10 Holiday Season Gift Ideas for Space Lovers

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s already that time of year when friends and family members start panicking as they fill out their Christmas shopping lists. However, I’ve deliberately tried to avoid the rather kitschy toys and souvenirs that many gift ideas lists seem to focus on, instead trawling through Amazon to find some pressies that are actually useful to any serious space enthusiast.

#1. 2017 Guide to the Night Sky

As great as computerised telescopes are, I’ve always believed there’s no substitute for an actual printed almanac when it comes to planning your skywatching adventures for the year. The 2017 Guide to the Night Sky is available in two editions; one for Britain and Northern Ireland and one for North America. Both feature monthly star maps, event calendars and a wealth of other useful information.


#2. Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Skywatching on the move might mean downsizing, but that doesn’t mean that smaller scopes are a waste of time. This 2.76-inch (70mm) aperture refractor telescope from Celestron is designed for observing the heavens on the move, and it ships with a lightweight tripod and travel bag. Its low price make it an ideal choice for both beginners and intermediate users looking for a secondary travel telescope.


#3. 50 Things to See with a Small Telescope

This guide is a must-have for first-time skywatchers or anyone else who’s having trouble finding interesting targets with a new telescope. It also includes star maps to help you get your bearings, which can be extremely useful for those who don’t have computerised telescopes. For those of you who live in the southern hemisphere, there’s a different edition available, so make sure to get the right one!


#4. Orion 4150 Deep Map 600 Folding Star Chart

This folding star chart from one of the world’s most famous telescope manufacturers folds up just like a road-map, making it an invaluable companion for any skywatching excursion. It displays 600 night-sky objects, and there’s a list of basic information on each object on the back of the map. It’s also plastic-coated, so you can safely use it in damp conditions.


#5. Lunar 2017 Square Wall Calendar

The fact that this square calendar glows in the dark might make it sound like a bit of a gimmick, but who doesn’t need a wall calendar for their office or kitchen? The calendar grid, month names and included moon phase icons all glow, but do be aware that the paper is black, so you’ll need a suitable pen. The images themselves feature a mix of close-up moonscapes and the Moon as seen from Earth.


#6. Gosky/Solomark Universal Cell Phone Adaptor Mount

Some of today’s smartphone cameras are good enough that they can take some quite impressive pictures of the heavens, provided you use a suitable mount for your telescope. Featuring a sturdy metal housing, this adaptor mount is designed for use with binoculars, telescopes, monoculars and microscopes, and it should work with just about any phone.


#7. HQRP 9 Red Light

Trying to set up a telescope in the darkness often turns out to be a major annoyance, particularly since you don’t want to keep losing your night vision by using a conventional torch. However, this red LED torch from HQRP provides a 650nm wavelength light, allowing you to comfortably read star maps and navigate your way around the rest of your gear without dazzling you with bright light.


#8. Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA

Unsurprisingly, NASA’s archives are home some pretty spectacular images of the heavens, and this hardcover book showcases some of their greatest, such as the Cone Nebula, Pleiades, the Pillars of Creation and the planets. Every photo is accompanied by a piece of explanatory content, and there’s a preface by actor and TV presenter Bill Nye.


#9. Celestron Power Tank

Celestron’s computerised telescopes are excellent for beginners and those on modest budgets, but they certainly leave something to be desired when it comes to battery life. However, this rechargeable power tank provides everything you need for those longer skywatching episodes, along with the added benefits of two 12V cigarette lighter ports, an integrated LED flashlight and a safety circuit breaker.


#10. Polaris Optics Explorer Monocular

Sky charts and computerised telescopes can make skywatching easier, but finding potential telescope targets yourself is arguably the most exciting part of skywatching. With this 12×50 monocular, you can get twelve times closer to any potential targets, making it ideal for easily hunting down night sky objects to train your telescope on. The package also includes a miniature tripod and nylon carrying case.


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