For most people, the predominant piece of equipment associated with astronomy is the telescope. However, binoculars can be a very useful piece of equipment for the astronomer, especially for amateurs.
They provide good wide field images at low magnification which can allow novice astronomers to find their way around the night sky much more easily than with higher magnification telescopes. Binoculars are, by definition, two oculars (two eyepieces).
A binocular is simply two refracting telescopes packaged together so that both eyes can be used to look at distant objects at the same time. They incorporate a number of prisms for three purposes: Firstly, to reduce the length of the tubes in order to make them more compact and therefore, more portable. Secondly, the prisms are used to put the image upright again (because binoculars are not usually used for viewing the cosmos). Lastly, the prisms make it possible to reduce the width between the eyepieces so that viewing is possible with both eyes.
There are also some disadvantages with using binoculars for astronomy. Most importantly, they do not normally include telescope mounts, although some of the larger sizes can be fitted with photo tripod adapters. Without telescope mounts of some kind, large binoculars are heavy and difficult to hold up to your eyes for sustained long periods. Also, as a rule, binoculars do not allow eyepiece interchange.
For more advice and a look at a comprehensive range of binoculars, visit Sherwoods Photographic, a family owned company who specialise in telescopes and binoculars.
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.
Night vision goggles are now commercially produced so the general public can use them, in addition to those working in the military and security sectors.
Manufacturers have responded to a growing demand in these items and we stock many items of this type. Indeed, some people shopping for night vision goggles and other related devices may require them solely for work purposes, such as security roles. The goggles work by collecting ambient light in dim to dark conditions via a photocathode tube, which stimulates the movement of particles to provide an image on a special screen.
In particularly dark surroundings, users are free to utilise an infrared illuminator to pick up even more details. A growing number of shoppers are seeing the positive impact that these instruments have on their leisure and sporting activities. Wildlife fans keen to track animals after nightfall can choose from our vast range of products that are designed to help them enjoy their hobby as much as possible. Pest controllers and hunters are free to browse our range of gun sights and night vision monoculars, which many have been treated in order to make them durable in varying weather conditions.
Our store features products from expert suppliers, with shoppers being able to choose between instruments of different generations. Generation 1 is a popular option with night vision fans, as it is the most affordable, while Generation 2 devices tend to have a greater capacity to amplify light. Lastly, Generation 3 instruments usually include a treated inner tube in order to give it a longer life and are often the priciest.
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.
Imagine you have just invested in a great piece of Generation I night vision binoculars. You’ve already tried them out and seen some animals in your garden that you didn’t think you’ve ever see – badgers and hedgehogs – and are planning a moonlit adventure to some nearby fields because you’ve heard from other wildlife enthusiasts that deer have been spotted there.
Here are a few tips to help keep your night vision binoculars in top form and keep you enjoying local wildlife.
1. Only use night vision devices in the dark. It may seem like stating the obvious, but using night vision devices in daylight or around bright flashlights or car headlamps could damage them.
2. Handle with care. Night vision devices aren’t usually shock proof despite their tough outer image! Treat them as you would a camera or camcorder.
3. Travel with advice. While Generation I night vision devices are not usually regulated, you might find that more high-tech models are restricted from country to country. Get some advice. And note that electronic baggage security checks will not damage your binoculars.
4. Do not try and adapt/modify your equipment yourself. You might be tempted to replace your lenses with stronger ones – don’t! The lens in your equipment is designed to work in harmony with the casing and changing it could affect focusing ability and light reflecting properties.
5. Protect your eyes. Look out for headaches and eye strain particularly if you are prone to these when watching television or using computers.
While most of us don’t have access to the kind of diverse wildlife we see on television documentaries, we shouldn’t overlook the wildlife which is – literally – in our own back yards.
In most British fields and gardens we have access to badgers, hedgehogs and birdlife such as owls. Even urban parks play host to urban foxes, and further out in the countryside deer are commonly found.
All of these fascinating and truly wild animals have one thing in common: they are notoriously shy and nocturnal, meaning that you are only really going to see them under a cloak of darkness.
Night vision optical devices refer to binoculars or telescopes that have been designed to assist night time viewing. They are usually divided into three groups: Generation I, Generation II and Generation III. Generation I is regarded as the best equipment for most amateur wildlife watchers, given the balance of price, manageability and result.
Night vision optical devices allow you to see up to a distance of 10 to 400 feet, depending on your equipment. Despite their name, night vision optical devices do require a small amount of light in order to work.
If you think that you will be regularly using your night vision optical device in poor weather conditions (such as fog or rain) or in total or near darkness, than it is probably worth investing in an infrared illuminator which increases the distance and quality of your view.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get closer to the wildlife on your doorstep.