We have now had delivery of the first batch of Minox HG 8×43 ‘Japan’. As promised by Minox UK they are an identical spec to the now European made HG’s and available to purchase at £399. There are only a handful of these Japanese models available so are only going to be available for a limited time, given the saving of £350.00 over our usual price for Minox German HG 8×43 am sure that they will not hang around too long. So if you are in the market for a high optical quality binocular at an ultra low price then this is the model that you should be looking at.
Bird watching (or twitching) is a truly egalitarian hobby, and all you need really is a pair of eyes. However, if you want to become a master of bird identification you’ll need a pair of bird watching binoculars. Luckily there is a wide range of binoculars available, to suit any level of experience or budget.
The first issue to consider, and the reason why binoculars are ideal for bird watching, is portability, and whilst it is a function of all binoculars that they are portable to an extent, some kinds of binoculars are clearly more portable than others. For beginning bird watchers or birdwatchers that want a truly portable viewing solution, compact bird watching binoculars are ideal, such as the “Nikon Sprint IV.”
If you want telescopic level magnification, however, you’ll need a larger pair of binoculars that will be able to gather a great volume of light. Whilst not as portable as compact binoculars, large binoculars are able to offer greater levels of details and are therefore ideal for stationary viewing activities, such as viewing from hides, a great pair of large binoculars are Minolta’s Classic II Binoculars, which benefit from great quality and a large field of view.
The is another alternative for bird watches other than binoculars, however, namely spotting scopes, which can offer greater magnification thus making them ideal for long distance bird watching, and tripod mounting; a great spotting scope is the “Opticron HR80 GA ED”.
It is a fact of British wildlife, that some of its biggest stars such as tawny owls, badgers or fox are either crepuscular (active most during dawn and dusk) or completely nocturnal. They probably aren’t aware, however, that for wildlife lovers this isn’t the most convenient schedule. There is, however, a way to observe wildlife at its most prolific during the darker hours – with night vision technology.
For those interested in UK wildlife apart from just birds and insects, you will have to adapt your viewing habits to suit some pretty strange habits. Badgers, for instance, begin to be active at around nightfall. You might think observing such magnificent creatures would be a near impossible task, but with badgers this really isn’t the case and they are in fact relatively common. Basically, in order to almost guarantee nocturnal, a nocturnal badger sighting all you need to do is to find an active badger sett; it should be relatively easy to identify whether a sett is active or not, as it will most likely have footprints and fresh droppings near the entrance – of course, it’ll be dark so you’ll also need a night vision scope.
It might also surprise you that some other of our most iconic animals are also easily spottable – such as tawny owls. Firstly, you will be able to tell if an owl is in your area by identification of its calls (twit-woo for a male and kee-yar for a female). Then, use a night vision scope to scan the treetops.
For anyone interested in astronomy, and tempted into buying a telescope you will probably have encountered a variety of different kinds of astronomical telescopes throughout your research. This can be quite daunting. However, it turns out telescopes aren’t actually as complicated as they first appear, and the various types are actually relatively easily explained.
Although there are many variations between telescopes, basically there are two main types of astronomical telescopes, each with clear advantages and disadvantages:
Very briefly, refractor telescopes use lenses to bend the light that they receive, causing convergence on a focal point near the eyepiece. This simple design has some obvious advantage of reflector telescopes (the other type.) Specifically, refractors are more durable than their counterpart, due to the fact that their parts are well enclosed, which also means that they are easy to use, and do not require frequent cleaning. This durability and ease of use makes them suitable for beginners, as well as those requiring sturdy equipment, such as for field work.
Reflector telescopes or Newtonian reflectors are more complicated affairs, and involve the use of mirrors to focus light towards an eyepiece. The increased amount of component parts, when compared with a refractor, means that reflectors are not as durable, and require frequent cleaning and recalibration. However, they are the perfect choice for observing deep-sky objects and practicing astrophotography, whilst also being cheaper up to certain sizes.
For viewing activities, whether bird-watching or astronomy, there is such a wealth of equipment available that it can be difficult working out exactly what you’re going to need. When it comes to telescopes and binoculars, although they are both viewing apparatus, they are actually quite distinct bits of kit – so which should you choose?
Well, the answer is actually entirely dependent on what you’ll be using it for. The obvious advantages of binoculars, for example, is their portability, which makes the ideal choice for “field” activities such as bird-watching or marine watching. In fact, such is the range of binoculars available that it is possible to achieve great magnification as well as extreme portability.
It might surprise you that binoculars also offer some certain advantages in terms of astronomy, and particularly beginner’s and “field” astronomy. Again this is in part due to their portability, meaning that they can be used quickly to observe transitory celestial events, such as meteor showers or eclipses and also due to the fact that they have a larger field of view than telescopes, making it easier to survey the sky, or view large sections of the moon, for example.
Despite these certain advantages, however, the supreme choice for astronomical viewing is surely astronomical telescopes. These are perfectly engineered to locating deep-space objects or observing the fine detail of the moon that a pair of binoculars just can’t rival. You might assume that such potent viewing capability comes at a premium, but over the last few years, top quality telescopes have become available for less than £200.
Astronomical telescopes truly come into their own when observing celestial bodies. However, although many of them come equipped with planet finding features, such as red dot finders or “goto” motors, if you truly want to be able to find your way around the sky quickly and easily you’re going to need to know were to look.
Firstly, the planets are generally going to be the brightest objects in the sky, and therefore locating, say, Venus (the morning star) shouldn’t be too difficult. Yet most of the planets aren’t even visible throughout the entire year, and for most of the year even planets like Mars or Venus are only viewable through telescopes.
When viewing Venus and Mars, the best time of year is the middle of July where you’ll see both planets in the sky at the same time; for Jupiter, look for the brightest star in the sky at the end of August; for Saturn look near to Venus during March, around dawn – the rings should be visible through astronomical telescopes.
Remember, astronomy is a very complicated business, so it would be helpful if you had a reference to hand throughout your observations, such as a star chart, and over time you will come to learn the positions of the planets, and their specific movement patterns; in a way this self-directed learning of the night-sky is one of the best pleasures of practicing astronomy and one of the definite advantages of using astronomical telescopes.
Should you crave some help locating the planets, however, a Celestron NexStar 4 SE would be a great choice of telescopes, being equipped with the latest in planet finding features and software.
The night-sky is a truly astounding place. However, much of its wonders lie just beyond the reach of the naked eye. A great and affordable solution for observing celestial objects, such the planets, is a decent pair of binoculars. Yet if you are desperate for the authentic astronomical experience, then there are a variety of high-quality beginner’stelescopes available.
Firstly, before indulging yourself with a telescope, it would be helpful if you had some clue in regards to finding your way around the night sky – otherwise you might just be stuck looking at the moon. Therefore, you should probably invest in a star chart, to learn the main constellations (by which the planets are located). Remember, when compared with the naked eye or even binoculars, a telescope has only a very narrow field of vision.
Telescopes are very technical devices, with a great deal of component parts, and therefore it can be difficult to work out exactly what you need for beginner viewing. For example, in order to find your way around the night sky a red dot finder and a motor are desirable, and these needn’t price you out of the market, with great beginner’s telescopes like the “SKYWATCHER EXPLORER-130M TELESCOPE” (a fabulous scope for the beginner and experienced alike) offering these features.
Finally, and most importantly, you should consider the viewing power of any potential telescope. Generally you should go for light gathering capability, which is more important than size for example, and is the great advantage of dobsonian telescopes such as the “HERITAGE-130P FlexTube™ 130mm (5.1″)” which has a 5.1 inch light refractor.