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David Chandler First Light Astronomy Kit (Large) for 20°-30° North Latitude

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David Chandler First Light Astronomy Kit: An Award Winning Introduction to Observational Astronomy

What does a beginner need to get off to a successful start observing the sky? David Chandler's First Light Astronomy Kit is the answer to that need.

The First Light Astronomy Kit by David and Billie Chandler brings together all the essential resources a beginner needs to get started observing the sky, including

  • The Night Sky: A uniquely designed low-distortion planisphere
  • Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars: An award winning introduction to observational astronomy
  • Sky Atlas for Small Telescopes and Binoculars: A sky atlas designed specifically for beginners with small optics and
  • Night Reader Pro Red LED Light: Specially designed to work with the Night Sky chart without damaging your night vision

The perfect companion to a new telescope or binoculars. The kit comes beautifully packaged in an attractive folder box that includes complete instructions for each product as well as a glossary of astronomy terms to help you get started right.

1. The Night Sky: A uniquely designed low-distortion planisphere for 20-30 degrees North Latitude

Sky & Telescope magazine adopted David Chandler's Night Sky Planisphere in 1976 and has promoted it ever since. The Night Sky is widely recognized by the amateur astronomy and educational communities as the overall best planisphere on the market!

Sizes: Large (10" x 8.5") with 8" diameter map
Latitude Range: 20°-30° North

The Night Sky Planisphere is printed with dark stars on a light background for easy nighttime readability. The constellations are drawn simply, emphasizing the brighter stars. Coordinate grid lines are shown without being intrusive. A selection of deep sky objects for binocular viewing is included. With instructions printed on the back for handy reference you will be locating constellations and select deep sky objects within minutes.

These versions are made in the USA using durable plastic facing for the front and back and are secured with no-corrosion brass rivets. These planispheres are built to last; you will probably go through several telescope upgrades in your lifetime but will never need to upgrade your planisphere.

Selecting the Right Chart for Your Latitude

You should choose a planisphere version based on the location (your latitude) from which you will be observing. Each latitude version of The Night Sky is optimized for the specific latitude zone to provide accurate horizons and minimum distortion.

You can refer to the maps below to help choose the correct latitude version. If you are located directly on a separator line, either planisphere will work well, but we recommend you purchase the one closer to the equator.

See a Map of North America to choose your latitude zone
See a Map of the World to choose your latitude zone

The Distortion Solution! Conventional planispheres severely distort the sky near the southern horizon. The distortion results from trying to stretch the whole dome of the sky onto a single flat map. The Night Sky is NOT a conventional planisphere! No flat map can remove all distortion, but The Night Sky eliminates over 90% of the distortion inherent in conventional 1-sided planispheres.

The Night Sky is Designed to be Used!

- Unlike coffee-table planispheres, The Night Sky is printed with dark stars on a light background, for easy nighttime readability.
- The constellations are drawn simply, emphasizing the brighter stars. (The constellation patterns were designed in collaboration with the editors of Sky & Telescope magazine.)
- Coordinate grid lines are shown without being intrusive. Coordinates are shown because they can be useful for cross referencing with star atlases.
- A selection of deep sky objects for binocular viewing is included. It is important to point out to beginners that the best first telescope is a pair of binoculars. You may already have what it takes to start observing tonight!
- The Night Sky is larger than it looks! The map scale is larger than on similar-size planispheres because the whole sky does not have to be shown on a single map. Even the 5" pocket version is large enough to be very readable. Actual size is 10 x 8.5 x .15 in.

2. Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars: An award winning introduction to observational astronomy

Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars was written to be a companion handbook for The Night Sky Planisphere, serving as a general introduction to observational astronomy. It covers both what can be seen in the sky and the significance of what is seen. Although it was not written explicitly for children, it received honorable mention in the New York Academy of Sciences Children's Science Book Awards (older children's division). It is beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned artwork by Don Davis, one of the leading space artists today. Besides being a starter book for beginners, it is used in a number of colleges as a textbook supplement for the first-week's reading assignment!

From the creator of what I consider to be the best planisphere available (The Night Sky), comes Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars, a companion to that star dial. Taken together, the two items - plus a pair of binoculars - constitute the best introduction to observational astronomy you could ask for." - Astronomy Magazine

The Illustrations Are as Important as the Text

The artwork of Don Davis, commissioned especially for this book, is not just an attempt to "approximate" photography. it represents what is seen to the eye better than any photograph. Shown here is the subtle glow of the "North American Nebula" approximating very well what is actually seen in binoculars. This is one of the most challenging objects presented in the book, but a very satisfying object to see with ones own eyes. Photographs show this to be a spectacular nebula, but they can mislead a visual observer, especially a beginner. What can be perceived visually are subtle "variations in the blackness."

3. Sky Atlas for Small Telescopes and Binoculars: A sky atlas designed specifically for beginners with small optics

Sky Atlas for Small Telescopes and Binoculars was written to fill a special need. More 2.5" (60mm) telescopes are sold each year than any other kind, but most star atlases assume at least a 6" or 8" telescope. Everyone recommends that beginners start with a larger telescope if possible, but the fact is most people start small. If you own a small telescope already you should supplement it with a pair of binoculars, learn to use the equipment you have, and start spending time under the stars. Featuring nearly 200 deep sky objects selected for visibility in a 2.5" telescope or simple binoculars, this atlas is designed to help you do just that.

The atlas format is similar to the classic Norton's Star Atlas. Think of an orange as the whole sphere of the sky. Slice off the two ends, then cut the remainder of the orange into six vertical slices. The first circular map covers the north polar region, six vertical segments spaced around the equator cover the majority of the sky, and the final circular map covers the south polar region. (The circular maps are stereographic projections and the vertical segment maps are transverse Mercator projections. Both projections preserve shapes well.) The maps highlight the Milky Way with representation digitized from a master Milky Way map by the renowned space artist, Don Davis. You will find this to be a great improvement over Milky Way outlines in most other atlases. Deep sky objects, including a careful selection of double stars and other stars of special interest, are highlighted in blue. Constellation figures are drawn to match the figures on The Night Sky.

Facing each map the highlighted deep sky objects are grouped by constellation with catalog information and helpful commentary. Where more detail would be helpful, a small finder chart is included as an inset map. To be selected, an object must be visible in a typical 2.5" telescope, an ordinary pair of binoculars, or both. If you have a larger telescope this is still an excellent starter atlas. Even experienced observers will find it useful as a guide to selecting bright objects for public star parties.

Some of the binocular objects are rarely marked on other atlases because they are too large for typical telescope fields of view. If you have another star atlas we challenge you to find a reference to Cr 70, the large but striking open cluster surrounding the three belt stars of Orion, Mel 20, the huge naked-eye cluster surrounding the brightest star in Perseus, Stock 2 or Mel 15 near the double cluster in Perseus, or Mel 111, the Coma Berenices cluster. These are all excellent binoculars objects that should not be overlooked, but typically are!

Preceeding the atlas proper is a general overview of observing techniques, equipment, a little background on the nature of the deep sky objects to be observed, and suggestions on where to go next. The last page of the atlas is a list of resources including books, other charts, software, and periodicals. Quoting from the text, "If this atlas does the job it is intended to do, you will soon outgrow it." It is intended to ensure that your first steps in astronomical observing will be successful and rewarding ones.

4. Night Reader Pro Red LED Light: Specially designed to work with the Night Sky chart without damaging your night vision

The Night Reader Pro is a true Astronomer's Flashlight built with a 630nm red LED to help you read a planisphere or atlas in the dark without depleting your night vision. There is no white light option to accidentally activate so you can use the Night Reader Pro without worry of loosing your night vision or upsetting your neighbors at a star party. Although the light is bright enough to be used when setting up equipment, the brightness can be brought up gradually to any level desired for reading at close quarters with minimal after imaging. The LED is shielded so the light will shine where you want it, but not directly in your eyes.

Night Reader Pro is made tough in the USA and carries a lifetime warranty. The standard CR2032 battery is easy to replace and will give you 36 hours or more of operation. The housing is rated IPX-4 for moisture resistance and has gold-plated contacts for reliable service. A quick-clip keychain attachment is provided to keep the light handy with fast and easy access. This light will be there when you need it and you won't be fumbling with a split-ring attachment. With the Night Reader Pro clipped to a zipper on your jacket or to the strap on your binoculars you will always have a top-notch light source at the ready.

It can take up to 45 minutes for the human eye to completely adapt to darkness as a protein called Rhodopsin builds up in the rod cells. Once your night vision is adapted you might be surprised at how many more objects are visible, and how much better you can see details in faint objects. Unfortunately all it takes is a about a second of the bright white light from a flashlight or a cell phone display to deplete your night vision and have you waiting around to adapt again! The longer wavelength red light produced by our Night Reader is detected by the cone cells in your eye and does not deplete Rhodopsin in your rod cells. This allows you to read a chart or atlas and immediately return to viewing the sky.

Requires one CR2032 battery (included).


Note: Occasionally, the product you receive might have a slightly different cosmetic appearance or labeling than what is shown. This can often change from batch to batch according to the whims of the manufacturer. However, you will always receive a brand new, original product as described above.

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