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20x60, 20x80, 25x100, what do I need?

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#1 Jarrod

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

New to astronomy and going in too many directions at once. Binoculars seemed like a good place to start for ease of setup and use. I thought I'd pick up a copy of NightWatch, some Skymasters, stick them on my tripod and be on my way for under $200. Then I had problems with the Skymasters. So I came here to get an education.

:tonofbricks:

My head is now swimming. There are too many options to just start picking optics straight away. And then the mounts...this is getting to be an expensive proposition. :help:

So I thought it would be wise to slow down and ask the forum a more fundamental question. What do I need to accomplish my goal? I have a reasonable pair of Leupold 8x50s already. But I know they don't have the magnification I need. I'm looking to explore planets, nebulae, moon craters and the like. Comets are also a big priority.

After reading, my thinking is that 25x100s are going to give me the best all-around experience because they have good magnification for planets, good light-gathering capability for nebulae, and reasonable FOV. And I fear that anything smaller is just not going to give impressive enough views to keep the spark alive - especially with the kids. But I know that 20x80s or smaller are easier to deal with. I really think I need to get your feedback on this question before I move forward on selecting specific equipment...and mounts.

Other issues that may come into play with regard to recommendations:
I wear glasses (astigmatism in right eye) so I need eye relief. My IPD is somewhere around 60mm based on what the scale on 8x50s tell me. My wife and kids don't wear glasses. I have no idea about their IPD, but the kids are teens so not too small I guess.

What do I need? :confused:

#2 BobinKy

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:39 PM

Slow down a minute. You jump around from thread to thread more than the biggest flea in a circus. Stay in a single thread until you resolve the question for which you came here to get answers.

You have to start with the basic question of budget. How much money do you have to spend at this time? That, more than anything else, will determine what kind of optic any of us can recommend to you. :money:

#3 bierbelly

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:44 PM

New to astronomy and going in too many directions at once. Binoculars seemed like a good place to start for ease of setup and use. I thought I'd pick up a copy of NightWatch, some Skymasters, stick them on my tripod and be on my way for under $200. Then I had problems with the Skymasters. So I came here to get an education.

:tonofbricks:

My head is now swimming. There are too many options to just start picking optics straight away. And then the mounts...this is getting to be an expensive proposition. :help:

So I thought it would be wise to slow down and ask the forum a more fundamental question. What do I need to accomplish my goal? I have a reasonable pair of Leupold 8x50s already. But I know they don't have the magnification I need. I'm looking to explore planets, nebulae, moon craters and the like. Comets are also a big priority.

After reading, my thinking is that 25x100s are going to give me the best all-around experience because they have good magnification for planets, good light-gathering capability for nebulae, and reasonable FOV. And I fear that anything smaller is just not going to give impressive enough views to keep the spark alive - especially with the kids. But I know that 20x80s or smaller are easier to deal with. I really think I need to get your feedback on this question before I move forward on selecting specific equipment...and mounts.

Other issues that may come into play with regard to recommendations:
I wear glasses (astigmatism in right eye) so I need eye relief. My IPD is somewhere around 60mm based on what the scale on 8x50s tell me. My wife and kids don't wear glasses. I have no idea about their IPD, but the kids are teens so not too small I guess.

What do I need? :confused:


One thing you're gonna need for sure is an expensive tripod/mount to handle any binocs that big and powerful.

#4 dpwoos

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:56 PM

Sounds to me like what you want is a scope, and not binos.

#5 Mark9473

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:58 PM

I agree, for the purposes listed a binocular is not the answer.

#6 KennyJ

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 04:15 PM

Jarrod,

Astronomy isn't really even a serious hobby of mine.

I am actually much more interested in binoculars themselves than the things that can be seen through them.

Same goes for spotting scopes and astro scopes.

One thing worth bearing in mind is there is no "one does all" type of instrument that excels for all branches of visual astronomy,but if there is,it's probably a telescope,not binoculars.

Certainly for seeing details of planets or moon craters,binoculars are totally the wrong choice of instrument.

The 8x50 is a useful size of binocular for casual scanning of the night sky.

I think your best next investment could be a Dobsonian telescope.

Those things tend to be much bigger and bulkier than their nominal size may suggest or conjure in your mind if you've never actually seen one in the flesh.

Perhaps even a relatively small 6 or 8 inch version could be your next most useful purchase.

Either that,or a 6 inch reflector scope.

These instruments,along with mounts and often a selection of eyepieces, can be picked up USED for very low prices if you shop around,because not only do many who become interested in the hobby become even MORE interested in a very short period of time, suffer "aperture fever etc., upgrade their gear and sell off their "newbie" gear, but there are others who buy this stuff in a flush of of a fad, only to find for a variety of reasons that it really isn't for them after all.

I hope you don't become one of the latter.

Making the right decision NOW may well help prevent that from happening.

Good luck !

Kenny

#7 Jarrod

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 04:16 PM

Slow down a minute. You jump around from thread to thread more than the biggest flea in a circus. Stay in a single thread until you resolve the question for which you came here to get answers.

:grin: I'm trying to shift to a lower gear now and I thought the other thread title was too specific for that. Definitely considering the Pentax set you recommended in the other thread. I've seen yours and others' posts on that set and it sounds like a lot of bang/$...

You have to start with the basic question of budget. How much money do you have to spend at this time? That, more than anything else, will determine what kind of optic any of us can recommend to you. :money:

Understandable. I could spend thousands at this time. But I'm not going to, not at this stage, before I know if this hobby will spark long-term interest or not. So I'm going to side step that by saying I want to spend the least amount to achieve the goals I just outlined in this new thread. And I will add that right now I'm leaning more toward having *two* modest/beginner setups vs. one *nice* one. There could be four of us viewing simultaneously and it will get tedious if we only have one set of high-power bins. For example, the Pentax 20x60 on a cheap p-mount, and a 25x100 on a heavy-duty 78" tripod like this one:

http://www.bhphotovi...OVISTA18_PRO...

Edit: Or a reflector scope instead of 25x100s. I fear that my wife would quickly suck the life out of any fun that could be had owning a big dobsonian. We'll see. :grin:

#8 DarkDisplay

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:24 PM

I've had much enjoyment with a simple, old 7x35 binocular. Never been disappointed. Of course, it only shows what it was intended to show. Using it to view the night sky still amazes me. So, you don't have to begin with something big to enjoy yourself. You can always do that later on.

Perhaps a couple of nice 10x50 or 12x50 binos for your family to share would be a good start. If your interest in astronomy grows, then get yourself a bigger one. Take your time. Those stars aren't going anywhere.

Best wishes,
Frank

#9 faackanders2

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:54 PM

The biggest bang for the buck is a dobsonian reflector, and get largest mirror you can afford and transport (10" can be had for around $500). 8" AND 6" WOULD BE LESS, EASIER TO TRANSPORT, BUT YOU WILL BE MORE LIMITED TO SEE DIMMER OBJECTS. Telecopes also allow interchangable eyepieces so you can change power and true field of view with reason of the scopes limits (i.e you can have different views of same object). Most astronomy club members jump to telescopes, and less have binos.

Binoculars have the advantage of wide views (telescopes have higher power and narrorer views). Binoculars smaller than Orion 9x63 mini-giant can be hand held (lower power and weight makes them even easier to hand hold). Orion 15x63 mini giant and larger need to be on garret pistolgrip monopod, tripod, or parallelogram; all adding additional cost (but you will be able to see more at higher power if you can keep them still). I am perhaps the only one on this site who uses a camera tripod for large 25x100 binos (most would recommend expensive heavy duty tripod or parallelogram). Most binos have fixed eyepieces, so the only way to get different views of the same object are either with other binos, or a very expensive bino that accepts multiple eyepieces (or a zoom bino that has such a narrow field of view most don't recommend them). Most books recommend a 7x50 bino as being easiest and best to use for a beginner.

Most importantly you need to know the price you are willing to spend and if you want high power narrow views (telescope) or low power wide views (bino). I recommend you try to look throgh a telescope and binocular at the night sky, before you decide (seeing is believing). Good luck in jour quest and journey.

#10 Jarrod

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:37 AM

Thanks everybody. OK, I did more reading based on your generous feedback and yes, I do need a telescope (but that's for another day and another forum)...

...and some binoculars for quick views. It has been tough for me to resist the temptation to ignore all the advice on CN and buy cheap large-objective Celestrons. Especially every time I wander over to Amazon and see the excellent overall user ratings. But of course most of those reviewers are probably at the same experience level as me (none) so who should I believe? I just ordered the Pentax 20x60 PCF WP II. I got them at B&H with the free Pentax WF-533 tripod/head combo (7kg rating) for $180 shipped. The only tradeoff with these seems to be FOV. I have a good pair of 8x50s I can use to help me locate, so felt this was a reasonable tradoff. And with 60mm objectives, I won't feel like a complete dork bringing these to a baseball game or other terrestrial event :grin:

B&H tech support assured me that the included tripod has a removable head, and that the base mount is a reversible affair that accepts both 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 heads. My intent is to use the base of the tripod as a platform for the inexpensive Orion Paragon Plus mount. The mount/binocular combination should weigh in a few pounds shy of the rating. The base has leg-spreading capability so I'm hoping I'll be able to find a configuration that is plenty stable even with an eccentric load.

#11 tomharri

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:44 AM

70mm binocs, and 11 to 15 power are about the biggest you want to handhold. At 20x you can't hold them steady enough for a good view. And you can get them for under $100.

#12 Jay_Bird

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:37 PM

Jarrod, I think 20x60 and 8x50 are a very good combination. Look for a copy of the Apollo-era 'exploring the moon through binoculars' (later editions added '... and small telescopes') by Ernest Cherrington, and try out the "virtual moon atlas" download. These will show you a lot of lunar detail, as well as deep sky. With 16x or smaller family has tracked several asteroids (Ceres, Vesta) and Comets (Holmes, 1-2 others <Hartley?>) and Jupiter's moons, phases of Venus, detected rings of Saturn. Don't expect a lot from the planets but enjoy the rest.

if you use the built-in counterweight to balance the paragon p-mount, it won't be an eccentric load on the tripod, by the way. 20x60 is a good size for that p-mount, too.

#13 rydberg

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:37 PM

Hi Jarrod:
$180 for the binoculars plus the tripod is an excellent price. I paid more for mine with nothing else! The tripod is a bit short, but with a 7kg (15 lb) payload is should hold the binoculars ok. The only question is if the fluid head will hold it. If you buy the Orion parallelogram mount later, the fluid head is removed and the height won't matter, but the tripod may be be a bit overtaxed in weight.
Check the weight of the Orion parallelogram mount before (if) you get it.
Marco

#14 Jarrod

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:28 PM

If you buy the Orion parallelogram mount later, the fluid head is removed and the height won't matter, but the tripod may be be a bit overtaxed in weight. Check the weight of the Orion parallelogram mount before (if) you get it.
Marco


The Orion p-mount weighs 12.5# The binocular is 3#. The tripod is rated as 15.5#. So I'm right at the limit. I know that EdZ recommends under-loading the legs (due to torsional forces that are applied to the center post which induces oscillations, even when counter-weighted). But I just don't know if the 15.5# rating on the Pentax tripod is a limitation of the head, the legs, or both. For example, I've seen several of EdZ's posts that say the Orion Paragon XHD tripod is rated at only 10lb, but that is a function of the rebadged D&S F12 head. That tripod's legs alone can hold more than double that according to him. But these legs don't look as sturdy as the XHD...and the XHD weighs more than twice as much.

I only found one post here by someone who has the Pentax tripod. They labelled it as "sturdy" but they weren't using a p-mount. I am probably just going to have to try it and see.

#15 Joad

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:48 PM

"I'm looking to explore planets, nebulae, moon craters and the like. Comets are also a big priority."

A mounted binocular can be good for comet gazing, but if you want to explore planets, nebulae, and moon craters, binoculars aren't for you. Nebulae need large aperture and planets need high magnification. To go deep into craters (say, the craterlets in Plato), you need magnification as well. Of course you can see planets, nebulae and lunar craters with almost any binocular but you will soon be hungering for more.






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