Plans to build the largest optical telescope in the world have been given the green light.
Called the E-ELT – the European Extremely Large Telescope – its primary mirror will be around 40m in diameter, and the device will be constructed on a Chilean mountain top, where it can take advantage of very arid conditions of the Atacama Desert.
Support was given by members of the European Southern Observatory (Eso) organisation, although the total funding (£0.8bn) is not yet in place. That could become possible when the council next meets in December.
By then, Brazil should have become the group’s 15th member, making the project more affordable.
It is thought that the telescope will be ready for use from around 2022, and it is set to become one of the twenty first century’s most important pieces of astronomical equipment.
The E-ELT will spot things with a 39.3m main mirror, four times the width of the best modern optical telescopes. And its resolution and sensitivity should make imaging plants outside our solar system a possibility.
At the same time, it should be possible to gain important insights into galaxy formation, black holes, and a lot more. The sharpness of images and the size of the collecting area also make this piece of kit very exciting and powerful.
The telescope and its housing alone will be the size of a football stadium.
Buying your own Telescope
Of course, if you’re buying your own telescope, you don’t have to go for the biggest one in the world! But the sheer variety of models on offer can seem overwhelming.
In fact, many experts suggest power and zoom and a telescope should not be among your priorities when you are making your choice.
Instead, it is often thought better to concentrate on the aperture – the main lens or mirror’s diameter.
The bigger this is, the more light will enter the telescope, and the more you will be able to see.
One thing to bear in mind is that, for every inch of aperture or main lens size, the device will magnify 50 times. Or, if you are working in mm, then magnification is twice the diameter of the aperture.
How Sherwoods Photographic can Help
Whether you’re looking for binoculars, night vision telescopes or any other kind of optical equipment, make Sherwoods Photographic your first port of call.
We’re a specialist independent company, and very much a family affair, with 70 years’ continuous experience in the business. Our showroom is based in Warwickshire, but order online and you can look forward to next day delivery on some of the many items we have in stock.
We can help whether you’re into bird spotting or gazing at the night sky, and whether you’re already an expert yourself, or an amateur looking for their first piece of optical kit.
Use us and you can expect equipment of the highest quality from leading brands, and guidance and advice that’s second to none. After all, we’re the ultimate specialists, with unbeatable knowledge to help you find what you need.
The world’s largest ever set of binoculars was snapped up at auction this summer. Measuring an incredible eight feet in length, it’s not especially easy to imagine these magnifiers being used by a bird-spotter or a spy.
Originally expected to fetch around £300 at auction, they eventually sold in Cirencester for over £2,100 to an enthusiast and collector.
This magnificent piece of kit was originally made over 65 years ago for watching ships, and belonged to an eccentric who lived in Brighton. But for the last 30 years, the viewing equipment has been kept at a house on a hill outside Cheltenham.
A spokesman for the auctioneer involved said: “This set is unique. They rest on a stand keeping them level, so they were definitely not made for looking at the stars. You can scan from left to right. So it would make sense to use them for looking at ships.”
The seller’s father, who left her the magnifiers in his will, had owned the binoculars since the 1970s, but they had been kept in a garden shed for several years. The optics were made before the war, and then placed in the plywood casing at a later stage.
Albert Lambourne Ltd of Brighton made the optics, while William Pacey built the case and mount.
Choosing your own binoculars
Of course, if you’re looking for a binocular set, you don’t have to go for the world’s biggest pair!
There’ll be plenty of other considerations, though – here are just some of the questions to ask yourself before committing to a purchase:
• Will I be using the optics on the move? (If so, go for something lightweight and compact.)
• Will I need to have a tripod?
• Does my equipment need to be waterproof?
• What is the eye relief? If you wear glasses, look for eye relief (the furthest away your eyes can be from the eyepiece and while still taking in the complete field of vision) of 14mm, or 17mm if your spectacles are thick.
• Will I be looking at one object or several things at once? (A single bird or horses at the races, for example.) With single objects, magnification is more important than field of vision, and vice versa.
• Will I be using the gear in poor light conditions? If so, look into light transmission, lens diameter and exit pupil – or how much light reaches your eye.
Choose Sherwood Photographic
At Sherwoods, we’re one of the UK’s top optical specialists for things like bird watching binoculars, night vision and astronomical telescopes and much more.
As a third generation, family-owned business, celebrating our seventieth birthday this year, we have a vast array of specialist expertise and product knowledge in our subject field, as well as an extensive range of products from leading brands. And all at prices which are not astronomical!
Can’t get to our Warwickshire showrooms? Order online and look forward to next day delivery on the many optical products we have in stock. Also look at our website if you’re looking for quirky gadgets and gifts.
Sherwoods Photo Ltd Orders & Information Telephone 01789-488880
Registered Office: The Arden Centre, Little Alne, Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire, B95 6HW - Registered in England No.00666856
Prices, availability, appearance, product descriptions, and accessories are based on available manufacturer information and are subject to change without notice.