ aperture!) portable telescope. Uses the right amount of thorough well written engineering theory to justify the surprisingly simple component designs, materials, and construction techniques. The authors clearly want you to succeed. If your contemplating building a telescope based on your preconceptions, forget them, and read this book. The dobsonian approach featured here is a relatively recent major breakthrough in telescope design that few in the general public are aware exists. A "hot" garage project for a dad to get into with his son or daughter.

How to Make a Telescope, 2nd Ed.
Jean Texereau (Translated by Allen Strickler)
ISBN 0-9433-9604-2

The modern heir to the title of "ATM Bible". Some parts are getting a bit dated (Dobsonians are only mentioned briefly in an appendix), but the information on mirror grinding and testing makes this a "must have" for those making their own optics. Also includes complete construction information for Cassegrains, and for the fabrication of an optical window.

Amateur Telescope Making
Stephen F. Tonkin (Editor), R. W. Dibble, U. Maas,
ISBN 1-85233-000-7

Fifteen Projects for the Amateur Telescope Maker
Despite the title, this multi-contributor book is about a lot more than just making telescopes. The 15 projects, each presented by someone who has actually built it, are in four sections:

Amateur Telescope Making is not intended as a replacement for other modern ATM books, but rather as a supplement. It does not cover optical work and testing, or modern "dobsonian technology", all of which are adequately covered in some excellent current publications listed in the bibliography. Amateur Telescope Making can be used either as an instruction manual for the projects therein or as a source of ideas for your own next project. Although many of the projects will be within the capabilities of a beginner, some, particularly the specialised telescopes, would be better attempted by someone with some ATM experience.

Making Your Own Telescope
Allyn J. Thompson, 1947; Revised,

A very complete and concise guide to making a Newtonian telescope. Includes a few techniques and ideas that are more of historical than practical use. Despite it's small size, about 200 pages, it contains everything the beginner needs to know. And it's still in print!

The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer, Camden House Publishing,

Includes chapters on selecting binoculars, telescopes, eyepieces, filters, and accessories. There are also sections on equipment for astrophotography and a comparison of popular star charts. The remaining eight chapters are devoted more to observing and general astronomy than equipment. Probably one of the best all around books for the beginning astronomer.

Books on building observatories
Small Astronomical Observatories
Patrick Moore (Editor), Springer-Verlag,
ISBN 3-5401-9913-6

'Small Astronomical Observatories' is not your ordinary astro book. Is shows you twenty-four and a half observatories that were built by amateurs. Almost every article has drawings, instructions, photos - just about all you need to start building. Also, there's a valuable "second thoughts" section included with most chapters - things the author would have done differently the next time around. All-in-all there are twelve domed observatories (both spherical and polygonal domes), one flip roof, six roll-off roofs, one multiple installation, one roll-off building, one rotating building, one radio observatory, and one which has only historical interest.

How to Build Your Own Observatory
Richard Berry, Kalmbach Publishing,

A collection of observatories that were originally published in Telescope Making magazine. Contains many roll-off roof designs and several different domes.

How to Build Small Barns and Outbuildings
Monte Burch, Storey Communications, Inc.,

Doesn't have one word about observatories, but from the ground up to the funny-looking roof, they're just another building. This is a real encyclopedia with everything from planning for drainage to attaching shingles. Twenty budget conscious projects for the do-it-yourselfer, with complete plans and step-by-step instructions. Projects include four types of barns: all-purpose, pole, horse, and milk; plus plans for garages, equipment sheds, greenhouses, workshops, home offices, guest houses, and more.

Robotic Observatories (Wiley-Praxis Series in Astronomy and Astrophysics)
Michael F. Bode (Editor), John Wiley & Sons,

Describes operating and planning astronomical observatories that range from remote controlled to automated to fully robotic, which can be ready at all times to observe such sudden phenomena as outbursts of novae and supernovae, can do regular and long-term monitoring of objects, conduct routine large-scale searches, and perform other tasks for about a tenth the cost of a conventional observatory. Also reports on some observational results so far, the potential for telescope networks, and such topics as metrological reform and liquid mirror telescopes. The 21 papers plus introduction and summary are from a July 1992 colloquium in Kilkenny, Ireland.

ATM Links

The ATM Page, is definitely worth a visit.

Detail plans for a geodesic dome observatory - GOOD !

Amateur Telescope Makers (ATM) ARCHIVES

Amateur Astronomical Observatories

Mel Bartels' Homepage - GOOD !

Satellite Tracking Device


The Modern Amateur Astronomer
Patrick Moore (Ed.),
ISBN 3-540-19900-4

Touching on almost every aspect of practical astronomy for amateurs - except for observing, for which there is a companion book - this is a introduction to techniques and equipment.

Here is a comprehensive but affordable guide for amateur astronomers who want to do more than just star-gaze. All aspects of astronomy are covered, from optical principles to astrophotography. Each chapter is written by a well-known professional or amateur astronomer, and care has been taken to put in plenty of information on each topic, but not too much. Patrick Moore has edited the book overall into his easy, readable style.

CONTENTS: Introduction - Optical Principles - Buying a Telescope - Commercially Made Telescopes - Observatories and Telescopes - Making your own Telescope - Auxiliary Equipment - Electronics and the Amateur Astronomer - First Steps in Astronomical Calculations - Astronomical Spectroscopes - Astrophotography - Astronomical Societies - Index.

The Art and Science of CCD Astronomy
David Ratledge (Ed.),
ISBN 3-540-76103-9

A book to help you choose and use a CCD Camera, featuring hints, tips and beautiful pictures from world experts...

Charge-coupled devices (CCDs) have revolutionised astronomy. Even affordable CCD cameras can be ten times as sensitive as photographic film, and they deliver a digitised image that is easy to enhance using a PC. David Ratledge has brought together contributions from twelve leading amateurs from around the world, people who are routinely producing astronomical images of a quality that rivals those of professional observatories only of 10 years ago. These experts describe their techniques and solutions, and offer essential tips and advice for anyone who is choosing or using a CCD camera. There's a Colour Gallery at the back of the book, so you can see just what can be done with amateur equipment.

CONTENTS: An Introduction to CCDs - Lunar Imaging with the Cookbook CCD Camera - Solar CCD Imaging - High-Resolution Planetary Imaging - The Comet Watch Program - Imaging Comets - Nebulae and Galaxies in High Resolution - Wide-Field Imaging - CCD Imaging from the City - Overcoming Light Pollution - Tri-Colour CCD Imaging - Beyond Pretty Pictures - Appendix (a): CCD Manufacturers - Appendix (b): Sizes of some common CCD Chips - Appendix (c): CCD Field of View for Various Focal Lengths - Appendix (d): Sizes of some Deep-Sky Objects - Appendix (e): Bibliography - Appendix (f): Astronomical Image Processing Software - Appendix (g): Glossary of Terms - Contributors - Colour Gallery.

General astronomy

Astronomy Explained
Gerald North,
ISBN 3-540-76136-5

Every year many people take up astronomy, mostly at amateur level. There are plenty of elementary books on the market, often full of colourful photographs, but lacking in proper explanations of how and why things are as they are. If you want to go beyond the 'coffee-table book' stage and study this fascinating subject in greater depth, then this book is written for you.

Also written as a text for those who sit public examinations in this subject each year, the book covers all the topics from the school syllabus, with sample questions at the end of each chapter.

CONTENTS: The Celestial Sphere - The Earth and Time - The Telescope - Modern Developments in Instrumentation - Gravitation - The Moon - The Inferior Planets - The Planet Mars - The Planet Jupiter - The Planet Saturn - The Twilight Zone of the Solar System - The Debris of the Solar System - The Comets - The Sun - Electromagnetic Radiation - The Stars Gas, Dust, Stars and Variable Stars - Stellar Evolution - Brown Dwarfs and Extra-Solar Planets - Violent Stars - The Galaxies - Quasars, Active Galaxies and Cosmology - Glossary of Terms - Answers to Numerical Questions - Index.

Telescopes and Techniques: An Introduction to Practical Astronomy
Chris Kitchin,
ISBN 3-540-19898-9

Chris Kitchin is Professor of Astronomy at Hertford University. He couldn't find an ideal book to teach his students the basics of practical astronomy - so he wrote this one himself.

This is an easy-to-read book explaining how to use a small telescope and find your way around the sky. It covers all the basic topics - telescopes, optics, positions and motion, observing and instruments - and is perfect for anyone wanting a firm grounding in the essentials of astronomy.

CONTENTS: Section 1: Telescopes - Types of Telescopes - Telescope Optics - Modern Small Telescope Design - Section 2: Positions and Motions - Positions in the Sky - Movements of Objects in the Sky - Telescope Mountings - Section 3: Observing - Electromagnetic Radiation - Visual Observing - Detectors and Imaging - Data Processing - Photometry - Spectroscopy - Appendix 1: Telescope Manufacturers and Suppliers - Appendix 2: Bibliography - Appendix 3: National and Major Astronomical Societies - Appendix 4: Constellations - Appendix 5: Answers to problems - Index.

Photo-guide to the Constellations: A Self-teaching Guide to Finding Your Way Around the Heavens
Chris Kitchin,
ISBN 3-540-76203-5

This could be the only photographic guide to show you what the constellations really look like...

Chris Kitchin wrote the Photo-Guide to the Constellations to help observers find their way around, providing photographs of how the sky really looks under a variety of different seeing conditions, from city outskirts to the almost-perfect skies deep in the countryside.

Along with these unique photographic maps, a detailed step-by-step guide to "star hopping" and other useful techniques means that acquiring a working knowledge of the constellations has never been so easy!

CONTENTS: Introduction - Finding the constellations - The Individual Constellations - the Sky throughout the Year - Appendix 1: The Messier and Caldwell Objects - Appendix 2: The Greek Alphabet - Appendix 3: Bibliography - Index.

Seeing Stars: The Night Sky Through Small Telescopes
Chris Kitchin and Robert W. Forrest,
ISBN 3-540-76030-X

The second of Chris Kitchin's books to "show it like it is" - how the stars, planets, and a selection of Messier objects should look through your telescope.

Seeing Stars is written for astronomers, regardless of the depth of their theoretical knowledge, who are taking their first steps in observational astronomy. Chris Kitchin and Bob Forrest - both professional astronomers - take a conducted tour of the night sky and suggest suitable observing programmes for everyone from beginners to experts.

What sets this book apart are the photographs of a wide selection of Messier objects, planets, and constellations in different seeing conditions at different sites - city, suburban and country - and through different instruments - 3-inch (75mm), 6-inch (150mm) and 12-inch (0.3m) telescopes. See how they ought to look through your own telescope!

CONTENTS: Finding your way around the sky - Your Telescope and How to get the best out of it - The Sun - The Moon - The Planets and Minor Solar System objects - Comets - Stars - Nebulae - Galaxies - Unaided Observations - Advanced Work - Appendix 1: Astronomical Societies - Appendix 2: Bibliography - Appendix 3: Messier and Caldwell Catalogues - Appendix 4: A Selection of Choice Astronomical Objects for Viewing - Appendix 5: The Greek Alphabet - Appendix 6: Constellations - Appendix 7: Useful World-Wide-Web and Internet Addresses - Appendix 8: Terminology - Index.

The Observational Amateur Astronomer
Patrick Moore (Ed.),
ISBN 3-540-19899-7

A companion to The Modern Amateur Astronomer, this book deals with aspects of observing...

Chapters by noted professional and amateur observers cover different categories of object, from the Sun and Moon to deep-space. The book explains how to use a small telescope for serious observing, whether from backyard, field location or university. If you want to know something about every kind of observational work, without (at this stage) specialising, then this is the perfect book for you.

CONTENTS: Introduction - The Sun in White Light - The Sun in Hydrogen-Alpha - Eclipses - The Moon - Mercury and Venus - Mars - Jupiter - Saturn - The Asteroids and Telescopic Planets - Meteors - Comets - Occultations - Aurorae and Noctilucent Clouds - Variable Stars - Supernovae - Deep Sky Observing - Artificial Satellites - Annotated Drawings - Contributors - Index.

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Updated 01-09-15 at 19:36