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Buying a Telescope - Part 2b

Day 24

Recommendations continued.


The first recommendation is always binoculars. They are two telescopes instead of one. They are the most portable telescopes you can get and you get two, one for each eye.

The investment is around $100. It’s a good investment because, regardless of how serious you become as an astronomer, you always have a need for binoculars. There are some objects that don’t look as good in a telescope. A total lunar eclipse is an example. When I was a serious deep sky observer, I often found objects or at least the stars surrounding their location using binoculars.

Finally, if you decide you don’t enjoy astronomy that much, instead of binoculars getting forgotten in a closet, they are always useful for things like concerts, sporting events, and nature viewing.

The ideal binocular size for astronomy is 7x50 or 10x50. That means the magnification is 7x or 10x and the aperture is 50-mm. The aperture divided by the magnification is the diameter of the exit pupil and having an exit pupil near the size of the dilated pupils of your dark-adapted eyes is the goal. The 7mm to 5mm exit pupil sizes fit the dilated pupil size of young and middle-aged adults fairly well. Our eyes dilate less as we age.

The binocular should also have a tripod mounting point, usually a hole in the middle tapped for a ¼-20 screw. You can then buy a binocular tripod adapter to attach them to a camera tripod. You can make an adapter for the cost of a few cents at a hardware store with a ¼-20 bolt and nut or two, and a small angle bracket.

I’ve had a pair of Orion Scenix 7x50 binoculars for quite a few years and I’ve been quite happy with them. They aren’t the highest precision or quality binoculars but they are well-made and do the job pretty well for my own observing.