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#1 Robert Ellis

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 01:31 PM

Hello folks. I have recently begun using my binoculars to look into the night sky. I got into it by accident after comparing ED and non ED Swift Audubons for CA by pointing them at the moon.

Two questions.
As I tilt my head up I get an increase in hand tremor and it makes looking at pinpoints of light a shaky affair. What can you recommend in the way of a 7x42 or 7x50 affordable porro that gives an image quality close to the Swifts (as I love the image clarity they yield)?

Second, aside from the moon, what should I look for to begin with. I live outside Minneapolis, MN to give you an idea of what sky is above me. My first experiment was to attempt to tell the planets apart, but I have no idea which is supposed to be where. I had a celestron starchart book but I can't find it after moving.

Thanks.

#2 Pinewood

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 02:21 PM

Robert,

I live in Manhattan, so you must have clearer skies than I do. Tonight, the bright star in the East as the sky darkens is Jupiter. High over head will be Saturn near Castor and Pollux.

You can also keep track by going to http://www.skyandtelescope.com
Click on observing and look for "sky at a glance." There is also an interactive sky chart that can be set for your time and location. You can also look around for their applets for the moons of Jupiter and of Saturn.
I guess that you have an 8.5 power Swift. With something to lean it should be good for Jupiter and its moons but you can wait until eleven or later to look at Saturn, when it is closer to the horizon but do not expect to see any detail on the planets or Saturn's rings. Saturn should look oblate rather than round.
There are many exquisite star fields, messier objects, etc., to observe, but I'll let someone else make suggestions.
My taste in binoculars is rather at odds with many in this forum, but I got started in binocular astronomy, in 1978, with a Leitz 7x50 glass made in 1948. I glanced at Jupiter and saw its moons. I have also used a USN Mark 28 7x50 from WWII, but optically both are obsolete.

Clear skies,
Arthur

#3 SteveF16

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 02:24 PM

Hi,
Great choice with the Audubon EDs. For affordable 7x porros of excellent image quality, the Carton Adlerblick models (7x42 and 7x50) come to mind. I once had a 10x50 that I (now regretfully) gave as a gift. Its image quality was really excellent, and it's lightweight. It lone negative in my mind was a narrow field. The 7x models have a better reputation relative to image quality. They can be found on the Internet, from a few Canadian shops (e.g., Valley Microscope). I'm sure that other contributors can name models that could suit also. One might be the Fujinon Polaris FMT-SX 7x50 (heavy, though). Good Luck.

#4 Robert Ellis

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 03:02 PM

Arthur, I recognize your name from birdforum.net, I guess there are a fiar number of crossover binocular fans.

#5 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 04:04 PM

Robert, if you are to get reasonably serious with astronomy you must get some kind of star atlas. There are many this forum could recommend which would be applicable for binocular astronomy. As Arthur mentioned, there are some online sources as well. Sky & Telescope is a good site. So is the one for Astronomy Magazine. There is also some decent astronomy planetarium freeware that's good. "Home Planet" is one that I have used from time to time. You definitely need to learn some basic constellations because telling you to look for Saturn in Gemini is pointless if you don't know where Gemini is. I also recommend a astronomical calendar. Sky & Telescope puts out a great one.

BTW, binoculars are not ideal for planetary observations, especially at 7x. I am not discouraging you from looking of course, but you will not be able to see many of the distinguishing planetary features you know about.

#6 Rich V.

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 06:52 PM

Hi, Robert

Although moving down to 7x will help with the hand tremors, in my experience the image scale and depth of view that 7x provides leaves a lot to be desired for astronomy, particularly under light polluted skies. I've been using 7x50 and 7x35 bins for scanning the sky for decades but I rarely use them anymore in favor of 10x and 16x glass.

If you have access to a decent tall tripod, those Audubons will give you some great views of many summer objects that are fairly low in the southern sky without any neck strain. Break yourself (and your neck) in slowly!! It cannot be emphasized enough how much more you can see with a steady, mounted binocular regardless of magnification. A good 10x42 birding binocular will give great views when mounted; you might be amazed. This forum has a wealth of info on mounts available to you in the Best Of section.

As far as sky maps, I always have my "Deep Map 600" from Orion Telescope with me for quick reference. It is a road map sized folding chart with many objects of interest for binoculars. It will give you a good start in recognizing the constellations and the star patterns you will use to locate objects. For a much more comprehensive chart, try downloading the free Cartes du Ciel program: http://www.stargazing.net/astropc/ Download the basic package plus both Tycho 2 files and you will have a charting program that will show stars down to mag 12. The nice part is you can easily change the limiting magnitude of the charts to match the depth of view of your binoculars. It can provide views on screen that are very representative of what you will see through the glasses. I love it!

I hope you will find binoculars as enjoyable to view through at night as by day. There can be many pleasurable evenings under the stars awaiting you!

Rich V

#7 Robert Ellis

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 07:34 PM

With the bins I have, what is a reasonable expectation to the limits of what I can see?

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 10:59 PM

Robert, that all depends on your local level of light pollution (sadly). Browse the "best of" section. You may find some information concerning what you can expect.

#9 Robert Ellis

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Posted 30 April 2005 - 11:29 AM

I gave it a try. The only thing I could identify for sure was Saturn. I definately have to find my Celestron book. I used to know constellations better, but at the moment I could probably only recognize the Big Dipper and Orion.

#10 edwincjones

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Posted 30 April 2005 - 08:11 PM

Join the local astronomy club and go to some of their star parties. They can show/point out in parson much better than we can on the web. It sounds like you need an observing buddy.

#11 SaberScorpX

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Posted 30 April 2005 - 10:30 PM

Hi Robert-

Along with the other good advice given, I'd recommend picking up a copy of 'Touring the Universe thru Binoculars'
and Orion's Star Target planisphere to let you know what's up and when.

And welcome to binoastronomy!
Saber

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http://www.geocities...rpx/SGH400.html

#12 Pinewood

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Posted 01 May 2005 - 10:38 PM

Robert,

I am certainly the same Arthur Pinewood. I have been using binoculars to gaze at the heavens far longer than for looking at birds. I would not argue with any of the suggestions you have received. However, my local newspaper prints the rising and setting of visible planets and I wonder if yours does. That is usually on the weather page along with the sun and moon information.

ASTRONOMY, SKY AND TELESCOPE and STARDATE, all have guides for observation but I started with a planisphere, NATURAL HISTORY and the newspaper. I later added Norton's star Atlas, but that was long before the worldwide web.
I use seven, and eight power glasses, handheld; a twelve power on a monopod and sixteen power on a tripod. I just observed two moons of Jupiter with the twevle power.
I will remark that I had an optical problem in Minnesota. I was walking in downtown St. Paul, in December when I stepped into the Stavanger Bakery and Restuarant. My eyeglasses fogged up from the water vapor from its kitchen, then the vapor turned to ice on my cold glasses! I shudder to think what frost might do to binoculars. I just let the ice melt before I wiped my specs. Be careful in the winter.

Clear skies,
Arthur

#13 Robert Ellis

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 07:22 AM

Luckily your frosty experience is infrequent. For the most part the air is dry in winter so fogging is about all one will have to deal with.

#14 EdZ

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 07:59 AM

Hi Bob,

you asked for recommendations about what you could see with your binoculars, but i didn't see anywhere in this thread where you mentioned what your binoculars are.

Check out this link What can be Seen in Various Sizes Binoculars

edz

#15 Robert Ellis

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 08:14 AM

Pardon me for that. Swift 8.5x, 44mm ED model 820

#16 EdZ

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 11:01 AM

With that , I would say

in mag 4 skies you should see as deep as stars to mag 9.0
in mag 5 skies to mag 9.5, and in mag 6 skies close to mag 10.0

you should be able to see double stars as close as 20 arcseconds.
Which means you can resolve dense clusters down to 20 arcseconds.

A vast array of open clusters are available for your viewing.

You will easily find objects such as M42, M41, M35, M36 (but probably not M38), M44 (but probably not M67), M47 (but probably not M46), M13, Cr399, M27, M29, M11, and many other open clusters. The area around Sagitarius/Scutum should be a playground. You should with some effort be able to find the bright galaxies M81 and M82, but probably not M51 and certainly not M101. You will likely not be able to see M57, other small planetaries and many small galaxies.

edz

#17 Glassthrower

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 08:40 PM

Hi Robert,

The only thing I can add is this :

Stick around here and learn. There are some very helpful
and knowledgeable people abiding here at Cloudy Nights.

I'm new to binoculars and astronomy in general, and my
understanding of the field has grown by leaps and bounds
in less than a month.

Mike

#18 Robert Ellis

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 09:33 PM

Well then, next clear night I'll point at Sagitarius. (Where is that, exactly?)

For the help given here I am glad to offer my birding knowledge as open reference to all.

#19 Glassthrower

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 09:58 PM

I think there is a good bit of crossover between the
birding community and the stargazing crowd. My wife and
I have been birdwatching for years. We regularly attract
around 25-30 species of birds to our feeders and property
every year.

A few days ago, we saw our first Scarlet Tanager in the
crape myrtle tree outside. Scarlets aren't supposed to
wander this far south into Louisiana (according to the
books), so we consider it a rare treat. Seeing that
little red and black bird in my tree gave me the same
thrill as seeing M13 (The Hercules Cluster) the first time.

(well, almost)

Mike

#20 SaberScorpX

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 10:04 PM

Robert,
Check out 'Your Sky' to get you started:
http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/
Great interactive on-line planetarium.
Just enter your location and data to see what's up and when.

Happy hunting!
Saber

Ready to tackle the Herschel 400?
http://www.geocities...rpx/SGH400.html

#21 edcannon

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 01:20 AM

Well then, next clear night I'll point at Sagitarius. (Where is that, exactly?)


Sagittarius will be best placed for you, due south, around midnight in mid-July. Roughly a month before, Scorpius will be similarly placed, and it's very neat also, and there are some nice objects "between" them.

On the "Your Sky" web site you can get a very nice freeware planetarium program called HomePlanet. I've been using it quite a bit for a long time. It's basically "Your Sky", but set up on your own computer.

To the atlas recommendations, for your 8.5x44 binoculars I can very much recommend the Bright Star Atlas 2000. I'm on my third copy now, and it worked very well for me with 10x50 binoculars and now with 8x42. It includes all of the Messier and many other deep-sky objects. It costs about $12 -- a very good value.

Norton's Star Atlas has the same magnitude +6.5 stars as BSA 2000, but it also has a lot of reference material. I recently got a brand new hardbound copy of the 20th edition on sale at a half-price bookstore for $8.

Ed Cannon - Austin, Texas, USA

#22 EdZ

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 06:45 AM

Norton's Star Atlas has the same magnitude +6.5 stars as BSA 2000, but it also has a lot of reference material. I recently got a brand new hardbound copy of the 20th edition on sale at a half-price bookstore for $8.



recently, I picked up a new copy of Norton's to compare and write a book review. Even though I use more detailed atlases, I was very impressed with Norton's as a whole. For anyone starting out, it has a good beginner's atals and a very good selection of science and the explantions that will help you understande astronomy just a little better.

My favored atlas is SkyAtlas 2000.0 deluxe, black stars on white with colored background. Goes to mag 9.5 which represents about what you can see thru mounted 12x50s or braced 15x70s. With this atlas you need reference books.

edz

#23 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 07:13 AM

My favorite is the SkyAtlas 2000.0 deluxe as well. I would so recommend this in the lamenated "field" version. I have the regular paper pages and even after one year, it is getting a little banged up.

Sky Publishing's "2005 Astronomical Calandar" is outstanding. It details month-by-month nearly every predictable celestial event you can think of as well as being packed with little known interesting facts and historical information. But, it is dense material so I would not recommend this right off the bat, but eventually...


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