Binoculars are essential for astronomy and any stargazer. Binoculars, unlike most telescopes, are intuitive and easy to use. They have a large field of view and display a right-side-up image, making it simple to point them at objects and find what you’re searching for. They also don’t require any setup or alignment; easily pick them up and head outside beneath the stars.
Binoculars are particularly excellent for seeing significant craters on the Moon, the occasional comet, Jupiter’s moons, close Moon groupings and planets at dawn and dusk, and larger groupings and clusters of stars throughout the sky if you know how to find them. This article will teach you how to pick and utilize a good set of astronomy binoculars for stargazing and other astronomy-related activities.
What to Look For When Buying Astronomy Binoculars
Settle with Porro-prism binoculars, which are the traditional binocular style with the offset eyepiece and objective lens. Roof prisms are used in binoculars with a “straight-through” view, and a good pair is pricey. Though, you aren’t required to pay a premium.
It would be best if you avoided binoculars with a built-in camera or a zoom feature. They aren’t suitable for astronomical use.
Suppose you have the opportunity of choosing binoculars in person, pick up the binoculars and examine the light reflected in its objective lenses while you’re in the store. The lenses will appear primarily dark with a hint of reflected color if they have a decent anti-reflection coating. Don’t purchase lenses that look to be white or ruby red.
Now, with the eyepieces facing you, hold the binoculars away from your face. Examine the exit pupil’s bright disk. The disk will seem circular if the prisms are made of high-grade glass (BAK-4 glass). The prisms use lower-grade BK-7 glass if the disk looks squared off. It’s not bad, but it’s not ideal.
You don’t have to wear your glasses when viewing using binoculars if you’re far or nearsighted. If you have astigmatism, though, you may require your glasses. While wearing your glasses, ensure you can see right up to the tip of the field of view.
If you wear glasses when viewing, check sure your binoculars have enough eye relief for you to observe the entire field of view while wearing them. To execute the task properly, you’ll need at least 15 mm of eye relief. Most astronomical binoculars have, at most, this much eye relief, but it’s always a good idea to double-check before buying.
Finally, glance through the binoculars and focus on an object in the field of view’s center. A good set of optics will also maintain focus to the field’s edge. It’s possible that it’s not entirely focused. However, if the field’s edge is severely out of focus or distorted, proceed to another pair.
THE BEST ASTRONOMY BINOCULARS
Canon 14×32 IS
Canon’s image-stabilizer (IS) binoculars include the exact lens-shift mechanism found in the company’s EF DSLR lenses. A 30mm-wide neck strap and a Cordura case are included with these binoculars. There are two stabilization modes: ‘Stabiliser’ and ‘Powered IS’; when panning, employ the Stabiliser mode to eliminate tremor.
Shift to Powered IS mode once you’ve found your target, making up for both motion types. Sharp pictures across the field of view are achieved thanks to the presence of an integrated field-flattener lens group and Canon’s “Super-Spectra coatings.”
Opticron Oregon WA 10×50
The Opticron Oregon WA 10x50s are a tough and reliable pair of binoculars. They’re light enough and well-balanced to transport and use for long periods. It was as if someone had been keeping track of what binocular reviews had been requesting for years in an entry-level pair of 10x50s.
These are well worth considering if you’re looking for a low-cost pair.
Nikon Action EX
These Nikon Action Ex binoculars exude quality from the moment you remove them from their gently padded case. Everything operates smoothly with just the perfect amount of rigidity to prevent accidental adjustments, including the focusing, twist-up eye-cups, and hinge.
The rain-guard for the eyepiece is attached, and the objective caps can also be tied to the binoculars’ strap to prevent misplacement. They’re just as impressive under the stars, with a brilliant, sharp, high-contrast image that snaps to focus anywhere within the central 85 percent of its 6.5° field of view.
Both color rendition and false-color management are excellent. Spectacle wearers will have just enough eye relief to see the entire field of view.
They’re well-balanced and so easy to keep steady, and the big lugs on the right eyepiece dioptre adjust accordingly simple, even while wearing thick gloves. When wet with dew, the rubber protection prevents them from becoming slippery.
The Vortex Crossfire is an excellent illustration of how contemporary manufacturing procedures have shrunk the optical quality gap between roof prism and Porro binoculars of comparable price points. The 6.1° field of view is close to the Porro’s and level enough that you can separate Albireo into two segments over the central 90%.
The color rendering is impressive; not only do the brightly colored stars appear vibrant, but the minor contrasts between them are also noticeable. The focus is precise and smooth, and the short-hinge construction allows more freedom for your fingers, making the Vortex Crossfire extremely comfortable to use.
You may observe when wearing spectacles since there is sufficient eye relief. When you mount the binoculars, the objective lens covers get freed from the screw within the adaptor bush inside the hinge.
The only other issue is the high minimum interpupillary distance (IPD: 60.5mm), an unavoidable aspect of the roof prism design employed for the 50mm aperture.