There are countless ways in which binoculars can be used and many of their applications apply to activity during the day. For example, bird watching is a particular favourite of many enthusiasts.
However, when the sun goes down this does not necessarily mean the instruments should be put away. Indeed, they are a great way of observing the night sky – bringing more of its wonder into view.
Passion for astronomy among adults and children alike can be ignited by using such devices to view the planets and the stars.
For example, you can set your sights on such things as the Andromeda Nebula and comets like Hale Bopp, bringing the marvel of science right into your hands.
And because you are using both your eyes to view your target, you can sweep large areas of sky and observe objects such as the Pleiades Cluster in Taurus that are simply too large to be viewed in the field of most telescopes.
While making a choice between the various binoculars on offer can be confusing, don’t let this put you off.
One simple rule to bear in mind is that you should not necessarily think the larger the magnification the better, as this limits the field of view and may cause the image you see to jump about.
Unless you are using a tripod or other stabilising device, a magnification greater than ten is not recommended.
So if you are seeking to get to grips with the stars and do not want to buy a telescope, binoculars could be the ideal solution.
Stargazers and those who enjoy spending time outdoors looking at the flora and fauna may like to invest in a pair of astronomical binoculars.
Many shoppers mistakenly believe that instruments of this kind are ineffective when viewing the night sky. However, improvements in design have lead to the development of powerful devices that can be used to give images of planets. The views may not be as clear as those caught by telescopes designed especially for this activity, but aspects of the skies can be appreciated through them, such as comets. In addition, they can double up as terrestrial viewing instrument, for catching clear sight of land-based objects.
Binoculars also have the advantage they are more portable than larger devices created solely for stargazing. There are a host of models available that can meet these requirements, meaning shoppers are free to invest in one instrument rather than purchasing one for the night sky and another for land images, if they wish. We are well-stocked in astronomical binoculars, which are the choice of many who are just starting to learn about the night sky as they do not need much knowledge to use them.
It is simply a case of choosing the preferred aperture for the kind of activities they are to be used for. Devices with larger apertures tend to let in more light, which may suit those using them mainly for night viewing. If apertures are too low they may not reveal much detail of objects in low-light conditions, but they will provide images with greater all-round clarity.
Quite obviously the moon can be observed with the naked eye. However, only through a pair of binoculars or an astronomical telescope does it truly spring to life, displaying its many features and contours. In order to maximize my viewing of the moon and to observe as many of its features as possible – what steps then can I take?
Firstly, the moon undergoes some striking visual changes depending on what phase it’s in. Therefore the viewing experience will be vastly different depending on the moon’s aspect. You may assume that when the moon is full, that its features would be most observable but this isn’t the case. Although astronomical telescopes will still be able to see many of its craters, during full phase the moon is so bright that any naked eye observing will not be able to see very much detail at all. Instead, it is best (especially when observing through binoculars or with the naked eye) to observe the moon during its other phases such as at quarter or half phase, when its contours are lit more delicately.
The next thing to consider is your viewing apparatus – whilst it is possible to observe the moon with the naked eye, it is definitely more satisfying to use binoculars or telescopes. Binoculars in particular are great for observing the moon as they have a wider field of view than an astronomical telescope, and are highly portable. However, if detail is what you want, then a telescope is also a fantastic viewing tool.
For owners of astronomical telescopes or naked eye observers, 2010 promises to be a fantastic year for astronomy, with celestial events ranging from eclipses to meteor showers, ensuring that your eyes will be fixed firmly toward the stars.
Already this year there have been some dramatic astronomical events. For example, on January 15 over Africa we saw an annular solar eclipse – the first of four eclipses this year. We have also seen our first meteor shower in the form of the Quadrantids at the start of January, which served as a portent to a truly dramatic year of meteor showers.
Don’t worry though; you’ll still have plenty of occasions to use those astronomical telescopes, as some fascinating astronomical events are set to occur later in the year. And 2010 is especially notable for its eclipses, most of which won’t be observable from the UK. However, toward the end of the year, on December 21st to be exact, you’ll be able to point your astronomical telescopes toward the night sky and be able to see a total lunar eclipse – from Europe.
As well as an eclipse there will also be a chance to observe that most dramatic of celestial events – meteor showers, either with the naked eye, or through astronomical telescopes. Specifically, you can expect to see them at mid April, at the beginning of May, around August 12th , at the end of October and November, and in the middle of December – so get those telescopes ready.
You may be surprised to hear that binoculars can be a very effective tool for the aspiring or accomplished astronomer.
Buying an expensive piece of kit when you are just beginning with a new hobby can make people apprehensive. This is understandable. For parents with children taking up astronomy as a hobby, they may have seen this interest in other things before and then watched in dismay as the interest dies and the ballet shoes, guitar or pony is forgotten.
While astronomical telescopes aren’t usually as expensive as ponies, they are still a formidable outlay of money. This is where binoculars come in.
Far cheaper than astronomical telescopes yet just as effective – even more so in some cases – binoculars should be the first optical tool embraced by would-be astronomers (and their parents) whatever their age.
It isn’t just the price that makes compact binoculars a good starting point for novices. They are usually lighter than telescopes and easier to use – telescopes usually require assembling before they can be used and then disassembling before they are put away again.
Binoculars are actually superior to astronomical telescopes in that they offer a wider field of vision. And of course, they can be used to view a variety of other things, not just planet and shooting stars.
Once a commitment has been made to the study of astronomy, the time will come where a telescope is a required purchase.
Even then, a pair of binoculars will be a good piece of any astronomer’s viewing kit and will complement a telescope nicely.
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