The Astronomy Toolbar

Teaching astronomy, raising the interest in planetary science comes with one additional reward compared to other subjects. Astronomy is arguably the subject that raises the most awareness in a human being. How many among us have at least once heard this quote or one similar from an Astronaut, “ It’s only after flying in space and staring at our planet that I took the full measure of her fragility and understood how trivial are our disputes. But no more than 560 human beings (2018) have ever seen our planet from the cosmos and among the ones who have freed themselves from Earth’s Embrace, each have a different experience ranging from the 15 minutes sub orbital flight to the year long journey in preparation for future interplanetary travel. But man has not waited the advent of space travellers to turn his eyes towards the sky.

"...after all what is the difference between the skin of an animal used as a cloth or a spaceship?...

When asked the dates about the beginning of men’s adventure in the cosmos, I always answer, it did not start with Gagarine, the Sputnik or the V2 of Von Braun or even sometime before the first millennium through the invention of gun powder by the Chinese. For me at least, this adventure started in prehistoric times, the very same day one of our ancestors looked at the skies, this day the questions started….And as for the spaceship, it is also a very, very old invention too, because after all what is the difference between the skin of an animal used as a cloth or a spaceship? They both accomplish the same function of protecting the man inside and ensuring his survival until the end of the journey.


We have come a long way, astronomy as a science as well as space exploration has its martyrs whether they finished on a bonfire if one was professing plurality of worlds or the dramatic end of a teacher dreaming to touch the stars when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. But the reward is always well beyond expectations. Some Historians have said that the Soviets themselves were surprised by the world reaction to Sputnik. This fascination for the affairs of the sky was not due to the fear of the cold war only. It is something we have in us; somehow we know the answers must be there.

We may have come a long way, we may have sent Space Probes to Pluto and beyond, but there is on this planet, people for whom the sky is still a total enigma. And I am sure that those who will eventually read those lines do not know to what extent. It will sound like a bad comedy, or in these days where people have to be extremely politically correct it could even be considered racist. But I have met people in Africa who told me that all these stories of planets are an invention of the white man. Do not get me wrong I am not saying that people have no clue at all. It is just that Africa is still this land of contrasts where one can often have the impression of existing in two different dimensions at the same time.

That is why I started by the story of the astronauts speaking about the revelation during their space flights which made them change their view of our world. When someone teaches space exploration, he can see the awe in the eyes of those who are explained to for the first time about Jupiter, a world made of gas or hidden oceans on moons with more water than all the oceans of the earth combined.

You will have understood that we love Astronomy and everything concerning space exploration and we strive to share our passion hoping and knowing that it makes people think further, widens their horizons and triggers curiosity, the essential companion to any wannabe scientist.

While citizen scientists are discovering exo-planets, helping with SETI and have even spotted lost Martian probes, some people in Africa still dream to look through a simple telescope. Sometimes it is difficult and demoralising when the educator finds it hard or impossible to do the follow up of the passion he has triggered in the space of a once off event. Thus we created Our Astronomy Toolbar which is first and foremost a tool for those we wish to educate. It is all too good to introduce someone to a subject but as all teachers know, the greatest part of the journey will be done by the one having the thirst for knowledge.

"...and as a search engine is embedded on the site, I simply made it my home page on the office computer....
We wanted to leave the people in whom we would have ignited the spark some directions. We wanted them to do the follow up without painful searches. At the beginning we did not put it online, the program operating on our laptops but with time people started to ask us to do so and that’s what we did. The Toolbar is not only for novices in Astronomy, some of our journalists, mostly the ones writing about Astronomy or planetary science like the author of these lines has found it very useful as in this metier you are bound to visit several times per day the same site if not the same page, and as a search engine is embedded on the site, I simply made it my home page on the office computer.

In the Astronomy Toolbar, we have found the perfect tool for us to disseminate the gospel of Space Exploration. We hope you will also find it useful and do not hesitate to support our action by donating, reading our articles or interacting with us on twitter or Facebook.

P.S A commonly asked question is why not a mobile version. Firstly, it is not a marketing venture, it has been created for education purposes only and one must remember that sometimes up to ten people will follow the explanations on the one screen available and anything smaller than a laptop would have been useless. Furthermore, the Internet Café’s are still a quite a common feature in Africa and it costs you in some of them, something like 0.75 USD to browse for three hours.

Note: The Astronomy Toolbar of Astroverbot Juliais absolutely free for you to use. We covered all the eight ‘Official ‘Planets. Dwarf Planets, asteroid belt, Pulsars etc. We choose the most relevant articles and made sure our links does not carry you towards a site which asks for subscription. The Astronomy Toolbar has the capacity to store more than 2000 articles on one single page therefore we will be glad to receive your suggestions and links to improve the toolbar. We have read and evaluated every single article but we are not immune to mistakes, do not hesitate to point any mistakes and we will amend it.

We are self funded and our activities in astronomy concern mainly introduction to astronomy, dissemination of information on space exploration and mobile classes. Help us to continue to provide outstanding services in the countries of Southern Africa in places where the cosmos is still a mystical place full of mysteries. Do not hesitate to support us by donating as every cent will help. Our next main project is to raise funds for the acquisition of a minivan which we will equip with computers, telescopes and other material to assist us and ease our mobile demonstration. We count on your support.(Steven Martin)

Video Text Despite the terrible moments we all endured during this year, we wanted to offer our readers and everyone whose passion, interest or field of knowledge is Astronomy, The Astronomical Toolbar which we designed. It encompasses easy, quick access to a compendium of specific information on the Solar System and Astronomy. We often access many of the sites ourselves and wanted a simpler way to do so without the constant need to input the address of wherever we were searching for information. From the Planets themselves to the Kuiper Belt, we included instant access links to many of the authoritative sources of reference as well as others which are both well considered and informative on specifics. Furthermore in our effort to educate and disseminate Astronomy among both the adherents and the layman, we found in the toolbar an ideal medium to introduce the subject while reducing the boredom of browsing. Our links will take you to the discovery of the solar system and well beyond in a complex Universe containing exotic objects like pulsars, black holes or Quasars. We did not forgot the multiple enigmas, still unanswered mysteries, like the great filter, tabby’s star or the famed planet X and we referenced academics, engineers, scientists and educators to include them where apt. All the major players like NASA, JAXA and ROSCOSMOS are included as well as Wikipedia, which though not the ultimate source (is there one?) is still very useful. Obviously there will be omissions of sources we could not include because of lack of time (we are self funded) and because of copyright and legal issues. However there are no Cookies or Tracking on the Toolbar as we believe everyone has the right to privacy and anonymity. We hope you enjoy this gift from us and have a pleasant and relaxing festive season, doing what you enjoy most, accessing all the information on astronomical subjects that is available.Wishing all our readers a fantastic 2022

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