Never before have stargazers been faced with so many different choices of astronomical telescopes and associated accessories. This can make it more of a challenge, especially if you are just starting out as an astronomer.
First of all, it’s worth understanding some basic principles. One of the most important aspects of all telescopes is aperture, or the diameter of the main optical component, which may be a mirror or a lens. Essentially, the bigger the tube, the greater the aperture.
Aperture determines a telescope’s light-gathering capacity and its capacity for seeing fine detail in an image – this is also called resolving power.
As an example, with a six-inch telescope you can see lunar craters as small as just a mile wide, and, overall, a 6-inch telescope has four times the light-collecting area of a 3-inch version.
However, the aperture is not related to a telescope’s magnification or power. Instead this is determined by the distance between the lens or mirror and the point where it creates an image of a distant object.
Another important thing to understand is that larger apertures are more affected than smaller ones by “poor seeing” – or poor atmospheric conditions affecting visibility.
Other factors in your decision include portability of your telescope, budget, and whether you want to spend your time looking at the moon and the nearer planets or “deep sky” objects like dim galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.
Size is also a factor in that clearly a large telescope will need to be housed permanently in an observatory or assembled for each new viewing session. So bigger isn’t necessarily always better.
Finally, bear in mind that all telescopes are also divided further into three other classes:
Refractors can be expensive but can also provide some of the finest images available for each aperture when made properly. They are also very robust, with their lenses less likely to come out of alignment. So they could be ideal if you’re not one for playing around with the optics.
Reflectors or mirror telescopes uses mirrors to gather and focus light from the object being observed. The most commonly found version, the Newtonian, has been around for more than three hundred years. Want maximum aperture for your money? The reflector could well be the scope for you. Bear in mind however that the Newtonian in particular does require occasional maintenance.
Finally, the catadioptric or compound telescope uses lenses and mirrors to form an image, so that for many they offer the best of both worlds, with a large aperture and a long-focus, transportable telescope.
Optical Equipment from Sherwoods Photographic
At Sherwoods we specialise in all kinds of optical gear, whether you need night vision equipment or anything else. We’re a third-generation family owned firm first established in 1942 and offer extensive knowledge and expertise in our chosen field.
Visit our store in rural Warwickshire, or check out our wide online selection of products and eclectic gifts, all at prices that are anything but astronomical. There’s more online.
Earlier this year, thousands of nature lovers across the UK took part in the biggest wildlife survey in the world, the Big Garden Birdwatch from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB.)
Participation involved counting the creatures in a garden or park for just one hour – and then telling the organisation what you had seen. The idea is to record the highest number of each bird spotted at the same time.
The charity asked bird lovers to survey feathered friends present in their area, all over the country. Last year, some 600,000 people nationwide took part, counting over nine million birds between them.
The aim of the survey, now in its 34th year, is to help scientists learn which species of birds are thriving and which are in decline, and how different varieties are doing in different parts of the country.
For example, information gathered over the last decade indicates that mistle thrushes are spotted in fewer than 50% the number of gardens they were noticed in just 10 years ago.
Separate information for a study last year by volunteer ornithologists for the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology found that the number of nesting birds in Britain had fallen from 210 million in 1966 to 166 million in 2012.
Spring into action
And if this project or the Big Garden Birdwatch inspired you to grab a pair of bird watching binoculars, perhaps before numbers fall still further, spring is a great time to do just that as wildlife emerges from the chill of winter with noise and flamboyance.
And, with the lighter spring days, plumage, patterns and markings look brighter, allowing species to be more easily identified. At this time of year, many male birds in particular are showing their most vivid colours while songbirds are competing to sing the loudest in a bid to attract a mate for the breeding season ahead.
It’s a great time for other wildlife too, from insects like bumblebees and butterflies to frogs and hares.
How Sherwoods Photographic Can Help
To get the most from your birdwatching, you need the best equipment. At Sherwood Photographic, we’re leading optical specialists for binoculars and
telescopes and can offer extensive advice on using these items.
Established 70 years ago last year, we’re still very much a family firm and have a wealth of expertise and knowledge in our specialist area, and supply a range of premium quality products from the world’s leading manufacturers as well as a variety of unusual and intriguing gifts and gadgets.
We have a showroom in rural Warwickshire, and we’re open six days a week, but shop online in a time and at a place to suit you and we can generally get your order to you the next day.
Buying from our showroom? Give us a call first to check we have the product in stock before setting off.
Learn more from our website and contact us with any queries about our products. Or why not find us on Facebook?
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.