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Do something spacey

This weekend, outer space isn’t just something to dream about: There are opportunities galore to take part in space adventures, online and offline.

  • If skies are clear, try spotting the international space station in the night sky as it plays host to the space shuttle Endeavour. NASA's orbital tracking Web site gives you that Mission Control feeling, and it's easy to look up sighting opportunities for the space station. The Heavens Above Web site is even easier to use - and it will also tell you when and where to look for Mars and Jupiter.
  • You can stay up late (or get up early) to catch the summer’s best meteor show, known as the Perseids. The annual meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus, which is where all the shooting stars seem to come from. But the bright streaks can appear anywhere in the sky. Check out our viewing guide for all you need to know, get in practice for the Aurigids, which astronomers think will be a bright new show on the meteor stage, and if you happen to snap a great Perseid picture, send it in.
  • Why not make stargazing a social activity? The best way to get into the swing of things is to find your local astronomy club. This listing from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is a good place to start. Click around and you just might find that the space-geek gang in your town is planning a meteor-viewing party.
  • Even if it’s cloudy outside, you can still explore space via your computer. Tens of thousands of armchair astronomers are already corralling galaxies online for the Galaxy Zoo project. Tens of thousands more have been looking for interstellar dust tracks in the Stardust @ Home project, and the second phase of the hunt began today. Register today and become a "zookeeper" or a "duster."
  • Former astronaut Sally Ride and a crack team of writers are providing updates on educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan's space odyssey on the Sally Ride Science blog. But the shuttle mission isn't the only space-themed adventure that's unfolding this weekend. Keep tabs on NASA's underwater expedition to “inner space" via the University of North Carolina's Aquarius blog. Or catch up with the dispatches from the Mars Society's Arctic simulation of a Red Planet mission. The NASA-funded Haughton Mars Project is just wrapping up, but you can review the exploits of researchers studying one of the most Marslike places on Earth.
  • NASA Watch's Keith Cowing has more pointers to space-themed activities, including the newly announced Lunar Plant Growth Chamber Challenge and a space art contest sponsored by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. You can also drive a simulated Mars rover over the Internet, courtesy of the Planetary Society. And while we're on the subject, Emily Lakdawalla's Planetary Society blog has an animated image of Saturn and its satellites that will knock your star-spangled socks off. 

Do you have additional suggestions for getting spacey? Pass them along as a comment below - and this weekend, may your nights be merry and dark.