What do you give someone interested in Astronomy as a gift? Astronomy has been around for a very long time, so there are traditional gifts available. Also with the huge advancements in technology there are constantly new astronomy equipment becoming available and there is always something new to discover. It can actually become overwhelming to decide what to get them. I have made a list of the top Christmas 2007 Astronomy gift ideas for adults.
1) Novelty items and just fun astronomy gifts:
“You Are Here”, is a 100% cotton heavyweight t-shirt black. On the front, a view of the Milky Way galaxy with a sign that reads "You are Here" pointing in the general direction of Earth. $16.99 www.thinkgeek.com.
Astrolabe Kit. Use this handy device to determine the declination (elevation) and azimuth (horizontal arc) of any star or celestial body. You provide a compass. Astrolabes have been used in navigation for more than 2000 years, although their heyday was during the explorations of the 1400-1500s. Now the Global Positioning System has eliminated the need to rely on the stars for navigation, but using an astrolabe is still a fun astronomy activity! Instructions are printed right on the plastic body. This is $13.50 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
Galilea Moon Phase Clock. This lunar phase clock shows the current Moon phase, the time and date. Galilea's revolutionary design precisely reproduces the daily evolution of the moon phases during it's 29.5 day cycle. This clock is $69.95 at www.physlink.com/estore.
Constellation Illuminated Globe. This illuminated globe shows a spherical map of the sun, moon and stars that appear to surround our great earth. Using your globe, you can actually determine what stars are visible at certain dates and times. The globe also breathtakingly displays over 70 zodiac images when illuminated. This globe is $79.95 at www.physlink.com.
T-shirts, hats, cups, posters and a clock are all available with wonderful pictures taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the Cat's Eye Nebula, The Crab Nebula, the Orion Nebula, NGC 2264, the Cone Nebula, IC 4406, a dying star dubbed the "Retina Nebula, the Spirograph Nebula, and many other wonderful pictures. These are unbelievably cool and can be found at www.spacemartgifts.com
Kinetic Solar System. Brilliant colors and movement add a decorative flair to this scientific desk sculpture. A series of rings and a sphere representing our solar system rotate and spin in a sturdy base, creating a miniature moving galaxy. It is $12.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
Solar System Shower Curtain Liner. This vibrant vinyl shower curtain boldly displays the solar system in accurate representation along with fascinating facts about our galaxy. It is $29.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
2) Telescopes, Binoculars, and Accessories:
Little Mak Hand-held Telescope. The Little Mak is the smallest Maksutov Gregorian telescope on the market. It’s small enough to fit in any pocket or purse, has crisp 10x magnification, and can be used as a telescope the images produced by the Little Mak are as sharp at the edges as they are in the center. It is $39.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
Konus Motor-500 Telescope. This heavy-duty telescope is an electronically advanced tool that is designed to give a wide-angle low power view of outer space; this telescope is lightweight and easy to use. It is 114mm (4, 5”) in size and has a focal length of 500 mm. This set includes an R.A. Motor for tracking, a moon filter for observing a full moon, a 50x Eye piece Plossl and a 30x Eye piece Plossl. It is $199.95 at www.physlink.com.
Konus Giant-80 Binocular. These giant binoculars are perfect to view the moon, planets, International Space Station, constellations. They are built to maximize the field of view and provide outstanding panoramic vision. T they are quite heavy and it is recommended to use them with a tripod. Tripod connector is included with these binoculars. They are $99.95 at www.physlink.com.
Telescope Digital Photo Adapter. This lets you attach a digital camera to most telescopes and spotting scopes and take digital photos. This is $19.95 at www.physlink.com.
Electronic Night Navigator. The portable, hand-held Night Navigator automatically shows you where to look to find the four visible planets—Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, all first magnitude (brightest) stars visible from your location, and 43 different constellations and Zodiac Signs. Sixteen different illuminated screens chart the night sky. To operate just press the find button, type in your request and Night Navigator™ tells you which chart to select, highlights the object on the chart, and helps you locate the object in the sky by beeping when you are facing in the correct direction. This is $79.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
3) Gift Certificates:
You can always pick up gift cards so that they can pick out what they want. However the best gift card is the Slooh 50 min Telescope Card. This is a pre-paid card gives them 50 minutes spectacular deep space objects streamed real-time live to your computer from powerful telescopes located high on a mountain off the coast of Africa. This is $9.95 at www.physlink.com.
4) Books, Maps, software and Calendars:
A subscription to “Astronomy” magazine. Here is the web site www.astronomy.com to get the subscription.
“What's Out Tonight?” This is a 50 Year Astronomy Field Guide 2000 to 2050 (Paperback). “What's Out Tonight?” is a popular celestial almanac and astronomy field guide provides the enthusiast, beginner or the seasoned amateur with a snapshot of the heavens until 2050. There are star charts of the entire sky as well as tables indicating the Planets that are out, the phase of the Moon, meteor showers and more. At a glance you will know what is happening in the night sky for 50 years. This book is $39.95 at www.iglou.com.
“Space Encyclopedia”. Contains thousands of photographs, illustrations, graphics, maps and charts. It is $29.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
“What Your Astronomy Textbook Won't Tell You.” Learn how science figures out how nature works-and how it debunks bogus claims. See how stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and meteoroids compare. Norman Sperling, a top-rated teacher, author, inventor, and expert witness penned this original astronomy book discussing thousands of term paper topics, clears up confusing jargon, and chortles at blunders you can dodge.
This book is $24.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
Starry Night Enthusiast Astronomy Software. This software provides a comprehensive astronomy course. The 3D graphics will take you on a journey from the stars visible in your backyard to distant galaxies deep in space. You can also view live images from special observation equipment via the Internet, keep track of upcoming events, create videos and files to easily view an event again later and read detailed information about each of the 2.5 million celestial objects. This software is $79.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
Astro Pack. This handy pack is a great tool for the beginning astronomy hobbyist. It includes a planisphere that shows the positions of the stars and constellations for any hour in the year; a book on how to choose, set up, and use a telescope; a month-by-month guide to the night sky; and a star chart that contains detailed comprehensive maps of the heavens. This is $21.95 at www.hometrainingtools.com.
Hubble Picture CD. This feature packed CD-ROM that works on both PC and Mac computers includes 450+ pictures & captions, educational text of a full paragraph on each image, screen saver with 20 Hubble images to enhance your screen. Image Browser software allows you to easily review the photos, search & read detailed captions or print the catalog for handy reference. Also includes drag and drop features for publishing programs. This CD is $14.95 at www.physlink.com.
Deep Space iCD. This CD is filled with hundreds of images and amazing facts; this multi-media program lets you explore space with the very best images from the Hubble Space Telescope. This CD features a complete collection of Hubble images from the Space Telescope Science Institute's, plus 32 superb earth-based astronomical photographs. This is $19.95 at www.physlink.com.
Calendars with night skies or even pictures from space can be found almost any place. Some of them will even have reminders of important viewing events and historical date for astronomy. Calendars can make great gifts.
The Stars DVD Set. This set has three star DVD’s:
“Death Star”, Learn how these violet explosions could have the power to eradicate life in an entire galaxy.
“Death of a Star”, Experience one of the most violent celestial events since the creation of the universe.
“Runaway Universe”, Join a dramatic quest to unlock the secrets of the universe, including the mysterious "dark energy."
This set is $39.95 at http://shopping.discovery.com.
The Mysteries of the Cosmos DVD Set. Explore some of the greatest mysteries in the Universe. From the Big Bang to the Hubble telescope, this stunning collection brings you up close and personal to the mysteries and wonders of space. Learn about current research being performed by the greatest minds in space exploration. Witness stunning animation, actual satellite photography and archival NASA footage that bring the farthest reaches of the Universe. This DVD set is $29.95 at http://shopping.discovery.com.
6) Models and posters:
Map of the Universe Poster. Shows all major constellations, nebulas, stars, precession cycle...and it glows in the dark. It is 36" x 36". This is $18.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
The Caldwell Objects Poster. Caldwell Object Poster is an informative color poster (approximately 36"x24") that displays and lists the 109 Deep-Sky objects from the Caldwell Catalog. It is $14.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
The MONOPOLY: Night Sky Edition brings the wonders of the universe right into your living room. Move around the game board as you purchase comets, planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies and build observatories. Comes with six custom pewter tokens (Meade telescope, Hubble space telescope, binoculars, radio dish, observatory, Mars Rover) and custom dice. Mars and Moon cards replace classic Chance and Community Chest cards, respectively. Read all about the different wonders featured on the game board. This game is $34.95 at http://scientificsonline.com.
8) Home Planetariums:
Planetica Portable Planetarium. With this portable planetarium you can determine the planets' positions in the solar system at any time from 1970 to 2049. Planetica can be used in both hemispheres and is set to the solar time at the place of use. If necessary, allow for summer/winter time differences. This planetarium is $59.95 at www.physlink.com.
Star Theater SE. Watch as a darkened room is transformed into a home planetarium. Project hundreds of stars and constellations on your walls and ceiling. Continue your exploration of the galaxy with the included Stellarium computer software. This is $45.95 at www.physlink.com.
9) A Vacation Plan:
If you live in a city it can be hard to see the stars. Plan a vacation some place that is “dark”. There are also quite a few places that will give unusual sites like the Northern Lights in Alaska. Take the time to look around and see what you can do with your family budget. It does not have to be expensive or a faraway vacation. It does not even have to be longer then one night. Any lover of Astronomy would love to go out into the country and get to stay up late, spending the night looking at stars they cannot see at home.
If you are looking to have an Astronomy vacation you may want to look into www.astronomyvacations.com, Mayhugh Travel is owned and operated by Roy and Bonnie Mayhugh. Developing and marketing Astronomy Vacations is what their business is about. They are astronomy buffs that started selling travel because they couldn't find a travel agent that really understood the particular requirements of mixing astronomy with one's vacation.
Written by Lori-Lee Craig