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Binos vs telescope for starting out


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Hello everyone. As mentioned elsewhere, I am saving up for a $400 telescope, however I have often read that it is best to start with higher end astronomy binoculars, typically $70 and up, along with a tripod for as much as a year first. What is your opinion on this? And what's wrong with my $35 7x50 handheld celestrons?

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Your binoculars are near perfect for learning your way around the sky. If anything, I'd suggest you try to mount them on a tripod, they will be far easier to use and you'll be amazed at what they'll s

For ages, I used nothing bigger than a pair of 7x50 binoculars. Great way to "learn the sky". I often still get them out for a "browse" while my scope is imaging. The only downside with them for me no

An obviously seasoned reply from Mike and as a newbie I thought I'd second the reasoning behind finding your way around. I think a GOTO has its place and has probably opened astronomy up to others tha

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Hello, i am a beginner too and looking for a handheld bins only. After some time you can decide on a bigger pair of binoculars for tripod use so i think for now there is nothing wrong with your 7x50 to start with.

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Hello!

Binos are usually a great start. Don't have to spend a fortune on a pair either to get you started. 7x50 or 10x50 are great to use and when you do get a scope, the binos are still great for scanning the night sky. Before I got my first scope, I spent more than a year with my cheap Celestron UpClose 10x50. There are lots of wonderful things to see with binoculars.

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For ages, I used nothing bigger than a pair of 7x50 binoculars. Great way to "learn the sky". I often still get them out for a "browse" while my scope is imaging. The only downside with them for me now is that, with age the maximum pupil size decreases and so some of their 7mm exit pupil is getting wasted. For older eyes, a pair of 10x50s (with a 5mm exit pupil) would be better.

Thanks.

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7x50 or 10x50 are brilliant starter bins, and even when you get yourself some bigger ones, you will find the 50mm bins very handy. The do not have to be brand new either. My youngest son has a pair of mid-70s Yashica-built 7x50s which I got for free because they were "broken". A quick twist of the collimation screws and tightening of the grub screw holding the diopter setting ring in place, and they work fine again.

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Bins that can be hand held 7x50 or 10x50 will reveal an amazing amount of detailed views. Some DSO are very wiode field and the brighter ones can be seen nicely in a good pair of bins.

Have a look at this thread posted recenty it makes for some good reading.

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/255229-10x50-binocular-comparison-review-of-helios-fieldmaster-v-weathersport-iii-v-naturesport-plus/

Even when you have a scope a set of bins will allow you to do some star hopping ready to align you scope if you don't have a GOTO.

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Just to be difficult :ohmy:  I would say that if you want a telescope then wait and get a telescope.

If you have $400 why spend $100 of it on a set of binoculars?

I have binoculars and I use them a lot, probably more then any scope, but not in the same manner as I use a scope. The problem is that it is often talked of as if you can have binoculars or a scope and the impression is that both perform the same action or function. To me they do not.

As you have a set of 7x50 Celestrons then use them. I use 8x42 birding/general binoculars.

In my small 70mm refractor I can get 50x easily and see Jupiters bands, in a set of 15x70 binoculars you will not see the bands.

My description is that with a scope you can "look at" something, with binoculars you "look around".

Both good but not an exact match.

I would say you will use and want both, I think everyone here has both and uses both - I can list 5 scopes and I think the same number of binoculars. However I would not say that one is a substitute for the other.

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I totally agree that bins are a great starter instrument that one continues to use. Great for learning the sky. Good for a quick ten minutes out in the garden when you don't have time for a telescope session. Good for when the imaging session is underway and one can stroll about looking at the sky. I quite often do a 360° sweep refreshing my knowledge of the sky, seeing how many objects and constellations I can identify.

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Binoculars are excellent at helping you learn to find your way around the sky. They have low magnification and a wide field of view. Telescopes have high magnification and a very restricted field of view, so unless you're already familiar with the night sky it can be very difficult to find your way around. If your current 7x50s give you nice views of the heavens, then I'd advise you to stick with them and maybe invest in a star atlas of some sort so that you can try to hunt down a few specific objects, the Messiers are an excellent place to start. When you get your telescope you'll have learned a lot more about where things are and how to get to them.

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Don't spend your money on another set of bin's, use the pair you have, I use my bin's as well as

my scopes, so save your money and buy yourself the scope you have in mind, bin's will help you

to find your way around, but instead of new bin's get yourself a decent sky map, that will be money

well spent. 

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I would agree that you need some way of finding your way around the sky (sky map), but a couple of options you may wish to consider:

(1) a planisphere can be cheaper than a normal "book" map, and will display what is visible at the time

(2) you can download for free several "planetarium" software packages - two popular ones are Stellarium (which I, personally, could never get to work, but others have) and Cartes du Ciel (which I use and is brilliant) - but both are free, so you can experiment to find which suits you best, if you wish.

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Big bins on tripods are fine. I like them. But they are not an upgrade on small hand held ones, they are a different animal altogether. My favourite hand held bins are 8x42. So there is nothing wrong with your 7x50s. Just use them and learn your way around. I have a very high end pair of binoculars but I'm not going to pretend that they are in a different world from basic ones. They do give a nicer view but not a radically different one in terms of what they can show. In optics, small improvements in quality are very expensive.

Olly

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I'd agree that starting with binos is a good idea. You can see loads, they're great for learning the sky, and they are useful outside of stargazing if your enthusiasm drifts after a few weeks/months. I started with 10x50, and I wouldn't think moving from your 7x50 to a bigger pair would be a good upgrade. 7x50 are a great size, and the next step up would be a scope not bigger binos. For what it's worth, 3 months with binos seems about right to me, and I'm now thinking of progressing to a scope.

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There is no right or wrong way to start,although as others have pointed out it is a good plan to learn your way around the night sky with bins and a chart or some kind. It will make finding your way around using a scope easier when you get one. Financially speaking, a scope is a better investment over the long run because the magnification is pretty limitless (but does have an upper limit really). You will get to see more with a scope and more detail and will have your socks knocked off by many objects. 

Most astronomers still use bins even though they have a scope. I love nothing better then having a scan around the sky with my bins after a nice at the scope. Use the bins you have and save for the scope you want. 

I used a pair of 10x50 bins for 30 yrs before i bought my 1st scope. Not really sure why, but they served me well. 

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When (if) to upgrade - my 2c:

This hobby can absorb vast amounts of money very quickly, often with very little to show for it. So ...

  • If the equipment you have is giving you satisfying nights under the stars, use that.
  • Only upgrade when you are no longer satisfied, when you know exactly what you want and (more importantly) why you want it (i.e. what you want it to do that your current gear doesn't).

This is advice that I learned the hard way (i.e. by ignoring it until I had spent far too much on things I didn't really need/use).

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Stellarium is a truly invaluable resource. Set to your location by following the instructions, you will be rewarded with extremely accurate sky-charts in a very realistic view. And it can be set to show you galaxies, nebulae, clusters, & name it. You can set it up to show you as much detail and depth as you please. Similar software-programs can run you over £200. But Stellarium is FREE - believe it or not. One of the developers is a member here, in fact. Setting it up can take you anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 days - depending on how you wish to use it.

So here you go:

http://www.stellarium.org/
 
As for instructions, the most current one's are posted in Wiki due to their being new features & functions being created almost daily. There is also a Pdf. that's almost up-to-date. Here's the Wiki-Link:
 
http://www.stellarium.org/wiki/index.php/Stellarium_User_Guide
 
And the Pdf. is here:
 
http://barry.sarcasmogerdes.com/stellarium/stellarium_user_guide-new.pdf

Demonperformer: Check out the directions. If you still are having trouble, drop me a pm and I may be able to help.

Clear & detailed skies,

Dave

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Edited by Dave In Vermont
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I totally agree with Dave. Here's a post I put up for best things I use as a beginner:

http://stargazerslounge.com/index.php?/topic/254939-Are-you-a-newbie-like-me%3F/page__view__findpost__p__2781288

I've used bins and now have a baby scope whilst I save up. The bins were great for just finding your way round (as everyone else has said) cos a scope (reflector) is usually upside down and reversed when you look through so can be weird to start with [emoji3]

Clear skies!

Dazzyt

FirstScope (soon to be upgraded - TBC)

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Personally I think bins for astronomy are a waste of time unless you have quite dark skies. Even then I feel a scope is always going to be better in the long run. I often find that I get 'bored' (not quite the right word - maybe unsatisfied is better) quite quickly unless I can look at things in a bit more detail. I do though like my 80mm f6 refractor at darker sites as this provides lovely wide views but at magnifications from maybe 20-150x.

One of the key things for me is observing comfort and I find bins are very uncomfortable after a short time. I can gladly use a scope all night without major back or neck ache now I have a good seat.

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I'll purposefully side-step any talk of: Are they good to use? Are they bad to use?.....

I like to cover all bases. So I went over to "The Dark Side" and got a tripod-adapter. It's quite usefull as my binocs are 8 - 20X - 50mm ones. Japan-made Vivitars I've had for 20 years with no complaints.

Have fun!

Dave

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Edited by Dave In Vermont
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