Jump to content

Banner.jpg.39bf5bb2e6bf87794d3e2a4b88f26f1b.jpg

Space-related present ideas for an eight year old


JamesF
 Share

Recommended Posts

My son is absolutely fascinated by space and the planets. Even last night we were outside looking at the constellations for half an hour before the clouds came in because he wanted to get a better view of the Pleiades and the Orion Nebula than we could by hiding behind the curtains inside. He was amazed (as was I, to be fair) to see an Iridium flare purely by chance at the same time and is now desperate to see a shooting star (I saw what I believe was one of the Delta Leonids on Saturday and he was most miffed that I hadn't filmed it with the video camera!).

He's also absolutely glued to Wonders of the Solar System at the moment and has an encyclopaedia about space and space exploration that he keeps in the car to read on the way to and from school. Apparently when he was visiting a friend during half term they were chattering all through dinner about what happens when the sun runs out of hydrogen and expands, some what to the bemusement of said friend's parents :)

So, we're trying to think of some ideas for space- or astronomy-related presents for him for his eighth birthday in six weeks time, but somewhat struggling for ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions for things he might enjoy?

Is there a book anyone can recommend that describes the constellations, that describes the stars in each and explains the mythology associated with them at a level he might grasp? We went to one of the planetarium shows at @Bristol a while back and he was fascinated by the descriptions of Orion, Canis Major, Taurus and the Seven Sisters.

Thanks,

James

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about "Turn Left at Orion" and a pair of 10x50 binoculars (cheap ones but not a toy) ... probably the first "adult" thing that will have been bought for him, he'll appreciate that.

The book I cut my teeth on (at age about 6) was "The Observer's Book of Astronomy" which has sadly been out of print for many years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about a small scope - something like this perhaps

Children's Telescopes - Skywatcher Infinity-76 Child's Telescope by OVL

Cheap enough not to be painful if its broken and easy for a child to use (NEVER LET THEM LOOK AT THE SUN THOUGH).

There are plenty of small, good quality telescopes for children, steer clear of Toys R Us, Argos etc and talk to a proper telescope outlet who will give decent advice. LOts of kids get put off by really bad scopes but also dont forget also a small cheap telescope may impart some wonder whereas a super-duper one may be too complicated and also put them off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably sacriliage but thought of a spotting scope. Amounst the telescopes I have I have a small spotting scope. Bushnell 50mm (maybe 60mm).

Small and sits on a camera tripod but the views are good. Just thinking that although not a telescope it is easy to use, and can be used for other things like birdwatching and wildlife in general.

Only concern is that if he wants a telescope then a telescope would be best and avoid disappointment.

Orion were doing a 100mm tabletop scope at astrofest for about £120 I think. Just forget it's name at this time, and it was the US Orion not the UK one. One concern is that it was something like f/4.5 so would need good eyepieces. Looked good however.

As to a book cannot think of anything specific but a large bookshop should have something or else a trawl through Amazon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scopes:

Found the Orion offerings, and possibly not too far from you:

Orion GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor - SCS Astro £105

Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector - SCS Astro £99 or £95 (forget which)

Both are short at f/4.5ish.

The refractor will therefore have some chromatic aberation.

The reflector will need collimating.

Both will need decent eyepieces to get the best.

I would think of the refractor, but I like refractors, it is less maintence.

SCS are at Wellington. Not easy to find as you pass the shop as you turn into the road. (Been there and done it)

Sorry to find ways of spending your money but it is only a suggestion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One hardback book is the "Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Universe". It's got everything - great photos plus science too. The book is about an inch thick and heavy but it also makes a great coffee table book due to it's accessibility.

The problem with kids scopes is that they look but there's nothing to show them what's really out there. Perhaps a day out at Greenwich or try and get to an open day where you can see the telescopes being used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm, I've just been having a browse online.. This is fun! Kinda wish I had a young relative who was into atsronomy.. I'd be shopping for stuff all the time (And popping a few goodies in the basket for me too no doubt!)

I notice in your sig that you already have a couple of scopes, so im guessing that he enjoys looking though them with you.. would he rather keep watching stars with you or have a smaller scope all of his own? I know if I was eight again, I'd want to be doing the startgazing with Dad!

So, perhaps a Planetarium? Would be awesome for learning the stars and not getting frustrated by cloud like everyone on this forum :)

And Jodrell Bank would be awesome too! Gets my vote as a day trip if you can..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scopes:

Found the Orion offerings, and possibly not too far from you:

Orion GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor - SCS Astro £105

Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector - SCS Astro £99 or £95 (forget which)

Both are short at f/4.5ish.

The refractor will therefore have some chromatic aberation.

The reflector will need collimating.

Both will need decent eyepieces to get the best.

I would think of the refractor, but I like refractors, it is less maintence.

SCS are at Wellington. Not easy to find as you pass the shop as you turn into the road. (Been there and done it)

Sorry to find ways of spending your money but it is only a suggestion.

We pass SCS on the way to and from school, as it happens :)

The only thing that puts me off getting binoculars or a small scope for him is that sunset is starting to get later in the day and he'd get limited use out of either over the summer.

One of the reasons I'd like to try my hand at a bit of photography is so both the kids can see what's out there even if they can't stay up late enough. Even like that it's much more "immediate" than a book, much as he enjoys reading.

James

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm, I've just been having a browse online.. This is fun! Kinda wish I had a young relative who was into atsronomy.. I'd be shopping for stuff all the time (And popping a few goodies in the basket for me too no doubt!)

I notice in your sig that you already have a couple of scopes, so im guessing that he enjoys looking though them with you.. would he rather keep watching stars with you or have a smaller scope all of his own? I know if I was eight again, I'd want to be doing the startgazing with Dad!

So, perhaps a Planetarium? Would be awesome for learning the stars and not getting frustrated by cloud like everyone on this forum :)

And Jodrell Bank would be awesome too! Gets my vote as a day trip if you can..

A planetarium is an interesting idea. I shall see what I can find.

I think he'd quite like the independence of having his own scope, but actually both the children love it when I set mine up near the house and they can have a look at whatever it is that I'm looking at. I was quite proud this evening to find out that my (five year old) daughter's teacher had specifically come to find my wife when she picked them up from school this evening to tell her that today my daughter had been writing all about stars and seeing Orion :(

James

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) 10X50 binoculars (Visonary Classic) from SCS Astro.

2) Planishpere "Global Mapping Star & Constellation Finder" from Global Mapping.

3) standard, extendable camera tripod with a quick-release clip to use with the binoculars

4) Binocular tripod adapter (SCS Astro or TH)

These 4 items are great for the beginner, accompanied with an accurate text, if one can be had for the younger generation. These binoculars are easy to use, good light grasp, and show a lot of the moon, moons of jupiter, rings of saturn, star clusters, galaxies, etc. Good all-rounder starter. I still use mine today. The global mapping planisphere I mentioned is really good to, shows DSOs, basic constellations, with great descriptions on the back with instructions and colorful pictures. Names and meanings of stars and constellations, some mythology to. Bright stars, messier objects, etc. But yet, keeping it all remarkedly simple, and well presented.

The binoculars can also be mounted on the tripod, and quickly clipped off when wanting to hold them by hand. I use a small stool with this set-up, and it is incredibly versatile. Easy to use! Shouldn't take too long for a keen 8-year to figure out.

5) And as for a book. Well, that would depend on your world view point. Whether creationist, evolutionist, atheist, a book about astonomy for kids on this topic could be an idea. I know, some home-schooling resources have some very good books about science and astronomy aimed at the YOUNGER GENERATION. I don't shop around for books that much, but from what I have, don't see very often a book about astronomy aimed at the younger audience, in the mainstream. Perhaps someone here knows of a good recomendation. Perhaps even a good introductory video, DVD about the universe. There are some productions done on the topic of astronomy for both the creationist and the evolutionist world views. These are generally aimed at a wider age audience, and might be a good approach to introducing your son to the topic. A search on amazon.co.uk will bring up lots of products under the DVD category.

Anyway, the binoculars should be about £30. Binocular tripod adapter, about £10. Tripod about £10 to £15. Good book or DVD around £10, and the planisphere about £15.

Thats a total of around £75.

Oh, and a little Skywatcher Red LED torch (£5 to £10 from Harrison Telescopes) for preserving night vision. Thats pretty much it! You could even make that yourself with red cellophane wrapped around the end of a torch with an elastic band.

That might all seem quite a bit, but should keep him bussy for some time. I make use of this set-up myself while my telescope is used for astrophotography, and it is amazing what projects I can do and things I see with this gear. Then there is the fun of meteor watching to. Don't even need binoculars for that!

And with appropriate adult supervision, you could even use white light solar filters on both the binocular's objective lenses (home made with the right materials, or purchased) to view sunspots on the sun. Baader Astro Solar film (density 5.0) would be a great choice. Its cheap to. "Company Seven" website that sells high quality APO refractors, endorses Baader's Astro solar film, and even provides a link to creating a filter housing for using on a pair of binoculars. If you decide to, but cannot find that link on their website, drop me a PM and I'll find it for you.

I would have liked to have had that as a starter, instead of a £100, 60mm plastic refractor, that was difficult to use, and only good for the moon. But I guess some learn the hard way.

And I am sure I speak for all of us at SGL, to wish your son a happy birthday, and some clear sky time, hopefully on his birthday.:)

Edited by RayGood
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a couple of smaller ideas:

Red light headtorch - my lad loves hism also comes in useful for general camping:

Gamma LED headtorch - Camping Outdoor Gear Shop - Alpkit

Does he like making things? How about any of these (Orrerys, telescopes etc):

AstroMediaShop Build your own telescope, sundial, sextant, stirling engine, spectroscope, microscope, orrery, ... Cardboard kits that really work!

(not tried them myself)

And if money is no object - The Lego Shuttle:

http://shop.lego.com/product/?p=10213&LangId=2057&ShipTo=IE

But I think it's less of an 8yr olds toy than a grown up soon to be collectors item

Alternatively go the whole hog and get a decent scope which is what we did before Christmas. My lad is getting the idea of driving it now but hasn't the patience yet to get the accuracy so I have to be quite careful to ensure it doesn't dissappoint

Wonders of Solar System really switched him on (7yr old) and he wants to know if he can stay up to watch the universe series at 9pm on Sunday ... err no ... but iPlayer to the rescue!

cheers

Rob

Edited by RobSay
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was quite proud this evening to find out that my (five year old) daughter's teacher had specifically come to find my wife when she picked them up from school this evening to tell her that today my daughter had been writing all about stars and seeing Orion :(

Awwwww, I would be so made up :) That's awesome!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about a skyscout? my young son loved mine, i think he knows more names of the stars then i do thanks to that, its simple to use and will keep he busy for ages.

Dont buy new far to expensive but s/hand you can get one for about £80-100.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

how about a build your own solar system model? i've recently seen one in the works bookshop, pretty sure it was less than £10. i have a feeling the science museum make one too. check out the science museum stuff on amazon or ebay, i'm sure you'll find something

good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.