Binoculars – Every stargazer should own a pair!
We think of telescopes when looking at ways to explore the night sky. But binoculars are more useful than telescopes in many situations. They come in various shapes and sizes. Which ones are good for astronomy?
Choosing The Right Size
Size matters when it comes to choosing binoculars. Basically, the bigger they are the more magnified or closer the image will be. Small binoculars (less than 10 x 50) aren’t really much good for astronomical use. Smaller pairs tend to be more useful for terrestrial observing like bird spotting etc. The only caveat with larger binoculars is you will need a tripod to support them and keep them steady. Handheld use is only really doable for short periods.
Larger/ stronger magnifications can narrow the field of view compared to less magnification. Therefore the image in a pair of 25 x 75 binoculars will be narrower than that of a 15 x 75 pair. This is a personal choice, however. Magnification is the first number when describing binocular size e.g 15 x. The second number is the size of the individual objective lenses (bigger lenses on the front) e.g x 75. Larger/ stronger magnifications can narrow the field of view compared to lower magnifications. Therefore the image in a pair of 25 x 75 binoculars will be narrower than that of a 15 x 75 pair. This is just a personal choice, however. The larger the objective lenses, the more light is gathered by the binoculars.
Which are the best?
As far as choosing the right ones for you, the main factors are going to be weight and magnification. So keep this in mind when choosing.
I have used many different pairs of binoculars. For quality, and usability reasons I recommend Celestron Skymaster Binoculars. There are other binoculars out there, but Celestron’s tick all the boxes. Not to mention they are good value and very popular.
We shall start with the smallest size first and move up through the larger pairs.
With a large 60mm objective lens, the SkyMaster 12x60mm Binoculars offer amazing light gathering capabilities making them ideal for stargazing as well as a range of land based applications such as bird watching or hunting, particularly in low light conditions. Full tripod adaptability and a handy included carry case make the binoculars perfect for taking with you on the go and setting up in a variety of locations and terrains. A protective rubber coating ensures ultra-firm grip even through the worst of weather conditions. More info
These Skymaster 15x 70 Binoculars feature large 70 mm objective lens which offer maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions and deduce an ultra sharp focus across the field you are viewing. The large center focus knob provides easy focusing and the multi-coated optics provide for sharp, clear views to the extent that these binoculars can be used for terrestrial or astronomical viewing. Rubber covering provides comfort, protection and a secure grip, whilst the integrated tripod adapter rod for ultra-stable tripod mounting. More info
These Skymaster 25x 70 Binoculars feature large 70 mm objective lens which offer maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions and deduce an ultra sharp focus across the field you are viewing. The large center focus knob provides easy focusing and the multi-coated optics provide for sharp, clear views to the extent that these binoculars can be used for terrestrial or astronomical viewing. Rubber covering provides comfort, protection and a secure grip, whilst the integrated tripod adapter rod for ultra-stable tripod mounting. More info
20x magnification porro prism binocular. Giant 80 mm objective lens, great for terrestrial or astronomical viewing. Ultra sharp focus across the field of view. Individual Eyepiece Focus to ensure optimal focus position. Multi-Coated optics for sharp, clear views. More info
25x magnification porro prism binocular with ultra sharp focus across the field of view. Giant 100 mm objective lens offers maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions. Individual Eyepiece Focus to ensure optimal focus position and multi-coated optics for sharp, clear views. Suitable for long-range terrestrial or astronomical viewing, protective rubber covering for ultra-firm grip. Integrated tripod adapter rod for ultra-stable tripod mounting, long eye relief, deluxe padded carrying case. More info
A tripod is recommended for extended use with smaller binoculars and is a necessity with larger pairs such as the 20×80’s and 25×100’s.
Any photographic tripod will do. All you need to to is attach the binoculars to the tripod with the supplied adapter. Tripod adapters are easily available If your binoculars don’t or didn’t come with one. I use a cheap and cheerful lightweight tripod with binoculars and I hang a heavy weight on the tripods hook to add more stability if needed.
For serious photographers a good, sturdy tripod is a must have for certain photos, preventing camera movement to minimise blurring and creating a sharp, high-quality photo. This makes them ideal to use for capturing self-portraits or group shots, where there is no one to hold the camera, as well as for slow-speed exposures or when capturing wildlife and other scenes where details need to be crisp and clear.
Become snap happy and produce beautiful professional looking shots with this versatile and ultra portable Star 63 tripod. Suitable for use with both video and photo cameras, its rubber feet permit a firm grip on a range of terrains, with an aluminium structure that creates a strong and sturdy support for cameras up to a maximum weight of 4kg whilst also remaining lightweight for easy and convenient transportation and great pictures on the go.
To allow you to achieve a range of heights (from 66-166cm) and to capture pictures and videos from the perfect perspective in a variety of situations, the Star 63 comes with a fully adjustable centre column which can be easily altered by using the simple crank, along with a spirit level to ensure even alignment of the camera and a 3-way tripod head which can be repositioned at a number of different angles and smoothly panned for the creation of a smooth and professional film. Furthermore, with its standard 1/4” (6.4mm) thread, mounting your camera no longer needs to be a chore as you can attach it to the tripod and even switch between different cameras in an instant, ensuring that you never miss that all important photo opportunity.
A fantastic piece of kit for the money, it even comes with its own travel case which it folds neatly into so that you can carry your tripod around with you safely with no hassle. Whether you are hiking up a hill, attending an important event or jetting off to your next holiday destination, you will always be fully prepared for any photographic eventuality thanks to the Star 63 from Hama!
For shake-free viewing over a long period or static observation from a mount or tripod.