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Need advice for Binoculars for viewing the milky way

binoculars beginner equipment
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34 replies to this topic

#26 ButterFly



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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:32 PM

+1 for the 561BHDV.  I use it for the APMs.  The 80" tall range is necessary becuase you will be looking up.  MVMXPRO500US XPro is the current Manfrotto equivalent.  I prefer a tilt head over a pistol grip ball head becuase my hand gets tired with a pistol grip.  The pistol grip does let you keep them level to the horizon though.  Try them out at B&H.

#27 mkothe


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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:17 PM

Thank you so much, Michael! I decided to buy a monopod first. Do you have any recommendations? 

Sorry, I have no recommendations. I once tried a telescoping paint handle (for painting ceilings) with a corner- painting attachment that does the job for very little money, but I prefer to use my binoculars unmounted.


The idea of a night vision device might be worth investigating, given your budget. I believe they might be able to show you a lot of the large-scale structure of the Milky Way without the need to travel (and also be useful at a dark site if you do).

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#28 j.gardavsky



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Posted 25 January 2020 - 06:53 AM

My best binoculars for the Milky Way are the Docter Nobilem (Porro) 8x56 B,


Docter Nobilem 8x56B Porro.jpg


with the very high transmissivity up to 99%. They have been discontinued, but still available on the eBay.

Among the binoculars, they are something like the Docter eyepiece among the eyepieces.


An alternative may be the Zeiss Victory HT (fluorite optics) with the transmissivity of 96%.




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#29 davidmcgo



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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:22 AM

From NYC I would try to head up to the Adirondacks, as a kid I used to get to bring my old University Optics 11x80s on the family camping trips and we’d spend a week or so tenting at some place like Lake Harris or similar.  Really dark skies up there, just not always clear and dry.


The issue with richest field telescope and minimum magnification is based on the eyes pupil not usually going over 7mm, but that is in darkness.  So from a dark sky, a 7x50, 8x56, 10x70 are the brightest you can get for extended objects.  But if the goal is maximum number of stars in a view, sometimes higher power binoculars have nearly the same field of view but at a much higher power with a darker background that makes those stars stand out more, and also handles your pupil not opening as wide under urban conditions.



#30 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:30 AM

Thank you for sharing the article Richest Field Telescopes. I realized that what I'm really trying to achieve is maximizing number of stars visible at any single time. I'm very interested in this concept and had thought of it myself. However, after reading the whole article my little brain still have difficulty to understand why we can't continue to lower the power and increase the aperture so that we can see tons of stars in our FOV, because it's impossible keep exit pupil reasonably small at the same time?


I think you have it.  If the exit pupil is larger than your dark adapted eye, the the light does not enter your eye and stars are no brighter. 


A pair of 10x120 binoculars provides a 12mm exit pupil. For someone with a dark adapted pupil of 6 mm, these binos would have an effective aperture of 60 mm because the eye is only seeing 6 mm x 10 = 60 mm of the light.


Have you considered a telescope of some sort?  Binoculars are wonderful under dark skies but a telescope, even a small telescope provides a versatility to view at higher magnifications. For the urban astronomer, as Paulsky wrote, this provides many more objects to look at and enjoy. 


The planet's, the moon's of the planet's, the moon, double stars, brighter clusters and even nebulae, these are visible under light polluted skies and are most often best seen at higher magnifications that darken the sky glow and bring out detail.


There are a great variety of choices.. 



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#31 ihf



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Posted 25 January 2020 - 11:19 AM

I can see how a monopod can be useful for watching animals. But with the night sky as one goes up in angle one also needs to extend the monopod. Moving two degrees of freedom at the same time becomes awkward quickly. (This is why angled viewing is popular, easier for humans.) And if held at an angle you have to hold the weight of the monopod in addition to the binoculars. Whatever you decide on, make sure that you get a very tall tripod/monopod and can extend it at least 20-30cm taller than you are (so there is space for the binocular to be completely above you).

#32 DeanD


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Posted 26 January 2020 - 07:24 AM

So Dean,


Just how clear are the skies nowadays in South Australia?


- Cal

It was actually pretty good last night: I went just north of Adelaide (where I live) and the sky was very dark (SQM ~ 21.6) with excellent seeing. I could happily see the E and F stars in the Trapezium with both my 4" Apo and 6" achromat. (It was very easy with the AP175 Starfire EDF scope that the guy next to me was playing with!!! - not that I am jealous though...)


We are lucky here because most of the weather systems come from the West, and the worst of the bushfires are on the East coast of Australia. We have had a couple of large fires to the south and east of Adelaide, and a couple of days of nasty smoke pollution, but nothing like Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra where on quite a few days people have had to stay indoors, and it has looked like night-time in the middle of the day... 


We are getting some high level aerosol smoke that has gone all the way around the world (similar to when there is a large volcanic eruption), but that hasn't affected seeing too much. A very interesting coloured sunset tonight!


All the best,




(Sorry guys this is off topic, but thanks for asking.)

Edited by DeanD, 26 January 2020 - 07:26 AM.

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#33 Blue72



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Posted 28 January 2020 - 12:05 PM

Binoculars choices are personal 


for example, I also live in New York on Long Island with lots of light pollution. Yet I love my 7x35 Nikon binoculars for scanning the Milky Way and Summer Triangle. 


So you can read all the recommendations, but it’s best to buy a bunch of binoculars and try out for yourself which binoculars you like best


surprisingly the binoculars I chose to keep are the less popular ones mentioned on this forum

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#34 Grimnir



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Posted 29 January 2020 - 10:10 AM

Hi Huan,


I live in London, so as regards light pollution, I share your pain.


If you're unhappy with the weight of the Canon 10x42 you'll be unhappy with the weight of the Fuji 10x50. In this respect you'd be better off with the Zeiss SF 8x42 or Swaro 8x42 - they are also exceptional general purpose glasses - unlike the Fuji which is an excellent glass but an astro specialist. The E.P. in the Zeiss 7x42 is too great for polluted skies - I know this from my much-loved Zeiss Dialyt 7x42 T*P which has superb optical qualities, possibly due to being manufactured from leaded glass.


FWIW, my solution is to lie in a zero gravity chair with my Fuji 10x50 which has much better performance under the night sky than any other glass in my signature.


However, if you want a mind-blowing experience, you should spend some of your budget getting under clear skies, as others have said. The Milky Way, experienced under a clear sky through quality glass, is an experience never to be forgotten.


Hope this helps,



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#35 Bob4BVM



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Posted 29 January 2020 - 07:23 PM

My Oberwerk 25x100s did fine in NYC.  I used to go to the meadow at the top of the ridge in Inwood Hill Park.  The trees shade out the surrounding lights so I could get about 4.5 NELM when dark adapted.  One of the big advantages of fixed eyepiece systems is extreme portability.  The APM 16x70s got a lot more daytime use in the city becuase of all the bald eagles.  They do OK under the light pollution of the city, but the larger aperture and higher power of the 25x100s was preferred.  Ironically, the light pollution helps open clusters stand out better.  In a dark sky, it's just slightly more stars in a field full of stars - they lose some luster.


My best setup was the Skywatcher 120ED.  It has good aperture and does very well on the planets and the moon.  It is also reasonably portable and its resolution is at the limits of the seeing one can expect in the area.  A 41 Panoptic gives a 3 degree field on that.  It is heavy and under your desired field, but it is worth considering due to the versatility.  Many planetray nebulae cut right through the light pollution.


You can pick up a used Manfrotto tripod and head rather easily in the city.  Go to B&H, see what you want, and just wait for it.  A video head on a photo tripod (with geared center column) is preferable.  A Manfrotto 501HDV head on a 475B tripod handles an 80mm triplet loaded with a 41 Pan just fine.


If you want daytime use as well (there is lots of great birding around the city), the APM 16x70s or the TV 76 or 85 are the way to go.  Your budget is in range of the Swarovski 80mm spotter as well, which can be bino-ed, but it's only got a 2 degree field of view.


Seeing what you can from a place that lets you see four different operas a month for $25 each, eight months out of the year, is a laudable effort.  The double cluster is not invisble.  The best advice I can give is aperture and magnification.  Bear in mind that all city parks close at 1AM unless an earlier time is posted.  Get to know the local police of the areas you visit.  If you have a car, you can drive out to the Custer Institute or get a Stargazing permit and go to Robert Moses (yes, NY is a stupid state that makes you pay to look at the stars from its parks and you can only do so if you have a car).

Wow, a permit to look at the sky... seriously !?!  :(

Glad I escaped there as a little kid, thank you Mom & Dad !


"Where is the country's champion, the Moore of Moore Hall, to meet the enemy at the Deep Cut and thrust an avenging lance between the ribs of the bloated pest ?"





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