An Observatory is a building or satellite designed and equipped to observe astronomical phenomena.
Ground-based Observatories, located on the surface of Earth, are used to make observations in the radio and visible light portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Most optical telescopes are housed within a dome or other similar structure in order to protect the delicate instruments from the elements. Telescope domes contain a slit or other opening in the roof that can be opened during observing and then closed when the telescope is not in use. In most cases, the entire upper portion of the telescope dome can be rotated in order to allow the instrument to observe different sections of the night sky. For optical telescopes, most ground-based observatories are located far from major centers of population in order to avoid the effects of light pollution. 
Radio Observatories encompass radio telescopes, or a collection of them, with outbuildings for such things as control centres, data reduction centers, and maintenance are called radio observatories. Radio observatories are similarly located far from major centers of population in order to avoid electromagnetic interference (EMI). But unlike optical observatories, radio observatories will be placed in valleys to further shield them from EMI. Radio telescopes usually do not have domes. 
Space-based Observatories are telescopes or other instruments that are located in outer space, many in orbit around the Earth. Space-based observatories can be used to observe astronomical objects at wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that cannot penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and are thus impossible to observe using ground-based telescopes. 
A Telescope is an arrangement of lenses, mirrors, or both that collects visible light, allowing direct observation or photographic recording of distant objects. A refracting telescope uses lenses to focus light to produce a magnified image. Compound lenses are used to avoid distortions such as spherical and chromatic aberrations. A reflecting telescope uses mirrors to view celestial objects at high levels of magnification. Most large optical telescopes are reflecting telescopes because very large mirrors, which are necessary to maximize the amount of light received by the telescope, are easier to build than very large lenses. Radio telescopes are used to detect and observe distant objects by collecting radiation other than visible light. 
Astronomy and Astrophysics Flight Missions InformationLast Updated on 2009-04-24 17:23:54National Space Science Data Center
Astronomy or astrophysics contributing significantly to missioin science objectives.
Flight Missions Graphical Interface for astrophysics missions by wavelength region.
Alternatively, see the Flight Missions Information (text-only version) lists the same flight missions.
Missions with a space/solar physics or planetary astronomy focus are generally not included on the pages above. For a complete listing of all missions see NSSDC Master Catalog below.
NSSDC Master Catalog
Flight Missions Information
Astronomy and Astrophysics
at the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Around the World in 80 Telescopes - Recorded Videos ArchiveLast Updated on 2009-04-03 14:33:55"Around the World in 80 Telescopes" was a unique live 24-hour webcast, held April 3-4, 2009, that visited some of the most advanced observatories both on and off the planet.
"Around the World in 80 Telescopes" was organized by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), from its head-quarters in Garching, Germany, and was part of the IYA-2009 "100 Hours of Astronomy" global event held April 2-5, 2009. LEARN MORE »
This is all part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA-2009), a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is endorsed by the United Nations and the International Council of Science (ICSU).
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100 Hours of Astronomy (April 2-5, 2009)Last Updated on 2009-04-02 00:00:00The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone Project, "100 Hours of Astronomy," is on track to be the largest single science public outreach event ever. More than 1500 events have been registered in over 130 countries and this number is increasing every day. 100 Hours of Astronomy is a truly global project; an event on a scale never attempted before, with more than one million people expected to participate!
100 Hours of Astronomy Preview Video
Clicking imagae above will lead to UStream: 100 Hours of Astronomy.
In the year 2009, the world will celebrate the International Year of Astronomy as it commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the skies, and Kepler’s publication of Astronomia Nova.
100 Hours is April 2-5, 2009
100 Hours of Astronomy is a 100-hour, round-the-clock, round-the-globe event that includes... More »
NASA - Science MissionsLast Updated on 2009-03-30 17:00:45NASA Science Missions
The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Space Act) established NASA as an aerospace research and development agency that sponsors and conducts flight missions to obtain data in furtherance of its objectives.
In NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD), flight missions range from suborbital projects—including balloons, sounding rockets, and airplanes—to interplanetary probes and flagship observatories. All investigations and missions selected and flown must respond to Agency goals and strategic objectives. Mission opportunities are open to all proposers, within fixed rules, via public announcement, and selections are based primarily on scientific and technical merit as evaluated by independent peer review. Foreign partners are frequent and valued participants in joint missions. The partnerships are generally conducted on a... More »
Notes from the Astronomy Underground- AstropaloozaLast Updated on 2008-09-28 00:00:00
According to the tagline in Ridley Scott’s 1979 blockbuster Alien, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” It’s true that sound waves, unlike light, need a medium- some kind of substance to carry their energy across a distance. And space is a vacuum, which, save the occasional solar system, fuzzy nebula, or bizarre stellar end product, is devoid of any respectable amount of matter. No matter, no sound, right?
Well, almost. Space is not completely empty. There are about one or two hydrogen molecules per square centimeter in the sparsest of regions. It beats our clumsy, terrestrial vacuum chambers handedly, but it’s not a vacuum in the strictest connotation of the word. Sound waves can still propagate through space, but so slowly and ineffectively that it would be pointless for aerophilic humans to do anything about it. Unless of course, we had ears many millions... More »
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