20 Incredible Twitter Feeds for Space Geeks
There are space geeks, and there are space geeks. Those people for whom "stargazing" is a real hobby, and not just an ambiguous euphemism, whose personal and professional dreams would be swallowed in a black hole of despondency if you told them to get their heads out of the clouds. For them, heaven conjures up images of celestial bodies, astronomical events, and the precise size and composition of the universe — a response that other, more earthly, people might find a little alien. So, you're a space geek, and you don't care much about Dane Cook's Tweeting habits, why Flavor Flav was arrested (again), or who Miley Cyrus is and why people mistake her for Hannah Montana — but you do want to stay current on astronomical events, or at least get a daily dose of something spacey. What follows is a list of Twitter feeds that are more in your orbit: from regular commentary by astronauts currently in space, to when you can expect the next meteor shower, these feeds will satisfy your need for news from all across the universe.
1. @NASA: Obvious, yes, but a staple for updates from the aeronautics and space world. Twitter has made public communication with one the leading space administrations in the world possible in a way that was before unimaginable. In one day, NASA will post several Tweets, sometimes over two dozen, informing laypeople and astrophysicists alike of the latest developments and points of interest there. As the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor draws nearer, for example — the date is set for May 16th — space enthusiasts (and geeks) can and will surely monitor NASA's feed, to stay current on the shuttle's maintenance, projected success, and other inside information.
2. @Astronauts in Space Now: A list curated by the main NASA Twitter account, this feed offers — as its title suggests — comments, thoughts, questions, and concerns of astronauts in orbit. Besides providing a more intimate and personalized report of NASA's plans and progress from the men and women who know it best, this list is truly incredible, and should amaze everyone, geek or not: They are astronauts, and they are Tweeting. From space. If that is not testament to science fiction's prophetic power, I don't know what is. These posts may be as close to visiting space you will ever come without undergoing the extensive and exacting training required to become an astronaut.
3. @Space: While not as active as NASA's feed, this account presents an expansive compendium of articles taken from any and every space-related website on the net. Following this feed, you are just as likely to watch a space station crew give their best wishes to the newly wed royal couple as you are to read a challenging technical essay on how new telescope technology will allow astronomers to measure the size and age of stars by listening to the sounds they make. If Space Tweets it, it's going to be compelling and entertaining, and you're going to want to know about it.
@Astronauts in Space Now provides tweets from astronauts on current space missions. Image Credit: NASA
4. @SPACE.com: As inconceivably wide and immense as the universe is, you might think that writers could come up with fresh names for space websites, but there are very few alternatives to space that aren't melodramatic — black, crushing void, for instance, just doesn't sound professional. Hence Space and Space.com. Nevertheless, Space.com's feed is another invaluable resource for anyone that has a passion for the heavens, and is just as exhaustive in its scope. Indeed, this feed will notify you any time anything whatsoever goes into space, mentions space, or even has space's five letters in close enough proximity to each other. It is a veritable encyclopedia of space knowledge, and the geek in you will be delighted every time they Tweet.
5. @Hubble Telescope: There are some things that cannot be put into words. Among those things are love, happiness, and images of the universe seen through the Hubble Telescope. Hubble has two feeds: one posting news and links relevant to the telescope, and the other (below), as you might have guessed, that posts one breathtaking picture of the universe a day. For true space geeks, Hubble is a kind of higher power — an eye in the sky, if you will, that orbits and transmits images back to Earth. With the aid of its images, astronomers have been able to approximate the age of the universe and prove the existence of "dark energy"; and the research based on Hubble's images alone has generated over 6,000 scientific articles. Need I say more? Follow Hubble. Be amazed.
6. @Hubble Daily Image:See above.
7. @Chandra Observatory>: The Chandra Telescope is another orbiting telescope, but one that focuses on high energy ("hot") sections of the universe, and detects X-ray emissions specifically. Chandra's Twitter feed is comprised largely of links to blog entries from the Chandra Blog, images received by the telescope, and light "lunch-time reading" about the nature of the universe as understood by astrophysicists. If you find yourself complacent, or generally unimpressed with the world, follow Chandra's feed — but be warned, you may be disturbed, humbled, and deeply moved by just how inexplicable our universe is.
8. @From the Earth to the Universe: More an encouraging and optimistic testimony to the ubiquitous inspirational power of education and the universe than a resource for astronomical data, From Earth to the Universe (FETTU) is a worldwide exhibition of the most dramatic views of the universe, designed to bring astronomy to anyone and everyone who has ever looked to the stars in wonder. The FETTU feed posts event pictures from exhibition sites, some of the featured images from space, and news about upcoming exhibitions around the world. What's remarkable about the FETTU feed is the sense it give that knowledge is omnipresent, and all you have to do if you want it is seek it out. They are very probably shaping the next generation of space geeks, so follow and witness your passion ignite in the hearts and minds of others around the globe.
9. @Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: Considerations of space are usually incomplete without concurrent considerations of time. To that end, there is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Twitter feed. As an institution, the Smithsonian represents the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world, and also conducts important research in the history, science, and technology of air and spaceflight. The NASM feed mirrors and complements that spirit, posting pieces of trivia, milestones, and news about man's past, present, and future endeavors in flying.
10. @MESSENGER: MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging: If nothing else, this is just more proof that the experts at NASA are equally at home generating clever acronyms as they are at producing images of Mercury's surface. The MESSENGER mission is to collect exhaustive surface data about Mercury, the fastest moving and closest planet to the sun, by sending a spacecraft into orbit around it; the MESSENGER Twitter feed personifies the mission and posts updates about the mission with charisma and personality. For the duration of the ongoing MESSENGER, the feed provides reports and watermarks with unprecedented immediacy, not to mention flair. Many of the posts also include links to new images of Mercury's surface, along with points of interest about how the sectors of Mercury are being named. Nowhere else will you find out why the newest crater is called Plains and Chains, or that there is a crater named for the eighteenth century Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.
11. @StarDate: For the quintessential stargazer, there is no better Twitter feed than StarDate's. Chances are, if you count yourself even an amateur skywatcher, you probably know a little about phases of the moon, the dates of meteor showers, the names of passing comets, and so on. With the help of StarDate's feed, however, you will have access to the same calendar of celestial events as the impeccable astronomers at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory. Each post gives succinct and clear information about the names and positions of certain stars and planets, and even projected times and places to look for them. This feed is an indispensable resource to anyone with a desire to observe the stars, but without the tools or direction to know where to start. Happy stargazing!
12. @Universe Today: Of the feeds listed here, this is perhaps the most varied in its content. While every post links out to an article, the content of that article could be theoretical, technical, practical, political — as long as there is some tangential relation to astronomy, it is fair game. That said, the articles are consistent in their quality, and always surprising. More so than some of the other astronomy feeds, UniverseToday.com actually includes Earth as part of our universe, and seems to argue by its inclusion of what you could call more "terrestrial" content that we are just as much a part of the great unknown as space itself.
13. @Astronomy Magazine: It doesn't replace a subscription to the beautifully photographed, full-color magazine, but Astronomy's Twitter feed does offer many of the same advantages as its print counterpart, plus a few features you can't get in a magazine — namely access to editors' blog entries that give tips for stargazing technique, catalog a few of the many celestial objects visible in the night sky, and outline in accessible language some of the new technologies and programs of the space world. Space geeks will also find big news items here, both on and off Earth. Did you know that the European Space Agency's Herschel infrared space observatory has recorded evidence of powerful space storms with enough energy to halt star growth, and even stop star formation altogether? If you didn't, maybe you should think about following this feed.
14. @The Daily Galaxy: If the universe wrote a newspaper, its stories would be very similar to the ones found at The Daily Galaxy. News about human life is the exception in this feed, which instead focuses on the patterns, events, and predicted movements of the stars. Still, every spread is engaging and intriguing the way only space can be. Black holes, supernovas, mysterious matter and energy, and light years are all regular items in the running narrative, and the feed's tag line perhaps summarizes better than I can here: "Your daily dose of awe."
15. @SpaceX: There's nothing astonishingly incredible about this Los Angeles-based private rocket company's feed, except that it is attached to the company — which is incredible, and changing the future of rocket vehicles — and keeps the stellar work they do grounded. Founded by Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, SpaceX exists in the name of cost-reduction and commercialization of space vehicles, and they are succeeding. If you are a space geek, follow this feed, if for no other reason than that, sooner than you think, you yourself might be boarding a craft built by SpaceX to take you to the moon, a space station, or maybe just a scenic tour of the solar system.
16. @SpaceCampUSA: What self-respecting space geek doesn't dream of going to Space Camp? Defy gravity? Train like an astronaut? Simulate mission control? Yes, yes, and yes! Located in Huntsville, AL at the U.S. Tranquility Rocket Center, and founded in 1982 by Dr. Wernher von Braun, Space Camp has educated over 500,000 visitors about space, and the demands of leadership, both as an astronaut and as a citizen. Their Twitter feed posts feedback for and responses to visitors, special event dates, and a host of other information encouraging people to go and get involved in their communities. Don't give up on your dream. It's never too late to go to Space Camp — or at least to follow their feed. And remember: Space Camp accepts adults, too.
17. @Space News Intl.: Space travel is a competitive international market, and an eminently political one, at that. Given that during the twenty years of the Cold War advances in space exploration were tantamount to greater power as a nation, it is not surprising to find that the dialogue between nations about space can be a heated and complex one, one worth following if you have any interest in the trajectory of your nation's space plans. This feed very actively traces that conversation and posts important global updates about space travel, administration, policy, and accomplishments. It might not be as enthralling as an article about the too-rapidly expanding universe, or as visually arresting as a photograph of the Crab Nebula, but the importance of international discussion of space cannot be stressed enough.
18. @Sea and Sky: Though they made the transition to Twitter a little late, and haven't quite fully capitalized on its potential, Sea and Sky's feed still is a great one, if only because it leads back to their homepage, which provides a superb foundation for anyone looking to learn about the sky. With constellation maps, galleries, fact pages, and more, the site takes the unimaginably complex topic of the universe and distills it down to something manageable, so that interested and uneducated space geeks aren't scared away prematurely. The feed does post some captivating news stories, and tries to stay up to date on cosmic events, but the real treasure here is the website.
19. @Astro Pic of the Day: As straightforward as it sounds, and just as impressive. What distinguishes this feed from other similar ones, such as the Hubble or Chandra feeds, is the commentary by established astronomers that are attached to every image. Beholding the awesome beauty of a galactic system is one thing, but to come a little closer to understanding them, with the guidance of someone who studies them for a living is quite another thing. In the same way that understanding how a rainbow is made can deepen your appreciation not only for rainbows, but for light and spectrums as well, these descriptions only further the fascination that is naturally attendant on images of the universe.
20. @Astrobiology Mag: Doing what few publications dare to do — and doing it well, with restraint and measured arguments, I might add — the articles this feed links to try to tackle the question of Life's beginning, and whether there is or even can be life on other planets. But this is not space opera fodder (sorry, space geeks); the stories here profile the latest developments in astrobiology, bringing heavy evidence to the table, and suggesting sober hypotheses about the origins and extent of life in the universe — controversial, for certain, but also an inevitable topic when discussing space.