Astronomy has never been more fun!
Do you want to be able to recognise the stars and constellations? Do you want to understand the Universe? Do you want to be able to understand, visualise the huge distances within our Solar System and beyond, and the emptiness of the Universe? Then you have come to the right people.
The Planisphere is your perfect guide to the stars. It is also very useful as a premium and even available in a personalised design, for businesses and organisations. See under Business.
And there are more exclusive astronomy products, like the Table Planetarium and the Solar System scale model: your own Planet Path!
Read more about what the Planisphere offers you.
New Pluto Globe!
Wonderful 6 inch globe is very instructive
I have most of the wonderful series of planetary globes brought out by Sky & Telescope, the American publisher of one of the most important (amateur) astronomy magazines. There already were globes for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars (2) and the Moon (also 2) - all with a diameter of 12 inch (ca. 30 cm.). See also the (Dutch, sorry) item about the scale model scale model about the 'Small Worlds of the Solar System' (Pluto, Eris, Ceres etc.) that I use in my lecture about this subject and that is based on the (also great) S&T Earth Globe.
And now there also is a Pluto globe! Smaller (6 inch, ca. 15 cm), but beautiful! Only with a globe can you see what part of the dwarf planet is now known very well, reasonably well and not at all. I am very glad to have it now and I hope Sky & Telescope will also bring out globes of the the four large moon of Jupiter and some moons of Saturn. I know there are files for globes of the Galilean moons, published by USGS, because I have downloaded these files some years ago. So Sky & Telescope: I'm pre-ordering them now!
The new catalogue
Our new catalogue is ready, finally showing ALL our products again. It also has English explanations.You can download it here. It has Dutch and English text and explanation (in light blue).
Astronomy apps for amateur stargazers
Someone asked about other teacher's experiences with using astronomy apps* in astronomy courses. Naturally I don't like this idea for commercial reasons (...) but I also have a problem with the apps as an astronomy teacher and enthusiast. This is what I wrote back. I understand that others may totally disagree, but as a grandpa I see things happening in my small part of the Universe that make me sad and I'll make sure our two 'sunshines' will experience different aspects of nature!
... I don’t have any experience with these apps, but what I hear is that they are not always correct and clear enough, for instance with stars shown that are actually below the horizon. The complaint that strikes me most is that they don't provide the necessary overview needed to be able to learn how to recognise constellations and stars.
In my own astronomy course for teachers I have tried to use table planetariums and other models and equipment to help the students understand – or better visualise – the three-dimensional character of the space around us, with all the imaginary lines and points we came up with. They were all unsatisfactory.
I already (naturally…) used my planispheres as an important part in this course, as people want to find their way among the stars. I had made some sets of ‘Questions & Assignments’ which my students liked, about the use of the planisphere and things like time and coordinates.
When brainstorming about the problem (which I usually do at night…) I realised that I could build on those sets and use them to help people develop some directional, special awareness. All this with the use of the planisphere! This has been a massive success and I now give this part of my main course as a separate course to ‘normal’ laymen and whoever likes it.
Another thing that bothers me as an astronomy teacher is that the apps tend to strengthen the superficiality and short attention aspects, the ‘Big Mac attitude’ of today’s young people that will never satisfy them as much as a fine dinner with family and friends. Playing a board game with friends or family is also quite different from playing on your computer day after day.
The same is true for the planisphere: it can lead to someone exploring the night sky him or herself, of course with family and friends. They may never forget the first night they did this. They will learn how to recognise and find constellations and stars – and remember that. It may lead to astronomy as a during passion. I doubt whether a quick glance at a cell phone will lead to that.
*) I don't have a fundamental dislike of apps. I think they are great for people like myself, who know the starry sky but want a quick update before a presentation or something like that. And in fact I want to make my own Solar System app once, if I can find someone who can make such a thing for me.
Asteroid Day - 30 June 2016
Activities in Amersfoort, The Netherlands
30 June will be the second Asteroid Day, with events about these intriguing but potentially lethal Small Solar System Objects. In Amersfoort we will host an event in the local observatory. It will be my lecture Small WOrlds of the Solar System, adapted to contain more information about asteroids (the basic lecture is about the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, protoplanet and asteroid Vesta and the Rosetta Comet. It's in Dutch.
Transit of Mercury on 9 May 2016
Small planet moved across the Sun's disc
On 9 May Mercury moved exactly between the Earth and the Sun. We call such an event a transit. The smallest planet has an orbital period ('year') of almost 88 days. Still, the chance of a transit is not that great: 13 or 14 per century. That's because Mercury's orbit is tilted bij 7°: only when the small planet, the Earth and the Sun are on one line can we see Mercury pass in front of the Sun.
Bob van Slooten from my own town Amersfoort took the picture above around the 'maximum', or the moment the centre of Mercury's disc was nearest to the centre of the Sun's disc. Click on the picture to see it larger.
Picture and video
My wife Marja and I watched the event with our 8 x 40 binoculars, of course fitted with special SOlar Screen filter material (see below).
On the internet is a video by ESA, made from images by the Proba 2, a satellite the size of a small refrigerator that monitors the Sun in extreme UV.
Left: my filters for our binoculars and videocamera.
They were made with foamboard, the kind used for photo's. It's easy to work with, you can stick the solar screen between two layers.
The white rings are made from foam rubber and fit netaly in the eye pieces.
To observe the Sun with the naked eye safely
You can find this item here. Then scroll to the bottom of the list.
For large orders (50+) please send an e-mail to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special sets of planispheres
For people who want better coverage
We offer several sets of planispheres, like the Europe Set, North America Set, World Sets (several) and Pacific Set. You can find them here. They are basicaly in English but we can swap any latitude version for one in another language, when it is available.
Special offer: Solar System scale model
English and American Solar System scale models now very cheap!
In 2003 we prublished three Solar System scale models (scale 1:100 billion) consisting of 16 cards, full of information AND the distances to the Sun and the sizes to scale.
The Dutch scale model was very succesful and was recently brought out in a new design and set up (a basic set and a supplemental set, see the Dutch page for pictures).
The English scale models (English with metric information, and US with miles, inches etc.) were never a success, like the English BIY Star Wheel and Sundial, because we don't have partners for these products in other countries.
However, they are still very usefull to teach young and old about the distances within and the emptiness of the Solar System - and beyond! Granted, Pluto is no longer called a planet but a dwerf planet, and many other ice dwarfs were discovered after the publication of the products. Therefore there are new cards available for many ice dwarfs that were discovered after 2003, a few of them are now also dwarf planets. These extra cards can be dowloaded for free here.
Brochure 'Bombardment of the Earth!'
Free (Dutch!) brochure with orders of planispheres and books
Since last October we give a free Dutch brochure, Bombardement van de aarde (Bombardment of the Earth!) with each order of planispheres or books. If you are not a Dutch or Flemish customer but understand Dutch, you can get one for free as well. However, you would have to let us know as a remark on the order or by e-mail. This is, as long as we have stock of the brochure.
For businesses: we can produce a version in your language, if we have the translation (an English translation can be made).