If you are like me, you may find yourself with some time to kill while you are waiting for the bus, your next class, or your mocha. Instead of lurking and mindlessly reading status updates on Facebook and Twitter, you might want to spend a few minutes learning about this amazing universe of ours.
YouTube, like the universe, is a place of infinite options for discovery that is always expanding. There are over a billion videos on YouTube with hundreds of new videos being added every minute. One way to navigate the YouTube universe is to browse (or subscribe) by channels (e.g. NASA YouTube Channel). However, channels such as NASA (and its sister channels such as NASA Goddard) will have hundreds, even thousands of videos that it can pose a challenge to find the information that interests you. This is why I recommend using YouTube playlists which are a collection of videos that are typically arranged by subject. Many YouTube channels will have pre-selected playlists, but you can also create your own playlists.
To get you started I have selected five of my favorite astronomy YouTube playlists (arranged alphabetically)
- Astrophysics from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
A variety of astronomical topics are presented in the Astrophysics playlist, but I find this playlist extremely helpful in keeping up on the latest NASA space science missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble, Osiris- Rex, as well as the observations from its spacecraft missions.
2. Frasier Cain’s Guide to Space from Universe Today
Do you ever wonder how to properly pronounce Uranus, what are alien megastructures, and could you put a black hole in your pocket? These and more space questions are answered with short videos by Universe Today publisher Frasier Cain.
3. Heliophysics from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Solar flares, corona mass ejections, and geomagnetic storms- did I get your attention? The sun and its changing behavior can greatly impact earth and this playlist from Goddard’s Heliophysics Directorate provides short videos about NASA’s solar missions, the heliosphere, and space weather. And if you simply want to ‘space out’ on imagery of our beautiful and dynamic sun, this playlist offers that too.
4. Random Space Fact from the Planetary Society
Dr. Bruce Betts promises to give you “one space fact and one laugh in one minute” in this weekly series from the Planetary Society.
5. What’s Up from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
Keep up to date on what is happening in the sky each month with JPL’s What’s Up playlist. These short videos will highlight important events in our sky such as meteor showers, comets, and planets.
And one more for good measure- because I can’t leave out Pluto….
If you have mad love for the icy dwarf Pluto, then these short one minute videos from NASA were made just for you. Based on data and images from New Horizons mission this series will give you a better understanding of the Pluto system and objects in the Kuiper belt. Even though the new videos have lagged in 2016, the existing videos are excellent and their will be more added as new discoveries are made with New Horizons.