Sleigh bells ring are you listening, Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, It’s the most wonderful time of the year….It sounds like it is getting close to Christmas so get your hot mulled wine and some Quality Street choccies at the ready as you sit back and take in our top 10 astronomy gifts for 2012. (For 2013 see Sinead’s latest list)
10 – Star Trek Pizza Cutter
Boldly cut where no one has cut before!
Formed just like the famous NCC-1701 Enterprise ship from Star Trek the original series, you will have lots of fun with this very cool and unique gadget. It comes beautifully packaged in a padded gift box, so if you love pizza and Star Trek then this is the gift for you. It is a bit pricey at around £25, so if you are not a Star Trek fan a local supermarket will have a pizza cutter for less than £5. But you have to admit this is pretty cool.
9 – Monopoly Night sky
I love Monopoly and I love the night sky so imagine my delight when I found the game that incorporates both! The game gets even better when you hear that the Monopoly tokens are the Hubble Space Telescope, Meade Telescope, Radio Telescope, Observatory, Meade Binoculars and a Mars Rover. This gift is great for the kids, as you are learning whilst you are playing. Buy planets, dodge dangerous space junk and collect space shuttles as you orbit around the board. Take a “chance” that this will be the most played game this Christmas as it is “out of this world”!
8 – Big Bang Theory Sheldon Cooper Bobble Head
Bazinga!!! This is a must-have for any fan of the Big Bang Theory (so I wouldn’t buy it for a Steady State theorist) .For those not in the know this is actually a popular
reality TV show sit-com about scientists. Standing at 6-inches tall on the top of a display base featuring his name, you will be able to relive some of those famous Sheldon moments. This present would make a great stocking filler this Christmas or purchase it alongside the Big Bang Theory DVD box set! I am hoping to have a bobbing Sheldon on my desk at work come January 2013!
7 – Globe Earth By Day Earth By Night
The Earth by Day Earth by Night Globe has a day-time and night-time view and is in actually two globes in one. In the daylight the globe shows oceans, the equator, longitude and latitude lines, country names, capital cities and other major cities for each country. By night the globe transforms into an illuminated view of the Earth at night as seen from space! I have seen this globe in action and it is very cool. We actually sell these in our shop here at the Planetarium. If I don’t get one of these for Christmas I will be searching for one in the January sales!
6 – Wonder of the Solar System DVD/Blu Ray
Hands up who likes Professor Brian Cox! Take a journey with him through some amazing lands as he reveals the true and awesome beauty of our Solar System during this award-winning program. Having watched this on BBC when it first came out I can only imagine how stunning and wonderful it would be on the Blu Ray format. So if anyone would like to purchase a copy of this for me this Christmas (and a Blu Ray player to watch it on as well) I won’t say no!
5 – Trip on Virgin Galactic
If any of my friends or family are reading then this is what I want for Christmas…..please! I will be in good company rubbing shoulders with Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who have already secured their place to fly into space. The price to journey out of our atmosphere starts at a cool £130,000 with Richard Branson hoping the first flight will occur in 2013. So, I accept that it’s a little bit out of the price range for a Christmas present, but if you don’t ask sometimes you don’t get, so here’s hoping. Perhaps I will wait and see if I can pick up a cheap deal later on in the year on laterooms.com!
4 – Space baby mobile
Get them started young, that’s what I say! And what better way than with a space-themed baby mobile. This colourful play mat features arms that ‘magically’ move above the baby, bringing the toys to life whilst promoting visual tracking. The mat features fun cosmic-themed removable toys and music. Don’t kids have all the fun these days!
3 – A ticket to Armagh Planetarium
If you have never been to Armagh Planetarium then this should be your number one present this year. If you have visited before, then it’s time you came back to see what new attractions we have here at the Planetarium. Our digital theatre shows are amazing, you can take a tour of the night sky, watch how Earth’s climate works or even go on a journey with the Little Yellow Star in our pre-school show. If you are coming in December you can even catch our special Christmas show called “Mystery of the Christmas Star”. In our exhibition area you can touch a real space rock at 4.5 billion years old and read about Solar System and beyond. A trip to the Planetarium will inspire and invigorate an interest in astronomy. Visit www.armaghplanet.com for more details.
2 – Binoculars/Telescope
So, you are into astronomy and want to see more than what you can see with the naked eye? Well if you have never owned a telescope why not buy someone you love a pair of binoculars this Christmas. If you are a beginner in the Stargazing world then binoculars will be your new best friend. The fact is that most people who want to buy a telescope would be better using binoculars for awhile at the beginning. Once you have become familiar with stargazing using binoculars then you are ready to delve into the world of telescopes, and what a choice and range of scopes there are! For advice you can contact a local astronomy society who can give advice on telescope purchases.
1 – Planisphere
If you are into astronomy then this is a must-have Christmas gift for 2012. During the BBC Stargazing event last year we were sold out of these products. They are so simple and cheap but are an essential part of astronomy. If you would like to make your own planisphere gift you can download and make these from the internet. If you would like to purchase one then they will cost less than £10.
Basically, a planisphere is a star chart instrument in the form of two adjustable disks that rotate on a pivot. It assists in learning how to recognise stars and constellations and can be adjusted to display the visible stars for any time and date.
So that is my Top 10 Christmas present for astronomers. There are some unique gadgets, toys, practical products and some out of this world gifts in there. Leave us a comment below if you would like any of these presents for Christmas, or perhaps you have found some other cool presents for astronomers which you can share with us!
From everyone at the Planetarium in Armagh, have a very happy Christmas and a great New Year.
UPDATE: Sinead has created an updated list for 2013)
(Article by Sinead McNicholl, Education Support Officer)