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Starting with Binos or a Spotting Scope


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Hi,

I'm new to astronomy and my missus will give me slap if I spend much over £100... I have been looking for a decent pair of binos. As I understand it a 10 50 bino magnifies by 10 times with an aperture of 50mm, is this right? A good 10 50 seems the best I can get for £100.

I use to shoot a bit, and we use spotting scopes to see the target. I can get a spotting scope that magnifies 85 times with an aperture of 90mm for under £100... I think I'd be better off with this, but am I missing something? Has anyone every used a spotting scope? Is there any reason (apart from the teeny tiny tripod!) for not using one?

Thanks,

Zane

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Hi Zane - welcome !.

If your budget is really fixed at £100 or less, binoculars plus a good guide to the night sky are a good way to develop your interest in the hobby.

If however you could, without getting slapped, stretch to a little more then you can now get a proper scope like this one, which is proving popular and will show you a lot more than binoculars will:

Reflectors - Skywatcher Heritage 130p Flextube

Spotting scopes are designed for terrestrial viewing and would probably not show great views of astro objects. 85x is quite a lot of power an would need a pretty steady tripod to be able to get nice views with.

Edited by John
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Hi Zane,

can't really comment on the spotting scope as I've never used one but I started with a pair of 10x50s and yes you are right 10x magnification 50 mm aperture. They give a nice wide field of view and coupled with a good book or software package like Stellarium will allow you to learn your way around the sky and see a whole load of cool things.

Look for a pair of binos with a bracket to fit them onto a tripod if you can, they can get heavy quite quickly.

Rik

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I've used both, binos and spotting scope, and there are pros and cons.

Binos - ultimate portability, ease of use, and the advantages of using both eyes at once.

Spotting scope: you've got a tripod holding things steady, so you can get a more detailed view.

But spotting scopes have their eyepiece at 45 degrees, and this makes them inconvenient if you want to view something high in the sky (astronomical scopes have the eyepiece at 90 degrees to cope with this).

There are all sorts of mounting arrangements for binos (putting them on a tripod with an adaptor creates even more problems when viewing overhead than you've got with a spotting scope). But any kind of mount sacrifices the portability factor.

Don't think too much about magnification - x10 will show lots of interesting things if the sky is dark enough. For planetary views you want something more like x100, but a low-end scope probably won't show much detail at that magnification.

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Thats a nice telescope Jah, but I didnt post I really need something highly portable, cause when I have the time to look at the sky, I'm usually out camping. Hence it would also be good if I could use it in the day for lookig at the wildlife, hence binos or a scope.

So Acey, I'm going to be struggling to look hi in the sky! I hadnt thought of that! There are some straight through scopes most are expensive, but I'm thinking about this one:

Yukon 20-50x50 WA WP Day Optics Spotting scopes: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo

Or theres a praktica P90 I might be able to get thats a 90mm objective lens and 25-75x magnification... but its not straight through!

Having no practical experience I'm completely hooked on magnification assuming any increase is better... is there a bit of a gap between what you can see at X10 and X100????

Edited by Tycho Brahe
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Being hooked on magnification is a common newcomers mistake. For astronomy what you need is aperture - ie: the diameter of the main lens or mirror. Spotting scopes are just not really designed with astronomy in mind, they have too many lenses in them (to give an upright image) too little aperture and usually too much magnification for the mounts that they sit on. You might get a nice view of the moon but not much else I fear.

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Straight-through is worse than 45 degrees - that's why tripod mounted binos can be awkward. For comfortable viewing you really want the eyepiece to be at a ninety degree angle to the scope.

But a 45-deg spotter is still good for seeing most of the sky - mine is this one:

Yukon 100X 6-100 x 100 Spotting Scope

(I can't vouch for the dealer - just the first page I found). I got mine for less than the regular price and it has its uses as a highly portable scope - I take it on holiday with me and use it as a low-power deep-sky scope on a Manfrotto photo tripod. But when I started out the first thing I bought was binos and I'd always recommend that as a start.

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Here's a pair of bins for under £100 that are a popular choice. You may need a tripod also.

Celestron

The SkyWatcher Heritage 130P Flextube is a great scope. VERY portable but not much use for observing wildlife because everything is upside down in the scope.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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I have Helios 15x70 which are similar (maybe same?) and I use them hand-held no bother, though some people do find a mount necessary for that weight and magnification. Certainly more heft than 10x50s.

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Ha Ha I just got ripped off by a CHARITY SHOP!!!!!! Saw an old pair of 10 50 binos, I thought, i'll have those, bargin at £7... Some old boy probably had them for bird watching in the 70's could be quality... I was wrong, they were chinese and broke... What tight so and so gives a charity shop a broke pair of crappy chinese binos????

So then i mousied along the street and looked at a pair of celestron 10 50's for 30 quid... in Cash Convertor, of all places... Why are they stocking a full range of new boxed celestron binos? I thought they only sold stolen stuff? Has Celestron got a storage depot round here? Now it doesnt get anymore Paisley than that, where'd you get your kit from? Cash Convertor and the charity shop!

Hmmm, thanks for the advice everyone, but I'm more confused now... A) Stretch and get a decent telescope now and a row with the missus, :) Get a decent spotter now, and make do for a while, then get a decent telescope, or c) get a pair of celestron binos and a piggy bank, and get a decent scope in a few months... hmmm, I wish I was patient!!! I can see logically what the best option is, but am I capable of it?

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LOL Tycho:D

can you not sell your metallic nose and raise a few £££?

seriously, if you want to do astro, save a little more for a cheap scope. bins is nice to have once you have a scope but a scope will give you views of the moon, double stars and planets and fainter dsos that you just won't get in bins (unless they are really really big).

just mho.

ps - sope is for life; an argument with the wife is just for an evening.

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Have a look on e-bay, I just picked a nice old pair of Hamminex 7x50's for 99p Much better quality than some of the cheapy stuff around today. Avoid zoom binoculars though- they're never good enough for astro work.

Check out these listings- all would be okay starter kit

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Super-Zenith-7x50-Field-7-1no75431-case-lens-covers_W0QQitemZ200441010372QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Photography_Binoculars_ET?hash=item2eab3718c4

FINEST RUSSIAN BINOCULARS 7x50 FROM THE 70,s on eBay (end time 25-Feb-10 20:24:59 GMT)

Zenith Binoculars Prismatic Coated Optics 7X50 on eBay (end time 27-Feb-10 10:47:50 GMT)

Edited by laser_jock99
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Wow thanks Laser! My missus will love those russian ones! she grew up behind the Iron Curtain, and while shes glad its gone on the one hand, shes really nostalgic about it all cause it was her childhood! Is there a reason you seem to favour the 7 50's as a pose to the 10 50's?

All im thinking knic is if i get something cheap now, thats already 70 quid saved in the pot, 3 months and I can get a decent scope... My other halfs hobby is thai boxing too, yeah I thought it was a joke at first too, but shes getting pretty freakin scary these days!!!

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All im thinking knic is if i get something cheap now, thats already 70 quid saved in the pot, 3 months and I can get a decent scope... My other halfs hobby is thai boxing too, yeah I thought it was a joke at first too, but shes getting pretty freakin scary these days!!!

That's a good plan. The Bresser 10x50's sold at Lidls for £14.99 are an okay way to start, add a good book to help learn your way around. And then just keep adding to the remaining £70 to get yourself a scope. Most newcomers at some point want to see the moon and planets, a telescope is the only option for when you have that burning desire. I lasted approx a week with the bins when i started, i then realised what i really needed was a scope. Be a shame to blow your entire budget on a pair of 7x50 or 10x50 bins and then discover they don't do it for you.

Russ

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Well aren't I the LUCKIEST noob ever! There are three of us at work that want to get into astronomy, and my mate 'found' a telescope in the cupboard at work. They bought it years ago for some stuff they were doing, they stopped doing it and stuck it back in the cupboard, where it has sat for years... Its massive, must be a foot and a half diameter... Boss has said we can use it between the three of us! Its so fustrating though cause we cant properly get to it cause the guy with the key is off for a week, but we've been licking the window. The way its turned, I just cant make out the make.... So its just a pair of binos for the house (I live right next to work and they said we can set it up on the roof! RESULT!:)

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" Its massive, must be a foot and a half diameter.."

!

:)

Triffic!

Lidl 10 x 50's while they are on offer this week, a couple of books (secondhand cheap from Amazon), and save the rest for some nice secondhand eyepieces?

Might need a cleaning kit and an anti-spider assault squad? :(

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