The winter sky is a fantastic place to test our new astronomy telescopes. Here are a few definitions to get eager star gazers off to a shooting star start!
Asteroids – Thousands upon thousands of lumps of rock orbit the area between Jupiter and Mars. Occasionally, some break free and can pass very close to earth.
Binary – This is an incredible sight to glimpse through astronomy telescopes. The naked eye sees one large star, however telescopes can reveal the true nature of binary stars, which are actually two stars orbiting each other – magnificent to behold!
Galaxy – The Milky Way is a galaxy, and contains around 100,000 million stars.
Light Year – A measure of distance (not time) The speed of light is slightly shy of 187,000 miles per second, making one light year around 6 billion miles.
Meteoroid – Any bit of space detritus that’s free from an orbit and flying through space. If a meteoroid enters the earth’s atmosphere it’s then defined as a meteorite. Millions enter the earth’s atmosphere annually; however, very few survive the journey to the surface.
Satellite – Any celestial object orbiting a larger object is a satellite. The moon is earth’s satellite. The earth is a satellite of the sun.
Star – A luminous ball powered by nuclear fusion. The surface temperature of stars ranges roughly between 3,000°C to 50,000°C
White Dwarf – The tiny remains of a once massive star; the matter of which has collapsed in on itself so much, a spoonful would weight many tonnes.
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.
Yes, Christmas time is upon us once more. While you may be in shock that 12 months has elapsed since the last round of festive celebrations, there is no point in entering a state of denial.
Those presents still have to be bought, and the sooner you set about the process, the easier it will be.
Of course, you may be organised and have already purchased most of the gifts you will be handing over.
However, if there are still items left for you to buy, you might want to consider getting binoculars for one or more of your loved ones.
Such items can provide many hours of entertainment and as such are a great offering at this time of year.
If you do follow this path, there are a number of things you should bear in mind.
Obviously, the type of binoculars you decide to get will in part be decided by your budget. After all, there is no point in spending too much money otherwise you may find yourself in financial difficulty when your credit card bills come through in January.
But it is not only cash that should influence your decision. You should also take into account the preferences of the person you are buying for.
For example, if they love getting out and about to experience nature, you might want to get bird watching binoculars for them.
Meanwhile, if they are only young, you should make sure the items are small enough for them to hold.
By putting enough thought into your purchase, whether you end up getting bird watching binoculars or not, you will be sure to select the perfect item.
This time of year can be tough. The cold mornings, icy ground, biting winds and downpours of sleet and snow can dampen your spirits after a while.
However, there are some days when the sun is shining on the frosty landscape that are a pleasure to behold, particularly if you are lucky enough to get out to the countryside.
Britain is in some ways at its best at this time of year. At points, the rolling hills and spiky forests look tranquil under a bed of frozen water droplets, while at other times rural scenes are dramatic and moody.
So, if you have the chance to spend a few hours out and about on a perfect winter’s day, you should seize the opportunity.
And the experience is bound to be made better if you take a pair of binoculars along with you.
Such devices mean you can study the landscapes in much greater detail.
And not only this, but binoculars also mean you stand a better chance of enjoying a glimpse of the country’s wildlife at this time of year.
For example, you might see a robin in all its fiery splendour engaging in its daily tasks.
So, rather than hiding away from the cold completely until the warmth of spring comes along, you should get out and see Britain in all its wintry glory.
You will be missing out if you fail to do this as there may be a whole side to the country that you remain unaware of.
Using binoculars can be a fantastic way of spending a sunny winter’s day. Whether you take out your bird watching binoculars or any other type of such item, you are bound to be treated to sights that simply do not occur during other times of the year.
However, there are some points you should bear in mind before you grab your binoculars and head for the great outdoors.
For example, you need to wrap up warm against the elements, otherwise your enjoyment of the experience is likely to be limited.
Indeed, if you are not wearing the appropriate attire, you may have to return home prematurely because you are not able to withstand the temperature.
Also, you may find that if you are not using effective gloves, your hands are too shaky for you to make the most of your viewing.
And of course you run the risk of making yourself ill if you expose yourself to the conditions with inadequate protection on, which is surely the last thing you want.
As well as making sure you have a number of layers on, thick socks and good quality walking boots, you should also wear a good hat to prevent too much heat loss through your head.
Meanwhile, taking a thermos flask filled with a hot beverage can also help you stay warm while out and about in the great outdoors.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to take food in order to keep your energy levels up.
So, next time you decide to take your bird watching binoculars or any other type of such devices on a winter expedition, make sure you are prepared for the cold.