Even though I arrived relatively late in life to this hobby of ours, I always had an interest in astronomy and stargazing. I remember at a young age when I started showing an interest, my father (who had been an avid observer in his youth) always said:
"Best way to stargaze is with binoculars. Buy a decent 50mm pair, 7 or 10 power and be done with it. A good quiet place to observe, a nice chair and some warm coffee. Feel free to add some Mahler or Bruckner or Brahms to the equation. Find a reference point on the horizon (mountain), fix your binoculars and just let the sky roll... You'll be surprised how much you learn, about the constellations, the universe and yourself".
My father always embedded everything he did in a fascinating mix of pragmatical romanticism. I wish he was still around so I could tell him that he was right (again...).
I naturally dismissed his advice, as one does when youth, pompous opinions and vehemence take the best of oneself. I spent years observing (lugging around) through fairly big telescopes that proved as fascinating as impractical.
Last year I had an accident which resulted in some severe damage to my left hand. Though the hand is slowly recovering, I've had serious functional limitations and stationing my 9 inch Schmidt Cassegrain has been too much of a painful hassle, to the point where I reverted to binoculars to scratch my astronomical itch. And, oh boy, has it been a beautiful ride!
My observing routine has consisted of the simultaneous mount side by side, of a Vanguard Endeavour ED II 10x42 and an APM 20x80 ED (which is fantastic). I will go from one Bino to the other, scanning the sky for the usual suspects of each season. It has been a wonderful experience, the wider vistas for context (10x42) together with the complementary tighter "zoomed-in" views through the 20x80 have brought endless hours of pleasure in which it was as if dad had been next to me with a smile that meant one of those "I told you" that he was kind and patient enough to never ever say...
I have always suspected, though, that as much as I like it, the weak link of this fantastic observational duo was the 10x42. Nice as it is, I have always felt that it was a little on the dim side. Last week I borrowed a friends Nikon Aculon 10x50 and placed it next to the 10x42 for testing. Aculon may not be the best bino around, but I was shocked at how much brighter and detailed it was, both day and night. It didn't really show a massive improvement in the number of stars it showed (even though it did show a little more), but the views were clearly brighter and should I say, more vibrant...?
I have decided to buy something to replace the 10x42. I want something with at least 6.5 degrees of true FOV and with high light transmission. I think I want to go for a 56mm bino for maximum light gathering a bigger EP. I don't want to collect Binos, but I want to have a really nice unit that gives pleasurable views and serves me well for the years to come. I'm looking into Zeiss Conquest and Swaro SLC, mainly for the AK prisms. No individual focusing, since I might use these for daytime use from time time.
I'm not so much interested in advice regarding specific models, my main doubt here, and I would love to hear your opinions, is whether to go for a 8X56 or a 10x56. These will mostly be used as my "wider" bino together with my 20x80, or for those casual quick observing sessions. it might serve as a daytime bino too, though my use will be 80% astro, 20% daytime. The bulk of my observations takes place under my urban sky, though living in the Canary Islands I do have access to very dark skies once or twice a month. My pupils still dilate slightly beyond the 7mm mark, so I am interested in the wider EP and FOV of the 8x, these could be my "dark sky" Binos. I also feel that some things come into life with a bit more magnification, and I also find Binos with wider AFOV more enjoyable, hence those would be the 10x bino strong points. these might also be a bit better under light-polluted skies.
I understand that this is a very personal thing, so instead of asking you for advice, I'm asking you to walk a mile in my shoes and tell me what YOU would do in my situatrion: 8x56 or 10x56?
Thanks for taking the time to read my longish rant, I eagerly await your opinions and/or experiences...