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.
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