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.
For owners of astronomical telescopes or naked eye observers, 2010 promises to be a fantastic year for astronomy, with celestial events ranging from eclipses to meteor showers, ensuring that your eyes will be fixed firmly toward the stars.
Already this year there have been some dramatic astronomical events. For example, on January 15 over Africa we saw an annular solar eclipse – the first of four eclipses this year. We have also seen our first meteor shower in the form of the Quadrantids at the start of January, which served as a portent to a truly dramatic year of meteor showers.
Don’t worry though; you’ll still have plenty of occasions to use those astronomical telescopes, as some fascinating astronomical events are set to occur later in the year. And 2010 is especially notable for its eclipses, most of which won’t be observable from the UK. However, toward the end of the year, on December 21st to be exact, you’ll be able to point your astronomical telescopes toward the night sky and be able to see a total lunar eclipse – from Europe.
As well as an eclipse there will also be a chance to observe that most dramatic of celestial events – meteor showers, either with the naked eye, or through astronomical telescopes. Specifically, you can expect to see them at mid April, at the beginning of May, around August 12th , at the end of October and November, and in the middle of December – so get those telescopes ready.
If you aren’t happy with seeing your child in front of the television again or playing on computers, then perhaps you should consider buying them a telescope.
1. Buying your child a telescope will help improve their schoolwork. The very nature of astronomy is inextricably linked to mathematics and physics. Your child will be able to explore the universe and see the point of these school subjects that they may have previously felt were dry or simply irrelevant to their life. This should improve not only understanding, but encourage motivation.
2. Stargazing can help encourage their curiosity and imagination . Just when you think children will never stop asking questions, they do. Whether it is age or boredom or a lack of stimulation, you can encourage and maintain a curiosity about the world through gazing at the stars, and this curiosity will inform other aspects of their learning too.
3. Astronomy will boost their confidence. How? By being trusted with their own piece of equipment – and an unusual one at that – and taking care of it, assembling and disassembling their astronomical telescope as required. Also through learning about something mysterious and complex, and by having to spend time alone or with one other person. All of these factors will develop a child’s self esteem.
4. It can help create closer family relationships. Standing in the garden on a cold clear night and staring at shooting stars or a previously unseen planet are incredible experiences to share. Sharing a hobby is a great way to get closer to your child and beats staring at the TV.
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.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, a telescope is described as “a cylindrical device for making objects that are far away look nearer and larger, using a combination of lenses, or lenses and curved mirrors”.
Neat as this description may be, there are distinct types of telescopes within this which we shall examine here.
Optical telescopes collect and focus light mainly from the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Using one or several optical elements such as glass, lenses or mirrors, they also gather light to affect the size and brightness of distant objects.
Instruments found in this group include theodolites, spotting scopes, monocular, binoculars, camera lenses and spyglasses. Particular telescopes found in astronomy are refracting, reflecting or catadioptric; and infrared, submillimetre and ultraviolet.
As if that wasn’t enough, telescopes can also be used to measure and observe things not discernable to the eye – for example, naturally occurring radio emissions and microwave radiation from stars, galaxies and other astronomical objects. These telescopes are called radio telescopes and are built with dishes made from conductive wire mesh to collect information.
Radio telescopes are also used to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.
High-energy telescopes make up the final group of telescopes, and they are (unsurprisingly) used in high-energy astronomy. Objects studied in this group are those which emit EM radiation of highly energetic wavelengths: black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei and supernovae. Some high-energy telescopes use mirrors while some do not focus at all and use coded aperture masks, while others still have no image-forming optical system.