If you’re about to invest in new astronomical telescopes or you’ve already got your hands on these items, you’ll no doubt want to make the most of them.
There is plenty to see in the night sky, but if you live in an area with lots of light pollution, your viewing experiences might be limited.
Take a trip
However, if you’re prepared to move around, there are lots of opportunities to stare at the skies. For example, you might decide to head to Exmoor National Park to use your telescopes after dark. In 2011, it was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect place to test your viewing technology.
Since then, so called ‘astrotourism’ in the area has been growing in popularity and a number of local firms even offer stargazing breaks and safaris.
Commenting on the viewing opportunities on offer in the area, Tim Braund from Exmoor National Park said: “Exmoor is an amazing place to marvel at the wonders of the night sky. The National Park is one of the few places in England where low levels of light pollution allow us to experience the delights of night skies that are sadly disappearing from much of the country.
Plenty to do
Of course, if you make the journey to the park, it’s worth checking out the other attractions the area has to offer. Located in the south-west of Britain, the park contains an array of landscapes within its 267 square miles.
During daylight hours when your telescope’s out of action, you can check out the range of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland. It’s also worth investigating the cosy local pubs in the area.
The perfect telescopes
For the best viewing experiences, whether you’re in Exmoor National Park or anywhere else, it’s important to invest in the right telescopes. There are lots on offer and each device has its merits. To get the best results, it’s important to think about your personal needs and preferences.
Here at Sherwoods we offer an impressive variety of telescopes. Regardless of your experience and budget, we’ll have something that ticks all of your boxes.
Roughly speaking, these products fall into three categories and each has its strengths and weaknesses. These groups are the refractor, the reflector and the catadioptric. All of these items have a common function, which is to gather and focus light from distant objects to produce a bright image that can be magnified.
The full low down
If you want to get the full low down on these products, you can take a look at the relevant section of our website. Meanwhile, if you’re keen to access further information or advice, you can get in touch with our friendly and expert team.
By making sure you purchase the right telescopes for you and by taking advantage of the best viewing opportunities, you can explore the night skies in style.
Binoculars from Bushnell are some of the best realised optical devices for the outdoors. These can help to give an entirely new perspective on the natural world, allowing you to spy birds on any terrain but also with enough ruggedness to stand up to the weather. The Bushnell Elite bird watching binoculars bring together a fantastically crisp and bright image with excellent lower light condition performance to produce a high definition image no matter the time.
If you’re wanting to get ahead with viewing the outdoors, the range that Bushnell offers is a cut above since they provide up to 99.7% light transmission per lens, making for a better image that can allow you to really focus on what you are observing. The clarity and contrast benefit from the new ED Prime glass to deliver your eyes a fantastic true colour image. All you need to do is get out there and find it! The RainGuard coating gets rid of irritating lens fogging while being completely waterproof. At £585, they represent a step up in professionalism that many other observers are simply lacking.
Bushnell also have night vision offerings so you can bring the nocturnal world to life with all of the build quality of 60 years in the business. The Equinox Digital Monocular 6×50 delivers a field of view that most rivals can only dream of utilising the traditional green during dusk and dawn in order to make the most use of the available light. In the completely dark and almost pitch dark conditions, the white imaging comes into play and it is at this point the Equinox really begins to show its quality. Even during these times the increased depth perception becomes a pivotal feature. The device is a gem to hold being of a reassuringly solid construction, yet remaining lightweight enough to be held for long periods. This is buttressed by superb battery performance and true 6x magnification.
Bushnell aren’t the only manufacturers of nocturnal imaging devices. Pulsar have a great range as well that we stock at highly competitive prices. The Pulsar Challenger 3.5×50 provides fantastic edge-to-edge resolution in a distortion free image that can be relied upon in all conditions. The same can be said of the body which is hermetically sealed, making this a truly all terrain, all condition device. This camera goes beyond the pure observational applications, branching out into other areas such as tourism, hunting, military, patrols, rescue and protection of private property. It truly is a versatile option.
Typically when you are choosing a device for night time imaging, then you really need to consider that the devices are limited. Their range is limited to between 10 and 400 feet, although this could be severely curtailed if you are working in heavy rain or snowfall. On the other hand you can make use of an infrared illuminator to increase viewing range in enclosed areas. It always pays to take care of these devices since they will pay you back through their beautiful images.
With the majesty of the heavens above us, the wonders of the night sky should be accessible to all. At Sherwoods Photographic, we want to make this a reality, no matter what your budget is. It is important to remember that even a pair of binoculars can show the nearer planets in greater detail than the naked eye, as well as comets and other phenomena. Because the night sky is so vast, even beginner astronomers can train their sights on objects that the rest of mankind has never observed before. This brings up an important question, however: just how much do you want to see and what is your budget? These two aspects will really dictate what technology you should go for. Astronomical telescopes can vary in complexity, but they can yield so much when used properly. So another important question to ask is, how much time and effort can I dedicate to this?
For those with a casual interest and a focus on immediate observations, you might consider the Celestron 15×70 Skymaster. These are specially designed astronomical binoculars which come in at only £60. They offer a large aperture to gather as much light as possible, thereby increasing the ability to see objects in the night sky. They are also designed to be lightweight so your arms don’t start to tire from looking. The Celestron range goes all the way up to the premium option in the form of the 9×63 Skymaster. Again these utilise a large aperture and are dedicated for use on land. They produce sharp images even over very large distances and are designed for comfort. Being the top of the range Celestron, they are available for £235.
Celestron also make telescopes to suit a variety of budgets. The Astromaster range starts at £100 and rises to £180. They are perfect to set up since they do not require any tools. You can also begin observing as quickly as possible since it also has a permanently mounted StarPointer, although it can also be used for terrestrial objects as well. If you are observing an object then you will need to track the object as it moves across the sky. The Astromaster features a German Equatorial Mount with Setting circles which will allow you to track more accurately.
If you are looking for a more upmarket option with more automation and capabilities, the Advanced range can really help to bring the sky to life. These are GPS compatible making it much simpler to get to the object you want to observe. With this hurdle out of the way you can really start to enjoy the night sky. With a communications port, the telescope can be controlled with a computer while the Autoguider port can be used for long exposures of astronomical phenomena. With an object database providing access to more than 40,000+ objects, these scopes can provide plenty of breadth for those who are turning from very interested parties to enthusiasts. As you might imagine, these offerings are no small investments, but they do pay you back with staggering sights!
Never before have stargazers been faced with so many different choices of astronomical telescopes and associated accessories. This can make it more of a challenge, especially if you are just starting out as an astronomer.
First of all, it’s worth understanding some basic principles. One of the most important aspects of all telescopes is aperture, or the diameter of the main optical component, which may be a mirror or a lens. Essentially, the bigger the tube, the greater the aperture.
Aperture determines a telescope’s light-gathering capacity and its capacity for seeing fine detail in an image – this is also called resolving power.
As an example, with a six-inch telescope you can see lunar craters as small as just a mile wide, and, overall, a 6-inch telescope has four times the light-collecting area of a 3-inch version.
However, the aperture is not related to a telescope’s magnification or power. Instead this is determined by the distance between the lens or mirror and the point where it creates an image of a distant object.
Another important thing to understand is that larger apertures are more affected than smaller ones by “poor seeing” – or poor atmospheric conditions affecting visibility.
Other factors in your decision include portability of your telescope, budget, and whether you want to spend your time looking at the moon and the nearer planets or “deep sky” objects like dim galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.
Size is also a factor in that clearly a large telescope will need to be housed permanently in an observatory or assembled for each new viewing session. So bigger isn’t necessarily always better.
Finally, bear in mind that all telescopes are also divided further into three other classes:
Refractors can be expensive but can also provide some of the finest images available for each aperture when made properly. They are also very robust, with their lenses less likely to come out of alignment. So they could be ideal if you’re not one for playing around with the optics.
Reflectors or mirror telescopes uses mirrors to gather and focus light from the object being observed. The most commonly found version, the Newtonian, has been around for more than three hundred years. Want maximum aperture for your money? The reflector could well be the scope for you. Bear in mind however that the Newtonian in particular does require occasional maintenance.
Finally, the catadioptric or compound telescope uses lenses and mirrors to form an image, so that for many they offer the best of both worlds, with a large aperture and a long-focus, transportable telescope.
Optical Equipment from Sherwoods Photographic
At Sherwoods we specialise in all kinds of optical gear, whether you need night vision equipment or anything else. We’re a third-generation family owned firm first established in 1942 and offer extensive knowledge and expertise in our chosen field.
Visit our store in rural Warwickshire, or check out our wide online selection of products and eclectic gifts, all at prices that are anything but astronomical. There’s more online.
Earlier this year, thousands of nature lovers across the UK took part in the biggest wildlife survey in the world, the Big Garden Birdwatch from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB.)
Participation involved counting the creatures in a garden or park for just one hour – and then telling the organisation what you had seen. The idea is to record the highest number of each bird spotted at the same time.
The charity asked bird lovers to survey feathered friends present in their area, all over the country. Last year, some 600,000 people nationwide took part, counting over nine million birds between them.
The aim of the survey, now in its 34th year, is to help scientists learn which species of birds are thriving and which are in decline, and how different varieties are doing in different parts of the country.
For example, information gathered over the last decade indicates that mistle thrushes are spotted in fewer than 50% the number of gardens they were noticed in just 10 years ago.
Separate information for a study last year by volunteer ornithologists for the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology found that the number of nesting birds in Britain had fallen from 210 million in 1966 to 166 million in 2012.
Spring into action
And if this project or the Big Garden Birdwatch inspired you to grab a pair of bird watching binoculars, perhaps before numbers fall still further, spring is a great time to do just that as wildlife emerges from the chill of winter with noise and flamboyance.
And, with the lighter spring days, plumage, patterns and markings look brighter, allowing species to be more easily identified. At this time of year, many male birds in particular are showing their most vivid colours while songbirds are competing to sing the loudest in a bid to attract a mate for the breeding season ahead.
It’s a great time for other wildlife too, from insects like bumblebees and butterflies to frogs and hares.
How Sherwoods Photographic Can Help
To get the most from your birdwatching, you need the best equipment. At Sherwood Photographic, we’re leading optical specialists for binoculars and
telescopes and can offer extensive advice on using these items.
Established 70 years ago last year, we’re still very much a family firm and have a wealth of expertise and knowledge in our specialist area, and supply a range of premium quality products from the world’s leading manufacturers as well as a variety of unusual and intriguing gifts and gadgets.
We have a showroom in rural Warwickshire, and we’re open six days a week, but shop online in a time and at a place to suit you and we can generally get your order to you the next day.
Buying from our showroom? Give us a call first to check we have the product in stock before setting off.
Learn more from our website and contact us with any queries about our products. Or why not find us on Facebook?
Like many other people, you may well have developed a burgeoning interest in astronomy after watching Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Brien’s excellent ‘Stargazing Live’ programme on BBC2. Indeed, this wonderful show may well have made you go out into your garden and look up at the Heavens and examine the night sky in a way that you’ve never done before.
And like millions (if not trillions) of people before you, you will likely have thought to yourself: ‘If only I could see more’
Well, what would you think if we here at Sherwoods told you that, within limits, you can see galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae without having to invest your hard-earned cash in an astronomical telescope?
Chances are you would think that we were pulling your leg.
However, you’d be wrong because the truth is you can see all of this and more simply by taking nothing more convoluted than a pair of birdwatching binoculars out with you on a clear evening.
Strengths and Benefits
Fledgling stargazers often believe that binoculars (or astronomical glasses) are simply not powerful enough to reveal anything of importance in the night sky. This is not true. In fact, many experienced observers keep a pair of glasses close to hand to make sure they have every angle covered.
Although glasses are smaller and give lower magnification, they have a number of benefits when it comes to stargazing. For example, they’re not only lighter and less expensive than your average telescope, they’re also much easier to take outside, use, and put away. Moreover, they also give you a much wider view than a telescope, thereby making celestial objects easier to find (which is very handy when you’re first starting out). In addition, they let you use both eyes so you can see more integral, natural views.
What Can I See?
On a clear, dark night out in the countryside, you can see around 3,000 stars with the naked eye. But, whipping out even a modest pair of astronomical looking glasses will immediately increase that number to around 100,000 stars!
Pretty impressive, huh?
And of course, there’s much more to see in the night sky than just random stars. Double stars, Milky Way star clouds, star clusters of various sizes and types, and stars varying in brightness from month to month (or even hour to hour), as well as a smattering of nebulae and dim, distant galaxies can all be seen in this way and be easily identified with a detailed sky map and/or some guidebooks.
Which Ones to Buy?
Because astronomy is done in the dark, you really need to concentrate on getting hold of some astronomical glasses that have big aperture i.e. big front lenses. Glasses with big aperture collect lots of light, thereby enabling you to see fainter objects. Indeed, astronomers the world over agree that the bigger the aperture, the better.
Want to find out more? If so, simply browse our pages further or call 01527 857500.
If you are thinking of buying a telescope for the first time, chances are you will have been doing a little bit of research online. Whilst carrying out your research you will have most likely discovered aspects which you aren’t familiar with and encountered terms which you don’t fully understand. This is quite normal. Indeed, part of the beauty of astronomy is that it often throws up as many questions as it does answers. If you have an enquiring mind then you will enjoy this aspect almost as much as scanning the Heavens.
However, when you’re first starting out, there are a few things which you really do need to have a good understanding of. And, when it comes to buying astronomical telescopes, nothing is more important than aperture.
Basically, a telescope’s aperture is the diameter of its main, light-gathering lens or mirror. (This lens or mirror is called the telescope’s ‘objective’.) The bigger the aperture is, the sharper and brighter your view through the telescope will be. As you have probably realised, a bigger aperture allows you to use more magnification. In fact, you can make any telescope provide any magnification you like, just by changing eyepieces. However, high magnification is worthless without large aperture (indeed, you’ll end up with a dim, blurry, mess).
A telescope which can only be pushed to 50 times magnification (50x) before the view goes blurry will enable you to see Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, and some detail in the brightest star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. However, if you’re looking to explore surface features on Mars or see both members of a tight double star, you will need to have the sharp views which a telescope at 150x can deliver. Depending on optical quality (and observing conditions), you can expect to get anywhere from 20x to 50x of useful magnification per inch of aperture. Put another way, a four-inch telescope will manage 200x whereas a six-inch telescope will go as high as 300x, if they are both used under ideal conditions.
Another important feature of large aperture is that it lets you view fainter objects. This is different from providing magnification. In fact, the problem with most hard-to-see astronomical objects is not that they’re too small and need more magnification; it’s that that they’re too faint and need more light i.e. more aperture. For example, there are several dozen galaxies beyond our own Milky Way which can be distinguished through a 4½-inch reflector. Some of these galaxies are more than 50 million light-years away, so being able to see them with a telescope which can be comfortably tucked under your arm really is pretty good. Of course, it is worth noting that a 12½-inch Dobsonian telescope will reveal literally hundreds of far away galaxies, even when you use the same magnification!
If you’d like to find out even more about aperture and browse through a great range of beginners telescopes in detail, simply take a few moments to explore our pages further.