Last nights Gadget show on Channel 5 saw Jon Bently (presenter), star gazing with Will Gater News Editor of The Sky At Night magazine. The three scopes that they choose to test were the Meade 80mm Goto Refractor, Celestron’s Excelent Nexstar 4Se and the Skywatcher Explorer 200 on the EQ5. Not surprisingly the outcome of the mini test led them both to agree that the Celestron was the better out of the three, offering quieter easier operation and a better view. A recap of the mini review can be found here. The Celestron Nexstar and Skywatcher scopes can be found on the website.
A decent pair of binoculars is a must for bird watching. There are a multitude of bird watching binoculars available and choosing the right pair can be quite daunting. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a pair of pocket binoculars specifically for bird watching:
Binoculars can range in price from under £30 to well over £1000. Cheaper binoculars may well be lacking in features needed for bird watching, thus decreasing your enjoyment. If you are on a strict budget then £50 – £100 will buy you some decent bird watching binoculars.
High magnification is not necessarily the best option. As magnification increases, your field of view decreases and slight movements made by an unsteady hand are greatly exaggerated. For general bird watching, a magnification of 7x or 8x is fine, while 10x is best when viewing birds of prey over large distances.
Binoculars with large lenses are useful for viewing birds in shrubs and woodland. A larger objective lens allows more light to enter and so creates a brighter image. A lens diameter between 35 and 50 is fine, but remember, a larger lens may mean heavier binoculars.
Your binoculars will spend a lot of time hanging round your neck so it is important to find a weight you are comfortable with, although very lightweight compact binoculars can be a sign that they are poorly made.
For more information and to view a comprehensive range of bird watching binoculars, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.
For most people, the predominant piece of equipment associated with astronomy is the telescope. However, binoculars can be a very useful piece of equipment for the astronomer, especially for amateurs.
They provide good wide field images at low magnification which can allow novice astronomers to find their way around the night sky much more easily than with higher magnification telescopes. Binoculars are, by definition, two oculars (two eyepieces).
A binocular is simply two refracting telescopes packaged together so that both eyes can be used to look at distant objects at the same time. They incorporate a number of prisms for three purposes: Firstly, to reduce the length of the tubes in order to make them more compact and therefore, more portable. Secondly, the prisms are used to put the image upright again (because binoculars are not usually used for viewing the cosmos). Lastly, the prisms make it possible to reduce the width between the eyepieces so that viewing is possible with both eyes.
There are also some disadvantages with using binoculars for astronomy. Most importantly, they do not normally include telescope mounts, although some of the larger sizes can be fitted with photo tripod adapters. Without telescope mounts of some kind, large binoculars are heavy and difficult to hold up to your eyes for sustained long periods. Also, as a rule, binoculars do not allow eyepiece interchange.
For more advice and a look at a comprehensive range of binoculars, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.
Telescopes were first used in the early 17th Century. They collect and magnify light from faint and distant objects, allowing us to look further into space than can be seen with the naked eye. The image produced can be viewed through an eye-piece or the light collected by a detector for analysis.
There are three main types of telescope. These are refracting telescopes, Newtonian telescopes and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes:
Refracting telescopes use lenses to gather light and focus it to a point. The images produced are upright, making refractors very good for ground based observations. These telescopes give the best quality image, and are very good for photography. However, they are also very expensive for their size.
Newtonian telescopes are reflectors. Rather than a lens, they use a mirror to focus light from distant objects. They use a curved mirror to focus light onto a second flat mirror, from which the light is directed to the telescope eyepieces. Reflectors are the least expensive telescopes for their size and large reflectors are easier to build than refractors of the same size.
Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes use a series of mirrors to fold the light path giving them the distinct advantage of being much smaller than other types of telescope. Because of this, all professional telescopes, including the Faulkes telescopes, are now of the SCT design.
For more information and to view a comprehensive range of telescopes, telescope eyepieces, mounts and more, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.
Binoculars are marvelous tools, but the more you want to learn about them, the more technical and confusing they seem to get. They are an absolute must for some activities so, without being overly technical, here is a brief and simple guide to what types may be considered best for certain tasks:
Most people are aware of the standard types of binoculars known as ‘opera glasses’ specifically designed for theatre use. However, if you want something a bit more robust, or are watching an outdoor performance, then standard binoculars of about 6×30 may be a good bet.
If you are watching bird-life in woods, a wide view and a strong image is very important, especially from compact binoculars. 6×30 is good for looking around woods, 7×35 is good for ‘all-round field use’, and 8×35 or 9×35 is the best bet for looking at birds of prey over a longer distance. Bird-watchers may also want to consider the binoculars‘ ability in reduced light.
Astronomy traditionally is done with telescopes placed on tripods. However, when using binoculars, no tripod is necessary, so it is important to choose binoculars with a magnification that can easily be held steady, typically 8x or below. Also, as much light as possible is needed, so choose the largest objective lens diameter that you can comfortably carry; 7×50 to 9×63 may be just the job.
For more advice and a look at a comprehensive range of binoculars, such as pocket binoculars and other compact varieties, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.