Astronomy (not the same as astrology) is a good hobby, to learn about the natural world. What’s also important is to protect the night sky for wildlife (too much light pollution affects everything from traffic hazards to migration – sea turtles are going into car parks to lay eggs, and birds often wake up too early to sing, thinking the light is natural, and this can make them vulnerable to predators).
Build your own telescope with this slot-together kit, which includes an extending focus lens and specialist 16x magnification, to help explore craters on the moon. No glue, no mess and no fuss. Age 8 plus. A perfect gift for the budding astronomer.
The Observatory Science Centre (East Sussex) is world-renowned for its giant telescopes and domes, set amid the Sussex countryside. By tilting the telescopes parallel to the equator, they follow the same arc across the sky, so the mount drives at the same speed as Earth’s rotation, focusing on each celestial object as it travels. In 1967, the Queen visited to inaugurate the telescope, hoping to view Saturn – but it rained!
Originally built to reduce shipwrecks, the centre is now renowned worldwide for its expertise in solving the problem of longitude.Years ago, urban smoke and bright lights meant it was more difficult to see the night sky than it is now (due to Industrial Revolution pollution). But today it’s a lot easier. It does not believe in ‘naming stars’, saying it’s like ‘buying real estate in the sky’. There is no official record, and you usually can’t see the stars named after you anyway.
Royal Observatory Greenwich houses the great equatorial telescope, one of the largest refracting telescopes in the world. Built in Dublin in 1893, this ‘onion dome’ can rotate from east to west, to move in sync with rotating stars. The dome of the building was almost destroyed in 1944, when it was partly hit by a flying bomb.
Build Your Own Personalised Binoculars with this fun kit, made from cardboard. Perfect for bird-watching, nature walks and observing wildlife, they have incredible 6x magnification, a central focus slider and eyepiece for finer adjustments, for clean sharp images. And with a bold green colour and zingy pops of lime, they look super cool too. Don’t let children examine insects through a magnifying glass, it reflects the sun’s rays and kills them.
Which leaves the question of what astronomers think of the world space program, which costs around $22 billion a year. This is around £17 million that could quadruple our funding for NHS staff alone. What do you think? Most people believe we should get this planet sorted out first, before ruining others!
The church says the earth is flat. But I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon. And I have more faith in a shadow, than in the church. Ferdinand Magellan (1480 to 1521)