View Full Version : Equipment Questions

2010-Apr-16, 04:59 PM
I have been having a wonderful time skygazing with my 10 x 50 binoculars. Wednesday, I saw Mars, the Beehive Cluster, and the Orion Nebula very nicely, but had serious trouble seeing Saturn. I was at an observatory, so, the professor did let us see Saturn and it's largest moon Titian with his telescope. I can't wait for the weather to clear so I can go out again and treat myself to the wonderful celestial views!

The professor told me via email that I should have been able to identify Saturn's rings with my 10 x 50 and asked if perhaps I was mistakenly looking at a star. I don't think so, because that was the only yellowish star out there and no real closeby stars, but I will try again when the skies are clearer. It could have also been excitement...LOL

What I would like to know is if there are any advantages with 20 x 50 binos or 15 x 80. My husband told me that he treated me to a pair of Celestron 20 x 50, and should arrive next week. I am thinking about Celestron 15 x 80 because I saw them for a nice price.

Another question I have is about laser beams. I use a green laser to sort of outline the constellations when I look. I brought them to the observatory and the professor stated that we should not use these because of Homeland Security here in the United States. In fact, he told me they were thinking about outlawing them. Of course, this is a concern for me because I would have lent them to my son. I have a few friends who sort of followed my lead and wanted to get one as well, and I want to know what to tell them. The professor stated that a red beam is not as dangerous, or interfering, so, I am considering that.

Any advice or insights on the bino and laser question would be appreciated. :D

2010-Apr-16, 05:27 PM
Hi and welcome.

Right now, Saturn's rings are very close to being edge on to our point of view. I'm not surprised you couldn't see them in 10 by 50's.
if you get much more magnification than 10 or 12 power, the binoculars will be very hard to hold steady. The 15 by 80 will be quite a bit heavier than your 10 by 50's and may need some sort of rest, like a tripod.

Th red vs. green laser issue has to do with the intensity of the beam and how far they can travel. The green ones can go for miles, and the concern is that pilots could be blinded by them as they come in to land. I don't know about banning them, but I don't really follow that sort of thing that closely.

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Apr-16, 05:33 PM
You might find you need a tripod (or other support) for binocs with greater than 10x magnification (at least for astro viewing). When looking at Saturn with 10X50, I could tell it was a planet, and maybe it didn't look quite "round" but I could never see rings clearly with my 10x50s.

You are aware that the arrival of new astro viewing equipment causes cloud cover, right? ;)

So far, low powered green laser pointers are legal (in the US), but you can get in trouble for pointing them at aircraft.


2010-Apr-17, 12:26 AM
If you get around to it, I strongly recommend saving for 15x80 - 20x80; the greater aperture will be invaluable for the higher power. And as aforementioned, Saturn's rings are unimpressive ATM; by next year they should open up more and be a little more interesting; a tripod will should also bring Titan firmly into view (since the FOV will be large, check in a planetarium program like Starry Night o Cartes du Ciel to distinguish it from field stars).