These astronomy websites have been specially selected by the Sidewalk Astronomers, for your information and enjoyment.

About John Dobson and the Sidewalk Astronomers

Sidewalk Astronomer's National Website
This is the home Sidewalk Astronomers site, featuring links to Sidewalk Astronomy organizations and events around the world.
Telescope Pictures
Website for the movie "A Sidewalk Astronomer", a portrait of John Dobson. You can buy the movie (DVD or VHS) from this site.
Sidewalk Astronomers Store
Purchase telescope plans and telescope making videos, books by John Dobson, movies, and Sidewalk Astronomers national membership.
Sidewalk Astronomers Store at CafePress
Shop for Sidewalk Astronomers t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, mousepads and more.
A Star Among Astronomers
A San Francisco Chronicle article about John Dobson and the Sidewalk Astronomers.
Wikipedia entry on John Dobson
Wikipedia is a community-built free encyclopedia, with entries written by thousands of people all over the world. Here is the Wikipedia entry on John Dobson.


Other astronomy organizations in and around San Francisco.

San Francisco Amateur Astronomers
Founded in September 1952, the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers is an association of people who share a common interest in astronomy and other related sciences. Our membership consists of people from all walks of life, educational backgrounds and ages.
The Randall Museum, San Francisco
The Randall Museum is a children's museum hosting telescope making classes for the SF Sidewalk Astronomers, as well as monthly meetings of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers.
Astronomical Association of Northern California
The AANC represents astronomy clubs, planetariums, science centers and stores in Northern California. Check out their Northern California Astronomy Resource Guide for plenty of contact information for other astronomy organizations in the Bay Area, as well as the AANC Calendar for upcoming events scheduled by those groups. The San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers are a member organization of the AANC.
Ask A Scientist
Ask a Scientist is an informative, entertaining, monthly event for adults, held at a San Francisco cafe. Each event features a speaker on a current topic, a short presentation, and the opportunity to ask all those burning questions that have been keeping you up at night. No tests, grades, or pressure…just food, drinks, socializing, and conversation about the universe’s most fascinating mysteries
The Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is a hands-on museum covering all manner of sciences. They also cover astronomy, and often sponsor webcasts of astronomical events and NASA space missions.
Mount Tamalpais State Park
The Mount Tamalpais Interpretive Association, together with the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, presents public star parties monthly during the summer and early fall at Mount Tamalpais State Park. Hear a lecture from a professional astronomer, and see the universe through telescopes provided by SFAA.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1889. Its membership includes amateurs, professionals and educators from all over the world. Its mission is to promote the science of astronomy to everyone.
Chabot Space and Science Center
The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland features a state-of-the-art planetarium, a giant-screen theater, and astronomy exhibits including space probes and historical telescopes. Every Friday and Saturday, the public is invited to look through Chabot's three observatory telescopes. Chabot's newest telescope, "Nellie," is a 36-inch research-quality scope offering wheelchair access.
Morrison Planetarium, at the California Academy of Sciences
The Morrison Planetarium, at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, features one of the most advanced digital planetarium audio-visual systems in the world. The Academy also sponsors the Dean Lecture Series, featuring astronomy talks for the public conducted by some of the leading astronomers in their fields of study.


Answers for all your astronomy questions.

Universe Today
Keep up-to-date with the latest scientific discoveries in astronomy and space exploration.
Bad Astronomy
This site debunks a lot of misconceptions and bad science, such as the Moon landing hoax, and the Face on Mars. This site is by Dr. Phil Plait, a professional astronomer.
The Astronomy Cafe
Dr. Sten Odenwald, a professional astronomer, answers astronomy questions from readers. All topics are covered.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Eye candy, plus interesting astronomy info.
Star of the Week
Learn about how stars work, and meet a new star every week. Dr. James Kaler is a professor of astronomy at the University of Illinois, and is an expert in stellar physics and evolution. He is also a fantastic writer and speaker.
The Nine (now eight) Planets
An excellent website that will tell you everything you want to know about the Solar System.
Lunar Photo of the Day
See a different photo of the Moon every day, along with informative commentary. By Charles Wood, an excellent writer and lunar researcher.
Science @ NASA
NASA has more websites than you can shake a stick at. This website is NASA's science news service. It has excellent science articles covering all of NASA's activities.
NASA Kid's Club
NASA's site for kids. Lots of games with plenty of info about the Solar System, space travel, and NASA's space missions. For kids in grades K-4.
JPL Space Calendar
A detailed list of astronomical events, and notable space mission dates. From NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Observing the Sky

Resources for observing stars, constellations, the solar system, and beyond. Free.
A free all-sky star map showing the constellations for the current month. Just download and print.
SFA Star Charts
Printable star charts covering the entire sky for all seasons, in Adobe Acrobat format. These are excellent for learning the constellations.
Mag 7 Star Atlas
A free, downloadable magnitude-7 star atlas. Over 550 deep sky objects are plotted, such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. If you have just bought a telescope or binoculars, this is the perfect starter "deep sky" atlas.
Utah Skies Caldwell Telrad Finder Charts
Another set of Telrad finder charts. The "Caldwell Catalogue" was created by the British astronomy popularizer Sir Patrick (Caldwell) Moore in the 1990's. It is a list of 109 objects to provide a "sequel" to the Messier list. Many fine deep-sky objects not on Messier's original list are part of the Caldwell list.
Utah Skies Messier Telrad Finder Charts
If you're observing the Messier objects with your telescope, here's a great set of charts to help you locate them. The French astronomer Charles Messier discovered and prepared this list of 110 deep-sky objects (galaxies, nebulas and star clusters) from 1758 to 1782. His goal was to prevent people from mistaking them for comets, but instead he unintentionally created an enduring list of the finest celestial sights.
Hawaiian Astronomical Society Constellation Stories and Deepsky Atlas
Our friends at the Hawaiian Astronomical Society offer this sky atlas combining photos, descriptions, and stories about celestial objects. From their website: "We know of no other site that has attempted combining detailed maps, deepsky objects, and myth into individual constellation pages."
Star Hopping Guide
If you are getting started with a telescope, this guide will tutor you in the art of finding things in the sky. It contains step-by-step instructions for "starhopping" to several interesting celestial objects. Download this document "starhopping" as a text document, or as an Acrobat PDF file.
Photographic Moon Book
Here is an online book about observing and photographing the Moon, in Adobe Acrobat format. This guidebook contains a series of photographic maps of the lunar surface. Together with a good lunar atlas (such as Virtual Moon Atlas), it is a great way to learn the Moon. I burned the files to CD, took them to Kinko's and had them print and bind a full-fledged book. Note: if you do this, note that the book is formatted for A4-sized paper (metric sized) and you will need to have Acrobat shrink the pages slightly for printing on U.S. 8.5 by 11-inch paper.
Observer's Map of Mars
A map of Mars, showing the features you can see from your own telescope along with names. Produced by ALPO (Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers).


Astronomy software for Mac, Linux, and Windows. All items are free.

Night Vision for Java
Basic star charting software for free. Suitable for beginners and those who want a good, simple star chart program. (We use it to create the star charts on this website). Best of all, it will run on just about any computer system — Windows, Macintosh (Classic or OS X), or Linux. You will need a recent version of Java installed.
Sky View Café
Sky View Café includes star charts, a 3-D orrery (solar system map), displays of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an astronomical event calendar, an ephemeris generator, and many other features. It works on Mac, Linux, or Windows, with any web browser that supports Java.
Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts)
This free software is a very well regarded sky charting program. Cartes du Ciel is full-featured and has a very deep database of celestial objects. The old stable version 2.76 (at the above link) is available only for Windows, but the new Cartes du Ciel version 3 is also compatible with Mac OS X (Intel) and Linux.
Google Earth Planetarium
Google Earth (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) now allows you to survey the sky and zoom in on astronomical objects of interest. It also includes guided tours of the Universe.
Solar System Live
This online Solar System orrery (works with any web browser) will draw overhead maps of the Solar System, allowing you to see how the planets are positioned with respect to one another and the Earth.
Celestia Space Simulator
If your computer (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) can display 3D graphics, this is an excellent real-time space simulator. Imagine you have a spacecraft and can fly through space, viewing the solar system and the Milky Way. Sizes, orbits, and motions of celestial bodies are all scientifically accurate.
This software (Windows only) is very useful for observing the planets. It will show you what side of a planet is currently facing you, whether you can see the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, where the moons of the planets can be found, and much more.
Virtual Moon Atlas
This program (Windows only) will display a Moon map onscreen, so you can identify craters and other surface features. Incredibly detailed, with lots of information. Works best with 3D-capable computers, but "basic" and "light" versions are available for older machines. You do need about 100 MB of disk space for the full version, though.


Astronomy magazines, for beginners and experts.

Astronomy Magazine
Largest-selling general magazine on astronomy. Has articles geared towards beginners and experts, as well as information on current sky events. Good feature articles.
Sky and Telescope
Sky and Telescope caters more to the astronomy hobbyist than Astronomy. In-depth articles on observing, and the hobby of amateur astronomy. Also has good feature articles.
Mercury Magazine
Mercury Magazine is published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and is available only via membership. It features articles showcasing the latest developments in astronomy as well as society news and monthly sky events.
Amateur Astronomy Magazine
Amateur Astronomy magazine is by amateur astronomers, for amateur astronomers. Articles include equipment reviews, amateur astronomy events worldwide, telescope building, and of course observing.


Internet radio shows for your iPod or other digital music player.

Astronomy Cast

This excellent podcast covers an astronomical topic in-depth each week, and explains in everyday terms the science behind it. Learn more about the definition of a planet and why Pluto is not a planet, how astronomers detect planets around other stars, what "dark matter" is, and more. The podcast is hosted by Fraser Cain of the Universe Today website, and Dr. Pamela Gay, professional astronomer and former member of the Slacker Astronomy podcast. Dr. Gay is particularly gifted at explaining far-out science in a clear and understandable way. This podcast is Highly Recommended by the SF Sidewalk Astronomers!

Astronomy 161 - Introduction to Solar System Astronomy

Do you want to take an actual college course on Astronomy? For free? At your own pace and whenever/wherever you want? Here, astronomy professor Dr. Richard Pogge at Ohio State University makes available audio recordings of his lectures for the Autumn Quarter 2006 Astronomy 161 class. All lectures are recorded live in 100 Stillman Hall on the OSU Main Campus in Columbus, Ohio. This is an introductory class, suitable for everyone. The first lecture begins with the complete basics, working to the final lecture on planets around other stars. This podcast is Highly Recommended by the SF Sidewalk Astronomers!

Morrsion Planetarium

The Morrison Planetarium of the Californina Academy of Sciences produces a podcast with a personal tour of the night sky.

Seti Institute Science Radio 

The SETI Institute is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is dedicated to research concerning discovery and contact with possible alien civilizations on other worlds. The podcast is hosted by SETI Institute's Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak, who is witty and entertaining, as well as informative and knowledgeable.

Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures

These talks were recorded at Foothill College in the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series. They are made available through a kind donation to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). Each hour-long lecture on some exciting development in our study of the universe is followed by an extensive question and answer period, in which the speaker gives further details and personal glimpses about the topics under discussion.

Slackerpedia Galactica

This bi-weekly podcast, formerly known as Slacker Astronomy, is hosted by a panel of professional astronomers and a broadcast journalist. It's as much comedy as it is astronomy, punctuated by jokes and amusing stunts. They also have an "extra" podcast feed with chat shows, and special interviews with people like Dr. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer.

Science @ NASA

Already one of the most popular podcasts on the internet, Science @ NASA carries news articles about astronomy events, space flight, science discoveries and other activities at NASA. Each NASA podcast is about 5-10 minutes in length.

NASACast Video

The NASACast video podcast combines the content of all the NASACast subject area podcasts into a single omnibus podcast. Here you'll find the latest news and features on NASA's missions as well as the popular "This Week @NASA" newsreel.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA's JPL is the center of planetary exploration, and home of the ongoing Mars Rover and Cassini Saturn missions. The JPL podcast features articles about JPL missions and the latest discoveries. JPL also features a monthly "What's Up?" podcast produced by Jane Houston Jones, JPL employee and Sidewalk Astronomer.

Universe Today

Universe Today carries breaking stories in astronomy and space exploration. Hear interviews with the scientists making these cutting-edge discoveries.

Regulus! The Astronomy Newsletter

This monthly podcast covers things you can see in the night sky. Put this on your iPod, then go outside and follow along with the narration to learn the stars and constellations.