Vaaldam Information Portal

Everything Vaaldam

My name is Deon. I have created this page for all Amateur Astronomers and members of the public who are interested in the stars and who would like to participate or get more info on Astronomy, particularly in the Vaaldam region.

If you would like to buy a telescope, binoculars, camera etc. please phone me for free advice. I have gone through a painful and expensive excersize to get just what I need and  could probably save you much frustration and uneccessary expense on the purchase of equipment that would not suit your requirements.

Tel : 016 371 1834     Cell : 084 274 2181

I have no connection to any importer or manufacturer




Amateur Astronomy can be enjoyed with the minimum of equipment and one can later advance to getting a telescope that the early Professional Astronomers would have killed for. As a matter of fact one can enjoy this hobby with no equipment -  just a good pair of eyes and a Star Chart that can be purchased from the Planetarium or local bookshop or even downloaded from the Internet.

Looking up :The heavens can be appreciated by looking at the stars without any equipment and learning to identify the major constellations. It is important to know where North South East and West is. Find a dark spot in the backyard where you are shielded from direct light and sit down on a comfortable chair or lie on a blanket and look up at the sky. Your eyes will adapt to the darkness in about 15 minutes and you will be surprised at the amount of stars that can be seen unless you are unfortunate enough to stay in a city. In that case you may have to travel some distance to find a spot with less sky glow. Always think about the security aspect ( you do not want to be robbed or assaulted ) and that the local farmer may look at you as a peeping tom or trespasser. The night does not have to be totally cloudless but make sure that you are comfortable and protected from the cold and mosquitoes etc. The Star Chart will show which Constellations are visible at a particular month and time. Look at the Star Chart using a small torch with red cellophane over the globe. This will  keep your eyes dark adapted.  

Binoculars :The chances are that you already have a pair of binoculars. If not , it is a good idea to purchase a 7x50 or 10x50 model. Try different makes and select the one that shows a clear sharp image with good contrast. You will always use it even when you have become the proud owner of a telescope. Many more stars will become visible with a good pair of binocs and you will be amazed at the detail that can be seen on the moon.

Telescopes :Most of us think initially that a telescope is only used to magnify heavenly objects even more so than binocs. Even more important is the telescope's ability to collect light. This is directly proportional to the size of the telescope. If the magnification of a telescope is increased too high , the image will become dark and diffuse and no more will be seen than at a lower magnification. Under ideal conditions a magnification of about 50 x the diameter of the telescope in inches is the practical maximum, i.e. a 6 inch telescope has a maximum magnification of 300 x. A good refractor (very expensive) can be pushed to higher magnifications when the seeing is good. Some star clusters and nebula's are quite large but very faint and a telescope with a large aperture but low magnification is required to see them at their best. Planets like Venus, Mars , Jupiter and Saturn are quite bright and benefit from a larger magnification to see the best detail. The moon again often requires a filter to reduce the brightness, especially at full moon.

There are many telescopes available of different types and designs. Some are very expensive . It is best to spend a considerable time just using binocs until you are sure what you want to study i.e. planets , deep space or both and that the hobby will last . Just remember that a good pair of binocs is better than the cheap telescope bought from the local toy or department store. It is better to get one from a shop that specialize in astronomical telescopes or to contact the local planetarium for advice. The Internet is also an excellent source of information before a telescope is purchased. The wrong telescope will take all the fun out of your hobby and will eventually end up in the cupboard while the right one will give years of enjoyment.