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Glom
2003-Feb-14, 11:36 PM
I've just been out doing some observin', mainly of Orion. After cycling through the Bayer designations with the naked eye, the plan called for using my brand new Olympus 842 EXPS I binoculars to observe the belt and the dagger more closely.

Because the Full Moon minus 2 and a thin mist layer, only the brightest stars were visible in this light polluted area. I took extra precautions to increase my dark adaption so that helped.

But when I took a look through my binoculars at the stars for the first time, the constellation lit up with all sorts of dim stars. The Orion Nebula backing Thetae Orionis was very clear, the stars around Upsilon Orionis appeared brightly and the string of Pi Orionis stars became magnificent. An incredible difference. When comparing how easy it to use binoculars over using a telescope, I realised how great binoculars are and how limited the necessity of a telescope is.

If anyone here is thinking of starting out at amateur astronomy, IMHO you shouldn't even think of mentioning the word telescope. Binoculars are all you'd need for quite a while.

For those living around Northwood and Watford area, the place to go is a shop called SRS Microsystems in Watford High Street towards the Rickmansworth Road. I also got a cable switch from them that I also used for the first time tonight. I tried a hand at long duration exposures, starting off with a moderate fourteen minute shot of the western sky.

kilopi
2003-Feb-14, 11:49 PM
On 2003-02-14 18:36, Glom wrote:
If anyone here is thinking of starting out at amateur astronomy, IMHO you shouldn't even think of mentioning the word telescope. Binoculars are all you'd need for quite a while.
Good advice. It's cheaper too. I used a cruddy pair of 8x24 for awhile--not even a lot of light gathering capability, but they sure were handy.

Colt
2003-Feb-15, 07:36 AM
As far as I know it costs as much for a beginners reflecting telescope as it does for a nice pair of binoculars. Plus, I would rather have a telescope. That way my siblings would be too incompetent to set it up (keep it from being broken..) -Colt

darkhunter
2003-Feb-15, 01:53 PM
On 2003-02-15 02:36, Colt wrote:
As far as I know it costs as much for a beginners reflecting telescope as it does for a nice pair of binoculars. Plus, I would rather have a telescope. That way my siblings would be too incompetent to set it up (keep it from being broken..) -Colt



From my experience they'd try anyway, which means they'll still break it /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif .

All I use is a pair of binoculars (they're about 30 years or more old...) and I see most of the stuff I can identify (the moon, Venus, the moon....uh did I already say Venus? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif )

Glom
2003-Feb-15, 02:39 PM
With binoculars, I was also able to identify the Galilean moons.

Aldebaran
2003-Feb-15, 03:19 PM
Glom: If anyone here is thinking of starting out at amateur astronomy, IMHO you shouldn't even think of mentioning the word telescope. Binoculars are all you'd need for quite a while.
I offer this advice to beginners all the time and get shot down 9 times out of 10 either by over-eager beginners or experienced amateurs who look at too many ads in the astronomy magazines. Binoculars are great for learning one's way around the sky and if one loses interest in looking up one still has a fine instrument for terrestrial use (looking at babes on the beach, sporting events, etc.).

Glom
2003-Feb-15, 06:33 PM
(looking at babes on the beach, sporting events, etc.).


Spying on the neighbours for the purpose of blackmail, looking at 30 year old Greek helicopters so you can get yourself on the front page of The Daily Mail after you get charged with espionage, etc.

David Hall
2003-Feb-16, 07:28 PM
I'd say, given a choice between a small scope and nice pair of binoculars, go for the binocs. You'll get a lot more use out of them as they are more convenient and versitile. Especially for beginners.

But nothing beats a big scope for real observing. If the choice is between binocs and putting the money into getting a larger scope, go for the scope instead. Because apeture matters, and you'll be happier the bigger you get (usually).

Alternately, put the money into some good scope accessories, nicer eyepieces or a filter or two can come in handy.

The best situation of all is, of course, to have both. A scope for serious deep-sky observing, and binocs for more relaxed scanning when the big guy is too much trouble.

Glom
2003-Feb-16, 07:50 PM
Certainly, there are things for which a telescope is compulsory. On Friday, I looked at Jupiter and saw its bands of weather clearly. It was a great sight. Sometimes, you just want to stand there indefinitely looking at it.

Charlie in Dayton
2003-Feb-17, 08:01 AM
An old pair of 10x50's do wonders...

Just about anything of the x50 persuasion would work quite nicely -- power isn't necessarily the big thing here, aperture is. In fact, the lower the power, the wider field you'd see, and the more goodies...

http://www.telescope.com in general, and http://www.telescope.com/content/learningcenter/content2main.jsp?iCategoryID=91&iContentID=627&CCNavIDs=19,21,91 (astronomy with binoculars) in particular.

And if you've got an older (like maybe WWII or similar) style of binoculars at home, check these variable density filters designed for binoculars at
http://www.surplustuff.com/misc.html
(see item WW2-014). I have a couple of sets, and with some juggling, they make marvelous moon filters for binoculars!

A good pair of binoculars, a star chart or a good instructional book (might I suggest
http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=473&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=6&iSubCat=28&iProductID=473 Touring the Universe Through Binoculars -- I can personally recommend this one) -- this would be a great start.

Glom
2003-Aug-02, 10:53 PM
I popped out to the garden quickly with a binoculars for a quick peak. I looked up at Lyra and it was stunning as usual. Then I used my binoculars and the view around Vega was astonishing. The area was packed full of stars. It was a wonderous thing. And it took my all of five seconds to get. I could have stayed staring at it all night, but there are foxes round this area. They're scary. :oops: Binoculars are one of the greatest things ever invented.

ljbrs
2003-Aug-03, 12:50 AM
It helps to be a member of a friendly astronomy group which has public open houses (or at least observatory nights for members). There are lists of astronomy clubs on the Internet, so people interested in astronomy could take their binoculars with them to the open houses (or club star parties) of a nearby group and view through the other telescopes to get an idea of the various kinds of scopes out there. You can take your binoculars along so that you miss nothing. Buying a scope is not all that important, because members of astronomy clubs who own scopes just love to let others join them in their viewing.

Incidentally, my being here is only because my wonderful astronomy club's open house (Saturdays before and after the New Moon) for tonight has been canceled because of cloudy skies and possible thunderstorms in the forecast. DARN! :cry:

ljbrs :D

ljbrs
2003-Aug-03, 01:17 AM
Folks:

I just went out and asked my favorite search engine to find a list of astronomy clubs, and it supplied a great URL, listing the astronomy clubs throughout the World (A LONG, LONG, LONG, LONG LIST!), with the addresses of spokespersons, telephone numbers, etc.:

http://www.astronomyclubs.com/

This ought to be of some help, at least in locating an astronomy club relatively near you. My own astronomy club was there on the list along with all of the other clubs in my state (and in the World). It gives all the information you need to find one hopefully closeby.

ljbrs :D

dgruss23
2003-Aug-03, 01:37 AM
Glom wrote: But when I took a look through my binoculars at the stars for the first time, the constellation lit up with all sorts of dim stars. The Orion Nebula backing Thetae Orionis was very clear, the stars around Upsilon Orionis appeared brightly and the string of Pi Orionis stars became magnificent. An incredible difference. When comparing how easy it to use binoculars over using a telescope, I realised how great binoculars are and how limited the necessity of a telescope is.

A few years ago I came to a similar conclusion about observing. I was out with a 90 mm refractor and an 8 inch dobsonian. I was looking at open clusters and at one point had one of the brighter Messier clusters in the 90 mm scope and a fainter NGC cluster in the 8 inch scope. It suddenly struck me that the views were about the same - the appearance of the fainter cluster in the 8" was remarkably similar to the brighter cluster in the 90mm scope. Then I realized that when I observe with the 8" I spend more time "hunting" for these objects which cuts into the time I can be "observing" them. The brighter objects were easy to find in the wide field of the smaller scope.

Binoculars offer pretty much the same deal. You get some spectacular views with ease. And its hard to beat the 3-d effect with a solid pair of binoculars. I don't observe for 3-4 hours at a time like I used to. Pretty much an hour is the most I put in anymore so I find the binoculars are my favorite observing aid.

Hamlet
2003-Aug-04, 03:56 PM
I popped out to the garden quickly with a binoculars for a quick peak. I looked up at Lyra and it was stunning as usual. Then I used my binoculars and the view around Vega was astonishing. The area was packed full of stars. It was a wonderous thing. And it took my all of five seconds to get. I could have stayed staring at it all night, but there are foxes round this area. They're scary. :oops: Binoculars are one of the greatest things ever invented.

I agree! I find I use my binoculars much more than the scope. My brother was visiting last week and I had him scan the Milky Way with my 10x50's. He was blown away by the density of stars! We then turned to the Big Dipper and split Mizar and Alcor. I tried to get him to see the Andromeda galaxy, but it's such a faint smudge that he wasn't able to make it out.

I also love to look at the Moon with binoculars. It's amazing the detail you can see.

Kaptain K
2003-Aug-04, 04:41 PM
M31, a faint smudge? It doesn't take really dark skies for it to be naked eye. It should have been easy in 10x50s! 8)

Hamlet
2003-Aug-04, 05:15 PM
M31, a faint smudge? It doesn't take really dark skies for it to be naked eye. It should have been easy in 10x50s! 8)

My north to northeastern horizon is badly light polluted. I had no trouble seeing it, but my brother didn't really know what he was lookin for.

Byrd
2003-Aug-04, 07:29 PM
Anybody got any recommendations in a pair of binoculars (power, and perhaps make and manufacturer)? I'm a real novice at optics, so please be kind! :lol: