This page provides information about websites that sell or review astronomy software, hardware, and literature (such as sky simulation programs, telescopes, magazines, and books).



Edited By Kelsey Musulman

Edited by Stephanie Wallace (5/17/10)


1) Planetarium Software
Planetariumsoftware
Source: Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, X (Linux, Solaris, OS X, etc), OS/2 Warp
Date I read the site: 12/7/08
Audience: General Public, amateur, professional astronomers, anyone with an interest in astronomy.
Summary of the site:
This site was very well made and is laid out in a simple format to make it very easy to maneuver. Essentially what this site does is make a list of different software programs that pertain to astronomical exploration for all the different operating systems listed in the sources part of this review (Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, X (Linux, Solaris, OS X, etc), OS/2 Warp). Most of the software is for astronomical simulation. The site lists exactly what the product is, whether or not it is free or commercial, the price of the product if it is not free, whether or not you can use a demo of the product, the author of the software, and the publisher of the product. By click on each of the products, you are able to read a quick detailed description of what the product allows your computer to do and how to order the product. If you want a review on the publisher or author, simply click on the name and it will bring you to their personal page so you can read about them and other projects they are working on. In my own opinion, I think the site would come very in handy if someone were looking for software to download or order for their own personal computer. It seems to have an exceptionally varied list of products, so most likely what you’re looking for will be listed. Plus, the links are very thorough in their explanations of what the products is meant to do.

2) The Sky: Astronomy Resources

TheSky
Date I read the site: 12/7/08
Sources: Sea and Sky: The splendors of the sea & the wonders of the universe
Audience: General Public, Amateur
Summary of the site:
This site would really be advantageous to an amateur astronomer. The site lists simulation software for all different computers with prices and summaries of the software under the “software” tab. From here you can click on the product and it will take you to another page with a better description of the product and directions on how to order it. The original site provides demos, if there are any, for certain simulator products. The site lists a number of different links to specific suppliers under the “supplies” tab, as well as a list of different telescopes such as Newtonian Reflector, Refractor, and Schmidt-Cassegrain and explains how each one works. It also lists a number of mounts, such as Equatorial Mount, Fork mount, and Dobsonian Mount and gives a brief summary of each one. On top of that, it lists eyepieces, filters, and a number of different accessories under the “Equipment” tab. Under the “Resources” tab you can find Web information sources, online magazines, and recommended astronomy books. The site also gives a calendar of certain astronomical events under the “Calendar” tab and a list of astronomy terms under the “Glossary” tab. In my opinion, I think that this website would be awesome for someone who is just beginning to show an interest in astronomy because it is very descriptive and goes over all the basics one needs to know about astronomy. The only problem I found is that it only sells software. It doesn’t really sell any telescopes or mounts. It describes them, but doesn’t really recommend where to get one. Other than that there was a lot of good information to be taken from this site.

3) AllBookstores.com

AllBookstores
Date I read the site: 12/7/08
Sources: AllBookstores.com
Audience: From Amateur to professional.
Summary of the site:
This site is more for people who know specifically what area of astronomy they wish to read about. This is ultimately a list of topics form Asteroids to Galaxies to Telescopes. The books are in alphabetical order so it is fairly easy to find any specific book you are looking for. After clicking on a certain topic the website brings you to another page with a number of different books on that topic. Some of the books are more on topic than others, so watch out before purchasing. The site lists the title, the author, the published date and the price. If you click on the book it gives more specific details like whether or not the book is a paperback and copyright date. Then you click on “compare prices” and it will give you a list of Bookstores and approximate costs from each store so you can compare the prices of all of them. The only problem I have with this site is that it doesn’t give any kind of summary about the book, so it’s hard to know fully what you’re buying. Other than that, it is a good place to see a wide variety of books on certain astronomy topics.

4) Best-price.com

Best-price
Date I read the site: 12/7/08
Audience: Amateur to Professional
Summary of the site:
This site is good for purchasing telescopes, eyepieces, telescope cases, mounts, tripods, telescope protectors, and power cords. It has a number of different styles and sizes as far as telescopes go. After each telescope the site lists the magnification, the length of the telescope, and the price range that it would fall into. From there, if you click on the name of the telescope, it will tell you what brand it is (ex: “Vivitar”), the type of telescope it is (Refractor, reflector, Cassegrain or Dobsonian), the manufacturer, and the best possible price you can find it at. Then, if you click on the best price it will bring you to amazon.com where you can compare prices from different suppliers and choose the cheapest one. In my opinion this site is any easy way to get what you want fast and find the best price. I think it would prove to be incredibly useful and efficient.

5) Buying a Telescope
[[http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=2281
|Astronomy.com]]
Author: Michael E. Bakich
Date I read the site: 12/7/08
Audience: General public, amateurs just getting started
Summary of the site:
This site doesn’t sell anything. This simply is to help someone narrow down what they want from a telescope. This site helps people get a better well rounded view of all the different kinds of telescopes out there to buy. A brief history is included along with advantages and disadvantages to each telescope. The site also mentions a number of other things to consider when buying a telescope like what the telescope will be used for, what helps magnification, and what size is appropriate. The site even gives descriptions of Alt-azimuth mounts and Equatorial Mounts. If you click on the “Equipment” tab at the top of the page, you will access a page that will give you information and tips about using certain instruments for astronomy, such as cameras, large telescopes, a number of different accessories and even binoculars. In my opinion I think this could be a great place to start for an amateur astronomer who is thinking seriously about buying a telescope. This site makes the person think thoroughly about what they want the telescope for, how they are going to use it, and which telescope best fits those needs.


6) AstronomyOnline.org--Software Reviews
http://astronomyonline.org/AstronomySoftware.asp
Reviewed on: 5/17/10
Author: Ricky Leon Murphy
Audience: Amateur and professional astronomers, people with scientific interests.
Rating: 9.9 out of 10
Website Summary:
AstronomyOnline.org is everything I've ever looked for in an astronomy website. There is an immense wealth of scientific information here, which is not surprising since the author has a master's degree in astronomy. This site is very easy to navigate thanks to the handy sidebars and lack of advertisements. The only bad thing I could say about the scientific information being presented is that anyone who doesn't have some minimal background knowledge of astronomy would probably get lost very quickly.
The software reviews in the above link are based on the author's personal experience and the popularity of these programs among amateur astronomers. He clearly states that all the reviews are his personal preferences, and that other people may prefer different programs. The reviews are short, but very descriptive.

7) Telescopes.com
http://www.telescopes.com/
Reviewed on: 5/17/10
Audience: Anyone interested in observations (this includes bird-watchers and hunters), astrophotographers.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Website Summary:
This is the telescope version of buying a computer online. You get prices, specifications, reviews, recommendations (both for accessories and other products), and package deals. You can shop by price range, brand, and telescope type. You can also shop for eyepieces, adapters, software, telescope mounts, and astrophotography equipment (with the exception of cameras).
The telescopes are divided into three categories: Telescopes for Beginners, Telescopes for Enthusiasts, and Telescopes for Experts. The Beginner telescopes are generally smaller refractors and reflectors, while the Expert telescopes are mostly larger Schmidt-Cassegrains.
The specifications are extremely detailed, but the jargon is fairly meaningless to me. There is also a rather annoying "mouse-over zoom" feature for the telescope pictures that I keep accidentally bringing up. Overall, this is a very professional commercial site best viewed in small doses by the less technically inclined (like me).

8) Willmann-Bell, Inc. (books)
http://www.willbell.com/Default.htm
Reviewed on: 5/17/10
Audience: Professional astronomers, astrophotographers, computational astronomers.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Website Summary:
This stuff is way over my head. Most of the books at this site are for people who are trying to either 1) build their own telescopes, 2) make mathematical predictions of the locations of astronomical objects, or 3) do some high-quality astrophotography. I'd probably have to get a college degree before feeling qualified enough to purcase a book from this site. I'd at least have to study a lot.
Aside from the advanced-level content, this site is not particularly well-designed. Mostly, it seems to be the website version of a paper catalog by Willmann-Bell, Inc. I strongly suspect that the main reason that this website exists is to get people to request a copy of the paper catalog, which would probably be much easier to read than this website.

9) David Paul Green's Astronomy Book Recommendations
http://www.davidpaulgreen.com/books.html
Reviewed on: 5/17/10
Author: David Paul Green
Audience: Amateur astronomers, general public.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Website Summary:
This is a casual, semi-disorganized site for amateur observers and anyone who has an interest in astronomy. There really isn't much to this site. The books can be purchased through amazon.com or sky-spot.com. The reviews are based on the personal experience of the author. What makes this site worse than AstronomyOnline is that the author doesn't really provide much background about himself or astronomy in general. This site also seems to be a lot more apathetic than AstronomyOnline; more "hey, I thought this might be interesting" than "look at all this cool stuff!". If you have access to AstronomyOnline, skip this site and go there instead.

10) Stuff from Sky & Telescope Magazine
http://www.shopatsky.com/
Reviewed on: 5/17/10
Audience: Sky & Telescope subscribers
Rating: 3 out of 10
Website Summary:
If you don't subscribe to Sky & Telescope or don't want any of their back-issues, don't bother. There is very little in the way of product descriptions, and usually nothing at all. Most of the products sold here are back-issues of Sky & Telescope or associated magazines. This site should be viewed after viewing the main Sky & Telescope website, which I reviewed below.

10a) Sky & Telescope website
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/
Reviewed on: 5/17/10
Audience: Amateur astronomers, general public.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Website Summary:
This is the Sky & Telescope magazine in website form, plus links to other astronomy sites, including community sites. You can find everything from local astronomy clubs to scientific articles to instructions for contributing to Sky & Telescope magazine. This site mostly consists of articles from Sky & Telescope, which are always interesting, but also includes information about the publishers and the astronomical community. The left sidebar lets you search by category, while a box on the right lets you find the top 5 most recent, popular, or e-mailed articles. There is also a search box in the upper right corner which is handy for finding specific articles and gallery pictures. There is a good deal of advertising on this site, but nothing exceptionally annoying. Overall, this is a site that's more than worth looking at.