Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are?
Stop wondering and start gazing. Look into the fantasy world of stars far above high in the airless kingdom.
If you have the dream of looking into the starry night but feel intimated here we have the starting guide for you.
No need to spend bucks after a telescope begins with a fine pair of binoculars.
Why A Stargazing Binocular is Better for Beginners Than A Telescope?
Stargazing is associated with telescopes and that only fits the picture. Looking through the long tunnel and arriving in an untold universe. Telescopes give you the real feeling.
But telescopes may not be helpful for the beginners. If you want to study stars within a constellation or want to differentiate between constellations binoculars are better options. Even for experts who possess several telescopes will also have at least one pair of binoculars.
Binoculars can help with identifying a star first to observe it and also monitor the sky quickly before digging deep. That is why an expert or beginner binoculars are a must.
Let me explain why and make it understandable.
So, here it is for those who really want to enjoy the starry nights.
Binoculars are Best for Beginner Astronomers
Stargazing is not that easy. You cannot just look up at the sky and know the constellations. It is a skill only mastered when you know the constellations very well.
Finding an object in the vast open is not practical with a telescope unless you are an expert and you have an idea about the stars within the constellations. Even experts use binoculars to find stars before they use their telescope.
The use of binoculars is very straightforward and easy. You get to move your eyes easily over the cast Skyland and find out what you are looking for. So even if you use a telescope you need at least a pair of binoculars as an aiding scope.
The Mechanism Mastery
Telescopes involve complicated set-up procedures and mounting before they find objects accurately. And that is a matter of other mastery.
So, those who are just starting or thinking to join the parade let me tell you, you will lose your enthusiasm in minutes if you start with a telescope.
That device is a tough nut to crack. It may seem like a simple tunnel with glasses but trust me it takes your energy when you learn how to focus those tiny glasses and the length on the tunnel. (I know, I have been there).
Whereas, a pair of binocular needs less adjustment or manual labor.
Ease on Eyes and Understanding
Most people are familiar with watching things with both eyes. In a telescope, you only get to use one and have to squint to see. This action is strenuous on the muscle and may give you a headache soon.
Set your sight by using binoculars. You get your both eyes open and also learn the ABC’s of stars before getting into the big stuff.
It has a wider view too than telescope so you get to study a wider range for sensing the patterns in the sky. You will be able to get the reference better and learn quickly.
Econovient (Economically Convenient)
I’m sure you know the cost of a medium strength telescope. That does not worth your learning time. At first, you learn spending $$$$ bucks for that makes no sense when you have a $$$ option in hand that is a far better teacher than the telescope.
With that price of one telescope, you can get a pair of binoculars and enjoy the night with a smart partner like you!
Trust me don’t waste your money that easily. First, try out the binoculars after that you will understand what you need for your gazing and find a better telescope later.
Quick Portability and Set Up
Where do you go to see the star? If you’re living in a big city like I am then you will have to get out and find a spot with a better view, clear sky, and a high place. An open clear sky is a must for star gazing. The higher place you go the better the view gets.
So you will need to carry your gadget and head for the holy spot. If you got telescope than just imagine what you will have to do each time. Allow me to take you through the steps.
Get the telescope pieces out of its case. Set the tripod, attach the instruments, focus the lenses, finally find your object to enjoy the night. Then, when returning go for the reverse action. Carry them back.
Having a pair of binoculars will ease up this whole situation. Also, you can carry it always and enjoy stargazing, bird watching, and many things.
Binoculars, thus are far better than a telescope. Trust the experts around the world.
How to Pick the Right Binoculars for Stargazing?
Picking the right pair for this daunting hobby is important. Without the right pair, you will not be able to watch stars and learn anything about the night sky.
These tips from the pros will help you and navigate you towards the right pair.
Actually, if a pair of binoculars is good for stargazing or not mainly depends on one point. And that is the amount of the light that enters the binoculars from the front lenses.
You will see two numbers, for example, 25X70.
The first number denotes the magnification power of the binoculars. The second one stands for the diameter (in millimeters) of the large lenses at the front of binoculars.
All together means that this particular binocular provides 25 times magnification of an object by the naked eyes and the lenses are 70 millimeters in diameter.
Remember, the higher magnifying power you chose the dimmer the object being viewed gets. Both less and more powerful lenses are good for stargazing but they serve different purposes. For better performance with binoculars, you can start with a pair from 7×50, 8X40, 8X42, 8X50, or 10X50.
Big Aperture and exit pupil diameter
As said before, bigger front lenses are better for astronomical studies. It allows more light into the binoculars and allows to spot fainter objects in the night sky.
The front lenses are named objective. The back ones you use to look through are called eyepieces. They work together to let the light in directing towards your pupil.
The big aperture of the objective is the most important element as it will help under low light conditions. Yet, of course, the overall quality of the optics affects the level of detail in the sky that is visible as well.
However, the big aperture of the objective lens won’t give you the right idea of how bright the objects will appear. This is because to get the same amount of light through the binoculars into your eye-pupils you will need to keep a good balance between the magnification power and objective lens diameter; and here comes the term exit pupil.
Bigger exit pupil will give you more light and brighter images. As in dark human eye-pupils open maximum at 7 mm diameter, you may choose a pair of binoculars that comes with 5-7 mm exit pupil diameter.
Note: As you become older your maximum pupil size tends to decrease. In that case, you may put more priority in good quality scopes rather than binocular exit pupil diameter.
Look for fully multi-coated optics. It ensures high contrast views and brightness of the image.
Optics without right coatings may lose as much as 50% of the original light that enters the path. Quality of optics also contributes to the image brightness as it gathers lights.
The problem is you can’t ever be sure how good the quality of the optics is as manufacturers don’t reveal it to us. It is their way to protect the privacy of their hard earned techniques of so many years.
The best way to anticipate the quality of the optics is to look at some optic features such as Bak 4 prism, Anti-Reflection Coatings on all the air to glass surfaces (hence the name fully-multi-coated), or aluminum or dielectric coating (more expensive than aluminum mirror coating) on one prism surface.
Note: Remember that prism coatings are not required in Porro Prism Binoculars.
Image Stabilizing Binoculars or ISB are better options for stargazing and bird watching.
Though ISBs are a bit more expensive, it worth the money. It compensates for the shaky movements of the hands and gives a more stable image without much effort.
You may not be going under the water but it may pour from up. I mean rain. It is common to get washed down by rain if you ever go out for a long time like stargazing. Depending on your region you may have a lot of rain to tackle with.
So be sure to protect your binoculars from any kind of water or damage. They are expensive and you will begin to love them once you become able to find what you are looking for in the sky.
How to Get the Best Out of Binoculars on a Starry Night
Now, travel through how you can use your pair of binoculars to its best service in the night sky.
Starting Point Is the Moon
There is only one natural satellite to the earth. That is our very own and beautiful moon.
You can see the intriguing details of the moon on the surface. There you will see craters, lava plains, and Maria/sea, not a girl but dark areas of the lunar surface.
A crater named Tycho can be easily seen near the bottom of moon. You can distinguish it by the white rays extending from that spot.
Try and trace the Terminator line which is the indicator of day or night. It is a very good technique to moon gaze. It allows the features to be more distinct.
Names of the major lunar Marias or seas are Mare Tranquillitatis towards the top of the moon and Mare Nectaris and Mare Fecunditatis near to the bottom. You can try to trace them.
You can also look for the Apennine mountains and a giant crater Copernicus on the northern side and then the Clavius crater in the southwest side.
All the Other Planets
Why not look into other planets in the solar system? They are amazing balls of wonder.
You can easily detect Saturn and Jupiter in the sky. That is why these two has been the most popular from the ancient times and sailors have taken their help to find their path. Even the astronomist and astrologist back than used its reference.
There are sky-charting maps and apps to help you with locating of planets. Some apps are designed to track only one planet too whereas others can help you with the stars as well. Jupiter Guide, Gas Giants, Sky Safari 5, etc. are few good apps to start with.
The largest of all planet, representing the God of all Gods Zeus has the mass of 2 multiply by all the planets mass combined! It is so big!!
Galileo first discovered it and its four large moons Lo, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, the Galilean Moons.
For its massive appearance, you can spot it easily in the night. Also, it is so bright that you can see it in twilight and even in daylight!!
You will also be able to see the moon with your binoculars. They are like four light pinpricks circling the Jupiter.
You can even build a chart of the path of the moon. They are always revolving and is noticeable if you observe them during the course of several nights.
This is the second largest one and is known as the father of Zeus. The sight of Saturn is spectacular!
If you manage to hold your hands steady while looking through the binoculars you can see an orb around it. It will appear slightly oval not a perfect round.
Easiest target to spot on Saturn is its largest moon, the Titan. Through binoculars, it is a bit difficult to see Saturn’s rings. The magnifying power of the device matters a lot here.
Mercury & Venus
Where Venus is the Goddess of love and beauty there Mercury is the God of various things like shopkeepers and merchants, travelers and transporters of goods, and thieves and tricksters.
These 2 are one of the closest to the sun. Mercury first than Venus. As they are the inner planets their phases can be seen from earth at certain points.
Venus is very bright. Its glare will overwhelm the view that is why viewing it at Twilight is the best. It is also the first to come in sight after sunset or before sunrise as the brightest object in the sky except for the moon of course. You can see it bare eyes.
This red planet is known as the God of war. It really looks red. It moves rapidly and that is the fun of trailing Mars. Aim your binoculars t it when it passes near a bright star or planet.
Uranus and Neptune
Uranus the God of Sky is a square target to view with binoculars. So is the ruler of water, Neptune the God of Seas.
These two are really very easy to spot in that massive sky. Uranus may appear a bit greenish as methane is in its atmosphere. As for Neptune, it may appear like a star when viewed for the first time.
Surroundings of Our Galaxy
Our Milky Way is a great zone for exploration. These astronomical formations will give you great insight.
It is a glowing arc in the dark sky. It travels from the south to the northeastern horizon. The glow is faint. It appears white with slight shadows and mottled features.
To be able to enjoy it leave light polluted cities and look for a really dark night. Better if it is moonless too.
Once when there was less technology thus less light pollution Milky Way was visible from around the world.
The Milky Way is a treat to the eyes though we can’t see the colors. They will only appear in shades of gray because of the vast distance. Start by heading towards the left from the bright star named Deneb.
Next stop is North America Nebula. Because of its similar appearance to North Americ, the name is like that.
There is more like the Messier 39 open star cluster, Messier 24, Constellations of Cassiopeia and Hercules.
Not just within our galaxy binoculars can help see us beyond.
The Andromeda Galaxy (Messier31, M31 or NGC 224)
On a dark and moonless night from a perfect viewing location, you can view this alien galaxy from your binoculars.
It can be located in the northern sky between Cassiopeia’s W Asterism (W shaped Asterism) and the Great Square of Pegasus. 2.5 million lightyears away from our planet. It looks a tiny bit of white fluff. In reality, it is almost twice the size of our Milky Way. Its coordinates are RA 0h 42m 44s | Dec +41° 16′ 9″.
It is estimated that about a bunch of trillion stars have made up this astronomical figure. That is why it is visible to the bare eye even from so far away.
M110 and M32
Beyond Andromeda, there lie two galaxies, M110 and M32.
M32 or Messier 32 is a dwarf or experts called it ‘early-type’ galaxy. It is brighter than the other. You can find it by locating the three 7th magnitude stars at the Southern part of Andromeda nearly 2.65 million years from earth.
It is best seen from Northern Hemisphere though.
M110, Messier 110 or NGC 205 is another dwarf elliptical galaxy. It is a satellite of the Andromeda galaxy. You will find it faint near the bright Andromeda galaxy.
You can also try looking for the Triangulum Galaxy or M33.
Autumn, Winter, and Spring is the best time for observing. It is also called the Observing Season. But Summer can be exceptionally good for stargazing too.
It is not a constellation rather an asterism. You will find it in a larger constellation called Ursa Major. Its star Mizar and Alcor are particularly visible.
Also with binoculars help you can watch Little Deeper and the seven stars it is made up of.
Summer Triangle and Coathanger
During the beginning of summer in the eastern sky, these two are visible.
Summer triangle is formed by Deneb, Altair, and Vega. Coathanger is between Altair and Vega with a bar and a hook.
I found Lyra to be the most beautiful constellation in the sky. Epsilon Lyrae is a part of Lyra near Vega which is an illuminated star. With binoculars the sight is clear.
Begin Gazing Now
As you have figure out already that reading the night is not expensive or that hard start your long nights gazing into the sky.
And do not forget to tell us how the experience was.