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    Default Celestron SkyMaster 12-100 x 70 Binoculars



    Hi, I got some advice about getting some binoculars in response to my intro. post. It seems like I've heard somewhere that having a big aperture is more important that lots of magnification, so if I had to choose maybe I should go with a 7x63 as opposed to a 12x50 or does it just depend on what you're trying to see maybe? Also, does it matter if it is wide angle, “rapid auto focus”, and should I be concerned about the prism type?

    Sorry for all the questions, I'm just excited... Unfortunately, I'm on a budget at the moment, but I have found lots of affordable models online (I was actually pretty surprised by how affordable they are compared to telescopes)... The Bushnell 12 x 50mm Powerview Wide-Angle above was just one of them. I also thought these models might work...
    Celestron SkyMaster 12-100 x 70 Binoculars
    Nikon Action Binocular 10X50
    Meade 9x63 Astronomy Binoculars - B120031

    Which of them looks the best? Are there any other options I should consider for under $100 (under $75 would be ideal but I do want to be able to see most of the objects in that book somebody suggested - Turn Left at Orion)? Thanks!

    Oh, one last question... I'm not serious enough to actually do this yet, but I've noticed that sometimes people attach telescopes to laptops... What kind of stuff are they doing? Does anybody have a link to some of these activities because I am curious to know what's going on - I'm thinking there might be programs that analyze their light and maybe tell you what type of stars they are or some other neat things like that. Can you use these programs to detect wobbling that might be caused by large orbiting planets?

  2. #2
    Carlos_dfc's Avatar
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    Hi CC

    Yes it's correct that aperture is far more important than magnification.
    Even with larger telescopes, most deep-sky viewing (star-clusters, nebulae, galaxies) is done with less than 100x magnification.
    I routinely use 50x or less in a telescope - for clusters and nebulae - maybe 80x or so for galaxies.

    Planets often require higher magnifications to see surface details, and some planetary nebulae are very small, requiring higher powers.
    The separation of double stars varies wildly - some can be seen to best advantage at low-ish powers (Albireo springs to mind) but those which are very close together will obviously need more 'oomph' to split them.

    On the subject of binoculars - AVOID ZOOMS like the plague.
    There's no such thing as a zoom binocular that's good for astronomy.
    They invariably have narrow apparant fields of view - which get narrower at lower magnifications (the very time when you'd want them to be wider)

    Alignment is also an issue - a tiny mis-alignment of the optical trains will become VERY apparant at higher magnifications - and it gets very difficult to manufacture well aligned binoculars when you get beyond 12x-15x
    As a result, all zooms are mis-aligned to some degree, and the vast majority are badly mis-aligned beyond 20x - often alignment 'wanders' as you zoom.
    A small mis-alignment can be compensated by the brain, so long as light-levels are high - but at night, that slight mis-alignment will quickly lead to a headache - and any more than a slight mis-alignment will render the binoculars almost useless for astronomy.

    For astronomy - Celestron's fixed magnification 15x70 is FAR better for astronomy than any of their zoom models.

    Low power binocs are often recommended - but I've also found that the very lowest power binoculars (7x & 8x) often have a narrow apparant fired of view too, unless you are prepared to pay for a premium pair.

    My personal preference is for 10x50 as a companion to a telescope - a very handy bridging point between a good set of charts, and the view through a telescope.
    For binocular viewing without a scope - I use 15x70s - the extra light grasp really does pull in a lot more than 10x50s - You can actually see A LOT with 15x70s, especially if you get away from urban light-pollution.
    They will pull in all the Messier objects, plus MANY more objects from the ngc and ic catalogs.
    Obviously the low power won't allow you to see much detail on planets - but with my 15x70s I can make out the rings of Saturn, the main cloud belts of Jupiter, plus Jupiter's 4 largest moons, the phases of Venus, and I can tell that Uranus is a blue-ish disk, rather than a 'stellar' point of light.

    One Caveat - Higher binocular powers also need to be mounted on a tripod or similar.
    I can just about hand-hold 15x steadily, if I brace myself against something.
    However - even at lower powers, you will see MUCH more detail, and many more stars, if the binoculars are mounted.

    These look identical to my Celestron Skymaster 15x70 - apart from the manufacturer's logo
    Probably made in the same factory.
    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...ndingMethod=rr

    I would like a pair of 20x100 bins - but currently can't afford them - probably my next purchase.
    Last edited by Carlos_dfc; 11-29-2009 at 05:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousCreature View Post
    Oh, one last question... I'm not serious enough to actually do this yet, but I've noticed that sometimes people attach telescopes to laptops... What kind of stuff are they doing?
    Astrophotography usually
    DSLRs, CCD cameras, and even webcams can be attached to a computer for taking multiple long exposures.
    Multiple exposures are then processed together (stacked), which eliminates camera chip 'noise' and gives a more detailed image.
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    A couple more points when buying binoculars for astronomy.....

    Exit Pupil:-
    Divide the aperture by the magnification - this gives the size of the exit pupil (the cone of light that exits the eyepieces)
    For astronomy binoculars you want an exit pupil of 4mm or bigger... smaller exit pupils can improve contrast, but also give dimmer images.
    You can get away with a smaller exit pupil in a telescope which has a bigger light grasp than most binocs, but at smaller (binocular) apertures, you want to be maximising light throughput.
    10x50s have a 5mm exit pupil - 10x42 = 4.2mm exit pupil - 15x70 = 4.7mm, etc......

    Coatings:-
    Avoid red (ruby) and amber lens-coatings.
    Anti-glare coatings used on high-end hunting binocs are commonly ruby or amber - this is no good for astronomy, as it reflects some light away.
    And often cheaper binocs are produced with poor-quality red/amber lenses, in order to LOOK better than they are.

    Prism:-
    If prism material is quoted - look for Bak-4 glass prisms, as opposed to the cheaper (and inferior) Bk-7
    Bak-4 has a better light throughput than Bk-7
    Last edited by Carlos_dfc; 11-29-2009 at 06:04 PM.
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