As a collective race, it can be said humans are unique in how we view the celestial world around our world. No other animal looks to the stars for answers, and certainly no other being uses astronomical telescopes to glimpse the heavens. So just what is it about the great sky that fascinates us, and why is it important to nurture enthusiasm with telescopes, space shuttles and star charts?
Putting Ourselves into Perspective
What are we here for? How long can the earth’s resources support us? What’s our place in the vastness of space? Is earth really so fragile? From space, the earth is a tiny, fragile little thing, and perhaps a clearer perspective of our home might lead to greater respect for it.
The Story of the Universe
The human thirst for knowledge is about more than just astronomical telescopes and orbiting satellites. We want to know how long we could survive, what came before us, how the great machine of the universe ticks, and what effect the celestial objects we view through our telescopes from our back gardens have on our lives.
Beauty and Love
American astronomer, Carl Sagan, said of space, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. ” The beauty and intrigue of the stars unites us as a species. We’re reminded that our universe – our ecosystem – is virtually immeasurable. To see the Milky Way or even our own planet in a photograph – containing us all – is humbling.
Following the great success of the Big Garden Birdwatch held earlier this year, the RSPB is inviting people across the country to take part in this summer’s wildlife survey, ‘Make Your Nature Count’, to find out what creatures can be found in the nation’s gardens. Last year, 80,000 people took part in the survey and this year the RSPB is hoping that even more people will get involved.
To contribute to the survey, you simply need to record the birds you see in your garden or local park in one hour on one day between June 2nd and 10th, as well as any other creatures that visit your garden during that hour. The information gathered will help to create a picture of the changes that are going on in gardens across the UK and should help nature experts find ways to respond in order to conserve the nation’s wildlife.
For seasoned twitchers, the ‘Make Your Nature Count’ survey is a great excuse to get their trusty binoculars out and spend time observing birds that fly in and out of their own gardens, rather than travelling to far-flung places for a rare-sighting. Amateurs, meanwhile, may find that the survey is a good way of brushing up on their bird observation and identification skills, and for people who have never bird watched before, the survey offers a great introduction to a past time in which almost three million adults engage in in the UK each year. Many children are also likely to enjoy counting the different birds they see and may even get bitten by the bird watching bug as a result.
Whatever your skill level, it is imperative that you choose suitable optical equipment if you are to get the most out of your bird watching experience. Of course, to take part in the RSPB’s survey, you do not need any special equipment and are free to bird watch using your naked eye but you might find that your observation is enhanced by the use of a pair of bird watching binoculars.
There is a wide range of binoculars, or ‘bins’ as many birdwatchers call them, on the market nowadays, so choosing your first pair can be a little daunting. For those unfamiliar with binoculars, it can be difficult to know what you are looking for.
All binoculars have a power range, which is denoted by two numbers with a cross between them – 8×30, for example. The first number denotes the number of times an object will be magnified and the second number is the width of the largest lens in millimetres.
Due to their portability, compact and pocket binoculars are a popular choice for first time consumers. Although they are likely to have a smaller objective lens, they are easy to carry around and can be affordable yet advanced these days.
If you are a keen and adventurous bird watcher and wish to observe the habits of your garden visitors after dark, you may be interested in investing in a pair of night vision binoculars.
For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings have been fascinated by the night sky. People of ancient cultures looked to the stars to navigate their way across the land and sea, to calculate seasons, to explain their lives, and to support their religious beliefs. Stars and constellations were even worshipped as deities as part of some ancient religions. In more recent times, advances in technology have allowed human beings to travel to and explore space, but for most people stargazing with good astronomical telescopes or binoculars is the closest they will come to the stars.
Camping and stargazing go hand in hand. Spending the night outdoors, it is natural for campers to find themselves paying more attention than usual to the skies above. As most campsites are located away from the light pollution of towns and cities, it is easier to see stars and constellations and many campers – particularly those who are not accustomed to rural environments – will find themselves sitting out under the night sky, struck by how many stars they can see. Indeed, sitting around a campfire, admiring the view of the stars above is something that most people associate with camping holidays and it is one of the many ways urban dwellers find themselves getting back in touch with nature while on a camping trip.
Interest in the night sky has been growing recently, partly due to television programmes such as ‘Stargazing LIVE’ (an interactive BBC series which encouraged viewers to get involved in ‘star parties’, astrophotography and other astronomy-related activities) and science-led programmes such as Professor Brian Cox’s ‘Wonders of the Universe. This desire to learn more about space and the movement of the stars and planets has seen more and more people go on camping trips with the sole purpose of stargazing. On such trips, people may want to spot constellations, witness solar or lunar eclipses, observe planetary movements or simply take in the stunning view of the sky at night. To do so with success, they may decide to invest in special equipment such astronomical binoculars or high power telescopes.
Celestron telescopes are a brand of astronomical telescopes that are useful for anyone wishing to go on a stargazing camping trip, as Celestron offer a wide range of scopes with special features for better viewing the night-time sky. For example, the Astromaster is a range of dual-purpose telescopes appropriate for both terrestrial and celestial viewing and the NexStar SkyProdigy is a range of telescopes with an in-built intelligent computer and a digital camera, as well as instant alignment technology. Celestron also provide a range of binoculars that are appropriate for night sky viewing such as the 15×70 Skymaster, which has a four-element objective lens for ultra sharp focus or the 9×63 Skymaster, which is large 9x magnification binocular capable of meeting the demands of extended astronomical or terrestrial viewing sessions. With such technology available, the night sky is becoming more accessible to amateur and seasoned astronomical campers across the country.
When choosing a pair of binoculars, there will be many things to bear in mind. Not only do you need to ensure that you have the most appropriate equipment for the unique activities you are likely to carry out, whether that is bird-watching or simply viewing wildlife in general, but it is also important to know how and when you are likely to use them.
For example, anyone who is likely to be using such equipment late at night will almost certainly find that choosing night vision options will improve their experience immeasurably. However, it is not just added extras such as night vision that you should take into account and everything from capability to weight should factor into your choice.
Many people do not consider just how important weight will be when choosing binoculars. However, if you are likely to have to carry the equipment around for long periods of time, or comfortably need to hold them to your face for long stretches of time, you are unlikely to want them to be extremely heavy.
There will be other considerations too: how fast do you need them to focus (in other words, will it be for items that are moving very fast or more languid objects or creatures?), how wide do you need the field of view to be and how close or how far away do you need to be top ensure you are able to see?
Whilst many people will assume that price will equate to the very best pair, with so many different needs from one person and one activity to the next, binoculars should always be bought with the individual in mind, and whilst price may equate to quality in many instances, by paying more you may actually find that you are simply getting qualities you don’t need, and that may even get in the way of what you wish to achieve.
Bird watching is a pastime that is increasing in popularity all the time. Whilst it may seem like a more antiquated hobby than some, in reality it is now actually more popular than ever before. However, this means that, whilst it is going to be easier to find clubs or societies to be a part of, the actual ability for many people to find a prime spot from which to watch birds, without encroaching on other people’s patches, may not always be easy.
The first thing to do, should you wish to take up bird watching, or even if you are fed up with the increasing crowds gathering in the very best spots, is simply to look at getting the very best bird watching binoculars. The better the binoculars you use, the more likely you are to be able to find a good vantage point from wherever you happen to be, getting a better focus on the birds in question without having to be quite so near.
The other important thing for those just starting bird watching to remember, is that bird watching is for everyone. By getting too close to the birds, you are possibly going to scare them off or sully their natural habitat, whilst disregarding the accepted etiquette could lead to anger amongst other bird watchers and ruin the experience for everyone. Therefore, it is wise to learn the etiquette of not only ornithologists and twitchers in general, but also to understand each and every area you visit in advance to make sure you are not going to be making any mistakes.
The right bird watching binoculars will be integral for any would-be twitcher. However, it not just the right binoculars that will improve your experience; instead, understanding the best approach to bird watching will also be extremely important for everyone concerned.
Trying to get your child interested in specific subjects can be hard work. However, in many instances it will not actually be your child’s fault that they are struggling to get enthused or struggling to truly understand certain work that is set, but instead the way in which the lessons are taught.
When it comes to science, ensuring your child understands and enjoys the subject can be even harder since the lessons they are given will only scratch the surface of the available information, often rendering it rather dull, when the subject should actually be by far the most interesting one on offer. When you add to this the fact that different people learn in different ways and that the majority of syllabi will be taught in a way that is very rigid and will not be easily bent to accommodate those who learn in a more tangential manner, it is easy to understand why many people struggle to get enthused.
However, it is also easy to boost your own child’s interest. Not only will astronomical telescopes help you to hook their interest in physics and the inner workings of life and the universe, but even a simple pair of binoculars and a trip into the countryside could be enough to help you to boost their interest in biology too. Science deals with very big theories and extremely complicated events and, as such, it can be hard for a secondary school syllabus to really explain these ideas in the way that they should be explained.
By using astronomical telescopes to see the universe and in turn learning more about quantum theories about reality and life, your child may suddenly find that they see physics in a whole new way. Likewise, by going out and seeing animals in their natural habitat, they are likely to have far more interest in the biology of both animal life and even plant life.
Anyone who loves the great outdoors should be pretty easy to buy for, right? Well, whilst it may seem that way, getting them something that they don’t already have can be hard work. After all, those who spend a great deal of time outdoors, will understand just how important it is to be prepared for everything from hiking trips to lengthy time spent camping out.
Whilst you may well be able to do a little bit of digging and find out exactly what they might be lacking or needing, there are plenty of items that even the most experienced outdoorsman might not have considered purchasing but that will almost certainly improve any outdoors experience for them.
Certain items of very technical clothing can be a very good present, but making sure you get something that is a perfect fit will be extremely important and therefore potentially a big task. Instead, consider items that might improve what they can achieve. For example, even those with the very best binoculars for bird watching, or hiking equipment, may not have considered night vision equipment.
Whilst night vision goggles or cameras may well be associated with spies and intrigue, in reality they can be the perfect tool for those who love the outdoors. Not only are they a great way to be able to optimise binoculars when wishing to view wildlife in its natural habitat, but they can also help people to get around more safely, to be quieter and in turn not wake others when they need to get around at night and even potentially just be safer from potential threats, should they find themselves in the middle of nowhere in the dark.
So when it comes to gifts for the outdoors type, think outside the box and consider which items might really improve what they can achieve.