Jump to content


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Help needed to start stargazing with my kid - 10x42 roof or 12x50 porro?

beginner binoculars
  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 Krum40


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: 24 Nov 2020

Posted 25 November 2020 - 07:16 AM

I have spend decades dreaming to see the stars with my own eyes. Then life took over. But my kid just kicked my dream awake and I am ready to buy a stargazing binoculars + tripod.

We live in the most light-polluted area of Europe, so we will probably use it on vacations on some beach or mountain slope. Meaning portability is important (so I skipped the 15x70 and alike), and our use will not be that regular so I am not sure if we would care much about resolving a double star somewhere.

I can't find the Opticron Adventurer T WP 10x50 that Mr. Tonkin so highly recommends.

I can get same series Opticron Adventurer T WP 12x50 (porro) or the roof prism Opticron Adventurer II WP 10x42. Price is about the same (€104 vs €112).  Mr. Tonkin rated 10x42 as a good starter bino, but the rave was not there - 4/5 stars.

I can't make my mind because I don't know:

1) Will the aperture x42(roof) vs x50(porro) make a difference? I think I want to see the planets, Andromeda, some Messier objects, maybe famous constellations. Maybe more - haven't done that part of my homework.

2) Is the 10(roof) vs 12(porro) magnification of noticeable importance?

3) Mr. Tonkin's review is about the 10x50 porro so I am not sure if the 12x50 (porro) will be of the same quality, specifically if there will be any internal stop, so I buy a 50mm but actually have 42mm anyway. What do you think?

4) The advantage of the 12x50 (porro) is that its minimal IDP is really well fitting my kids eyes = 53mm, while the 10x42(roof) IDP is 57. Will these 4mm make a difference?

5) The 10x42(roof) is watertight and argon filled and the 12x50 (porro) is just splash-proof. Does it really matter for cold winter nights?

6) Is there a better prism for stargazing at this level - porro vs roof?

7) Or maybe I should skip both of these and go for BRESSER Spezial Jagd 11x56 Porro Binoculars (€116), but 50% heavier and bigger? Or go for cheaper Gosky 10x42 Roof Prism (€68), or? (Yes, I am in paralysis by analysis state :))

I know the questions are very detailed but I would very much appreciate some wisdom from people that have experience - I have not held a binocular in my hands ever.

(All prizes are from Amazon.de)

#2 Bill Jensen

Bill Jensen

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 607
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2004
  • Loc: Springfield VA

Posted 25 November 2020 - 07:45 AM

Hi, welcome to CN. It is great that you want to share the night skies, no matter how light polluted, with your kid. 


If you plan on using the binoculars with the mount, I think selecting a good binocular mount is as important as the type of binocular. You would have a binocular mount, perhaps one that has a parallelogram fixed to a sturdy tripod. More often than not, for quick views, you would find just taking out the binoculars without a tripod may be the best (quickest) option. For that, I would not recommend anything with higher power than 10X. Otherwise, the shaky views may turn off your child. 


Poro is better for a "cheaper" option than roof, since it is what you would want, and BAK-4 prisms, ideally. A good roof prism generally costs a bit more to make than a poro. Either will work though. 


You won't see detail on the planets with binoculars such as you are considering. You would see the small disk and the moons lined up for Jupiter for example, not any real detail. 


Binoculars are something you just need to try, to see if your kid can feel comfortable using them. I would make sure you have a reasonable return period. Amazon typically will have a generous return period at least on its US store, not sure about Germany. 


I would probably get something less expensive, see if he and you like the views, and look at spending nearly the same amount on your mount. (or more, for a sturdy mount). 


Have fun shopping!

#3 Bill Jensen

Bill Jensen

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 607
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2004
  • Loc: Springfield VA

Posted 25 November 2020 - 07:55 AM

couple more comments. 


The mount I cited to attach to a camera tripod would be something like 



I happen to own something similar to this cheap option but rarely use it since it doesn't end up being a comfortable view when looking up. 




I own 8x42 at home, and I have a 10x50 older pair stored at a dark sky site. 8x42 is much easier to hold. 7x50 is a bit too large of an exit pupil for my old eyes, but may work for you and your kid. 

#4 cnuser



  • -----
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 22 Nov 2020
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 25 November 2020 - 08:48 AM

Hi, if a family wants to observe together, everyone, especially the kids wants to watch, report, ask. I think you should plan several binoculars - whether you like it or not. ;-)
With a pair of binoculars suitable for teenagers first, you can narrow down the ideal magnification for you and the kids: Because of shaking and trembling, jitter. Small, light, good, suitable for teenagers and children, also for nature observation, available in Europe:



Many adult people with hand trembling observe the stars at 8x42. Not all people can keep 10x50 steady, the stars are dancing. From 10x50, at the latest with 12x50 a deck chair or tripod is necessary and with tripod many take at least a 15/16x70. Larger binoculars and tripods are available from the companies Oberwerk and APM and so on.

Suggestion for you and greater Kids: Nikon Action EX 10x50 und 12x50 (bulky, mass, use tripod or monopod) with IPD 56-72

(For little kids the mass and IPD is too great, roofs are lighter - and more expansive.)

Several binoculars make demands on the safe or moneybag ... but familiy, kid and wife wants to view stars at the same time, when father has a observation session. That's life, family life, good life.


Gets first experiences with the small, inexpensive Kowa YF, for nature observation and hand-hold observation in light-polluted areas, the binoculars always work - even if you want to buy more binoculars later - or have to. ;-)


Edited by cnuser, 25 November 2020 - 09:16 AM.

#5 sg6



  • *****
  • Posts: 9,602
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2010
  • Loc: Norfolk, UK.

Posted 25 November 2020 - 09:08 AM

I would go for something in the 8x42 line. Unless you are buying proper angled eyepiece astro binoculars all they are is supposidly big binoculars and usually ill suited to astronomy viewing of the sky. A number will not be in reality as advertised.


I have found that in 12x and 10x objects at night will bounce around, they bounce around a bit in 8x's but about acceptable.


As to Porro or Roof. By rights Porro's should be better or easier as there is just one prism. So the idea is you can drop it in, lock it down and adjust if necessary. The adjust part is where I find they fail. The prism moves too easily and they easily go out of collimation.


Roof prisms have to be produced better and the alignment is fixed. And because they are unadjustable it seems that they come out of some Chinese mass production factory a little better.


Both my present pairs are Roofs, and in simple terms it would take a lot to get me back to a Porro prism binocular. As said it seems that because they can be adjusted then they move and you have to adjust them.


Will say binoculars are in my opinion for looking around, not for looking at. You will split Mizar and Alcor, but bet your sons eyes alone will do that now. Albireo or Almaak you will not split. M42 remains a small fuzzy patch, M45 comes out reasonable. All planets would be small disks of no detail. Only say this as people have the idea binoculars or scope - they are much the same. No, they are not. Do not think one does the same as the other.


Suspect the sales talk is the problem. 12x is not high magnification, neither is 18x or 20x. All of those are low, very low. General DSO viewing in a scope is 60x to 80x - that is low/medium. So talk of "high power astro binoculars" is, well, rubbish.


To see M42 you want around 40x magnification, 25x will be good on M45. Jupiter minimum 60x, Saturn 120x.

We live in the most light-polluted area of Europe,

That's Belgium isn't it?  lol.gif  lol.gif  lol.gif

  • Foss, Second Time Around and cnuser like this

#6 Foss


    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 852
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2012

Posted 25 November 2020 - 09:35 AM

My thinking would be to buy the best 8x42 you can afford, and make sure it has a built-in tripod socket. It's a great introductory size binocular and may open up new father/child adventures such as birding, nature, hiking, etc. Good luck!

#7 Grimnir



  • *****
  • Posts: 1,211
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 25 November 2020 - 10:12 AM

It's essential that, whatever bino you choose, it will fit your kid's IPD of 53mm. 



#8 Mark9473


    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11,884
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2005
  • Loc: 51°N 4°E

Posted 25 November 2020 - 10:26 AM

The most fun for me when sharing the sky with my children was looking together, each having their own binocular. You can much better describe where to look, what to see, how far to move, etc.
  • Voyager 3 and cnuser like this

#9 astronomus1930



  • *****
  • Posts: 27
  • Joined: 30 Aug 2018

Posted 25 November 2020 - 11:18 AM

Your questions are very good! I, too live in a light polluted area in the US and have involved my children in stargazing. So:

1) 42mm vs 50mm aperture: 50mm may be a bit better but consideration should also be given to the magnification as a smaller exit pupil will give you a view that's darker overall. And with milky-gray polluted skies, you might find this preferable. So I'd look for 10x42 or 12x50, both of which have a 4.2mm exit pupil. I have not found much difference in what can be seen in 50mm vs 42mm.

2) 10x vs 12x: more magnification is desirable, though this difference seems to me to be nominal. 

3) From what I've read, less expensive binoculars often have this internal stop issue. Do as much research as possible before deciding what to buy.

4) If the minimum IPD is greater than your the observer's IPD, the binoculars will be useless. Measure the IPD of everyone who will be using the binoculars and check the specs before buying

5) Argon purged is preferrable

6) I use both. Comparing porro vs roof of equal optical quality, I find no difference in the view. The roof will be more expensive [though the cost difference has dropped a lot in recent years] but much lighter to hold.

7) Always look for the best optics you can afford, even at the expense of lower magnification/aperture. Viewing tack-sharp stars with good color rendition across the FOV will always be more enjoyable.

Good hunting!  

  • cnuser likes this

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Recent Topics

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: beginner, binoculars

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics