Introduction to Space
Space is a big subject. When you're getting started it can be difficult to even figure out what you need to learn, let alone how to learn it.
I'm here to sort that out for you. My name is Dave Owen (Space Dave) and my work includes teaching people of all ages about all aspects of space. Over the years I've developed a list of what I think are the most important and interesting things to know about space, from how rockets work to the structure of the Universe. Of course you may not be interested in every topic—perhaps you only want to know about black holes or how to use your new telescope. That's fine, you can browse or search this website for exactly what you need. Still, I do think it's a good idea to have a working knowledge of all the common space topics even if you're only interested in one aspect. It's not as hard as it might seem.
These are the topics we need to cover:
The basic structure of the Universe. This is essential knowledge for all space enthusiasts, no matter what your specific area of interest. You need to know the difference between the Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy and the Universe, and how they all fit together.
Tutorial: The Structure of the Universe
Shapes, sizes and distances of things in space. Things in the Universe exist on scales that are difficult to imagine. We'll look at how big and how far apart things are, and use analogies to visualize them.
Tutorials: Sizes in Space | Distances in Space
The scientific method. You don't have to be a scientist to enjoy space but you'll have an advantage if you understand how the scientific method works. This is actually the foundation of science literacy and I believe it should be emphasized more in our education system.
Tutorial: The Scientific Method
How rockets and spacecraft work. Watching a rocket launch or following an interplanetary mission is much more fun if you understand what's going on. You'll want to learn how rockets work, how payloads get put into space, the different types of spacecraft and what kind of missions they do.
Tutorial: How Rockets work
Amateur astronomy. Anyone with a view of the stars can learn enough about the night sky to impress their friends. If you're keen, take it further and learn to use binoculars or a telescope.
Tutorials: Stargazing Primer | Astronomy equipment | Observing the Sun | Laser pointer safety
Tutorials for the topics below are still under construction.
Space organizations. It's useful to know about the main players in the space industry, from government agencies like NASA, ESA and ROSCOSMOS to private companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Rocket Lab.
Astronomical research. Who are the people who study space? What exactly do they do? How do they know all this stuff about the Universe? Can we trust them?
Additional resources. There are hundreds of excellent websites, books and other resources, and I'll be recommended some of them throughout these tutorials. There are also hundreds of popular but flawed sources of information so you'll want to learn how to separate the good stuff from the rubbish.
If you're keen to work through these tutorials in order, use the links at the end of each page. The first things we'll tackle are some basic concepts about sizes and distances in space.