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Hello all, my name is Paige. I am a college student and new to the stargazing community. I know all about the constellations and astronomy, but i’ve never bought anything to see the stars up close. I’ve read through the forum and come to the conclusions I want to start with some well built binoculars and eventually get into telescopes. The 7 x 50 seem to be the common starting point but I would love to get something with a bit more clarity, and preferably still handheld.  I’ve also read up on some binoculars already and the big brands that jump out are Celestron and Orion, so I would love some opinions on those because they don’t seem to be reliable in the long run. I only have one shot on a good pair and I dont plan on buying any other equipment until i’ve mastered the binoculars! Price range up to around $300 so any tips would be amazing!

Thank you, happy sky watching 🌌

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1 hour ago, lyfestyle said:

 I know all about the constellations and astronomy, 

… that puts you in the minority! 😉

Binoculars are a good choice but you shouldn't think of them as a "beginners instrument". They are often recommended to beginners because they are really easy to use, but nearly all of us own at least one pair (or many more!).

Celestron and Orion are actually the same company - but there are lots of reputable companies out there. If it were me - I would look at 8x42 or 10x50 but probably not 7x50.

Its all about "exit pupil" - the maximum that your dark adapted pupils can dilate to. The generally accepted maximum is 7mm, but in reality it decreases with age and with many people it never gets anywhere near 7mm to start with. If your pupils open to 6mm and you have a pair of binoculars with a 7mm exit pupil then you aren't utilising as much of the light as possible. That doesn't really matter that much - but what matters more is that 7x50s were amazing, 50 years ago. Now our light polluted skies deal better with a fraction smaller exit pupil (also - smaller exit pupil = higher contrast i.e. darker background sky). But then, of course - the higher the magnification, the narrower the field of view, and the more difficult it is to hold them steady. BTW - exit pupil is objective diameter / magnification so 7x50 is 7+, 10x50 is 5, 8x42 is 6.

The other big consideration is weight. I had a pair of 15x70s - they were great but too much to use handheld for any period of time. So I changed to a pair of 10x50s. In reality they're probably still a bit much. It's not a case of overall strength, but the fine motor skills required to hold something dead steady at an awkward angle for a long period of time. If it were me I'd be happier with 8x42's - but that is just me!

If you can budget a way to mount them - either a monopod or tripod, then you'll get a lot more out of them.

 

Edited by Mr niall
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2 hours ago, Mr niall said:

The other big consideration is weight. I had a pair of 15x70s - they were great but too much to use handheld for any period of time. So I changed to a pair of 10x50s. In reality they're probably still a bit much. It's not a case of overall strength, but the fine motor skills required to hold something dead steady at an awkward angle for a long period of time. If it were me I'd be happier with 8x42's - but that is just me!

I have both 8x42 and 15x70 binoculars.  The 8x42s are great for quick grab and go observing of wide star fields.  The 15x70s are usable hand-held if you can recline in a lawn chair, hold them by the objective end, and brace them into your eye sockets.

To be clear, stick with porro prisms for astronomy for many reasons unless you have really deep pockets.

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