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Binoculars V Small scopes


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Hi folks, the night before last the sky finally cleared of cloud and I took full advantage of the opportunity. After a couple of hours using my 4” refractor and the 6” reflector I began to question what I had actually seen. I had found M13 & M57 but neither could be described as breath taking. On the other hand my binocular view of Perseus and others were a real pleasure. There is nothing wrong with the scopes but I now ask myself whether smallish scopes are really worth using for DSO. I can now see the attraction of astrophotography (although it is not for me), as it does produce amazing images. I think the size of scopes that I have are at their best for the moon and planets. Maybe I will have more enjoyment from my bins than the scopes when the moon and planets are not available from my location, which does suffer from LP. Having thrown the cat amongst the pigeons I wonder what other members think about this view and if the Bins V Scope debate is a worthy discussion point.

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Binoculars have a very wide field of view and can give excellent performance in this area. Short focal length refractors are prized for this exact same ability and fast APO refractors cost a huge premium. However a lot of objects are very small and as such need lots of magnification. The planets are a prime example. Jupiter is just a dot in binoculars but it reveals itself to even a moderate aperture telescope. Saturn shows ears in binoculars but the rings are clear in a small telescope. It all depends on what objects you are viewing as to which instrument you use. There is no one "all round" telescope, as if there was we'de all have one!

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As an ultimate grab and go setup I have my trusty 10x50's ready to go at a moments notice..fantastic for widefield views of the milky way and generally scanning around the sky looking for some of the objects invisible to the naked eye.

I learnt my hobby using these binoculars and for me they will always be in my astro kit. If anyone asks me my advice as to purchasing a cheap small scope or a pair of binoculars I would advise them to purchase the bino's and save up for a reasonable scope and mount.

Saying that you can't beat aperture..The views through a big Dobsonian or Newtonian with no false colour takes some beating with a quality eyepiece the views come alive especially if you can get to a good dark sky site.

Then you have your APO refractors with their portabilitu and durability, for me these out shine the Newtonians by a smidge...Only because I'm partial to imaging.

So...Each type of scope has it's place..As Gordon has said they havn't invented the ultimate allrounder yet.....

Unless Ambermile is hatching a plan :laugh:


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My 11x80 Bins live in the boot of the car and so go everywhere I am observing. Great they are too. But it hasn't been a proper observing session without time spent through a scope. Just depends what you want to look for - DSOs prefer aperture, Planets like high, colour free magnification, open clusters need Bins or a low powerf, wide field refractor.

No simple answer.

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Hi again and yes it is 0525hrs on Bank holiday Sunday.

I have just come to a final decision that DSO's are not for me with my 4" refractor or 6" reflector.

I couldn't sleep last night so after tossing back & forth and waking "She who should not be disturbed" I got up. I walked into the kitchen without putting the light on and there infront of me through the window was a wonderfull site. Orion in its full glory. The sky was Chrystal clear. Taurus was displaying its full spender with Gemini looking on. At 4.30am I was on the patio with my binoculars, slippers, dressing gown and nothing else. I had a great half an hour before the cold around the nether regions brought me back to my senses. At 5.00 am through a black strip of cloud came a brilliant Venus with Saturn just up to the right. As they were low down and behind some houses I had to see them from an upstairs room through the window with the bins.

When I consider the hours I have spend looking out for those "amazing" DSO's and finding a grey smudge, from now on my scopes are for the moon and planets and the bins for the rest of the sky.

If you were sleeping like a babe this pleasant morning you have missed a treat.

Next time I cannot sleep I will get dressed before I come downstairs as it is getting colder out there.

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