So nature has given your child a natural interest in astronomy, now it’s time for you to cultivate their curiosity. Aside from investing in one of our astronomical telescopes, here are a few ideas we think your little star gazer might enjoy!
The Right Equipment
Have you ever tried to seriously partake in a little astronomy with ineffective equipment? Without an efficient astronomical telescope, it’s easy to become frustrated. Binoculars are great for spotting areas of interest; however, it’s the telescope’s steadiness that’s crucial to a successful night of star spotting.
The night sky changes throughout the year. Good quality, informative astronomy books don’t cost the earth and make all the difference. Although a large reference book is great when using telescopes at home, be sure to invest in a companion travel-size version for star gazing walks or trips.
The Magic of DVD
Maybe you can’t get out into an area free from light pollution, or perhaps your little one has a cold, or maybe it’s too cloudy? Having some great astronomy DVD’s on hand is a fantastic way to really show what’s possible in the fascinating fields of space exploration.
Thrifty bedroom decoration tips can be a godsend for the parent of a child with niche interests such as nature spotting or star gazing. We absolutely love the idea of arranging glow-in-the-dark stars on your kid’s bedroom ceiling and walls. Perhaps choose a different ceiling/wall segment for each season, and do your best to depict some of the most noticeable constellations from each.
Understanding the plethora of wildlife in our own back yards can be a little difficult, particularly when said beasties primarily show themselves at night. Our collection of night vision devices range from budget-price general observation (the Yukon Patrol 2×4 is lightweight, compact, durable, water resistant and great for both open field and long distance viewing) to professional night vision binoculars such as the Digital NV Ranger Pro 5×42 (boasting the likes of video output, bright exposure resistance, self contained and external power supply).
Here are a few furry neighbours to keep watch for on these long UK nights!
The badger is an incredibly shy animal, mostly living in family groups or packs. Although they’re less active in the colder months, by January/February many females are pregnant, making the daily forage for food more important than ever.
Poor foxes suffered a lot of bad press during 2010. Glimpsing a family of foxes is incredibly rewarding. If you have to time to hide out and with your night vision binoculars on the lookout for a female and some kits – it’s a must!
During colder months, the hungry barn owl will venture out for food during daylight hours. Although dusk and immediately after is generally the best time to spot them.
At least a quarter of the UK’s mammal population is made up of the eighteen species of bat that live and breed in the UK. Check out the Bat Conservation Trust to find local bat watching groups in your area.
Always eager to help fill your astronomical telescopes with the most brilliant aspects of astronomy, here are a few key dates you need to keep your telescopes free for a little celestial observation! Check out our blog entry “The Best Meteor Showers for 2011” for information on specific meteor showers.
Remember that dates may not be 100% accurate, so keep your eyes peeled just before and after too.
3rd April – Saturn will be at opposition (closest to earth), making it a great time for viewing and photographing Saturn and its moons.
15th June – A total lunar eclipse!
22nd August – Neptune will be at opposition. Obviously great for viewing, but less powerful telescopes will only see a tiny blue dot.
25th September – Uranus at opposition, although to get a good look you’ll need powerful astronomical telescopes.
29th October – Jupiter at opposition (should be fine to view through most binoculars and telescopes)
10th December – Another total lunar eclipse!
In order to best view celestial events, try to find a spot away from artificial lighting, traffic and trees. Remember to let your eyes acclimatise to the darkness. Consider using a red torch or night vision to read guide books and study astronomy charts rather than a regular torch.
You can keep up to date on celestial events via fantastic news websites and forums like www.astronomy.co.uk. Off out star gazing tonight? Be sure to check out their “The Sky Tonight” section in preparation for your star gazing session.