Tuning our astronomical telescopes and bird watching binoculars for migrations and celestial events like Norfolk’s Keeling Heath Star Camp, there’s no time like the present to brush up on a few countryside etiquette basics.
Take All Rubbish Home
We all share the responsibility to take good care of the countryside around us. Rubbish is a big, BIG problem in many of the UK’s much-loved nature reserves simply because of the massive number of seasonal visitors. Think of it this way – you drop a chewing gum wrapper… but so do the other five hundred people visiting the park that day. Within a week there are thousands tiny bits of debris littering the park. Most nature reserves provide bins, but it makes their job a little easier when visitors take their waste home. This also applies to biodegradable waste like partially eaten burgers and orange peel; ecosystems are fragile, and the introduction of any foreign substances can cause damage, as well as interrupting any scientific work being carried out on the area, as is often the case in most of the UK’s nature reserves.
Keeping dogs under control (including picking up their waste as you would on an urban street), leaving gates as you find them (this could mean leaving them open too), not kicking a few dry stone wall stones down to give your astronomical telescopes or bird watching binoculars a better rest etc. – it’s essential that we all do our best to maintain the lush greenery of the UK.
The UK is superb for bird watching. So, as well as your new Sherwoods Photographic bird watching binoculars or telescopes, what makes the base of a great summer bird watching kit?
• Whether you’re a beginner or an avid devotee to twitching, a good pair of bird watching binoculars or specialist telescopes is essential. Shoddy equipment will simply detract from the pleasure of bird watching. Consider investing in a tripod to allow hands-free viewing.
• A notebook is an absolute must for all twitchers. It can also be a good idea to establish a set format as you record your observations (saves on confusion when referencing back over long periods of time) Try to note the time, date, location, weather, species, number and any other extra remarks, e.g. “fled into the hawthorn when the Blue Jay arrived” or “seem to prefer running water to still” etc.
• It’s important that your observations be accurate, so a good bird species or field guide that’s easy to reference quickly and clearly will be a great investment.
Whether you’re out in freezing gales or burning sunbeams, a little comfort is invaluable! Investing in a waterproof picnic blanket or small portable camping chair is a good idea for those indenting to be out in the elements for a good while (as is the nature of bird watching!)
Bird watching can actually be pretty physically demanding, so don’t’ forget to take warm layers, water and something nutritious to snack on (try to avoid noisy wrapping, opt for something like cling-film instead)
Whilst some folks invest in our bird watching binoculars and telescopes for adventures over hill and moor, we meet lots of lovely folks who are interested in twitching a little closer to home, namely in their own back gardens!
First off, if there are lots of cats in the neighbourhood you’re at a disadvantage. To get around this it’s best to create high-up bird-friendly areas where local birdlife can safely nest and feed. The eves of old sheds etc. are ideal; anywhere local moggies can’t reach! Try to choose a spot you can view easily and comfortably using your nice new bird watching binoculars or telescopes.
Nesting and Cover
• Native trees and foliage attracts native birds. Do a little research to find out what nature intended to be your garden.
• Protective hedgerows and climbers like ivy, hawthorn, privet and blackthorn are great hiding/feeding spots and nesting locations for small birds.
Water and Food
• Remember to encourage tasty insects which will in turn attract birds.
• A little lawn space will attract larger birds to hunt for juicy worms.
• A safely sited bird bath is great for all birds; close to hiding areas like bushes etc is ideal. Pop a few rocks in for smaller birds to perch on. Birds also love moving water, so a chemical-free water feature could work wonderfully.
• Keep all feeding spots off the ground and free from things like mould and accumulated dirt.
• Birds usually prefer their feeding spots to be a little way away from nesting locations.
For those folks who just can’t resist the urge to throw on a backpack and explore the great outdoors, lightweight kit is essential. You need devices and equipment that both perform and don’t weigh you down!
We offer a brilliant range of compact binoculars designed specifically with portability and easy use in mind. The leading brands we carry on our roster – Nikon, Olympus etc – all offer great models that excel in use, durability and portability. Our recommendation of the day is Nikon’s Sprint IV 8×21 binoculars; perfectly designed for easy usability and extreme adventure!
Some folks struggle to find a practical use for night vision optical devices, but when you’re looking for a lost hiker or trying to spot something on the dark slopes of Snowdon, you need high performance, lightweight night vision optics that deliver high quality images. Lightweight (620g) single lens models like the Cobra Nemesis offer high performance at low cost via hardy design (rubber armouring) and cutting edge technology.
The Celestron Astromaster range features several lightweight and compact telescope designs (between 8.16-10.69g) ideal for the intrepid stargazer. The entire Astromaster series is designed for multi-purpose celestial and land viewing, making the budget price models in the collection a good investment for those looking to a) meet their adventurous viewing needs, and b) not spend so much on a device that they’re too worried to use it out in the mud and wind of Mother Nature!
Always on hand to offer our little bit of wisdom when it comes to telescopes, star charts and such, we thought you might need reminding of the Perseids meteor shower, one of the summer’s most prominent and consistently stunning celestial events.
The Perseids garners its name due to the perceived origin of the shower (called the “radiant”), the constellation Perseus. The Perseids enjoy the venerable parentage of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The amazing Perseids meteor cloud consists of detritus ejected by Swift-Tuttle as it passes close to the sun.
An interesting side note of the Swift-Tuttle comet; upon its rediscovery in 1992 it was feared the comet would likely strike the earth or moon. However, upon further calculations this appeared not to be the case. Swift-Tuttle will next be highly visible to the naked eye in 2126.
The 2011 Perseids show is estimated to last from the 17th July – 24th August, peaking on 13th August. The long viewing life of the shower makes it the ideal practice ground for pushing astronomical telescopes to show off the best celestial marvels the night sky has to offer. In the UK we can expect a peak of around seventy meteors per hour. One of the great things about
Parseids is that you don’t necessarily need even one of our beginner astronomical telescopes to see its brilliance.
For more information on telescopes and stargazing tips, take a look at the comprehensive guides in our “Books & Maps” area.
Like cameras and all truly fantastic devices, it can be tough to pinpoint exactly which options are best for your beginner use requirements. So, if you’d like a little help on what, why and how much to pay, read on!
Most of our customers are after astronomical telescopes for varying degrees of use. Some are professionals looking to expand their viewing pleasure at home, whist many are enthusiastic novices wanting budget friendly telescopes that do the job but don’t break the bank. When shopping for astronomical telescopes it’s always worth remembering that what you see through the lens of a budget range refractor telescope won’t be a reproduction of the celestial photographs you see in textbooks etc. That said, a cheap (£200 range) compact telescope, when properly used, can produce absolutely splendid results.
Magnification is often a concern of the novice astronomer. What if it’s not enough?! The simple fact is that lower budget telescopes tend to come around the 32x magnification mark, which is perfectly adequate to see the craters of the moon, Saturn’s rings and even the Orion nebula. They may be small, but a good beginner telescope will produce crisp, clear images.
Since they’re highly tuned and tend to last a lifetime, telescopes don’t come cheap. The usual price for good quality beginner scopes ranges between £200-500 approximately. Telescopes don’t lose their value rapidly, so you should always be able to sell on a well maintained second hand device when you’re ready to upgrade.
If you’re looking for a hobby to occupy your little monster this summer, why not consider star gazing and visual space exploration? Our range of astronomical telescopes includes some brilliant beginner models to set the imaginations of little stargazers flying at the speed of light!
Books and Guides
We currently offer a great astronomy introduction guide called “Stargazing for Beginners” The book is full of tips, facts, charts and techniques to help the novice astronomer get the most out of their equipment and the night sky.
Astronomical telescopes are essential if you want to get the most out of viewing time. Telescopes are steady and designed specifically for the purpose of viewing celestial objects. Binoculars, even high end models, are rarely a patch on even the cheapest telescopes. A good quality telescope, when properly cared for, can last a lifetime.
A Little Real World Help
Days out to the stars may be off the table, but a visit to somewhere like Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre can be of astronomical (get it!) benefit to budding young stargazers and celestial enthusiasts. Kids love to see things in real life, and the working team at Jodrell Bank are always on hand to demonstrate techniques and show just how far the speed of light can take your little one’s enthusiasm!
NASA, the BBC and such organisations offer brilliant online resources to aid in all things astronomical. You could also look to open source (free) software like Stellarium to install excellent 3D planetarium tools on your computer.