Who says that you need to do a lot of planning for a stargazing trip? If you use binoculars instead of a telescope, astronomy can be a lot more spontaneous and accessible.
Furthermore, these days binoculars are quite capable, and even though they aren’t the same as a large stargazing telescope, the portability and freedom they give you are worth the tradeoff.
However, not everybody is adapted to using binoculars for astronomy; it can be challenging to choose the pair that is best suited for astronomy. Therefore, here is a quick guide with some useful tips that will help you select the perfect pair of binoculars and use them effectively for stargazing. You can also check an interesting post on binoculars at Binoculars Guru.
Keep reading to learn more.
Consider the specs of your binoculars:
You need to put some thought into the specification of your pair if you are going to observe celestial objects using your binoculars. We have all seen those numbers, like 6×30, 10×50, or 8×42 written on the side on every pair of binoculars, but what do they mean?
These numbers specify the magnification and the size of the objective lens, which are the two most important specifications of any optic. If you are getting a pair for astronomy, you will surely need something with a large Aperture and decent magnification as well.
Therefore, you need to choose a large pair, with specifications like 25×70, which means that they will be capable of 25x optical magnification, whereas the objective lens is 70mm.
A large aperture allows more light to enter your binoculars, which in turn result in a sharper image; furthermore, the higher you take the magnification, the lower is your field of view, and a large aperture can compensate for this effect.
Therefore, choose a high magnification pair, with an objective lens of at least 70mm or more. If you are still having second thoughts, and can’t select a pair, check out OpticsVilla, a website with detailed reviews about the best binoculars for spying on neighbors or looking at the stars.
Invest in a tripod:
Astronomy requires you to have a large pair of binoculars; however, holding them up and looking at the sky can be tiring for your arms. Moreover, it is quite challenging to hold these large optics steady for a long time.
Therefore, you should consider investing in a tripod. Though the tripod will make the image more stable, you probably think that a tripod might hinder your portability, and how is using a tripod any better than using a telescope with a stand?
Well, I understand your concerns. However, you can get collapsible tripods that are easy to carry, and since binoculars aren’t as heavy as telescopes, these tripods are usually lightweight. You can easily carry a collapsible tripod in the same case as your binoculars.
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Do a little research:
You can’t just expect to pick up a pair of stargazing binoculars from the store and start spotting stars and planets in the sky. Before you head out on an astronomy trip, you need to do some research. You need to check the weather and look for a night with a clear sky; moreover, you need to know which star systems are more visible from your location.
Furthermore, if you want to witness some fantastic meteor showers and falling asteroids, you need to keep up with the times and dates that are going to pass near the earth.
Though spotting star groups can get more comfortable as they don’t move, when you try to spot a planet, things can get a little more complicated. However, with a bit of research online, you will be able to spot your targets more easily.
Therefore, you need to understand that stargazing isn’t only about the optics, study, and research is as essential as having a decent pair of binoculars, if not more.
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Use a red light:
When you are stargazing at night, getting your eyes adjusted to the dark is very important. Typically, it takes our eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Our pupils get dilated, and a light-sensitive protein called rhodopsin fills our eyes.
Even a few seconds of exposure to white light can set this process back in such a state and make it difficult for you to see at night. Moreover, it will take another 20 minutes for your eyes to get used to the darkness again, and by then, the meteor shower you came to witness might already be over.
Therefore, instead of bringing an ample wight light to your stargazing spot, use a dim red light, or you can also put some red cellophane paper on your typical flashlight. A red light will allow your eyes to remain adjusted to the darkness, and you will be able to move around quickly as well.
Don’t go for a stargazing trip alone:
Though I can understand that staring at the stars alone at night, with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company can be therapeutic sometimes, a stargazing trip is best experienced with some company. Especially if you are a novice astronomy enthusiast, you can learn a lot by going on a trip with more experienced people.
You should look for local astronomy clubs in your area, and join some online forums as well. You can also visit your nearest planetarium to learn about the astronomy events being organized in your area. Going on such organized trips will allow you to learn a lot of things, and witness many fascinating celestial sights, that you wouldn’t have spotted on your own.
Moreover, attending organized astronomy events allows you to build a sense of community and have an enjoyable time with like-minded people.
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Astronomy is a very fascinating, productive, and exciting hobby, and it can help you appreciate the magnificence of the Universe. It is a great way to disconnect from our hectic schedules and reconnect with the Universe. I hope the tips in this post help you have a better stargazing experience with your simple binoculars.