So back in November 2012 I made the conscious decision to get more into astronomy. I have always had a passion for space and physics, which is obvious from the fact I spent so many years player Eve Online and more recently Kerbal Space Program so the logical next step to further my understanding is to take up amateur astronomy and see things first hand for a change.
After a couple of weeks of researching and creating fifty or so bookmarks to websites and threads discussing the subject it became clear that step one is to get a good pair of binoculars and take it from there. Many have posted advise online that buying a telescope straight off without experience and knowledge of how to use it is a mistake that puts people off initially thus wasting money.
So in November I ordered a pair of Helios Naturesport Plus 10×50 from First Light Optics which were out of stock everywhere but I decided to wait it out as it was the pair I wanted. The 10 is the magnification which is about as high as you when holding binoculars without a mount as higher magnifications become too shaky. The 50 is the important aperture size, so how big the end is that light comes into… So bigger hole means more light and thus better image. There is loads of other stuff you have to keep in mind, but most people recommend a decent 10×50 as a good start.
Having spent a long time doing research and being sure that the Helios Naturesport Plus 10×50 would be a good choice, I did not mind waiting a few months to get them as at that point my mind was set.
While I waited for them to arrive I started research into where I could use them as well as where might be a good place to use a telescope when I eventually buy one. The issue for me is that because I don’t drive and that I live in the middle of the city in a top floor flat, I will need to be able to walk somewhere to do this.
After cross referencing Google Maps, Satellite Images, Light Pollution Maps, Council Websites and Public Right of Way Maps I have found a number of places I could head too near Bath.
Furthest accessible place I found with least Light Pollution but also in a public space would have to be Lansdown Playing Fields which is a 45 minute walk up the hill but accessible by pavement. This page and this page show its owned by the council so I guess usable by the public? As a sports ground I believe football teams pay to use it, but for me with a pair of binoculars at midnight I don’t think the council would mind the secondary use I might have found for it.
Now the binoculars have arrived, all I need to do is wait for a clear sky and I can go make use of them. First Light Optics also sent me a good book on using binoculars for free which is useful as it lists a load of things you can see in the sky so what I will do is work through that. Will post how I get on. Fingers crossed the park and ride is not flood lit at night as its next to where I plan to walk.
Below are a couple of photos when I was testing the new binoculars though and working out how the focus works. One is just of the moon over Bath from my living room. The second is off the moon through the binoculars. Unfortunately what you see in the photos is crap is its just my mobile held to the eye piece, but it gives a good idea of magnification, but you see infinitely more detail with your eye where you can clearly make out craters and such.