Last year after BBC Stargazing Live one of the most popular items was the Philips Planisphere, which Jonathan Ross used on the show to find the stars in the sky.
The Planisphere is the perfect tool for any amateur astronomer. It comes with full instructions on its use, so you can have a quick look at it and be out inspecting the night sky in only a few minutes.
The planisphere also explains how to find the major planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), sunrise and sunset as well as the positions of the constellations, season by season. Luckily, many of these instructions can be found on the back of the Planisphere itself (along with a Key to map symbols) so that you can always flip it over if you get stuck.
The Planisphere itself is sturdy, flexible and laminated so it won’t be affected by wet surfaces – which is useful if you find yourself outside and there’s a change in the weather. This makes it superior to any cardboard version.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight with a Gagarin t shirt.
The Vostok Capsule was essentially a 2.5m diameter sphere. The Vostok Rocket that it sat on was fuelled by very powerful but seriously noxious propellants: ammonium perchlorate, aluminium powder, and a polymer of butadiene as well as liquid oxygen and kerosene. A bomb by any other measure. Although Gagarin is on record as saying in his brief report that he had complete faith in Russian engineers and scientists.
Gagarin’s written report of the mission – there are thought to have only been one original and four carbon copies of the report – describes the view he was the first human to see: that of the Earth from space. Since then only about 500 human beings have witnessed similar views. Fewer than you might guess.
In his short report Gagarin remarks on the speed of the switch from light to the complete shade of the earth and the switch back again as well as the extraordinary detail of the shadows of clouds and the the geological features of the ground he was passing over. Stunning and momentous stuff for everyone at the time.
Perhaps more incredible is that fact that eight short years later Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon. A demonstration of the power of competition.
Celebrate a life changing event and a brave human being wear a Yuri Gagarin and Vostok Rocket or Capsule t shirt.
This astronomy/space series was originally shown on the BBC.
It is presented by Professor Brian Cox, the series takes time to investigate the solar system around us, and the many natural beauties contained within it. Across the episodes, Cox covers the likes of planets themselves, the rings of Saturn, the question of whether we’re alone in the universe, and the sun itself.
What lifts Wonders Of The Solar Systemabove the many shows that have tackled the subject before, however, are two factors. Firstly, it’s Cox himself, an enthused and interesting host, who explains things well and really helps make accessible the material. Secondly, it’s the utterly stunning visuals. The BBC has mixed in CGI along with images sent directly from space to quite breathtaking effect.
The series contains five episodes, each of which focuses on an aspect of the Solar System and features a ‘wonder’.
There are 5 episodes on the DVD:
1-Empire of the sun A great introduction to the series that illustrates how the formation and behavior of the Sun affects each planet in the Solar System .The graphics of the formation of the sun are truly spectacular.
2-Order Out of Chaos The second episode explores the Rings of Saturn and explains their differences and the effect of gravity on their formation. The pictures from Cassini add a wonderful touch to the stunning graphics.
3-The Thin Blue Line The third episode looks at the atmosphere of Earth and that of Titan moon in Saturn. A very relevant program that touches on how fragile is our existence and how much we own to our atmosphere.
4-Dead or Alive The fourth episode looks at the size of planets, volcanoes, and the moon Io ,and how size and position in the solar system determines if live can develop in a planet. The images form the Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia are a great example of the conditions in other places of the solar system.
5-Aliens The program covers life surviving in extreme environments in our planet, and how the search for life on other planets follows the search for water. This last episode is the most interesting of them all as it asks a couple of very interesting questions ,Are we alone in the Universe ? What if we are ? What if we aren’t ?
This series is available on both standard DVD and on high definition Blu Ray disks.