Night had fallen, and above us a starry sky stretched as far as the eye could see. On the table in the backyard of our cabin stood the telescope I had brought with me. I aimed and looked into the objective. My heart skipped a beat.
AN INCREDIBLE NIGHT WITH A TELESCOPE
Not only did I see Jupiter, but also three other smaller shining dots. It couldn´t be anything else than three of the four moons that Galileo Galilei discovered around Jupiter more than 400 years ago.
Soon both children and adults gathered around me to take a peek. Earlier in the evening we had looked through the telescope at the surface of the moon with all its craters, but this proved to be even more exciting to see.
What was it like on Jupiter? How far away was this planet from us? Could we travel there? Could someone live there?
GALILEO GALILEIS DISCOVERY WITH A TELESCOPE
At the time when Galileo Galilei discovered the moons of Jupiter people had a geocentric view of the world. Earth was the center of the world, and everything else revolved around it.
When Jupiters moons circled around another celestial body this went against this perception, and thus this discovery made with a telescope contributed to changing the worldview to one where the sun is at the center.
DISCOVER A NEW WORLD WITH A TELESCOPE
If you look into a telescope with a child it will be natural to think and talk about everything that exists in the universe and how it´s all connected. We have the chance to look up and get a new perspective.
If you also read books about astronomy or watch movies about the solar system and the universe the subject gets even more exciting.
Our solar system is just one of many in the galaxy called the Milky Way, and there are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the universe. Each galaxy has millions of stars, and many of the stars have planets circling them. There are actually more planets than there are stars in the universe, and astronomers are searching for planets that may contain life.
Space is mysterious and fascinating and almost inconceivable. When you put yourself and planet Earth into this context you can give your child a bigger perspective on life itself. It can also contribute to sparking curiosity and humility for nature and everything we don´t understand.
OUR BEST TIPS AND TRICKS FOR USING A TELESCOPE
Scientist Factory can warmly recommend a telescope for families with children, but many are unsure how to use such an instrument. Here are our most important advice:
GET TO KNOW THE TELESCOPE
- Put the telescope together and get to know the different parts while you are inside. Aiming to put everything together correctly outside in the dark is not a good idea.
- Adjust the finderscope, which is the little telescope with low magnification that is held onto the top of the main telescope with a bracket. Start by aiming the telescope at an object that is far away, like a chimney in daylight. Make sure that the object is centered in the middle of your field of vision when you look in the eyepiece. Then adjust the finderscope so that the object is in the middle, and tighten the screws. Make sure that the telescope and stand does not move while you do this. Now you are sure that the telescope and the finderscope are aiming at the same area. This way you can use the finderscope to look for what you want to see. It´s easier to use the finderscope than the telescope because the finderscope offers a lower magnification view.
FIND A SUITABLE PLACE
- Find a dark place. If you live in the middle of a city you can still enjoy watching the moon, but smaller objects like planets will be easier to see in a spot where there is less light pollution.
- Find a place where the ground is stable and hard so that the telescope doesn’t move around. Try to find somewhere with a good view where tall trees or buildings don’t get in the way.
- It’s a good idea to let the telescope stand outside for a while so that it’s temperature adjusts and becomes the same as its surroundings.
- Remember to wear warm clothes! Dark nights can be cold if you spend long hours outdoors.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO SEE?
- If you are just starting out the moon is a great object for beginners. This will also give you experience with aiming the telescope. You can see craters, mountains, “oceans” and other formations on the surface of the moon. There are plenty of maps of the moon online that you can download to help you understand what you are looking at.
- After the moon we would recommend looking at the nearest planets if they are visible over the horizon where you live. If you see Venus you can see that it has phases just like the moon. Venus is usually visible early in the morning or in the early evening. Because the planet is surrounded by gas we can’t see its surface.
- Mars is another intriguing object to view. And if you find Jupiter you can see the moons that circle around it. Saturn is also beautiful with its fascinating ring. There are several mobile apps that show where the stars and planets are located in the place that you live, like for example SkyView.
- If you want to see a nebula you can try to find the middle “star” in Orion’s sword. It’s actually not a star at all, but a diffuse nebula consisting of gas and dust. It’s known as the Orion Nebula and functions as a star nursery where new stars are born. Because it’s located 1350 lightyears away the light that we observe today was sent out 1350 years ago!
- Stars will still appear as shiny dots in the sky even when you view them through a telescope. This is because they are so far away from us. You may, however, be blown away by how many more stars you see than with the naked eye alone.
Interested in exploring the night sky? Our store sells telescopes that are perfect for beginners!