Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

nheather

Binoculars for Stargazing

Recommended Posts

The planest, stars and space have always fascinated me.

I would like to start of casually. My house is not ideal for stargazing because the view from my small garden is blocked by tall oak trees.

So looking for something light and portable, so after a bit of reading reckon a pair of binoculars is a good place to start.

I've read that

Objective - needs to 50mm or bigger

Magnification - at least 7x and once you go beyond 10x you need a tripod to support the weight and keep them still.

Exit Pupil - at 46yo, I guess my eyes won't dilate much above 5mm

Want I can't figure out is what you can see with 8x, 10x, 15x - all the online guides I have read stop short at recommending anything.

I have gathered that

10x50 seem to be a good starting point.

I've seen binoculars like the Celestron 15x70 but I assume they need a decent tripod.

I've also seen the Praktica 8x56 but I'm not sure I would benefit from the bigger Exit Pupil and I'm worried that 8x might be too limiting.

Looking for something casual and portable. I have a tripod but it's a pretty lightweight camera type so I'm not sure it will be upto the job - nor do I fancy carting a lot of equipment around (not yet - perhaps if the bug bites).

So if I were prepared to spend £50-£100, what you recommend I look at?

And it real terms what is the difference between a 10x50 and a 15x70?

Why do some binoculars have much longer objective tubes? (the 8x56 I have seen dwarf soem 10x50 for example).

Is there anything which makes a binocular specific for astronomy use?

Thanks for any help or suggestions.

Cheers,

Nigel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum Nigel.

I am sure someone will be able to help you with this question.

Tim

Edited by Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to SGL Nigel something in the range of 8x50 to 10x50 would be better for handheld use. As you say 15x70 and higher is really better on a tripod.

Regards

Kevin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I currently own a pair of Celestron 15x70s and they are great. Havn't invested in a tripod yet but I just use an outdoor lounger because your neck will start to hurt after 20 seconds with these beasts without support.

Overall it is a great investment. The moon is fantastic, Andromeda and Orion are visible as grey smudges, M45 is also great through these binos. All viewed not far from Leeds centre, very light polluted (especially with this snow reflecting even more light, the sky is orange!)

I definately learned my way around the night sky with them, can star hop easily now to find the common objects. Getting me ready for my first telescope for sure :)

RR

Edited by RoadRunner2009

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And it real terms what is the difference between a 10x50 and a 15x70?

Why do some binoculars have much longer objective tubes? (the 8x56 I have seen dwarf soem 10x50 for example).

Is there anything which makes a binocular specific for astronomy use?

The 15x70 will show fainter objects but the 10x50 will have a wider field and be much easier to support with a cheap tripod. There is a 50% difference between them but 1000% between naked eye and the 10x bins ... the BIG STEP is getting any magnification at all & the 10x50 binocular is, in my opinion, ideal as an introduction.

10x50s are significantly easier to carry than 15x70s and will find themselves alternate "general" uses in ways that a 15x70 won't. Some people find that a smaller binocular e.g. the 8x40 or 8x42 popular with birdwatchers is more than adequate for looking at the night sky. Quality also offsets smaller objectives or lower magnification to some extent.

Bigger objectives need longer tubes as the converging kight cone is naturally longer, there is an extra effect above that as false colour is more evident with larger objectives and with higher magnification.

There is no such thing as a specific "astro" binocular but, to be useful for astro work, binoculars need to be reasonably good quality, the two sides need to be properly aligned with each other (the requirement becomes more critical with increasing magnification), and a tripod mounting point needs to be provided.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I rather enjoy my 8x35's more. They are super easy to hold without shaking and have an 8 degree field. Great for starting out.

I also have small portable telescopes and, while they can be great, are one step beyond the 8x35's. Personally I have never been able to hold 10x binoculars stable enough, even when leaning against a wall or using a monopod with them. The larger binoculars have been totally useless for me. They just don't work ergonomically when mounted on a tripod (my 15x80 binocular leg collapsed and they fell over breaking the focus). They are just too hard to get "under" when pointed vertically (especially when viewing over trees). I would much rather a small telescope than big binoculars but other folks see it differently. I must say, that my best view of the Andromeda galaxy was through handheld 15x70s at a dark sky site, but that is a very special condition.

Go for a decent pair (under a $100) pair of 8x40's and then debate the small scope/ giant binocular purchase MUCH later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have to agree with the last comment. I used binoculars until a few years ago when I got my first telescope and it took a few goes before I got a telescope I was happy with. My 7x50s still get regular outings, although I would probably go for 10x50 if I were choosing now. The 20x80s are big and I personally find them more trouble than they are worth. Binos will help you learn your way around the sky, which will put you in a good position when [if] you do finally opt for a telescope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the advice.

Actually, I already have a pair of Opticron 8x42 Countryman binoculars which I bought for general use with no thoughts of stargazing.

They are these

Countryman MC T

I had dismissed using these because everything I had read said the objective is too small, but sounds like people are saying that I should give these a go first.

Cheers,

Nigel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a decent pair of Bino's. I have 10x50's and 15x70's both get used, with and without a tripod. You will still use them when you have a scope. As has been said, they are a great way to learn the sky, and can be used during the day with ease.

Edited by jgs001

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Many thanks for the advice.

Actually, I already have a pair of Opticron 8x42 Countryman binoculars which I bought for general use with no thoughts of stargazing.

They are these

Countryman MC T

I had dismissed using these because everything I had read said the objective is too small, but sounds like people are saying that I should give these a go first.

Cheers,

Nigel

Hi and welcome :)

I use a pair of 8X42 binos and find they offer a good balance between magnification and portability. They often come out with me for reasons other than just astro viewing - great for racing, walking, birding, sport etc.

I would suggest you have a try with your existing binos - they may be perfectly suitable.

I would also suggest you get out your camera tripod and try mounting the binos on it as they have built-in tripod mount - you may be surprised how much more you can see when they are properly supported and your eyes have fully adjusted to the dark (twenty minutes is good).

Let us know how you get on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with a pair of 8x42 to start things going. The three sizes normally recommended for starting out are 8x40, 7x50 or 10x50. I started with a pair of secondhand Swift 7x50. Huge field, great for looking at the milkyway. But my father-in-law's 8x40's working extremely well for some casual gazing.

Don't be put off of a pair of large bins further down the road. My biggest regret was selling my Revelation 15x70's. They had a great balance of size and weight. Although large compared to the 50mm bins, they are still very useable without a tripod. And the extra aperture and magnification really do give a deeper view into the heavens. The brighter deepsky objects are transformed compared to the 7x50/10x50. The 15x70's are the perfect instrument for trawling through the Auriga open clusters.....awesome! I will be taking £50 with me to Astrofest with the sole intention of buying another pair!.

Russ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the advice.

I think I'll give my 8x42s a go and see weather I enjoy it.

I assume I will need the following

(i) Red torch

(ii) Planisphere

(iii) Guide book

I'll probably get a Binocular Mount for my tripod too.

Then I'll see whether I want to go big binoculars or small telescope.

Oh and regarding 15x70s, are the Adler Optik, Revelation and Celestron all the same thing (apart from cosmetics on the rubber mouldings).

Cheers,

Nigel

Edited by nheather

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't bother with a planisphere - you can downlaod free software that will do a better job - stellarium is the most user frieddly; cartes du ciel is more sophisticated. Planispheres just seem to confuse people because you have to look at them sort of upside down (you'll understand if you get one...:))

8x42s are nice for astro especially if they are very light but you'll want a scope before too long...:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd get a scope like a shot if I could get a good look at the sky from my garden or lived in a dry and warm place.

But for now it would mean carting it off some where remote in the cold and the rain (perhaps that already singled me out as not a true enthusiast).

Cheers,

Nigel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advice is always try before you buy, there's a lot of variation in quality at the cheap end of the market.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Many thanks for the advice.

I think I'll give my 8x42s a go and see weather I enjoy it.

I assume I will need the following

(i) Red torch

(ii) Planisphere

(iii) Guide book

I'll probably get a Binocular Mount for my tripod too.

Then I'll see whether I want to go big binoculars or small telescope.

Oh and regarding 15x70s, are the Adler Optik, Revelation and Celestron all the same thing (apart from cosmetics on the rubber mouldings).

Cheers,

Nigel

I would also recommend Stellarium as a guide - don't forget to enter your location so it shows your local sky view.

Have a look here for a variety of suitable binocular mounts.

:)

Edited by Saturnalia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been looking at getting a pair of binos to compliment my scope and there is a lot of information on the cloudynights.com forum in the binocular section

Links to 427+ Binocular Mini Reviews in this Forum

there are reviews of nearly every type of binocs available. I've narrowed it down to two types,

1 - Pentax 10 x 50 PCF WP II

2 - Nikon 10 x 50 Action Extreme

Both are a little more than you wanted to spend but they get very good reviews. The difference between the two is that the Pentax deliver very crisp images across the whole field of view whilst the Nikon are not quite as crisp to the edge of the field but have a wider field of view. Both are poro prism binoculars which is recomended for astronomy over roof prisms because they should allow the passage of more light through the lenses to the eyepieces. Now I just have to decide.

Good luck and welcome to the forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd go for the pentax. The FOV will always be wide enough at 10x and nothing beats perfect optic correction.

That's why I'm upgrading my EPs to televue now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Planisphere is good, just get a couple of paper clips, set it to the right date+time and use the paper clips to hold it in place.

Stellarium is good but not a lot if it is on a PC and you are 5 miles away:D:D:D. Even if you are in your garden walking in and out to look at the screen isn't much use.

If you have 8x42's use them. They will do a good job, probably as good or better then 10x50's, I have 2 sets and use them quite a lot. Easy to hold and use as well.

Slight drawback of a planisphere is that they do not seem to show the Messier objects, well the Philips one I have doesn't. Just checked mine and the 3 Messiers in Auriga are not on it:eek::):eek:. Nor the ones in the Plough. Rats!!!

The binoculars will not always be big enough to find things but better then the eyeball. After that get a scope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started out (donkey's years back) with my parents' 8x40 which was fine, until I got a 10x50 myself (which I still have and use quite a bit). You should get a lot of mileage out of the binoculars you have.

If you look for portability and more power: consider a compact telescope. Some years back I bought a useful 4.5" Newton f=500mm for some 170 Euros (even though my main scope is a Celestron C8), which is actually very portable, and was quite cheap. I quite often use it as a comet sweeper. Even with a simple equatorial mount, it was less expensive than some of the big 20x80, and offers gives me more light (albeit in one eye). It did need a better eyepiece because the plastic Huygens-types supplied with it were terrible.

I find Carte du Ciel handy, but it may not be everyone's choice, but still frequently use my old Sky Atlas (by Tirion and Sinnott). There used to be an excellent book (I got it in 1977/8) called Astronomy with Binoculars which contained good star charts with the messier/NGC objects accessible by binoculars in them. It also contained many variable stars, and other interesting features.

Have fun!

Michael

Edited by michael.h.f.wilkinson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.