Astronomy is the scrutiny and study of heavenly bodies and celestial phenomena. It has been in existence since ancient ages as history as shown us. Today, it is quite a popular hobby among the young and old alike.
- 1 What are astronomy binoculars?
- 2 Are astronomy binoculars good?
- 3 How to buy astronomy binoculars?
- 4 How to select astronomy binoculars?
- 5 What is the significance of these exit pupils?
- 6 How to use astronomy binoculars?
- 7 What astronomy binoculars should I buy?
- 8 Need some astronomy tips?
What are astronomy binoculars?
It isn’t too difficult to start star gazing; surely we all would have done it at some point or the other in our lives. But to seriously get involved in astronomy, all you really need is a good and reliable pair of binoculars.
Some people are under the misconception that one needs a telescope for astronomy. Sure, a telescope is great. Nevertheless, if you are an amateur astronomer, then you can definitely start off with a nice pair of binoculars instead. In fact, binoculars even have some advantages over telescopes. Binoculars are more affordable and easily accessible for one.
Secondly, telescopes offer a much focused view whereas binoculars help you scan a wider area of the sky. Perhaps once you get the hang of astronomy and get more involved in it, you can upgrade to a telescope. Initially though a binocular will be more than enough, according to the experts.
You might already have a pair of binoculars lying around the house which you might have got for some other reason. After all binoculars are commonplace enough. However, if you are going to get into astronomy, you need to ensure that your binoculars are suited for the purpose and are up to the mark.
Are astronomy binoculars good?
Bad binoculars can be harmful to the eyes. Squinting into poor quality binoculars can place unnecessary strain on your eyes which can lead to headaches and eye pain as well. Also substandard binoculars make observing anything difficult since they do not give a clear picture and can blur the view. They can actually just put you off astronomy itself.
Further, low grade binoculars can be flimsy and can break easily thus needing to be replaced often. If they are too heavy they can also be bulky and difficult to handle by novices. For these reasons, budding astronomers need to go for superior quality binoculars.
How to buy astronomy binoculars?
There are a number of brands and types of binoculars available in the market today. So how to choose astronomy binoculars that are apt for you? The answer depends on a number of factors:
- Budget: Astronomy binoculars come at different price ranges, starting from about 30 USD to more than 1000 USD. You will need to pick one which will suit your pocket.
If you can afford it then you could even opt for the trendy image-stabilised binoculars. These binoculars are pricier but people are raving about them since they reduce the shake that is inherently present when we see through them. Thus the view is clearer and it allows us to observe space with more detail.
- Technical Specifications: Binoculars are usually marked with some numbers such as 10 x 50. What does this mean? It means that this particular binocular can help you see up to ten times better than your normal vision – this is the power of the binoculars. The second number refers to the diameter of the round glass lens in millimetres.
How to select astronomy binoculars?
Don’t automatically assume that the higher the power of the binoculars the better the view will be. Some people find things clearer with relatively lower power binoculars. Many do not truly perceive any differences between binoculars that are at the higher end of the spectrum. You will need to test the binoculars before you buy them.
Another point to note is the desired field of view of your binoculars. This is generally expressed in degrees, except in certain old models where it could be mentioned as 450 feet at 1000 yards. In that case you will need to convert it into degrees by dividing with 52; in this case 450/52will give you 8.6 degrees.
- Your Age: This might seem like a rather strange point to consider when purchasing binoculars. What has age got to do with it anyway? The quality of your view through a binoculars not only depends on the characteristics of the binoculars but also on the biological aspects of your eyes.
There is something called the exit pupils in binoculars. The power of the binoculars and the size of the exit pupils are inversely proportional. This means that the more the power of the binoculars the smaller the size of the exit pupils. The exit pupils figure is obtained by dividing the diameter of the lens by the power. So in this example, the exit pupils would be 50/10 = 5.
What is the significance of these exit pupils?
The size of the exit pupils should approximately be the same as the size of the pupils of your eyes. Eyes evolve as you grow. The size of your pupils generally decreases as you get older.
So a child would have larger pupils than an adult, especially when dilated. Hence a child might be more comfortable with a binocular which has a higher exit pupil while an adult might be comfortable with smaller exit pupils.
- Physical Dimensions: Your binoculars should ideally be easy to handle. There are mainly two types of astronomy binoculars – the Porro prism ones and the roof prism ones. Roof prism binoculars are quite handy but the original ones can also be pretty expensive.
Hopefully the above points should have cleared your doubts about which astronomical binoculars to buy. Other factors which you could consider would be if the binoculars are waterproof or not, and also if they come with tripods. Both of these would make star gazing a convenient exercise.
How to use astronomy binoculars?
It’s not rocket science! Simply hold the binoculars against your eyes, train them towards a darkened night sky and voila! You are on the path to becoming an astronomer! The only thing that you do need to learn is how to adjust astronomy binoculars and even that is not too hard. All you need to do is turn the knob that is present at the centre.
The best way to do this is to first cover one eye of the binoculars. Now see through the other and adjust till whatever you are viewing becomes sharp and focused. Then repeat the steps with the other lens.
What astronomy binoculars should I buy?
If you are still unsure about which binocular model you need to pick up for yourself, here are some popular ones to check out:
CelestronSkymaster: These binoculars come in different power configurations such as the 8 x 56, 15 x 70, 25 x 70 to name a few. These binoculars offer fantastic views of the night sky.
Canon Binoculars: No doubt, Canon is a famous brand. With their latest range of image stabilized binoculars many even state that canon is astronomy binoculars of the future!
Zhumell Astronomy Binoculars: These binoculars are award winning ones with many positive reviews and star ratings attached to them.
Each year, binocular models vie with each other to be announced as the best. However, there are always a few reliable brands that one can fall back on and buy confidently.
Here is a small comparison table to guide you along.
Need some astronomy tips?
- Know what to look for: The sky can be an impossible puzzle to decipher if you have no clue what you are looking at. So before you actually start delving into astronomy, do read up books on astronomy.
You could also look up astronomy magazines and articles online to understand the night sky. In fact, even without any special equipment, the sky can tell you a lot of secrets – you just need to know where to look! Keep an eye out for mentions of upcoming celestial events in your local newspaper.
- Join astronomy groups: Astronomy can be a solitary pursuit – or you can also do it as groups. That is the beauty of it. Gather your family and friends and make it a bonding activity to spend some quality time together in awe of the universe.
Alternatively, you could also join astronomy clubs. Members often meet up and spend time watching the sky and discussing what they observe. As a newbie, learning from other astronomy enthusiasts can be very exciting and insightful as well.
- Try to go to a lesser populated area: Of course you could just camp out in your backyard and practise astronomy. But if you live in a densely populated and busy area, light from the ground can compromise the view and experience.
Hence if possible try to go to a darker place from where you can watch the skies undisturbed. Places which are elevated such as small hilltops would be pleasant for sky watching. However do make sure that it is safe. Don’t get too engrossed in watching the sky that you forget to be aware of your surroundings!
- Have patience & persevere: In the beginning, astronomy can possibly be a tad bit confusing. Further, in this fast paced world, astronomy is a somewhat laid-back hobby. It takes time to comprehend the intricacies of the Universe – so first don’t be in a hurry.
If you feel overwhelmed at first, take small breaks to relax your eyes as well. Don’t start off with long periods of sky observation as this can tire out your untrained eyes quickly.
Pack up and take some snacks along with you when you go star gazing. You really cannot concentrate on the constellations if your stomach is growling with hunger! Also, depending on the area and the season, dress appropriately. Autumns and winters would necessitate warm clothing.
Astronomy is essentially an outdoor hobby. So if you are going to lie back in the fields or woods and star gaze, don’t forget your insect repellents!
Yet another thing that you could do is write down what you see. Describe what you’ve observed and jot down your notes as a way of journaling. It helps to keep track of your astronomy journey.
- Invest: Sure, binoculars are inexpensive. However, for enhanced experiences try to buy ones which offer you good value for money even if they are slightly more expensive. And when you’ve become a pro, go on to the next step and put down the money to gift yourself a telescope!
There are so many magical and mystical things happening in this vast space that is out there. Not all of us can go join NASA, but it doesn’t take much to start unraveling the mysteries of the Universe with a good pair of binoculars. Astronomy has many advantages. It can make you more focused and improve your observation skills. It can be a very soothing and relaxing pursuit.
Studying the moon, the stars of the galaxy, the planets, and the other cosmic events can help us realize the enormity of nature. Gazing up at the sky on a calm night can make us feel peaceful and content. It is a great stress-reliever.
With the right equipment we can learn so much more about the intriguing and amazing objects and events that unfolds up above us. If you are looking to pursue a new hobby, why not try astronomy? With the right pair of binoculars, it can be so much fun!