Telescopes were first used in the early 17th Century. They collect and magnify light from faint and distant objects, allowing us to look further into space than can be seen with the naked eye. The image produced can be viewed through an eye-piece or the light collected by a detector for analysis.
There are three main types of telescope. These are refracting telescopes, Newtonian telescopes and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes:
Refracting telescopes use lenses to gather light and focus it to a point. The images produced are upright, making refractors very good for ground based observations. These telescopes give the best quality image, and are very good for photography. However, they are also very expensive for their size.
Newtonian telescopes are reflectors. Rather than a lens, they use a mirror to focus light from distant objects. They use a curved mirror to focus light onto a second flat mirror, from which the light is directed to the telescope eyepieces. Reflectors are the least expensive telescopes for their size and large reflectors are easier to build than refractors of the same size.
Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes use a series of mirrors to fold the light path giving them the distinct advantage of being much smaller than other types of telescope. Because of this, all professional telescopes, including the Faulkes telescopes, are now of the SCT design.
For more information and to view a comprehensive range of telescopes, telescope eyepieces, mounts and more, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.
Binoculars are marvelous tools, but the more you want to learn about them, the more technical and confusing they seem to get. They are an absolute must for some activities so, without being overly technical, here is a brief and simple guide to what types may be considered best for certain tasks:
Most people are aware of the standard types of binoculars known as ‘opera glasses’ specifically designed for theatre use. However, if you want something a bit more robust, or are watching an outdoor performance, then standard binoculars of about 6×30 may be a good bet.
If you are watching bird-life in woods, a wide view and a strong image is very important, especially from compact binoculars. 6×30 is good for looking around woods, 7×35 is good for ‘all-round field use’, and 8×35 or 9×35 is the best bet for looking at birds of prey over a longer distance. Bird-watchers may also want to consider the binoculars‘ ability in reduced light.
Astronomy traditionally is done with telescopes placed on tripods. However, when using binoculars, no tripod is necessary, so it is important to choose binoculars with a magnification that can easily be held steady, typically 8x or below. Also, as much light as possible is needed, so choose the largest objective lens diameter that you can comfortably carry; 7×50 to 9×63 may be just the job.
For more advice and a look at a comprehensive range of binoculars, such as pocket binoculars and other compact varieties, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.
Stargazers and those who enjoy spending time outdoors looking at the flora and fauna may like to invest in a pair of astronomical binoculars.
Many shoppers mistakenly believe that instruments of this kind are ineffective when viewing the night sky. However, improvements in design have lead to the development of powerful devices that can be used to give images of planets. The views may not be as clear as those caught by telescopes designed especially for this activity, but aspects of the skies can be appreciated through them, such as comets. In addition, they can double up as terrestrial viewing instrument, for catching clear sight of land-based objects.
Binoculars also have the advantage they are more portable than larger devices created solely for stargazing. There are a host of models available that can meet these requirements, meaning shoppers are free to invest in one instrument rather than purchasing one for the night sky and another for land images, if they wish. We are well-stocked in astronomical binoculars, which are the choice of many who are just starting to learn about the night sky as they do not need much knowledge to use them.
It is simply a case of choosing the preferred aperture for the kind of activities they are to be used for. Devices with larger apertures tend to let in more light, which may suit those using them mainly for night viewing. If apertures are too low they may not reveal much detail of objects in low-light conditions, but they will provide images with greater all-round clarity.
Buying telescopes specifically design for activities, such as bird watching, means nature fans are able to get great views of the animals.
Some prefer monocular types over binoculars, as these often provide great clarity, allowing users to see feather and plumage details they may otherwise miss if they were viewing the creatures through the latter instruments. Devices designed for outdoor use in bright conditions also tend to be favoured over those created for looking at the night sky, as these feature fairly delicate mechanisms that may be affected by poor weather conditions. In addition, some kinds may not have lenses wide enough to emit the light needed to see animals clearly over long distances.
The magnification of bird watching binoculars proves a major draw for nature lovers tracking creatures. The range of devices we have on sale often have wide apertures that bring distant animals close to users, so they get to appreciate clear images. As well as magnification, there are other features of the devices that shoppers may like to consider before going ahead and purchasing one.
For example, size and weight of the instruments could be an important factor if users plan to carry them long distances when tracking creatures. In addition, telescopes of this type come in a variety of forms including those which are angled and others that are termed straight-through. The former are designed to be more comfortable to peer through and when they are stabilised on a tripod, images are particularly clear. On the other hand straight-through types are more portable and can be easily passed between users when necessary.
Binoculars come in many forms in order to suit the large number of activities in which they are used.
There are designs to suit bird watching and other hobbies, such as amateur star gazing. Other pastimes that may require the use of specialist devices include sailing and sea fishing. Marine binoculars are especially created to perform well in damp, salty environments and there are many types to choose from. Both amateur and expert sailors choose to purchase these instruments to get a good view of the surrounding water, which could highlight potential dangers.
Due to the rocking motion of boats and the conditions on the ocean, there is a lesser magnification value applied to these devices, compared with those used on land. This figure is expressed as 7x, which simply states that what the user sees appears to be seven times nearer than it actually is. In other binoculars, magnification is normally set at 8x, but this depends on individual models.
As well as magnification, marine binoculars can differ from terrestrial ones in other ways. For example, devices built to withstand the sea atmosphere have been hermetically sealed to protect them from moisture. These types sometimes contain nitrogen, which is a sure sign they are waterproof. However, not all instruments of this type are fully waterproof, though expert suppliers often suggest to sailing fans to buy those that cannot be penetrated by moisture.
Additionally, marine binoculars often have their lenses coated with special substances that boost light levels as much as possible, adding greater clarity during twilight and dawn, while many sailors like to opt for those devices that include compasses for navigational purposes.
It is certainly true that in the UK we are uniquely blessed with a great diversity of magnificent garden birds, from robins to warblers to name but two. However, to observe some of our rarest and most glorious birdlife you’ll need a decent pair of bird watching binoculars and the appropriate location.
Britain’s Island nature means that it has over 11, 000 miles of coastline, making it the ideal home for a truly astonishing amount of shore and sea birds. Some of the most familiar include Puffins, viewable in places like Anglesey , and kittiwakes, observable on the cliffs of Northumberland, which means that some truly world class birdlife is never more than a few miles drive away. When observing coastal birds, a pair of binoculars really come into their own, as seabirds often nest on cliff edges a fair way out to sea making them difficult to spot with the naked eye.
As well as an enormous coast-line, the UK also possesses more than its fair share of inland water-masses, from lakes to canals systems (which is one of the reasons that it makes the perfect destination for migrating birds.) Some birds you can expect to see hanging around our marshes and waterways include bitterns and avocets, but be prepared to stake out waterways in strategically placed hides – and remember your binoculars.
As well as beautiful birdlife, the UK is also home to some truly dramatic birdlife, in fact some of the most iconic birds of prey call England home, for at least part of the year. Some notable examples include Ospreys (who migrate to and from Africa) and Golden Eagles, up in the highlands.
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”.