Like any hobby, and this goes for astronomy lovers, it can be difficult to buy for someone not because you don’t know what is available, but because you are not always really sure what they have or what they actually would like.
With the internet at our disposal, we can find any number of things for our friends or family. But to think through and get them something they would like and preferably without asking them.
Here you will find my list of items that either any astronomer lover always needs or help you to narrow down a choice without letting the cat out of the bag.
Stocking Stuffers for Night Sky Viewing
Being out in the dark at night is all about letting your eyes adjust. Once you have gotten that night vision, there is nothing worse than having to use a light to read something, tuning it off and then waiting for your eyes to acclimate again.
Red light flashlights are often used and just as often forgotten. The color is not nearly as harsh and hardly affects night time vision. For a little present that any backyard astronomer never has enough of, this can be a welcome item any time of the year.
Night sky viewers sometimes just need to get their bearings quickly and without having to drag out a big old map, it can be quite convenient to have a pocket star chart handy.
Pocket Star Chart
Sometimes it can be nice just to inspire the imagination. For when they can’t be out in the backyard or far out in the desert, a lovely paperweight for their desk can remind them of their passion.
Glass Galaxy Paperweight
There is also still something to be said for the printed imagery of outer space. Sometimes you just don’t want to look at a monitor or phone and just site down with a magazine. How about a one year subscription for them to Astronomy Magazine?
Astronomy Gear for the Holidays
For the beginners out there, one of the first things they will need is a full size star chart. This can help them navigate the sky without any optics. This one has a lot of information to help them learn the basics as well.
Backyard Full Size Star Chart
Gazing at the stars is a very basic activity, but like any other hobby, it is surprising how many thing there are that would be nice to have. So when being on your feet for a while, instead of sitting on a rock, sometimes it is convenient to have a place to rest. Now, there is usually plenty enough to carry so a big bulky chair can easily be replaced with a small folding stool.
Now whether you are in the middle of nowhere or just don the street, astronomy buffs do not always want to break out everything every time. I personally like to sit on my back deck and look at the detail of the moon through a basic set of binoculars. Now, they should be big enough to hold them steady by hand.
Here is a good beginner pair that have large lenses to allow in more light.
A bit larger and a little heavier are actual astronomy binoculars. Some star gazers only use these as there is no set up and much more compact than a telescope. These pair have very high magnification and perfect for laying back in a chair while looking up.
This one also comes with an attachment for a tripod stand as it can be common to use in this manner.
Similar to fisherman never having enough rods, you will often see astronomy groups with multiple set ups. Tripods are always in demand. Now this nice piece of equipment even comes with slow-motion cables to adjust as the night sky moves.
Choosing The Best Viewing Platform
Let’s talk big – The telescope. Some people want to go all out and make sure they provide their loved one with the primary astronomy tool. Now, there are many options when it comes to telescopes. It is easy to consider them in this way.
Reflector Telescopes – Also known as a Newtonian are simply a hollow tube with a mirror at the bottom
Refractor Telescope – Basically a single binocular but much bigger with a lens right at the end
Motor Driven – While the optics are the same for either of the above styles, instead of being manually adjusted, this style is a powered version
What every amateur wants is another telescope. So if they have a large refractor, they will always be happy to have a small one. If they have a small refractor, they would always be happy to have a reflector.
Knowing what they already have can help you to make a decision if you are looking to buy them a new one.
If they are new to the hobby, then you can’t go wrong no matter if you buy a motor driven, a refractor or Newtonian model.