Telescopes

What binoculars to use for stargazing?

What binoculars to use for stargazing?

 

any binocular will be a big step up for someone who never observed the sky through a binocular or a telescope, so the questions is how serious you are about it or how much you can spend on it without getting into trouble at home (family, wife etc ;o)

If you go for a cheap binocular, the danger is that you might gain not as much enthusiasm from it as if you went for a really good one.

Size also matters, but the general rule is that you can use one handheld up to about 10x magnification and would have to use a tripod if you go above that.

Personally, I’ve started with a 102mm Maksutov telescope many years ago, then upgraded to a 6″ Schmidt-Cassegrain, then 8″, all these motorised, computerised, guided, until I started this business, when I had to change the way I was doing astro photography due to lack of time, so I’m now doing a very different astro photography than before and at some point I ended up with a 10″ Dobsonian, which I enjoyed a lot, but it was difficult to carry downstairs to the garden then back upstairs to the flat and so now I reversed to a 15×70 binocular.

Binoculars between £25 and £100

Most people will start with a bino and move up on the ladder… I found it very relaxing and extremely easy to use and no setup time is the most important for me. celestron-71009-skymaster-15x70-binocular  The Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 Binocular cannot be used without a tripod theoretically, but I would use it simply by leaning into something, to my car, a post, a wall or a fence…

 

This is a not too expensive binocular and I find it still being very good for my needs, but I might decide one day to replace it with a much superior Delta Optical Extreme 15×70 ED.

In addition, I also observe with a Celestron Outland LX 8×32 and Outland LX 10×42, mostly when we go for a walk in the eve, as these are easy to carry, these are pocket sized binoculars (o.k., the latter one need a really big pocket…):

Celestron Outland LX 8×32 – Roof Binocularcelestron-71105-outland-lx-10x42-binocular

Celestron Outland LX 10×42 – Roof Binocular

We’ve got two of the above only, because usually the smaller one would be used by my wife and the bigger one by myself when we go for a walk to the beach or for birdwatching…

I’ve also got a Celestron Outland 10×25 at our home in Hungary, as this I’ll use when I use our Astromaster 130 telescope to help finding objects, as it provides a much wider field of view than the telescope. The 8×25 version of the Outland bino is still available. These are very good binoculars for the price, we’ve been using them for over 5 years and these still look like new when cleaned… (you can wash them, these are waterproof…)

Celestron Outland 8×25 Waterproof Binocular

 

Binoculars between £100 and £300

Otherwise, I’m sure that a Minox BV 8×42 Binocular would be a great candidate for a mid-high quality observation binocular to start with. It’s much lighter than any 15×70, and can also be used for nature observation during the day… 62028-MINOX-BV-8x42-binocular

 

Or there is a somewhat bigger, but still easily manageable Celestron Skymaster 8×56 binocular from their Deluxe series, that offers higher than average quality for a very attractive price around the £150 margin:

Celestron SkyMaster DeLuxe 8×56 Binocular celestron-71017-skymaster-25x100
If that’s still not big enough, but you don’t want to spend a fortune, there is the Celestron Skymaster 20×80 or the even bigger Skymaster 25x100mm bino, that is a real monster:

Celestron SkyMaster 25×100 Binocular

These really need a tripod and some would find it uncomfortable to look through them, but of course what you can see might easily convince you that it’s worth that little bit of extra trouble…

The Celestron Skymaster 15×70 binoculars do quite frequently come with not perfectly aligned optics, but we decided that it’s easier for us to check the collimation of each Skymaster 15×70 and 25×70 bino than dealing with frequent returns…so we’re now checking the collimation of all these binoculars before dispatch…

Binoculars between £300 and £500

For a really high quality mid range binocular there is the European quality Minox BL 8×44 BR open bridge binocular (Made in Germany) for still way below the £500 margin and offers top quality viewing in this size range:

62195-MINOX-BL-8x42-open-bridge-binocularMinox BL 8×44 BR Open Bridge Binocular – Made in Germany

Of course the Celestron Skymaster 15×70 can be used for both stargazing and birdwatching, but the point I was trying to make was that there is quite a big difference in weight and quality of the image. These smaller, high quality binoculars come with flat field, sharp image and lightweight, so you’ll take them more frequently with yourselves on your journeys.Apollo-15x70-Observation-Binocular

Never-the-less, don’t forget that these are very difficult to compare, as with the 70mm aperture comes higher resolving power and brightness, but they are not so sharp at the edges. So, it’s better not to compare a 8×42 bino with a 15×70 bino at all…best to have one of each… ;o)

Then there are large observation binoculars as well for even above £1000, but before we go there, lets have a look at the lower end, but still of very high quality binoculars. There is the Helios Apollo 15×70 that could have been easily made in the same factory as the Delta Optical’s Extreme 15×70 that we mentioned earlier, but the Apollo doesn’t come with ED lens element, hence the cheaper price, otherwise the design and quality is similarly very high.

Helios Apollo Observation Binocular 15×70

delta-optical-extreme-15x70-ed-waterproof-binocularAs I mentioned before, I might replace my 15×70 Skymaster bino one day with a Delta Optical Extreme 15×70 as those are brighter and sharper, extremely good instruments as their name would suggest.

Delta Optical Extreme 15×70 ED Waterproof Binocular

 

Binoculars between £500 and £1000

If you feel that 15×70 is not big enough or the Skymaster 25×100 doesn’t offer comfortable enough viewing, than there is the Helios Quantum 5 with 45 degree viewing and a whole series of Helios Quantum 6 binoculars that provide even more comfortable, 90 degrees viewing. Quantum-6-Observation-BinocularThese are not extremely expensive, but offer a very good compromise between price, comfort and quality, the best choice being the Quantum-6.2 with 100mm aperture and replaceable 1.25” eyepieces, still well below £1000:

Helios Quantum-6.2 Observation Binocular 20/30/37×100

 

Binoculars beyond £1000

At the high end of these specialist observation binoculars, if your purse and wife lets you choose whatever catches your eye, there is the Helios Quantum 7.4, being the top choice. It offers comfortable 45 degree viewing, compatibility with standard 1.25” eyepieces (we would recommend Baader Hyperion eyepieces for best performance) and it even comes with a very comfortable fork mount and beautiful wooden tripod that matches the quality of the binocular.  It’s been a Group Test Winner in the Sky at Night Magazine as well.
Quantum-74-Observation-Binocular-1Helios Quantum-7.4 Observation Binocular 25×100
Last, but not least, if you still didn’t find the ultimate, really large observation binocular that would make you satisfied, we’ve got a good news, there are many more much larger observation binoculars, “the limit is the sky”, although they belong to a special “species” of binoculars, and usually called large binocular telescopes and only available on back order.  These are available for about £5000 – £10000 or above depending on the size.

 

Please get in contact for further information!

Article by Zoltan Trenovszki

www.365Astronomy.com

Article by Zoltan Trenovszki
www.365astronomy.com
Article by Zoltan Trenovszki
www.365astronomy.com

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Posted on October 5th, 2013.