Read these 7 Astronomy Binoculars Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Binoculars tips and hundreds of other topics.
Say you hear that tonight is going to be a perfect night to observe a certain comet. A comet you won't be able to see this clearly for the next 1000 years or so. If you do run out to a field to watch you probably will have tons of viewing options during the night. In this case lightweight, high-powered binoculars would work better than a telescope. Mainly because of the set up factor. Lightweight means you can hold it in your hand and walk from space to space with little issue. Using a telescope means you would have to lug around a tripod and keep setting it up. Though, if you do go with the high power binoculars look for ones that have an image stabilizer to eliminate shaky visuals.
If you are just getting into astronomy the one thing you will quickly notice is the vastness of space. If you are learning the positioning of the planets and stars this can be a bit frustrating. For this reason, a big field of view can be an enormous help. Especially for beginners still trying to familiarize themselves with the major celestial sites. So you might want to start out with binoculars over telescopes. Most models offer wide field of views at reasonable prices. In comparison, there are only a handful of telescopes with that feature. Which of course makes them well out of the inexpensive universe.
One of the most obvious events in astronomy is the solar eclipse. This is when the moon comes directly between the earth and the sun. To get the full effect of this occurrence a clear day (no clouds) is needed. When the sun is totally blocked you will be able to look right up at the moon with almost any high power binoculars. However, just to be on the safe side you should use solar filters. This will protect you against any harmful rays the sun will emit. They are available as lens covers. Plus, you can also find special solar binoculars designed with these lenses.
If you are taking a road trip and have no idea where the destination is you bring a map. Stargazing isn't much different. People use charts to help view the night sky all the time. The problem here is you can't read these charts in the dark. Yet, if you use a bright flashlight after your eyes have adjusted to the dark it will be harder for you to re-adjust your eyes to use your astronomy binoculars again. The solution? A low level red flashlight. The light emitted is just bright enough for you to see things. Yet you will still be visually adapted to the night.
Binoculars can differ from model to model. Some are big. While others are small. Some are made for the wilderness. While some are fashion statements at a polo match. It is because of these differences you need to look in different places to get binocular advice. I mean, you wouldn't look on a birdwatcher's site to learn about the best night vision goggles. So it only makes sense that you'd check out astronomy publications or websites for astronomical binocular reviews. One such site that offers tons of binoculars specs and test results is skyandtelescope.com (don't let the name fool you.) The good thing about going to a site (rather than a yearly review book) is it is updated way more often. So as new products hit the market you won't have to wait to long for a review.
Even if you are a more serious astronomer that owns a topnotch telescope that doesn't mean binoculars won't come in handy. Binoculars are designed closer to the way we see things. Plus, smaller pairs are handheld. These two features make this the optimal device for being a spotter. Say you want to look at certain constellation with your telescope. The problem is you only have a general idea where it is. This is the situation where binoculars work the best. Since they offer a larger field of view it will take you less time to scan the area. Plus, you don't even need to spend time setting up a tripod since you're not making any detailed observations.
Handheld binoculars are obviously the most convenient for viewing anything (including the stars.) Though, if you really want to get the best binoculars for more advanced astronomy viewing you might have to toss that feature to the side. Bigger is better quality in the binocular world. So look for a 20 X 80 size. This will give you strong magnification, a generous field of view and work the best in low light conditions. Just remember, at this binocular size you will be needing a tripod. So make sure you also buy a tripod adapter. Though, if you're the kind of person who loses things easily (especially little stuff) you should look into giant binoculars that have the adapter built into it.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|