6 Instant Upgrades: Stargazing

Itching for those clear starry nights? Here's all the kit you need to really make them last

You are a tiny, utterly infinitesmal, insignificant spec of nothingness. But it's okay. So is everybody else.

There's no greater reminder of just how small we all are, than craning our faces towards the heavens and drinking in the starlight.

If you fancy a sobering but spectacular reminder of your complete insignificance in the universe, there's plenty of gear out there to help oblige and capture your astronomic curiosity.

Here's everything you need to become a budding astronomer:

1. Canon EOS 60DA

Canon Eos 60Da (Photo by Rocky Raybell)

For earth-bound cameras, invisible wavelengths of light like ultraviolet are a distraction, so they come with coatings and filters to remove them.

But in astrophotography, photons of any persuasion are welcome, with some of the best detail in deep space objects found here. Canon’s special full-spectrum DSLRs can’t be beaten for what they capture, and the 60Da is their current Milky Way master.

Go for the body-only option, using the savings to get an eyepiece adaptor to suit you.

2. Flux portable seat

Flux portable seat (Photo by Rocky Raybell)

Though your brain is excited about the idea of standing around for hours and staring into the dawn of time, your feet aren’t quite as keen. And your back isn’t too happy about it either. For long stargazing sessions a seat is mandatory, and they don’t come much better than this one.

Made from a single sheet of durable, weatherproof plastic, the Flux packs flat to a highly portable envelope, but magically expands to a proper seat in seconds.

3. Vixen SG 2.1x42 widefield binoculars

Vixen SG 2.1x42 widefield binoculars (Photo by Rocky Raybell)

Sure, onlookers will assume you are off to the opera, but these super-compact widefield binoculars are highly useful when it comes to looking at some of the universe’s big-scale phenomena, like constellations or those never-know-quite-where-they’ll-be meteors.

A respectable 2.1x bump in eye-power gives you extra detail without having to sacrifice seeing the big picture. And they do work pretty well at the opera.

5. Baader Q turret

Baader Q turret (Photo by Rocky Raybell)

Focusing perfectly on a tiny point of light that’s so far away it can barely be expressed in miles is often tricky. And having to re-adjust everything just because you want to swap an eyepiece or cue up your camera is beyond annoying, which is why the simple but amazing Q Turret deserves some sort of award for making the blindingly obvious work so very well.

It’s effectively a carousel of four 1.25in eyepiece mounts to which you may attach your optics of choice – each is then a simple swivel away.

6. Sky Safari Pro 4

Sky Safari Pro 4

Take the entire sum of human knowledge about the universe: that’s 25 million stars, 750,000 galaxies, over half a million other celestial objects, detailed maps of the moon and Mars, hi-res images from NASA missions, calendars of events including meteor showers, encyclopaedic entries on just about everything related to the heavens and plenty more.

Now bake that into a single, offline, easy-to-use and breathtakingly gorgeous app. There are cheaper versions of the app available, but why compromise on the universe?

Fancy playing among the stars? 

Buy Sky Safari Pro 4 on Android

Buy Sky Safari Pro 4 on iOS

Words: Nick Veitch, Photos: Rocky Raybell, Main Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S.Stolovy (SSC/Caltech)

Liked that? Read this...