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90-Degree Astronomy Binoculars

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#1 Sarkikos

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 09:33 AM

I've seen the 45-degree binoculars.  In my opinion, based on my experience with 45-degree spotting scopes, I don't think they are ideal for astronomy. 

 

When I have tried to use 45-degree spotting scopes for astronomy, they have always given me a pain in the neck when viewing near zenith.  Actually, I find them more uncomfortable than regular straight-through binoculars. 

 

And if you avoid viewing near zenith, you're not doing real astronomy.  In my opinion.

 

So for me, 45-degree binoculars would be like viewing through tandem spotting scopes.  Not something I'd like to do for my astronomical enjoyment.  I'll pass on the 45-degrees.

 

So what are some decent 90-degree binoculars?

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 24 October 2018 - 09:38 AM.

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#2 GamesForOne

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 09:50 AM

I actually used 45-deg binocular telescopes for 10 years. They are valid options and in fact are very comfortable for observing targets from terrestrial to up to about 65 degrees elevation. That is a lot of options. You need a tall tripod with an adjustable center crank. You can sit down and scoot up between the legs and get a comfortable viewing position.

 

If you love the Sco/Sgr/Sct Milky Way views in the northern hemisphere summer, the 45-deg models are extremely comfortable to use.

 

That said, I now own a 90-deg APM 100mm APO binocular telescope which I do find optimal for near zenith observing where the sky conditions are most favorable for astro-observing. I also find the 90 degree model does require more height adjustment to cover the same elevation range as the 45-deg.

 

---

Michael Mc


Edited by GamesForOne, 24 October 2018 - 09:51 AM.

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#3 Sarkikos

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 09:55 AM

Yeah, up to 65 degrees elevation.  Like I said, not really ideal for astronomy.

 

It's just my preference, based on my experience with 45-degree spotting scopes.  But I wouldn't get a 45-degree instrument if I intended to use it for astronomy.  I'm not a bird watcher, and I don't use binoculars or scopes for anything terrestrial.  So I want to optimize function for astronomy.

 

I have a Manfrotto 058B with an elevator column.  That should be OK.  

 

For a mount that doesn't have an elevator column, I'd probably set the mount for most comfort at zenith, and just stand up when the binos are pointed near the horizon.  

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 24 October 2018 - 09:58 AM.

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#4 TOMDEY

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 10:16 AM

Yep, bino ergo is critical. With mono instruments, you can rotate the entire instrument (or the 45/90 fold) about its feed axis. Binos preclude that, because you would have to rotate your entire body.

 

The ideal solution is, of course, to have ALL right there: straight thru, 45 and 90. I generally find the 90s most comfortable for astronomy.

 

I've seen adjustable angle spotting scope advertised... find it hard to believe it is not optically-compromised, though.  Tom


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#5 Mike G.

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 11:31 AM

I have the 45* APM 100's mounted on a Tall Oberwerk tripod with elevator.  I can get up pretty high, maybe 80* without too much neck pain but spend most of my observing in the 35 to 50* area based on my location and preferred targets.  90* binos would give me full access but having 2 pairs of APM 100's isn't something my wife would tolerate very long.  I like the 45's for the lower angle stuff, Orion and Sag, others after they pass through zenith.  I haven't tried 90's at lower angles but assume that you would be bending over more so it seems that neither is perfect. 


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#6 duck2k

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 11:56 AM

I have both the 45 (100’s) and the 90 (120’s), and both are very useful in my observations.  Both my tripods are efficient.

 

I never had trouble with 45 degree, and have observed above 80 degrees.  Additionally the astro chair helps (seat adjusts up and down).:)


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#7 GamesForOne

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 12:51 PM

Yeah, up to 65 degrees elevation.  Like I said, not really ideal for astronomy.

 

[...]

But look at how much sky up to just 60 degrees covers on a July 4th evening in the northern hemisphere! Certainly still very useful. Wait an hour or so and the targets at zenith will be accessible without neck craning.

 

For those that want or need terrestrial use too, the 45 degree model is a valid option, not to mention that terrestrial customers probably far outnumber potential astro-users.

 

I am just happy we have options! The available selections have certainly progressed in the last decade.

 

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#8 duck2k

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 03:48 PM

But look at how much sky up to just 60 degrees covers on a July 4th evening in the northern hemisphere! Certainly still very useful. Wait an hour or so and the targets at zenith will be accessible without neck craning.

 

 

For those that want or need terrestrial use too, the 45 degree model is a valid option, not to mention that terrestrial customers probably far outnumber potential astro-users.

 

I am just happy we have options! The available selections have certainly progressed in the last decade.

+1


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#9 edwincjones

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 04:52 PM

I have both the 45 (100’s) and the 90 (120’s), and both are very useful in my observations.  ......

Could you please add more detail as to when the 45s are more useful and when the 90s are?

 

thanks

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 24 October 2018 - 04:53 PM.


#10 ZX12

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 05:47 PM

From my location many of the best targets are below 60 degrees and quite often near 45 so I prefer that angle on my binos. Very comfortable and natural.

 

I've owned many binos and binoscopes with both 45 and 90 angles, and would say the 45 is used the majority of the time. 

 

The 90 also requires more elevation to cover the full range of targets, so I use the lowest chair from 80 degrees to zenith to a small ladder for Saturn on my TTS 160 mount. (I'm 6'2")

 

I'm not a serious astronomer (but hope to be one someday), and this is what I have experienced in the last 15 years with these instruments.

 

Mike 


Edited by ZX12, 24 October 2018 - 06:17 PM.

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#11 duck2k

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 11:19 PM

Could you please add more detail as to when the 45s are more useful and when the 90s are?

 

thanks

edj

Because I observe usually seated* (hence the astro chair), the 45’s offer a comfortable view just above the horizon for many of the objects I like to look at (especially in Summer). The comfort zone from my chair setting is good for viewing between 45 and 65 degrees (I can push 80, but I would lower the chair just above the ground).

 

The 90 degree binos would require a little more adjusting the height of my tripod so I can see above the horizon to the zenith, but I can compensate with the adjustment of my chair.  This does not bother me for long.

 

The 120 90 has the aperture, but have to raise the tripod.  The 100 45, has the comfortable viewing, which I have used much longer.

watching.gif

 

*Back problems


Edited by duck2k, 24 October 2018 - 11:20 PM.

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#12 chris charen

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 04:10 AM

'And if you avoid viewing near zenith, you're not doing real astronomy.  In my opinion'.

 

I don't think I have viewed close to the Zenith in 45 years of observing. 

All that time wasted.

 

Chris


Edited by chris charen, 25 October 2018 - 04:10 AM.

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#13 edwincjones

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 04:25 AM

.............

 

The 120 90 has the aperture, but have to raise the tripod.  The 100 45, has the comfortable viewing, which I have used much longer.

watching.gif

 

*Back problems

 

 

worth repeating --for those trying to decide

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 25 October 2018 - 04:26 AM.

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#14 Sarkikos

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 05:52 AM

'And if you avoid viewing near zenith, you're not doing real astronomy.  In my opinion'.

 

I don't think I have viewed close to the Zenith in 45 years of observing. 

All that time wasted.

 

Chris

Well, yes.  I view over the entire sky.  I don't want the instrument to limit me.  If I eliminated any part of the sky, it would be near the horizon, where the seeing and transparency are the worst, and where the sky is often obstructed by trees and buildings anyway.      

 

Mike



#15 old_enough

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 08:05 AM

I don’t think it would be a problem to use a 45° instrument to watch objects near zenith. You can keep you head almost level and then roll your eyes up.

I would imagine that you need a higher tripod to bring the instrument to the needed height, which might prove difficult for me standing 193 cm (6ft 4in) tall. Using a chair I don’t really see any problem with 45° angled view.

I have an 90° instrument because the Matsumoto EMS are built that way and I like the minimalist way of erecting the image. Also the mirrors are less problematic on extreme magnifications.

But I‘m tempted to try a small 45° bino or even spotting scope for travel. You find a chair anywhere or can use an ultra light stool and a smaller travel tripod with such an instrument and should be fine for anything but nightlong observing sessions.

Best,
Sebastian

Edited by old_enough, 25 October 2018 - 08:06 AM.


#16 GamesForOne

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 08:27 AM

I don’t think it would be a problem to use a 45° instrument to watch objects near zenith. You can keep you head almost level and then roll your eyes up.

I would imagine that you need a higher tripod to bring the instrument to the needed height, which might prove difficult for me standing 193 cm (6ft 4in) tall. Using a chair I don’t really see any problem with 45° angled view.
 

[...]

Best,
Sebastian

In my nearly decade of use I found that the 45's were most comfortable at high elevation viewing if you can scoot underneath them, say between tall tripod legs. If you can get underneath, the required neck tilt is a little less.

 

If you have to angle your body with the tripod legs, then the contortion required to see in the downward pointing EP's is very uncomfortable. That also makes it imperative to keep the setup light enough to pick up and spin around to get the tripod legs out of your way, or you could use a tripod dolly on wheels.

 

It also helps to have a tripod with a cranked center post, but I suppose you could use a variable height chair (which I personally do not like) with a fixed tripod or fork.

 

Here's a link to a pic I posted regarding this issue in 2010!

 

https://www.cloudyni...86988_thumb.jpg

 

Note the required neck tilt at 65 degrees is small. Even at 85 degrees it is still tolerable except for long sessions.

 

----

Michael Mc


Edited by GamesForOne, 25 October 2018 - 08:33 AM.

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#17 Rich V.

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 09:46 AM

Your observations are similar to mine, Michael.  I use both a geared column tripod and a Starbound adjustable chair; 45° viewing isn't particularly uncomfortable to me.  Different people, different necks, different setups.  shrug.gif

 

If I went to a larger, bulkier 120mm BT, I suppose I may try the 90° eyepieces as that works well with my refractors.  I would still want a tripod with a geared column and I'd still use my Starbound chair, though.

 

To each their own; plenty of room for all of us...

 

Rich


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#18 Sarkikos

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 09:54 AM

I don’t think it would be a problem to use a 45° instrument to watch objects near zenith. You can keep you head almost level and then roll your eyes up.

I would imagine that you need a higher tripod to bring the instrument to the needed height, which might prove difficult for me standing 193 cm (6ft 4in) tall. Using a chair I don’t really see any problem with 45° angled view.

I have an 90° instrument because the Matsumoto EMS are built that way and I like the minimalist way of erecting the image. Also the mirrors are less problematic on extreme magnifications.

But I‘m tempted to try a small 45° bino or even spotting scope for travel. You find a chair anywhere or can use an ultra light stool and a smaller travel tripod with such an instrument and should be fine for anything but nightlong observing sessions.

Best,
Sebastian

Sure, give in to temptation. mrevil.gif  Try a 45 degree instrument for astronomy. 

 

When you do, be sure to point it near zenith. 

 

I've tried astronomy with a 45 degree spotting scope, and did not like it at all.  Just my opinion based on my experience.  Now I know to avoid 45 degree instruments for astronomy.  YMMV.

 

grin.gif

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 25 October 2018 - 09:55 AM.


#19 jerobe

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 09:55 AM

Lots of good discussion in this topic.  I use straight through 10x50s with an Oberwerk monopod, and either stand or sit in a zero gravity recliner chair. I have found that I can go from horizon to zenith with this range of options. From time to time I am tempted to purchase bigger binos with 45 or 90 degree eyepieces but have avoided it due to the issues being discussed in this thread.  If/when I decide to get larger binos I will probably go with straight through 15x70 or similar and use my current setup.


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#20 Sarkikos

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 09:58 AM

Your observations are similar to mine, Michael.  I use both a geared column tripod and a Starbound adjustable chair; 45° viewing isn't particularly uncomfortable to me.  Different people, different necks, different setups.  shrug.gif

 

If I went to a larger, bulkier 120mm BT, I suppose I may try the 90° eyepieces as that works well with my refractors.  I would still want a tripod with a geared column and I'd still use my Starbound chair, though.

 

To each their own; plenty of room for all of us...

 

Rich

For me the ideal setup would be 90 degree binos on a geared column tripod and an adjustable chair.  Plenty of ways to adjust for comfort without dealing with 45 degrees.  

 

Mike



#21 GamesForOne

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 10:23 AM

Your observations are similar to mine, Michael.  I use both a geared column tripod and a Starbound adjustable chair; 45° viewing isn't particularly uncomfortable to me.  Different people, different necks, different setups.  shrug.gif

 

If I went to a larger, bulkier 120mm BT, I suppose I may try the 90° eyepieces as that works well with my refractors.  I would still want a tripod with a geared column and I'd still use my Starbound chair, though.

 

To each their own; plenty of room for all of us...

 

Rich

Agree, all are valid choices for astronomy.

 

As I've stated before in other threads, the difference between your refractor and 90 deg binos is that the refractor likely has a rotatable diagonal. You can rotate that binoviewer (or single ocular) to the side, for example, with a tripod up high and not have to stoop over to see an object near the horizon.

 

Unfortunately with the 90 deg binos I have to lower the whole thing almost to waist level and then sit on something and lean over them to see objects near the horizon because the eyepieces always stick straight up. And I don't have anything to hold on to to brace myself except the tripod. Sometimes I end up standing and leaning with my arms extended on my stool. I don't like it. The 45 deg models are far superior for viewing anything near the horizon. I tried to catch Mercury not too long ago one evening and it was ridiculous with the 90's.

 

Add a scarf or coat around your neck to keep warm and bending your head perpendicular to the ground for long periods becomes even more difficult and uncomfortable.

 

That's my last word in this thread... lol.gif

 

---

Michael Mc




#22 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 10:24 AM

Lots of good discussion in this topic.  I use straight through 10x50s with an Oberwerk monopod, and either stand or sit in a zero gravity recliner chair. I have found that I can go from horizon to zenith with this range of options.


But when you are observing the zenith, it's physically impossible for the monopod to make contact with the ground. It still has some value in terms of inertial damping, but that's not as good as true stabilization.

 

Personally, I like astronomical instruments to work either straight-through or with a 90-degree viewing angle.

 

A straight-through erect image, as in conventional binoculars, allows me to switch naturally and effortlessly between the naked-eye view and the optically aided view. The penalty is that I pretty much need to be lying down, or at least reclining, to view objects that are high in the sky. And that requires either hand-holding the instrument (not feasible much above 15X or 20X) or a large and complex mount.

 

A 90-degree viewing angle totally gives up on the correspondence between the aided view and the naked-eye view, but provides maximum comfort. I suspect the reason this option is so rare in the world of binoculars is that there are some serious optical penalties associated with erect-image, 90-degree prisms. And very few commercial manufacturers are willing to provide the mirror-reversed views that come from simple star diagonals.

 

Homemade binoculars and binoscopes, by contrast, tend to provide 90-degree mirror-reversed views, in my experience.

 

As for the 45-degree viewing angle, it's a plausible compromise between astronomical and terrestrial viewing. But at some level, it provides neither the naturalness of the straight-through view nor the comfort of the 90-degree view.


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#23 Sarkikos

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 10:49 AM

When I view through a refractor or Cat - with a 90 degree diagonal, of course - I don't turn the diagonal to the right or left.  I just keep it positioned straight up.  If I observe near the horizon, I stand up, lower the mount or raise the chair.  Then I look down into the diagonal.  Simple.  I don't need to brace myself on anything.  I'm not going to fall forward if I need to lean forward or even bend at the waist.  No problem for me.

 

My favorite straight-throughs are hand-held binoculars, especially IS.  I have 25x100 straight-throughs, but hardly use them any more.  They are too heavy to hand-hold.  Looking straight through mounted big binoculars pointed near zenith is uncomfortable.  

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 25 October 2018 - 10:55 AM.


#24 Jawaid I. Abbasi

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 01:46 PM

let me jump into this:

 

Every single observer has different choice of observing.

 

Take my example that I had a Vixen Refractor 100mm ED and I observed without diagonal for a very long time then had a 90 degree binocular then 45 degree binocular and straight through binocular and I do not have no problem to use.

 

What I hate is the winter time observing devowhip.gif


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#25 SMark

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 08:03 PM

 

Unfortunately with the 90 deg binos I have to lower the whole thing almost to waist level and then sit on something and lean over them to see objects near the horizon because the eyepieces always stick straight up. And I don't have anything to hold on to to brace myself except the tripod. Sometimes I end up standing and leaning with my arms extended on my stool. I don't like it. The 45 deg models are far superior for viewing anything near the horizon. I tried to catch Mercury not too long ago one evening and it was ridiculous with the 90's.

 

Michael Mc


 

I guess it's just where you're coming from and what you're used to... Up to a few months ago, I had never used anything that was 45°. So when I ordered my first APM 100 (Semi-APO,) it was the 90° version. Absolutely loved it. Very comfortable and easy to use. Recently, I upgraded to the APM 100 ED-APO, but this time it was the 45° version. Instantly, my tripod was too small, and I had pain in my neck and back. The 45° version was way more work for me to use. And yes, most of my viewing is done near zenith or not far from it. I'm still getting used to it, and may still need to use a taller tripod. 

 

I much prefer the 90° model. 


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