Build your own Newtonian Reflector…

11 03 2009

Well done everyone who helped build the class telescope last night – I hope you all enjoyed the experience of putting your very own telescope together and getting a chance to view a lovely full moon through it too.

If you want to get hold of your own kit, it is available from here:, although stocks are often low, so order now!


The Galileoscope™: An IYA2009 Cornerstone Project

10 03 2009

The Galileoscope™ is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn’s rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye. Read the rest of this entry »

Telescopes and Lenses

24 02 2009

This is an exciting time in which to become an amateur astronomer. Never before have novice stargazers been presented with such a vast array of telescopes and accessories to pursue their hobby. Naturally, this brings the burden of choice. A bewildering variety of instruments make it difficult for the uninformed consumer to make the right decision. That’s what this entry is all about – to explain the options so you can choose the telescope that’s best for you.
Before examining the different types of telescopes available, it’s worthwhile illustrating some basic principles in order to understand how they work. The most important aspect of any telescope is its aperture, or the diameter of its main optical component, which can be a lens or a mirror – the fatter the tube, the larger the aperture. A scope’s aperture determines its light-gathering ability and its resolving power (the ability to see fine detail in an image).
What does this mean in real terms? With a 6-inch telescope, you can discern lunar craters that are as small as a mile across, which is half the size of those visible in a 3-inch scope under similar conditions. However, the same two instruments turned toward a faint galaxy on a moonless night would tell a different story. The 6-inch gathers four times the light of a 3-inch, not twice, so the galaxy would be four times brighter in the larger instrument. How is that? A 6-inch telescope has four times the light-collecting area of a 3-inch. Read the rest of this entry »

Software & Gadgets for Stargazing

17 11 2008

This week, I will be featuring the following software and gadgets: Stellarium, Celestia, Google Earth & Sky, Starry Night, the Celestron SkyScout and the Meade MySky – all very useful, hugely informative and sometimes even free pieces of technology that can transform a dull or puzzling evening of sky watching into an immersive and educational experience.

I use all of these on a regular basis and although personal preference differs between users (some people prefer one over another), they are all cutting edge and highly user-friendly. Best of all, some of these are 100% free!

I’ve also included links in this post so you can download / purchase each of them, if you feel the need to. Read the rest of this entry »