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Need Advice on Astronomy Binoculars

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#1 EyeInTheSky15

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:27 PM

Hi everyone,

 

As a beginning amateur astronomer, I enjoy looking through my 8" telescope, which has enough power to give me awesome views of planets and deep sky objects.  However, the more I learn about astronomy, the more I realize that having a good set of binoculars built for looking at the stars is an essential key to any astronomer's set up.  I have almost no experience with binoculars, and would appreciate if someone could guide me in the right direction towards a good pair of binoculars.

 

I don't have any real guidelines or specifications for the binocs, but I would prefer they have a wider field of view, and a small to medium magnification (I'm not looking for a binocular telescope).

 

Thanks 

 

 



#2 J A VOLK

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:40 PM

Image Stabilized if you can afford them - Canon 10x42L-IS my best investment in astro gear ever

#3 xbunnyraptorx

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:41 PM

I have a good quality 7x35, and you can clearly make out many more stars even in the city. Probably too wide, I think. 7x50 is a classic, good for moon views, more milky way detail is visible if you are out of the city. Look for ones that say they are good for astronomical viewing or such. Some of the regular daytime binocs have issues with the refraction which makes it harder to see the stars.


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#4 jimr2

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:44 PM

Don't think you can beat a good pair of 7x50's for star-gazing--they collect a lot of light for their size/price, and are still light enough to hand-hold for longer periods of time (is what I use). Some people like 10x50s too, but have heard that due to the increased magnification, it's hard to hand-hold them steady enough (I've never tried any 10x50s). Anything larger than 50 mm in size would require being mounted on a tripod, etc, due to their weight and/or higher magnification.

 

As to specific brands, can't really say, as even some of the so-called higher priced brands like Nikon, etc., also make cheaper lines of binocs, so you have to get down into the weeds pretty deeply regarding brands and specific models within each brand to get a really decent pair of binocs. Try to find on-line reviews af any pair you're considering before plunking down your money. Good luck!



#5 HarryRik9

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:51 PM

Hi, This is one of those areas where opinions differ greatly. The advice used to be, 40 years ago, that you should obtain a good pair of night glasses. That used to mean 7X50 binoculars. I used 8X50 binoculars for many many years, and they worked fine. The issue is what is going to be most useful for you. You say you would like a good pair, that is unfortunately a matter of differing opinion. It really does depend on what you use them for. In the old days before GoTo, they were indispensable to find your way around. You used them to find where the object was and then set your scope on that target. 

 

I think that the 8X40 and 7X35 ones are just too little aperture to be really useful. So I think 50mm aperture is the minimum. I suggest avoid the Roof Prism type which are narrow field. You may want to try out the larger ones up to about 60mm, but beyond that they are getting rather big and heavy. A good pair of binoculars on a tripod give nice views so consider getting a good lightweight photo tripod. 


Edited by HarryRik9, 17 July 2017 - 01:55 PM.


#6 oakman72

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:23 PM

I would suggest a pair of 10 x 50 also.  They are easy to hand hold for the most part and can show you a lot of sky.  Depending on the level of light pollution in your area, you may even want to consider a pair of 15 x 70's.  They can still be hand held for short periods but will require a tripod for extended views. 


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#7 EyeInTheSky15

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:38 PM

Thanks for all the feedback, I will definitely take all your opinions into consideration.



#8 edwincjones

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:41 PM

I would suggest an 8x42 for both day time and night observation,

but all of the above are good suggestions.

 

edj



#9 hallelujah

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:44 PM

http://www.company7..../1050fmtsx.html like-button.jpg

 

http://www.ebay.com/...OkAAOSwEUVZZ2RT

 

Stan



#10 Grimnir

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 04:38 PM

Definitely not 7x50 unless your pupils dilate to 7mm AND you have access to exceptionally dark skies - and probably not even then.

 

10x50 is probably the best format. The Fuji 10x50 FMT-SX is very well-regarded in this forum if within budget.

 

The image stabilised Canon 10x42 and 15x50 are other, more expensive, alternatives worth serious consideration.

 

Graham


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#11 faackanders2

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:06 PM

Hi everyone,

 

As a beginning amateur astronomer, I enjoy looking through my 8" telescope, which has enough power to give me awesome views of planets and deep sky objects.  However, the more I learn about astronomy, the more I realize that having a good set of binoculars built for looking at the stars is an essential key to any astronomer's set up.  I have almost no experience with binoculars, and would appreciate if someone could guide me in the right direction towards a good pair of binoculars.

 

I don't have any real guidelines or specifications for the binocs, but I would prefer they have a wider field of view, and a small to medium magnification (I'm not looking for a binocular telescope).

 

Thanks 

7x50 multi coated is the most recommended bino.  First bino should be easily hand holdable and this meets that criteria.



#12 tomykay12

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:12 PM

You will get so many different opinions here that it will probably be almost useless. I've read above that 7x35's are not well suited to astronomy. I find them VERY useful due to a 9.3 degree FOV. 10x50's are probably the astronomy gold standard though, but as mentioned heavier and harder to hold steady than the 7x35's. 7x50's are good too.

You don't state a budget. One could go to Walmart and get the Simmons Prosport in the blister pack for around 30.00, or select an alpha class binocular and spend 100 times that.

Porro or roof? Another bone of contention. I've recently acquired a taste for roofs, and find them quite well suited for the stars. My Vanguard Endeavor ed 10x42 has a nice, crisp view and a decent FOV, almost the same as my 10x50 porro prism. Some will say it's not enough aperture...

My suggestion is do some research, and make an educated guess as to what will work best for you. Pick a price point you are comfortable with and be sure to compare similarly priced binoculars.

Don't discount the warranty; bad things can happen to binoculars even when you are a generally careful person. Companies like Nikon, Vanguard, and Vortex stand behind their products no matter what. Hope you enjoy your search, and when you get down to a few specific models, start a new post and ask for experiences.


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#13 Binosaurus

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:12 PM

Yes, there are so many options out there. As someone who recently started spending more time "seriously" observing than in the past, I've done the bino dance. In the last two months, I've bought a 16x32, 10x50, 12x42, 10x42 (for my wife), and 12x50. I've currently settled on the 12x50s, although I do think about getting a complementary 15x56 in the future.

 

My best advice would be 1.) to try a range of sizes, magnifications, and styles (porro vs roof) to figure out what best works for you. Afterward, I would 2.) choose a pair with a no-fault lifetime warranty, as tomykay12 stated. Binoculars are fragile, and there are companies that will replace your binoculars due to damage even if it occurs year after purchase. This can save you hundreds or even thousands in the long run.

 

And as many noted, the choice is very personal. You'll read up and down that most people can't hand hold higher than 8-10x. However, I like high magnification and I like hand-held use, so I'm perfectly happy with a 12x50. I'm even considering a 15x56, which again would be handheld. Find what works for you and go for it.

 

Similarly, prisms are generally 1/2 the cost of equivalent quality roofs, but experiencing even a decent roof was a transcendental experience for me; I have no desire to own a porro ever again, as I love the compact look and feel of a quality roof, and I feel I can hold them more steadily at higher mags. Maybe that's psychological, but if it leads to me holding them more steadily, it's a very real benefit.

 

To provide yet another example, most binoculars have an IPD range from around 56 to 72. If you come in on either extreme, that will automatically rule out 99% of binoculars for you. If you can't seem to see well through one pair after another, measure your IPD and figure out if that might be an issue.

 

Also remember that the best binoculars are the ones you have with you. It's tempting to get the biggest pair of eyes you can find, or the highest magnification, but if you can't use a pair because they're too heavy or too shaky to handhold, you're going to use them a lot less unless you really like tripods. This again points to the importance of trying your desired magXaperture combination before buying it and discovering it's not nearly as useful as it appeared on paper. :D


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#14 EyeInTheSky15

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:42 PM

You will get so many different opinions here that it will probably be almost useless. I've read above that 7x35's are not well suited to astronomy. I find them VERY useful due to a 9.3 degree FOV. 10x50's are probably the astronomy gold standard though, but as mentioned heavier and harder to hold steady than the 7x35's. 7x50's are good too.

You don't state a budget. One could go to Walmart and get the Simmons Prosport in the blister pack for around 30.00, or select an alpha class binocular and spend 100 times that.

Porro or roof? Another bone of contention. I've recently acquired a taste for roofs, and find them quite well suited for the stars. My Vanguard Endeavor ed 10x42 has a nice, crisp view and a decent FOV, almost the same as my 10x50 porro prism. Some will say it's not enough aperture...

My suggestion is do some research, and make an educated guess as to what will work best for you. Pick a price point you are comfortable with and be sure to compare similarly priced binoculars.

Don't discount the warranty; bad things can happen to binoculars even when you are a generally careful person. Companies like Nikon, Vanguard, and Vortex stand behind their products no matter what. Hope you enjoy your search, and when you get down to a few specific models, start a new post and ask for experiences.

Thanks, I'll make sure to start a new thread when I find the right pair.



#15 Sketcher

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 10:27 PM

For low-magnification, wide-field use - day or night:  I prefer 8x42 binoculars.  For observing deep-sky objects under a dark sky I prefer 20x80s and 25x100s.  Note the exit pupil sizes (aperture divided by magnification) of these binoculars:  5.25mm for the 8x42s and 4mm for the other two.

 

Despite what others may claim, we won't see more with a large, 7mm exit pupil.  A smaller exit pupil will darken the background sky (I'm not referring to a light polluted sky here!)  That darker sky along with a bit more magnification will together make it easier to see deep sky objects.

 

Furthermore, as we age our pupils tend to not open as wide as they once did.  Translation: after a bit of aging, the 7x50 binocular will effectively become a 7x42, then perhaps even a 7x35 because the eye's pupil will no longer be able to take in the binocular's full 7.1mm exit pupil.


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#16 Foss

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:32 AM

7x50 porro prism isn't a bad play, based on what you've written. It's a handy binocular for stargazing and terrestrial use.


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#17 SMark

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:47 PM

Everyone sees things differently. You can see below that I have so many choices, and all of them are useful for Astronomy. For an all-around, middle of the road (actually a good bit better than that...) choice that gets a lot of use by me, even with all the choices I have, the Swift Audubon (8.5x44) is a fantastic binocular. It's quality made. It's lightweight. Images are brighter than you would expect. It's a porro prism but still with a smaller footprint than most porros. There have been many varying models of this binocular over the past 65 years, and some were better/different than others. But most were near top notch. 

 

Each binocular that I own will have an advantage in one way or another. That's why the best choice is a very individual choice for the buyer. I had to try them all before I knew for sure. And that will ring home for many here.


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#18 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 01:19 PM

For low-magnification, wide-field use - day or night:  I prefer 8x42 binoculars.  For observing deep-sky objects under a dark sky I prefer 20x80s and 25x100s.  Note the exit pupil sizes (aperture divided by magnification) of these binoculars:  5.25mm for the 8x42s and 4mm for the other two.

 

Despite what others may claim, we won't see more with a large, 7mm exit pupil.  A smaller exit pupil will darken the background sky (I'm not referring to a light polluted sky here!)  That darker sky along with a bit more magnification will together make it easier to see deep sky objects.

 

Furthermore, as we age our pupils tend to not open as wide as they once did.  Translation: after a bit of aging, the 7x50 binocular will effectively become a 7x42, then perhaps even a 7x35 because the eye's pupil will no longer be able to take in the binocular's full 7.1mm exit pupil.

 

This is the way I see it:

 

7x50s will show more than 7x35s..  10x50s will generally show more than 7x50s but for large, dim objects the brighter image of the 7x50s can be an advantage.

 

As far as aging and the dark adapted pupil.. my story.   I just assumed that a 7 mm dark adapted pupil was appropriate for me and that I aged, I had to start thinking smaller..

 

A couple of years ago I bought an eyepiece to maximize the TFoV but I "knew" that I would be taking a hit because of the 8 mm exit pupil.  Strangely I noticed that views of faint nebulae were brighter than with a 7 mm exit pupil.. when I finally got around to measuring my dark adapted pupil, I measured about 7.8mm.

 

I am 69 years old.. So much for the conventional wisdom..  I am unusual to be sure but we are all individuals..

 

I had a pair of 11x80x, I always saw more with them than with 10x50s, much more than the 10% increase in magnification could explain...  

 

Jon


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#19 KennyJ

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 02:44 PM

Over the past 14 years on this and other forums I must have read almost as many different opinions about 7mm exit-pupils as I have about Celestron Skymaster 15x70s and Canon IS binoculars, which for any reader relatively new to the forum, is one heck of a lot! smile.gif

 

My own opinion based upon experience is that using binoculars with 7mm exit-pupils is a win/win situation.

 

If the eye pupils are dilated to 7mm or thereabouts the user will be gathering maximum light and will therefore probably see more when looking at any given area of sky than if using a binocular of the same magnification with a 3mm or 4mm or 5mm exit-pupil.

 

If on the other hand, the eye pupils are dilated to, for example, only 4mm or 5mm, the user will still see as much as they would have if looking through a binocular of the same magnification but with a 4mm or 5mm exit-pupil respectively, except that the reduced light intake caused by the more restricted eye pupils will have exactly the same effect as masking down the objective lenses of the 7mm exit-pupil binoculars, which in effect increases focal ratio and improves the quality of the image by virtue of reducing aberrations.

 

In additon to this, for me at least, 7mm exit-pupils never fail to provide "fuss-free eye-placement" over a wide range of users' IPDs  and tend to make focusing of both eyes an easier task than binoculars with 3mm and 4mm exit-pupils, as if the "sweet-spot" of optimum focus is more wide-ranging or less critical.

 

I suspect most if not all users of 7x50s, 8x56, 9x63, 10x70, 11x80 and 14x100 binoculars will have noticed these things, without necessarily even being fully aware of the reasons why.

 

Kenny


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#20 Binojunky

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 02:56 PM

Depends on you price point, in the lower range a pair of Nikon Action Extremes in the 10x50 size is hard to beat, good FOV, respectable optics and sturdy build  waytogo.gif   D.


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#21 tccz

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:09 PM

For astro-usage only, you should go for fuji 10x50. You don't have to know a lot about binos. After using the Fuji, if you pick up any other bino, you will notice different defects and you can learn then ...


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#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 05:28 PM

For astro-usage only, you should go for fuji 10x50. You don't have to know a lot about binos. After using the Fuji, if you pick up any other bino, you will notice different defects and you can learn then ...

 

Every optic,  no matter how perfect,  has defects..  It's part of the game.  There is always something better..  A little more perfect in some way or another.. 

 

The Fuginons are heavy and expensive.. 3 pounds plus and $600 plus. For some they might be a good choice but for some one starting out,  that's a lot of money.. 

 

It is possible to buy a decent quality pair of 10x50s for under $100.. 

 

Jon



#23 starzonesteve

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:55 PM

 

For low-magnification, wide-field use - day or night:  I prefer 8x42 binoculars.  For observing deep-sky objects under a dark sky I prefer 20x80s and 25x100s.  Note the exit pupil sizes (aperture divided by magnification) of these binoculars:  5.25mm for the 8x42s and 4mm for the other two.

 

Despite what others may claim, we won't see more with a large, 7mm exit pupil.  A smaller exit pupil will darken the background sky (I'm not referring to a light polluted sky here!)  That darker sky along with a bit more magnification will together make it easier to see deep sky objects.

 

Furthermore, as we age our pupils tend to not open as wide as they once did.  Translation: after a bit of aging, the 7x50 binocular will effectively become a 7x42, then perhaps even a 7x35 because the eye's pupil will no longer be able to take in the binocular's full 7.1mm exit pupil.

 

This is the way I see it:

 

7x50s will show more than 7x35s..  10x50s will generally show more than 7x50s but for large, dim objects the brighter image of the 7x50s can be an advantage.

 

As far as aging and the dark adapted pupil.. my story.   I just assumed that a 7 mm dark adapted pupil was appropriate for me and that I aged, I had to start thinking smaller..

 

A couple of years ago I bought an eyepiece to maximize the TFoV but I "knew" that I would be taking a hit because of the 8 mm exit pupil.  Strangely I noticed that views of faint nebulae were brighter than with a 7 mm exit pupil.. when I finally got around to measuring my dark adapted pupil, I measured about 7.8mm.

 

I am 69 years old.. So much for the conventional wisdom..  I am unusual to be sure but we are all individuals..

 

I had a pair of 11x80x, I always saw more with them than with 10x50s, much more than the 10% increase in magnification could explain...  

 

Jon

 

Would you share how you measured your dark adapted pupil? Thanks,

 

Steve



#24 Tony Flanders

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 04:29 AM

Despite what others may claim, we won't see more with a large, 7mm exit pupil.  A smaller exit pupil will darken the background sky (I'm not referring to a light polluted sky here!)  That darker sky along with a bit more magnification will together make it easier to see deep sky objects.

That statement is malformed, which is a big part of why it's causing controversy. It's offering a thought experiment: take a pair of binoculars with a 7-mm exit pupil, make the exit pupil smaller, and you will see more. That is either true or false depending how you make the exit pupil smaller.

 

If you start with a pair of 7x50s and reduce the exit pupil to 5 mm by reducing the aperture, that will not make it easier to see deep-sky objects. At best, 7x35s show the sky exactly as 7x50s do (assuming that your own pupils open to 5 mm or less). At worst, deep-sky objects are significantly harder to see in 7x35s than in 7x50s. They are never easier to see in 7x35s than in 7x50s.

 

As Kenny points out, 7x50s do have benefits over 7x35s even for people with pupils narrower than 5 mm. Placement of your eyes becomes much less critical, and there's likely to be less vignetting toward the edge of the field. On the other hand, increasing the aperture tends to make binoculars both heavier and more expensive. That's no big deal moving from 7x35s to 7x50s, but it's a very big deal indeed moving from 10x50s to 10x70s.

 

But if you start with a pair of 7x50s and reduce the exit pupil to 5 mm by increasing the magnification, that will make it easier to see deep-sky objects. 10x50s show deep-sky objects better than 7x50s regardless of how wide your pupils open. If your pupils only open to 5 mm, the difference will be dramatic. But it will be quite significant even if your pupils open to 8 mm.

 

The downside, of course, is that image shake becomes more problematic as the magnification increases. And as a general rule, true field of view decreases as magnification increases.



#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 04:47 AM

Would you share how you measured your dark adapted pupil? Thanks,

Steve

 

 

There are a number of visual techniques, holding something in front of your eye..

 

What I did was to use a camera to take a photo of my dark adapted pupil with a calibration standard held next to my pupil. I then displayed the image on a computer screen and measured the two.

 

It's is a bit tricky.  The camera has to be manually focused to avoid preflash. And each photo requires time for the eye to readapt to the darkness.  But I was able to make it work.  I used a dark closet.. 

 

Jon


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