Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
· Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt · Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu… uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Binoculars

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | (show all)
Maverick199
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/27/11

Loc: India
Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new
      #5742217 - 03/19/13 02:45 AM

When we see topics from beginners requesting for advice on their first scope, some of us tend to point towards binoculars. I am not saying this is entirely wrong, but when someone specifically asks for scopes, why point towards binoculars?

Scopes are scopes and if a first timer seeks this advice, we should recommend scopes ( most of us do ) though there will always be different opinions regarding type, portability, budget etc., Binoculars can be termed as an accessory handy for general viewing of the skies. I can hardly think of a Binocular being able to show me steady views of Planets unless I have them mounted on some sort of a tripod or monopod. Even then views are not going to be same as what we get to see through scopes ( there are exceptions but so is the cost involved ).

Lastly, had I made a topic requesting for advice on scopes and be told to buy binoculars instead, it would be sort of a let down to me or even suggest, a scope may simply be a lot of hassle or worse still, may not be all that its supposed to be.

I don't mean to start any sort of argument and I respect each and every individual's opinion. This topic therefore is primarily for me to understand why suggest Binoculars when its a telescope a beginner wants.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BoriSpider
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/10/04

Loc: S.W.FLA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742290 - 03/19/13 04:53 AM

I've suggested bino's to beginners because it's a great
tool to learn the night sky. The great thing is that a lot
of people have them but don't think of using them to look
at the sky.
I haven't said "don't buy a scope, buy bino's." but if they're
on the fence about what scope to get, I would suggest use
the binos to learn the sky until you buy a scope.
And that process might even help them fine-tune their
scope purchase.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
brianb11213
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/25/09

Loc: 55.215N 6.554W
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: BoriSpider]
      #5742298 - 03/19/13 05:26 AM

1. Many people have binoculars anyway so it may be a zero cost route into observing hardware.

2. Binoculars are ideal to carry with you (or in your car) at all times. A medium to large size scope simply isn't suitable for that. And they will also be useful for wildlife watching, if that's another interest.

3. The wide field low power view obtained using "normal" binoculrs (something like 10x50) is ideal for observing some of the larger deep sky objects e.g. the Orion nebula M42, the Andromeda galaxy M31 and many star clusters. Binoculars are ideal for many comets, too.

4. It's perfectly true that "ordinary" binoculars are not good for planetary observing (though they will give an impressive view of the Moon & show Jupiter's four Galilean satellites plus Titan, Uranus and Neptune, and many asteroids) but then cheap scopes don't show a great deal more ... and the higher magnification makes a really solid stand essential, and tracking hardware becomes more than just a convenience at powers over x100. An ordinary camera tripod is sufficient to steady ordinary binoculars.

5. It's perfectly true that a high quality, small aperture refractor will show more than ordinary binoculars - but there is a very significant cost & weight penalty once you add on the mount.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742337 - 03/19/13 06:39 AM

When people ask about buying their first telescope, it's probably wise to mention binoculars as a possibility simply because most people don't think of binoculars as astronomical tools. Moreover, many people have binoculars lying around, and can try them as a zero-cost alternative.

However, I agree that it's in very poor taste to answer the question "What telescope should I buy?" with "Don't buy a telescope, buy binoculars." More to the point, 9 chances out of 10 are that it's bad advice.

There are some people for whom binoculars are a great way to start astronomy. I possibly fit in that category, so I'm well aware just how unusual such people are. Indicators would be:

1. Easy access to dark skies.
2. Familiarity with the constellations.
3. Willingness to go slow and take in the big picture.
4. No expectation of knock-your-socks-off views.
5. More interest in deep sky than planets.

But for the great majority of beginners, I think that a telescope is a far better choice -- assuming that they're willing to spend the minimum price for a decent telescope, which is roughly $100.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: brianb11213]
      #5742344 - 03/19/13 06:54 AM

Quote:

1. Many people have binoculars anyway so it may be a zero cost route into observing hardware.

2. Binoculars are ideal to carry with you (or in your car) at all times.




I agree on both those -- though I'm just about the only person I know who rarely steps outside without optical aid. And in my case it's a 6x15 monocular, not binoculars.

Quote:

The wide field low power view obtained using "normal" binoculrs (something like 10x50) is ideal for observing some of the larger deep sky objects e.g. the Orion nebula M42, the Andromeda galaxy M31 and many star clusters.




No, that is not true. 10x is marginally acceptable for observing all of these objects, but it isn't ideal for any of them except two star clusters: the Hyades and the Coma Star Cluster. Almost all other star clusters, and the Andromeda Galaxy, are far better at 20X. And the Orion Nebula really doesn't come to life until at least 50X.

Mind you, I'm saying this from the point of view of an enthusiastic deep-sky binocular observer. I love deep-sky binocular observing, but I have no delusion that I'm getting "ideal" views.

Quote:

It's perfectly true that "ordinary" binoculars are not good for planetary observing (though they will give an impressive view of the Moon & show Jupiter's four Galilean satellites plus Titan, Uranus and Neptune, and many asteroids) but then cheap scopes don't show a great deal more.




Sorry, I agree with this statement even less. I have seen many "junk" telescopes, but every telescope I have ever looked through gives far better planetary views than 10X binoculars do.

Granted, beginners with junk telescopes may never be able to get the planets within the field of view in the first place ... I won't deny that. But 10X is preposterously low for viewing planets. This is probably the single biggest reason why it's rash to recommend binoculars to beginners; they're almost guaranteed to be disappointed by the planetary views.

Quote:

It's perfectly true that a high quality, small aperture refractor will show more than ordinary binoculars - but there is a very significant cost & weight penalty once you add on the mount.




As for cost, you can buy a decent telescope for $100 with careful shopping -- which is within the price range of most though not all observers. And although even the smallest and lightest mounted telescope is far bigger and heavier than 10X binoculars, most people who ask about telescopes don't need the ultraportability of hand-holdable binoculars.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
edwincjones
Close Enough
*****

Reged: 04/10/04

Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742354 - 03/19/13 07:08 AM

Quote:

............ This topic therefore is primarily for me to understand why suggest Binoculars when its a telescope a beginner wants.




like many more experienced observers, I really want the Hubble telescope
-it will be decommissioned soon
-it would look good in my observatory
-its images are much better than any scope that I have
but if I got it
-it would be too big
-it would be too heavy
-it would be too expensive to operate
-it would be too complicated for me
so I would get flustrated, then bored, then never use again

a scope for many beginners are just like the Hubble
binoculars are easy and simple to operate and find those first few DSOs

would one get his teen a sports car when they first get a license

or like the Stones said-"....you don't always get what you want, but you get what you need"
edj


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742386 - 03/19/13 07:55 AM

Quote:


Scopes are scopes and if a first timer seeks this advice, we should recommend scopes ( most of us do ) though there will always be different opinions regarding type, portability, budget etc., Binoculars can be termed as an accessory handy for general viewing of the skies. I can hardly think of a Binocular being able to show me steady views of Planets unless I have them mounted on some sort of a tripod or monopod. Even then views are not going to be same as what we get to see through scopes ( there are exceptions but so is the cost involved ).




Each question, each member is a unique individual and deserves a unique, individualized response. In this forum, hopefully we do not provide generic answers. I can certainly imagine individuals in individual situations for whom a binocular might be a better choice as a first instrument than a telescope. If someones goal is to learn the constellations and see some of the larger scale features of the night sky, binoculars are probably a better choice. Not everyone is interested in zooming in and looking at the planets or relatively small objects.

Someone who is just starting out, they have come here to get advice, get an opinion, just because it is their sense that a telescope might be better suited to their situation, we, as experienced individuals may recognize that something else may be better suited for them. Turn the situation around. If someone came here wanting binoculars because they were interested in viewing shadow transits on Jupiter, I certainly would point out the reasons binoculars were not the optimal choice and suggest other alternatives.

The way I view my role in this forum is to educate, to provide actual observing experiences and knowledge and to recommend equipment based on those experiences. I am not telling someone what to do, I am hoping to provide enough help that they can make an informed decision for themselves.

Sometimes, binoculars represent a reasonable alternative and they should be discussed as an alternative.

I suggest looking at your own assumptions, "Binoculars can be termed as an accessory handy for general viewing of the skies. I can hardly think of a Binocular being able to show me steady views of Planets...."

Binoculars are very good for certain specific tasks, not very good for others. They are very good for what Glenn LeDrew calls the "Holistic view of the Night Sky"... They are not so good for detailed views of the planets...

Like everything, there is a time to suggest binoculars as a first astronomical instrument. When that time comes, that's the time to discuss binoculars as a first instrument.

Jon


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
FrankJ
super member


Reged: 03/06/13

Loc: Ohio
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5742393 - 03/19/13 08:01 AM

As a beginner, I would like to reply to this post. Approximately one month ago I decided to get a telescope to look at the stars. It happens that in the town where I live they have an armatures astronomy club which I attended. I told them that I was interested in getting a scope. It was suggested that I first buy binoculars. I also belong to a computer discussion group and some of the members of that group are armature astronomers. Some of them also suggested the binocs. The bottom line is this: I'm glad that they suggested the binoculars instead of the scope. Will I get a scope latter on? Maybe, I will but had I started with a scope I think I would have been discouraged. Having said that, that's only my feelings about it. Other beginners may feel different. But for me, I'm happy that I started with the binoculars.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
star drop
contra contrail
*****

Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5742398 - 03/19/13 08:05 AM

As the others have mentioned the cheapest and easiest route is to use binoculars if you already have them. And let them use their binoculars hand held, the astronomy "no pain, no gain" principle. Then they will realize that a telescope in their future should be sturdy and have a good mount along with the need to have an observing chair of some sort, even if it is just a plain old stool. That is exactly how I began.
But never steer a beginner away from a telescope.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742420 - 03/19/13 08:24 AM

I think binoculars is the BEST advice. Let me use my own situation to explain why this is the case. I have been interested in astronomy since I was young. I had a super simple Tasco telescope when I was little but then gave it to a friend when I outgrew it. For years the only thing I was interested in was meteor showers.

Recently after moving to the Houston area we visit the NASA facility and I work at a NASA airport. After seeing the ISS flyover I thought "wow I remember how much I love watching the sky."

I started with my binoculars I already owned and then added a spotting scope on a camera tripod. I outgrew this fast. I then bought a more powerful Mak, then outgrew that. If you go down the line I have acquired things which suit my interest in the hobby and I am perfectly happy.

If someone suggested that I buy an 8" dob (the default answer people seem to give) then chances are I would have been annoyed at the lack of the dob in its ability to track satellites. I also would have been annoyed at how hard it is to take long exposure astro photos with one. It would probably have been used five times and then sold at a large monetary loss.

The best thing you can do before you give advice to any newbie hobbyist is figure out what it is they are looking for. This is true with cars, boats, guns, fishing, mountain climbing, painting, cooking, photography, etc. A person steered in the wrong direction is just going to give up and then be annoyed at the people who gave them bad advice.

The bottom line: Just because someone says "I want a telescope" it doesn't mean they want it for the same reason you do. Find out what they want and then give solid advice later on.

obin


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5742447 - 03/19/13 08:49 AM

Quote:

Binoculars are easy and simple to operate and find those first few DSOs.




Binoculars are indisputably easy and simple to operate. Moreover, I'm on record as saying that all amateur astronomers should own hand-holdable binoculars -- as should all other people who can see with two eyes. In addition to being great for viewing the night sky, they're wonderful for birds, ball games, boats, and a thousand other uses.

So one could make a good argument that if everyone will end up with both binoculars and a telescope, why not get the simpler and cheaper instrument first?

The answer to that is that we live in an impatient society. Most people who get the urge to take up stargazing are eager for those first knock-your-socks-off views -- and binoculars won't give them. Or anyway, they won't give them to those impatient people. More contemplative types (like me) may well be awed by the views through binoculars. But there are plenty of people who might be hooked for life by viewing Saturn through a telescope but get permanently discouraged by the relatively lackluster views through binoculars.

But more to the point, I absolutely do not agree that for most people, binoculars are an easy way to get their first views of deep-sky objects. That is indeed true for people who live under dark skies and already have some familiarity with the constellations. But for the typical suburban beginner who can only see a dozen stars because he has bright lights shining in his face, a telescope with Go To is a much easier way to find his first few DSOs.

Inexpensive high-quality telescopes, Go To technology, and ubiquitous light pollution have dramatically altered the equation since the days when "buy binoculars first" was the best advice for the majority.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
YetAnotherHobby
sage
*****

Reged: 09/02/09

Loc: Central CT
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: edwincjones]
      #5742448 - 03/19/13 08:49 AM

Quote:

would one get his teen a sports car when they first get a license




I think I would fine-tune that analogy a bit. If a teen requested a sports car and you handed him a bicycle, that would be akin to recommending binoculars in lieu of a scope. He could spend plenty of time getting to know the roads, and while he could not get anywhere quickly, he could eventually get there given enough time. On the other hand, if you instead recommended a solid used car he could quickly get started on his journey to learn more about what kind of car he likes or doesn't like, all the while achieving what he was after in the first place - rapid transportation. And as his driving skills increased and perhaps his car-specific interest as well, he could start shopping for a Corvette, the automotive equivalent of aperture fever .


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
GOLGO13
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742495 - 03/19/13 09:30 AM

I'd say if they have binoculars already, then OK. But personally I think most beginners will be disappointed with binoculars unless they have dark skies.

A small 60 or 70mm refractor would be a better starting setup in my opinion.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
FrankJ
super member


Reged: 03/06/13

Loc: Ohio
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? new [Re: GOLGO13]
      #5742536 - 03/19/13 09:56 AM

I hope you don't mind if I weigh in on this again. After reading the posts, I can see that this issue is like most other issues, there are a lot of differences of opinions. So I don't think there is a yes-or-no answer as weather on not to recommend a pair of binoculars instead of a telescope. I would suggest that if one is asked which is the better choice, then it's best to give the pros and cons of each because let's face it, on just about everything there are plusses and minuses. After listening to the plusses and minuses, a person can then make a decision.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BoriSpider
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/10/04

Loc: S.W.FLA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: FrankJ]
      #5742550 - 03/19/13 10:08 AM

Binos are a great tool in your astro-tool box. And when people
start asking about which scope to get. A lot of times I would
ask if they have binos so they can start observing right away
while they figure out what scope they want. This way they might
be able to figure out how much observing time they have per
wk., if they like "the hunt" for things to view and so on.
With these answers they can fine-tune their scope search.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Classic8
professor emeritus


Reged: 04/12/06

Loc: Naperville, IL, USA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: FrankJ]
      #5742570 - 03/19/13 10:19 AM

I don't think I'd recommend getting binos if you don't already have them. I'd put the money towards a small telescope instead. You can learn the constellations naked-eye, while waiting to get the telescope. Even a small refractor can give better views of most objects than binos.

Everybody's different, but at a minimum I wouldn't automatically tell them to start with binos.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: FrankJ]
      #5742584 - 03/19/13 10:26 AM

Quote:

I hope you don't mind if I weigh in on this again. After reading the posts, I can see that this issue is like most other issues, there are a lot of differences of opinions. So I don't think there is a yes-or-no answer as weather on not to recommend a pair of binoculars instead of a telescope. I would suggest that if one is asked which is the better choice, then it's best to give the pros and cons of each because let's face it, on just about everything there are plusses and minuses. After listening to the plusses and minuses, a person can then make a decision.






Well said. And since this is about beginners and you are a beginner, I think your voice carries extra weight.

ANyway, I will agree with Tony that for the impatient, binoculars are not likely to be satisfying. On the other hand, I believe patience is probably the single most desirable, most useful character trait an amateur astronomer can possess. Patience and curiosity take you a long way. If one is impatient, this hobby is probably not a good fit, too many things that are beyond your control... This is a slow paced hobby with small, subtle thrills that come as the result of time spent developing ones skills. One just has to be patient to reap the rewards.

Jon


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
howard929
Member
*****

Reged: 01/02/11

Loc: Low End of High Ground
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: Maverick199]
      #5742611 - 03/19/13 10:41 AM

Starting out with astronomical binoculars taught me three things right off the bat. That big bright thing (Jupiter) that hung in the mid summer sky could be viewed as a round distended object but with no further detail. That no matter where I looked there were stars even though I couldn't see them naked eye. However, the biggest thing I got from binoculars was that I was really missing out on actually seeing something.

I never recco binos FWIW, others do and I guess it's all good. Mine only come off the shelf for dusting since the object of my desire arrived.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
GOLGO13
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: howard929]
      #5742626 - 03/19/13 10:48 AM

Actually, in dark skies binoculars can be quite magical. Sweeping the milky way with binoculars is quite an experience. I have image stablized binos which I feel makes a big difference. Even though they are 10x30, I find I see more detail in them than hand-holding regular 10x50 binos.

But in my light polluted skies binoculars offer no benefit to me other than finding objects.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Maverick199
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/27/11

Loc: India
Re: Is it correct to ask a beginner to get binoculars? [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5742656 - 03/19/13 11:00 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Binoculars are easy and simple to operate and find those first few DSOs.




Binoculars are indisputably easy and simple to operate. Moreover, I'm on record as saying that all amateur astronomers should own hand-holdable binoculars -- as should all other people who can see with two eyes. In addition to being great for viewing the night sky, they're wonderful for birds, ball games, boats, and a thousand other uses.

So one could make a good argument that if everyone will end up with both binoculars and a telescope, why not get the simpler and cheaper instrument first?

The answer to that is that we live in an impatient society. Most people who get the urge to take up stargazing are eager for those first knock-your-socks-off views -- and binoculars won't give them. Or anyway, they won't give them to those impatient people. More contemplative types (like me) may well be awed by the views through binoculars. But there are plenty of people who might be hooked for life by viewing Saturn through a telescope but get permanently discouraged by the relatively lackluster views through binoculars.

But more to the point, I absolutely do not agree that for most people, binoculars are an easy way to get their first views of deep-sky objects. That is indeed true for people who live under dark skies and already have some familiarity with the constellations. But for the typical suburban beginner who can only see a dozen stars because he has bright lights shining in his face, a telescope with Go To is a much easier way to find his first few DSOs.

Inexpensive high-quality telescopes, Go To technology, and ubiquitous light pollution have dramatically altered the equation since the days when "buy binoculars first" was the best advice for the majority.




That particular point which Tony made with regard to Saturn knocking your socks off is why I would any day recommend a scope for a beginner requesting for a scope.

However, each and every one is entitled to their opinion and like I mentioned earlier, this is more of a debate than an argument.

I myself started out with binoculars and 20 x 80 at that. The views of M 42 were there but unlike the views I get to see in scopes now. Same for the Planets with only exception being the Moon. After getting my first scope, like Howard mentioned, my bino's hardly get any use except for scanning the skies whilst imaging.

Jon makes a good point as always with regard to providing as much information as possible to a beginner and who can argue with that?

I am glad some folks agree on not mooting a binocular over a scope.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | (show all)


Extra information
9 registered and 22 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Greyhaven, Knuklhdastrnmr, WOBentley 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 3689

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics