This photo was taken by Astronaut Ron Garan aboard the ISS and shows the Southern Lights. Garan takes photos in space and shares them over Google+.

From hosting tweetups with space enthusiasts, to sharing space amazing videos on YouTube, NASA has embraced social media as a way to spread its message and further popularize astronomy.

Social media has broadened our access to astronomy and life off Earth. If you’ve dreamed of owning your own telescope and seeing distant lands, there are more resources than ever to help make your dreams a reality. Here are just a few options for budding armchair astronomers:

Astronomy.net

Photography enthusiasts can share their Flickr photos with Astronomy.net, contributing to astronomers’ knowledge base. Using photos from telescopes, cameras and even camera phones, astronomers can build a map of the sky to search for new discoveries, such as the birth or death of a star.

Planet Quest

Part of the Kepler Mission and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Planet Quest gives visitors a detailed look at our galaxy. Beautiful videos and interactive games detail the process of searching for habitable exoplanets.

LightBuckets

Rent time on telescopes around the world and collect images of your favorite astronomical sights from the comfort of your home computer. If you’re looking to majorly up your nerd cred, this is an excellent option.

Slooh

If space had a cable channel, Slooh might be it. The site broadcasts major astronomical events over the Web. If you can’t make it to that eclipse all the way around the world, Slooh is probably broadcasting it.

What other astronomy resources do you like? Share them with us in the comments.

Armchair Astronomy Takes Off On The Web 29 September,2011Laura Khalil

Author

Laura Khalil

Laura is a marketer by day and nerd by night. She's the Chief Nerd Herder for Dorkbyte, a blog devoted to art, technology and science. She's been named one of the most engaging women to speak about technology and has been featured on The Setup. A member of Noisebridge, she is working on two robotics challenges, leading a puzzle team that competes in a variety of puzzle challenges throughout the US and monkeys around on ham amateur radio. She loves astronomy, Making and hardware hacking. She was most recently involved in teaching hardware circuitry at Maker Faire.Laura has executed marketing strategies and campaigns for tech startups in the Bay Area. Her work with social media has been inducted into the Viral Marketing Hall of Fame.

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