Studying Stars and Planets

There is something majestic about the night sky, especially if you have binoculars or a telescope. Looking at the heavens helps us keep our lives in perspective, particularly looking at some of the Hubble photos from space. The team from the Hubble Space Telescope creates an amazing advent calendar each year of the most beautiful collection of deep space photos imaginable. At Christmas we put on worship music and go through the slide show of the images and it is awe-inspiring. In fact, I created an inspiring video of Hubble photos you and your children can watch.

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00005AXIV” locale=”us” height=”132″ src=”” width=”160″]Bushnell Perma Focus 10×50 Wide Angle Binocular. If you’re going to use binoculars for star-gazing, you need at least 40x, but most all-purpose field binoculars are only 25 – 35x magnification. But the problem with binoculars with greater magnification is that it’s difficult to hold them steady to focus on the image you want. Anything with a magnification of over 50x can no longer be hand-held but must be mounted on a tripod. These binoculars give magnification up to 50x and have a “prema focus” feature that helps you stay locked on the image. Plus they are from Bushnell which produces fine optics.

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B0007UQNTU” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”101″]Celestron SkyMaster 20×80 Binoculars These are the BIG BOYS when it comes to binoculars. When it’s time to gaze at the stars or take in some long-distance or low-light terrain viewing, look no further than the Celestron 71018 SkyMaster 20 x 80 binoculars. Featuring high quality BAK-4 prisms, multi-coated optics for enhanced contrast, a diopter adjustment for fine focusing, and large apertures, these binoculars offer phenomenal performance. The Celestron 71018 also includes an integrated tripod adapter rod, a deluxe padded soft carrying case, and Celestron’s No Fault Limited Lifetime Warranty.

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B000AP03S4″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”160″]Orion StarBlast 4.5 EQ Reflector – Telescope – f/4.0 – reflector. This is the top of the line for amateur astronomers with mirror optics large enough to keep you and your family busy viewing for years to come. It features a wide-field reflector telescope with enough aperture to get great views of the Moon, planets, and many bright deep-sky objects, plus it has fast f/4 optics and a short focal length provide a very wide field of view, making it easy to locate celestial objects without having to hunt around. Also includes an EZ Finder II reflex sight for easy aiming, 15mm and 6mm 1.25″ Expanse eyepieces, collimation cap, Starry Night software, and more!A fantastic general-purpose astronomical telescope.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”155407147X” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”106″]NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe has been acclaimed as the best general interest introduction to astronomy and is the top-selling stargazing guide in the world for the last 20 years. The key feature of this classic title is the section of star charts that are cherished by backyard astronomers everywhere. Each new edition has outsold the previous one because of thorough revisions and additional new material. This new edition includes star charts for the Southern Hemisphere.

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0679779965″ locale=”us” height=”78″ src=”” width=”110″]Audubon Pocket Guides. Three of the wonderful pocket guides cover space study with beautiful color photos:
National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Constellations of the Northern Skies — National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Earth from Space — National Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Galaxies and Other Deep Sky Objects

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”054713178X” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”94″]Find the Constellations by H. A. Rey. You probably remember H. A. Rey from reading Curious George to your children. In this book, he delights children with its interesting illustrations and fascinating stories about the stars and constellations. It teaches children to read the night sky and is a book to be used year around, indoors and out. Ages 8 – 14.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0753458659″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”92″]Kingfisher Knowledge: Stars and Planets. For ages 9 and up, interesting facts about our solar system, a study of each planet, and information about stars.

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0762708093″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”123″]Astronomy for All Ages: Discovering the Universe through Activities for Children and Adultsby Philip Harrington & Edward Pascuzzi. We like this book! It starts with basic “naked eye” sky skills like recognizing directions, using a star map, locating constellations, telling time by the stars, and determining latitude. It then introduces study using binoculars, telescopes, & photography. All ages.

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0805046682″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”89″]40 Nights to Knowing the Sky: A Night-by-Night Sky-Watching Primer could be used as a semester in astronomy, because it leads you step-by-step throu­gh the fundamentals of astronomy in literally 40 nights. Nights 1 – 30 only require “naked eye” viewing, but 31 – 40 require a telescope or binoculars.

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