Ageing is inevitable, and so are the aches and pains that come with it. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to spend nights observing the stars without some additional accessories to aid comfort. Standing on your feet for hours is now a lot harder than it was 10 years ago. Picking up a heavy telescope is much harder than it used to be. Even spending an extra hour at night is hard. You find yourself planning carefully for the nights out to make sure you're as comfortable as possible.
Sometimes a hobby just isn't as accessible anymore - but there are ways around these difficulties. Your eyes have extra help due to filters and special eyepieces. Your back can have a break since astronomy chairs are widely available.
We spent a bit of time reading up on the difficulties astronomers are having as they age, and we researched for the best ways to ease those difficulties. These aren't perfect solutions - but we do hope that at least one person will have an easier time watching the skies now.
Please note: this list is USA-based, so you may have a hard time finding some of the objects linked below in your country. If you want an article targeted for your country, please comment below so we can get an idea of which countries to write about next.
This list isn't in any particular order, so #1 isn't any more important than #10!
No one is invincible - and we lose a lot of our perception in the dark. A tree root or dip in the ground is hard to see, and many have been taken down by smaller things. A first aid kit is the #1 must-have for everyone going to viewing sites with uneven ground, especially sites outside of urban areas.
If you take medications, make sure to pack spares into the kit in case you spend more time away from your home than you thought you would. Here is a quick guide to buying your first aid kit.
A godsend if we ever saw one. Observing chairs are becoming much more commonplace, especially at star parties where participants can expect to be stargazing for several nights in a row. Observing chairs can be quite expensive, but they're worth the cost since they're an invaluable piece of equipment. You can find specialised observing chairs here and here. The StarBound Observing Chair comes highly recommended in this case.
If you're not 100% sure you want to spend $150+ on a specialised chair, a cheaper option is a drummer's chair. This one by Gibraltar has been talked about a lot - and you can see Gibraltar's other chairs here for more choice.
The last star party we went to, dozens of people brought camp chairs that were equipped with cup holders and reclining ability. We enviously looked on at the lucky ducks resting in their comfy chairs as we sat on the hard plastic chairs that were available at the camp's dining hall.
You may not even need a camp chair - these are more suited for longer observing trips, or if you tend to spend a lot of time camping. But trust us, you'll look pretty darn cool sipping your morning coffee as you lounge in an envy-inducing chair.
Noticed how your telescope just seems to get heavier every year, even though it definitely hasn't changed in weight? Heavy scopes aren't the best option if your neck and back are weakening - but the good news is that lightweight telescopes can be just as good as a massive one that weighs 50lbs. The TeleVue-76 has been recommended by several people. Your favourite telescope brand should also have several lighter options, so make sure to check with them before buying an unfamiliar brand.
It's not just older people who have to wear glasses. This writer is short-sighted and had to make sure she didn't lose her glasses as she moved between telescopes and binoculars at a recent star party. You can buy a glasses cord at almost any store now, so you can start your hunt at your nearest chemist (the cords should be right next to their glasses stand).
Filters serve to enhance contrast, increase definition and resolution, and reduce light and glare - amongst many other benefits. Buying guides can be found here and here. The most popular filters we've seen so far are made by Baader and Lumicon.
The above two brands can be quite expensive, but luckily Celestron makes a more affordable filter set.
People with eyesight problems still want to look at the stars! (Plus, no one has perfect eyesight.) And TeleVue has heard their please. TeleVue has made the DIOPTRX to correct vision problems. Sky & Telescope's Dennis Di Cicco has given it a positive review.
This is a weird one and we were surprised to read about it, but it's a pretty brilliant idea since some kneeling is required to assemble scopes and sometimes to observe. A cheap pair can be found here - but we suggest heading to your local sports supply store and asking for their recommendation to ensure you're getting the right product for your body's requirements.
It gets cold at night - and it can get damn cold in some places way up north or way down south. We all know that eyepieces and focuser knobs are a bit hard to operate with regular gloves or mittens, so this is where fingerless gloves come in. You can also get a pair of fold-back gloves to ensure your entire hand stays warm.
A pair of fold-back gloves that were recommended are these. You can get these sorts of gloves at any outdoor or sports store, they're not hard to find.
To go with your gloves! A hot drink on a cold night can do wonders for the constitution, so you'll need a thermos to keep your coffee or tea warm. Our personal favourite is the Bubba Hero thermos which has lasted us years and has never let our drinks go cold. The Thermos brand is also a great choice.
Pockets are essential! Pockets hold things, but those items can easily fall out. It's annoying and it may cause breakages, so we recommend finding a jacket or coat with pockets that zip up. A rain jacket made by The North Face is one that all of the team at Astro Devices uses and loves.
That's the end of our list!
Astronomy is a hobby whose biggest demographic is ageing, and most companies within the industry recognise this fact, and are doing their best to provide accessible options. Some of the items we've used, some that we haven't. Please take these recommendations with a grain of salt: what works for someone, won't work for someone else. We've tried our best to include products that have great reviews, but some research should be done for things like telescopes and chairs to find what's best for YOU.
If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below so others can see.