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Here's how to keep up to date with all things space-related

It might all be happening up there, but there’s loads to read down here.

The International Space Station passes above California.
The International Space Station passes above California.
Image: Twitter/Astro Reid

AS FAR BACK as the first manned moon landing in 1969, the fact that people on earth can witness distant exploration unfolding is arguably as important as the event itself.

Neil Armstrong’s first steps were broadcast live whereas Yuri Gagarin’s first spaceflight eight years earlier was shrouded in Soviet secrecy. Their effect on how people view space travel shows how important its is people to see what’s happening.

This was seen again this week as the Rosetta probe reached its target after 10 years of chasing Comet 67P. The daily photographs sent from the centre of our solar system showing Churyumov-Gerasimenko getting larger and larger on approach is more illustrative than any detailed explanation of the mission.

But Rosetta’s updates are just an example of the many ways to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world of space exploration. Here are just a few of the many examples.

@MarsCuriosity

Perhaps the kings of extra terrestrial tweeting are the NASA team behind the Curiosity rover which recently celebrated two earth years on the Martian surface.

The pictures the rover sends back to earth capture the Mars’ dense atmosphere and shows a world beyond our own far more recognisable than what we would see on the moon for example.

Curiosty’s twitter account does more than just send pictures however, it regularly provides mission updates and video descriptions of its day to day operations and its future plans.

While you’re at it though throw an eye over Curiosity’s older cousins Spirit and Opportunity who have been been trawling for red planet for and recently broke the record for the most distance travelled on a surface other than earth’s.

@astro_reid

When Chris Hadfield ended his stint commanding the International Space Station a spot opened up for someone to take the baton as the station’s main twitter presence. Several astronauts have been regular contributors in the fifteen months since, but the US Navy’s Reid Weisman is arguably the best of the current crop of six crewmen on board the ISS.

Buy if you’re in any doubt about who’s orbiting above us at 17,500 mph than @NASA_Astronauts will put them all together for you in one place.

@VirtualAstro

The guts of real stargazing involves getting outside in the dead of night and peering upwards. If you’re looking for some daily advice as to what you should be looking at and where, the Virtual Astronomer twitter account and the Meteorwatch website are good places to start.

The UK based outlet is always on hand to give plenty of advance notice of astronomical events and even provides by-the-minute updates on things like meteor showers and ISS passes overhead.

@ObservingSpace

An account not unlike Virtual Astronomer but with a touch science and exploration thrown in.

Observing Space doesn’t get into the minutiae of the detail that official sources like Nasa and the ESA but quite regularly puts together some smart animations and videos to describe the movement of celestial bodies and the probes sent to study them.

Google moon

Google worked with Nasa to put together a series of charts and photos that map the sites where the six Apollo missions landed.

The result isn’t quite as navigable as you might think but when you zoom down into the six different sites, you really get a sense how much the teams travelled around the surface of our only natural satellite.

PastedImage-69791 Source: Nasa/Google moon

Voyagers

If you fancy a regular reminder of just how limited our space exploration have been so far, keeping up to date with the progress of the two Voyager spacecraft is a good way to go about it.

Voyager 1 left our solar system for interstellar space last year meaning it is at least 13 billion kilometres beyond all the all the planets in our solar system.

Of course,  if you want to get even more involved in everything space-related, Astronomy Ireland has all their contact details and events here.

Read: Astronauts take photos of storm causing devastation in Japan >

Read: You can spot rare glowing clouds formed by meteors over Ireland >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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