Fun with binoculars

The cheap essentials

A pair of 10x50mm binoculars are considered standard for hand-held binocular astronomy. A very acceptable pair can be purchased for under $100 from an astronomy supplierwhich ensures they are designed with astronomy in mind.

 

Unlike cheap telescopes, cheap binoculars are not plagued by characteristic design flaws. The only obvious reason to pay more money is for more magnification. However, you then need to think about buying a stand since any hand tremor will also be magnified. This starts moving you out of the price range a Cheap Astronomer would feel comfortable with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to look out for

These are some of Cheap Astronomy’s favourite binocular objects:

 

Omega Centauri

Pleiades (and Southern Pleiades)

Arcturus, Antares and Betelguese

The centre of the galaxy

 

Binoculars are ideal to look at spread out objects in a wide field of view (like the Pleiades). The Moon and planets, like Saturn and Jupiter, are also worth a look. However, these objects have details worth magnifying further through your cheap telescope.

 

Surprisingly, there is an opportunity to contribute to a genuine scientific endeavour through making regular observations of variable stars through cheap binoculars. It requires a bit of time, dedication and effort and (needless to say) Cheap Astronomy is yet to have go, but if you are keen, more information can be found here.

 

The most fun

Hand-held binoculars are perfectly designed to scan huge expanses of the skies, so go ahead and do just that. Sure, everything you see will have been seen and catalogued by someone else years ago, but so what?

 

For example, following the line of the Milky Way will bring a whole range of unusual objects into view. Anything striking is bound to have a name, so get a rough idea of where it is and then log into a virtual planetarium like Stellarium and find out its name. Then look it up in Wikipedia and found out more than you could possibly need to know about it.

 

What you will be doing here is mixing observation with a bit of research, which is pretty much what astronomy is all about.

Useful (and generally standard) features to look for in cheap binoculars include:

· a screw mount fitting allowing them to be fixed to a stand; and

· a single lens focus adjustment, additional to the main focus, to adjust for focal differences

       between your eyes.

 

Just the 10x times magnification will allow you to see thousands more stars than you can do with the naked eye. Unless you have perfect eyesight, or great glasses, you will also see objects with far more clarity than normal.

Home

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Fun with binoculars

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Too cold outside

Cheap cosmology

Reader contributions

Cheap podcasts

What's up with Chris

Send an email

About us

Explore the universe on a shoestring

Cheap Astronomy

Ask us a question: cheapastro@gmail.com | Home | About us

Home

Naked eye astronomy

Fun with binoculars

Cheap telescopes

Too cold outside

Cheap cosmology

Reader contributions

Cheap podcasts

What's up with Chris

Send an email

About us

Explore the universe on a shoestring

Cheap Astronomy

Ask us a question: cheapastro@gmail.com | Home | About us