We will post completed upgrades to the Astronomy Workshop here. To
suggest an upgrade or report a bug, please email Doug Hamilton:
MESSAGE #53. Fri Jul 31 19:28:35 EDT 2015. Prof. Doug
MESSAGE #52. Wed Jul 3 19:54:32 EDT 2013. Prof. Doug
We've created a new
Calculator and updated the
Calculator so that all moons in the Solar System are now
available to you including Pluto's 4th and 5th which received their
official names Kerberos and Styx yesterday! We define Regular
Satellites to be either close to their host planet or larger than
35km (or both); Irregular satellites are distant and typically
small, and there are a lot of them!
MESSAGE #51. Wed Sep 21 15:50:35 EDT 2011. Prof. Doug
There is a new AW
Extragalactic link now available from the main page. These new
tools have been developed by U. Maryland Astronomers Alberto Bolatto
and Melissa Hayes-Gehrke in collaboration with UMD undergraduates
Joseph Benik and Sam Knutson. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #50. Mon Sep 20 18:55:08 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
All Workshop Tools are now fully
functional. You should notice the enhanced performance of the
new server. There are a number of small repairs remaining
(e.g. updating the Featured Tool and Astro Fact daily) which will be done
MESSAGE #49. Mon Sep 20 13:06:40 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
Fixed: all Solar System Viewers, Central
Force Integrators, 3 Body Integrators. Still Broken: Planetary Satellite Integrator.
MESSAGE #48. Sat Sep 18 00:43:46 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
Fixed: Rogue Star, the Sun's Life, most Solar System Viewers. Still Broken: Our Solar System
Viewer, the Orbital Integration Tools.
MESSAGE #47. Fri Sep 17 14:38:39 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
Another power outage is scheduled for this weekend (Friday 8pm -
Monday 6am). I've permanently moved the Astronomy Workshop to a new
server that will remain available over the weekend and for all future
power outages. Each core on the new server is twice as fast as the
cores on the old machine, and there are 24 cores, so even times with
intense traffic should experience no slowdown. The move is
non-trivial, and currently only about 3/4 of the AW tools are
operational including: Scientific Notation
and all other tools under Astronomy Classroom, Solar System
Collisions, the Solar System Calculators, and the Solar System
Visualizer. The following tools still have problems: Rogue Star, The Sun's Life, some of the Solar System
Viewers, and all Orbital Integration Tools.
MESSAGE #46. Thu Aug 12 9:51:46 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
The Astronomy Workshop will be down from 6pm Friday Aug. 13 through
late evening Sunday Aug. 15. Power is being shut off to the building
that houses the server due to ongoing construction of a new building
nearby. We will be moving the server to a safer location to avoid
future power outages but were unable to complete the move before this
outage. Sorry for any inconvenience!
MESSAGE #45. Sun Feb 14 10:37:01 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
MESSAGE #44. Wed Feb 10 16:19:31 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug
I've added images to the Universe Timeline
webtool to illustrate key events! I also corrected a unit conversion
problem that has affected the Astronomical
Sizes tool since Dec. 25, 2009.
MESSAGE #43. Tue Dec 29 20:04:17 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug
Power was out to the building that houses the Astronomy Workshop for
12 hours today, so all machines had to powered down for the
duration. The total duration of the outage was about 20 hours - sorry
for any problems! No more outages are planned ...
MESSAGE #42. Mon Dec 25 18:15:29 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug
MESSAGE #41. Mon Nov 16 16:38:49 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #40. Wed Sep 2 18:57:02 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #39. Wed Jun 10 04:24:27 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton
I have upgraded all of the tools in the Orbital Integrators section of
the Astronomy Workshop, making significant improvements in speed,
functionality, stability, and overall appearance. Try the newest
tool: The Lagrange Point
MESSAGE #38. Wed Apr 23 13:09:51 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The Astronomy Workshop was offline from Tue Apr. 22 at 14:00 until Wed
Apr. 23 at 12:45 for restructuring of the server. This is the first
outage in 1.5 years and should not be required again. Sorry for any
MESSAGE #37. Fri Feb 19 18:45:11 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Which Astronomy Workshop tools are most popular? Find out with
improved statistics available from the What's Hot link on the main page (updated
daily). See the most popular tools from      and  - there are some surprises!
MESSAGE #36. Fri Nov 13 22:48:03 EDT 2008. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Now that the Scientific
Notation application has served several million problems, I was
able to notice and fix two very rare bugs that affected only about 1
in 10,000 questions. The affected problems included some that had very
large numerical answers and the rare expressions that evaluated to zero.
I also modernized the front page and added a big green GO button!
MESSAGE #36. Fri Feb 22 23:49:24 EDT 2008. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Curran Muhlberger and I have just finished a
major upgrade of the popular
application. Users can now practice multiplication/division and
addition/subtraction as well as conversion problems. There is also a
new quiz feature. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #35. Mon Nov 5 18:18:48 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) is installed!
The Astronomy Workshop can now survive 30 minute power failures.
Hopefully this will be the last word on that subject.
MESSAGE #34. Mon Oct 29 23:31:57 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The Astronomy Workshop's server went down again,
and failed to reboot, due to another short power outage! This time the
server was offline from Saturday morning at 8:00am through Monday at
12:50pm. We'll get that UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) this week.
MESSAGE #33. Tue Oct 16 23:16:11 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The Astronomy Workshop's server went down Sunday morning due to a
power glitch and was returned to service late Monday morning. Sorry
for any inconvenience! We'll be investing in a UPS (Uninterrupted
Power Supply) soon. Also, thanks to Steve Vogt who informed me that
the Rogue Star application was
not working. It was repaired on Oct. 5.
MESSAGE #32. Wed Sep 5 19:35:52 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The Astronomy Workshop's new server is online! Apologies to those of
you who experienced downtime early this afternoon and for about an
hour yesterday. Each CPU in the new server is 1.5 times faster than
before and there are four of them, twice as many as before. In
addition, transfer rates to and from the network are now at 1 Gbit
instead of 100Mbit. These improvements should benefit all users,
especially during time of high usage. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #31. Sat Jul 7 16:24:18 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Andrew Lund has just released Star Race which we have posted
in the Solar System Viewers
section. The program animates the life of two stars born at the same
time - which burns through it fuel fastest and what will they become
in the end?
MESSAGE #30. Sat Jul 7 16:19:11 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Noam Reisner has updated the "Did You Know ..." feature that appears
on the main Astronomy Workshop page. He has added a
number of new questions, produced locally-supported descriptions and
images, and updated all external links. Noam and I will continue to
add new content over the summer.
MESSAGE #29. Wed Apr 11 09:08:36 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Michael VanDaniker has just released our first version of the Solar Systems Visualizer, posted in the Solar System Viewers section. The
program animates the orbits i) the planets and minor bodies (asteroids
and comets) in our Solar System, ii) planetary satellites and rings,
and iii) extrasolar planets all in a single application. A smooth zoom
feature gives the user a sense of scale, and toggle buttons allows the
view to be customized. Additional comets, asteroids, and Kuiper belt
objects will be added soon and we eventually plan to take this
application into 3D. Try it out!
MESSAGE #28. Tue Oct 17 10:51:46 EDT 2006. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Kaveh Pahlevan has written a very nice application to translate
between position and velocity components and orbital elements for both
elliptical and hyperbolic orbits. Try it out: Changing the Elements in the
Working with Orbits section.
made several upgrades to the Central
Force Integrator, including improving the sampling rate near the
origin so that orbital curves appear smooth and continuous.
MESSAGE #27. Fri Sep 1 11:57:13 EDT 2006. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Yesterday, we experienced a catastrophic loss of
the hard disk holding the Astronomy Workshop. As a result, the site
was down for 22 hours (from 1:24pm Thursday through 11:24am today)
while a new hard disk was installed, and a copy of the contents of the
disk was restored from backup. Most Astronomy Workshop functionality
has been restored, although there may still be some minor
glitches to repair. Sorry for any inconvenience!
MESSAGE #26. Thu Jul 20 19:25:48 EDT 2006. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #25. Wed Sep 14 18:48:13 EDT 2005. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Kristofer Quinn has done an impressive job upgrading the Rogue Star application. The
application is now fully 3D with slider bars that allow the scale and
viewing orientation to be changed while the animation is running. In
addition, click on the name of any object to center it in the
MESSAGE #24. Sat Jul 24 17:19:50 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
I've added counters to the
Scientific Notation and
Working With Equations sites so that
students can keep track of the number of problems that they answer
right and wrong. Check it out! Also, a power outages caused the AW
server to be offline Friday night through Saturday afternoon.
MESSAGE #23. Thu Jul 15 18:56:43 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #22. Fri Jul 09 13:37:29 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
A new tool written by Armen Galustyan, Earth's Seasons, is now available under Explore the Possibilities. Find out
how our planet's tilt affects the amount of sunlight reaching
different places at different times of the year.
MESSAGE #21. Fri Jul 09 12:00:33 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Astronomy Workshop Page is now updated continually with a new
Featured Tool and Astro Fact every day. There is also a new What's Hot link on the main page which is
updated daily. Follow it to see which Astronomy Workshop tools others
find most useful.
MESSAGE #20. Wed Jun 16 17:50:22 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
We have done a rare internal reorganization of the Workshop to
facilitate future upgrades. If you have linked to individual tools or
pages within the Astronomy Workshop, check your links! Some of them
will need to be updated! Links to these popular tools:
and a number of others should be changed. Sorry for any inconvenience.
MESSAGE #19. Tue Apr 20 17:04:26 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #18. Tue Mar 09 11:51:17 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Today Leila Malayeri's
of the Sun animation debuts on the Astronomy Workshop!
Also William Jacobson and I have completed the first of many
planned improvements to
Star. This version has i) Cleaner graphics, ii) Better handling of
massive Rogue Stars, and iii) 15% faster download time for dialup
modem users. Watch for further improvements!
MESSAGE #17. Sat Jan 31 11:21:03 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #16. Tue Jul 1 16:50:08 2003. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Ooops! The Workshop was down over the past
weekend for a server upgrade and a few related problems. This almost
never happens - sorry for the inconvenience!
MESSAGE #15. Mon Jun 9 18:20:16 2003. Kaveh Pahlevan
Our long-anticipated mainpage update is finally here! Among
the changes are:
MESSAGE #14. Thu Dec 26 18:24:09 2002. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Numerous Improvements this month:
All Tools - Improved and Standardized Error Checking
and Error Messages
- Rogue Star - Significant
Reduction in Data File Size to Improve Download Speed for Users with
- Orbital Elements (3D) -
Several Bug Fixes and Improved Graphics
MESSAGE #13. Mon Nov 25 19:38:06 2002. Prof. Doug Hamilton
MESSAGE #12. Sat Nov 23 10:44:35 2002. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Astronomy Workshop Users:
We are in the
process of upgrading the Astronomy Workshop server. The new server
is still at http://janus.astro.umd.edu/, and it is about 10 times
faster than the old one. You should notice significant performance
improvements in almost all applications, especially the Orbital
Integration programs. We are still tracking down a few bugs - notably
in the "Rogue Star", "Planetary Satellite Integrator", and "Three Body
Integrator" applications. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please report
any other problems that you might have to me!
MESSAGE #11. Fri Aug 3 10:32:38 2001. Mike Asbury
We've got a new program under the "Astronomy for
Beginner's" section. This program, called Rogue Star, will let you
send another star through the Solar System and see what kind of havoc
it will cause.
Hope you like it! As always, comments are
MESSAGE #10. Thu Jun 14 13:12:44 2001. Mandy Proctor
We have updated the Working with Equations page. There are
more equations and you may now select which equations you would like
to work with.
The Satellite and Planetary Calculators have also
been upgraded. Both pages have error checkers to spot when you have
may an error in entering your equation. Enjoy!!
MESSAGE #9. Fri Apr 13 16:07:13 2001. Mike Asbury
We have updated the Solar System Viewer with some new
features. Now you can control the speed of the animation. You can
even stop it and start it up again. Also, now the comets show the
name associated with them, so you can watch for your favorite
We have also update the Satellite Viewer, to include the
newest moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus!
Lastly, we have
updated the ExtraSolar Planets applet to include all the known
multiplanet extrasolar planetary systems!
Have fun with these new
MESSAGE #8. Tue Dec 5 19:14:58 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The last lingering bugs from the server upgrade
have finally been squashed! The orbital integrators are all back on
line now. I learned more about how twitchy a server can be than I ever
wanted to know. No more server upgrades for a few years!
MESSAGE #7. Fri Aug 18 17:01:58 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton
We have upgraded the Astronomy Workshop server
software. An improved response time should be noticeable, especially
for the java animations in the Solar System Viewers, and Working with
We have also added an index to the main page
which lists all Astronomy Workshop tools currently available. We hope
that this will be useful!
MESSAGE #6. Wed Jul 19 13:31:29 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton
We have developed two new calculator for the
Astronomy Workshop and posted them on the main webpage. One calculator
allow you to compare data from the nine planets, while the other
operates on the 63 moons in the solar system. Calculate the escape
velocity, the surface gravity, the orbital period, or one of more than
ten other pre-defined quantities for each of these objects. Or create
and evaluate your own formulae. The output is an easy-to-read table
which allows the moons and planets of our Solar System to be compared
at a glance.
MESSAGE #5. Mon Jan 10 14:36:26 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Counters have been added to the main Astronomy
Workshop page and the Solar System Collisions page.
MESSAGE #4. Fri Jan 7 11:42:59 2000. Mike Asbury
MESSAGE #3. Mon Nov 29 14:37:53 1999. Prof. Doug Hamilton
We have removed the passwords formerly required
by several of the tools in "Orbital Simulations". In addition, we now
have four new simplified versions of the Three-Body Integrator
available. Try them out!
MESSAGE #2. Tue Nov 9 19:22:16 1999. Prof. Doug Hamilton
The server for The Astronomy Workshop has been
upgraded to a fast new machine. Speed increases should be especially
noticeable for the links in the "Orbital Simulations" section.
new animated "Solar System Viewers" are now available. One shows the
motions of the planets, comets, asteroids, and Kuiper belt objects in
our Solar System. The other animates the two known multiple-planet
extrasolar Solar Systems.
MESSAGE #1. Mon Sep 6 15:41:46 1999. Prof. Doug Hamilton
Four new Bulletin Boards are now available for
use with the Astronomy Workshop!
It is my hope that users of the
Astronomy Workshop will share their experiences and ideas with each
other and with us.
Back to the Astronomy Workshop