How to Select Astronomy Binoculars

Binoculars are great for astronomy. Even with a simple pair, you can see moons on planets and deep space objects. They are more portable and affordable than telescopes. Learn how to select a pair.

Steps

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    Consider Aperture and magnification: the two most important qualities of binocular selection. Aperture refers to the diameter of the lenses. The larger the aperture, the more light the binoculars gather and the better you will be able to see faint objects. Magnification refers to how large the image appears and is limited by the aperture size. Be wary of binoculars that are advertised by magnification only. High magnification with a small aperture is nothing but bad marketing.
    • (Magnification)x(Aperture in millimeters) is how aperture and magnification are represented. For example, binoculars that are 15 x 70 have an aperture of 70 mm and magnify the image by 15 times. These are a great starting pair for astronomy binoculars.
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    Consider the weight. Binoculars with large apertures are quite heavy. 20 x 80 binoculars may weigh over 5 pounds! While larger may seem better, if they are too large to use, they are no good.
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    Consider the cost. The price of binoculars does not increase proportionally to size. Larger binoculars become expensive quickly. You can get a good pair of beginner's binoculars for around 60-70 USD.
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    Consider a monopod or tripod. With heavy binoculars with high magnification, the image will move around a lot if they are hand held. Binoculars can be mounted to a monopod or a tripod. This will steady the image. A monopod is nice because they are extremely portable, steady the image a bit and give your arms a break. If you want to use a mono- or tripod, make sure the binoculars have a sturdy attachment point.

Tips

  • Binoculars are useful for looking a wider objects, such as a galaxy or star cluster.
  • Astronomy binoculars are also great for wildlife viewing.
  • Binoculars are not so good for looking at small objects like binary stars because the image moves around too much.

Warnings

  • Even looking at the full moon with big binoculars can be too bright.
  • NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITH BINOCULARS.

Article Info

Categories: Astronomy