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Where Homework and The Internet Meet: LAUNCH POINT

June 30, 1997

Rain on Jupiter? A Texas-size object past Pluto? Each week, The Times' World Wide Web site will spotlight a particular subject and offer profiles of other Web sites of interest to enthusiasts or students looking for help with their homework. Here are summaries of nine Web sites about the solar system accessible at http//:www.latimes.com/launch/. In coming weeks: math, literature and dinosaurs.

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The Solar System

Here, in increasing levels of complexity, are good sites for exploring-or getting schoolwork done

Level One

Windows to the Universe: Easy, informative descriptions of the planets and other solar system objects told in short bites with simple language. Also, planet mythology and the latest space news. http://windows.engin.umich.edu/

Star Child: Another source for short, easy descriptions, Star Child has more information about the universe beyond the solar system and offers quizzes and space games, with cartoon illustrations. http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/

Buckman School: A is for asteroid belt. Children's drawings and one-line descriptions tell the ABCs via space objects. http://buckman.pps.k12.or.us/room100/abcspace/spaceabc.html

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Level Two

The Nine Planets: Focuses on the planets and their moons, with simply worded but more detailed descriptions than the beginner sites. Beautiful photos, tips on how to view planets without a telescope. http://www.spacer.com/nineplanets/

Observatorium: Great game center for learning about space. A game of Concentrate has the player match space images, then gives information about them. Send a space postcard to a friend. http://observe.ivv.nasa.gov/observe.html

Yahooligans Space Index: Want to find an exotic topic? Say, for example, ancient Mayan astronomy? Here is the ultimate place for links to Web sites on very specific space subjects.

http://www.yahooligans.com/Science_and_Oddities/Space

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Level Three

Views of the Solar System: Much like the Nine Planets, but with longer, more sophisticated and detailed discussions of the solar system's features. Helpful for a long report.

http://bang.lanl.gov/solarsys/

The Comet's Tale: Everything about comets, including how to make one for a school project.

http://www.cea.berkeley.edu/~dcs/com.html

The Space Science Institute: Explores complex subjects that go far beyond where to find objects in space. Learn about space plasma, auroras and the nature of atmospheres.

http://www-ssi.colorado.edu/1.html

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine Department of Education, which reviews sites for appropriateness and quality.

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