I believe that many readers of this blog are amateur astronomers. I also believe, based on my own subjective experience, that a very small number of amateur astronomers are active on Twitter. When I ask friends and colleagues why they aren’t active on Twitter, I usually receive mumbled replies mentioning Justin Bieber or just the simple statement “I don’t do those things” (I guess in reference to Twitter and Facebook or maybe they’re also referring to Justin Bieber). In any case, if you are interested in astronomy and space exploration and you’re not on Twitter then you are really missing out.
Like the internet itself, Twitter is an amazing resource with information on every conceivable topic including astrophysics, planetary science, manned space flight, robotic space missions, etc. You can follow nobel prize winning physicists, post-doc students, governmental organizations, universities, observatories and professors. I am currently following 202 people or organizations on Twitter and I think they’re all great. Listed below is a cross section of some of the Twitter accounts I follow:
- @NASA – NASA has multiple Twitter accounts that correspond to specific missions and organizations. I guess you could call this account an umbrella account because it has information about many NASA missions as well as general space information (e.g., asteroid 2012 DA14 passing close to Earth on February 15, 2013).
- @KarenLMasters – Karen is an “astronomy researcher at University of Portmouth (involved especially in Galaxy Zoo project and LOFAR-UK)”.
- @RadioAstroGal – @RadioAstroGal is the Twitter account for a woman named Tania who is a “science writer and Media Producer for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.”
- @SOFIAtelescope – SOFIA stands for Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. You may have seen pictures of it – it’s a 747 aircraft that is the largest airborne observatory in the world. “It’s a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center.”
- @Caltech – this is the Twitter account for the California Institute of Technology.
- @CatherineQ – Catherine describes herself as an “astrophysicist, science communicator, over-thinker”. She’s also a university professor.
- @seanmcarroll – Sean is a theoretical physicist at the Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics at Caltech. He’s also the author of “The Particle at the End of the Universe”.
- @astrobetter – A blog and a wiki for professional astronomers (I’m not a professional astronomer but I read it anyway – let’s keep it our little secret).
- @closefrank – This is the Twitter account for Frank Close “scientist, author and broadcaster. Currently writing a book about Bruno Pontecorvo – the physicist who inspired the standard model but was he also a spy?”.
- @cosmicpinot – This is the Twitter account for Brian Schmidt who describes himself as “An overly busy Cosmologist, Grape Grower, Astronomer, Wine maker, Dad and Husband.” He is also a Nobel Prize winner (2011 Physics).
- @MarsCuriosity – This is NASA’s Twitter account for the Mars Curiosity rover.
- @davidwhogg – David Hogg is an “Associate Professor with tenure, Department of Physics” at NYU. His main interests are in observational cosmology.
- @astrobites – Astrobites is a blog written by astronomy grad students. @astrobites is their Twitter account.
- @ESO – The European Southern Observatory.
- @sarahkendrew – Sarah is a “Postdoc Astronomer-slash-Engineer, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg”. She also has a very good blog at http://sarahaskew.net.
- @AAVSO – American Association of Variable Star Observers. The “world leader in variable star research”.
As you can see, this is a pretty varied group of individuals and organizations. However, this list just scratches the surface. As I said earlier, I follow 202 accounts on Twitter. If you’re interested in astronomy you owe it to yourself to join Twitter and start learning. Today.