Stargazing with Binoculars

Each night over 3000 stars come into view. Most remain unchanged over a person’s short lifetime. Nevertheless, their capricious scattering has given many of us the yearning to understand more. One way to do so is by making the view bigger and better. Robin Scagell and David Frydman describe how in their book entitled “Stargazing with Binoculars“.

Though print media continuously seduces us with the streaming mosaics of Saturn’s surface or silhouetted pillars of stellar nurseries, we will never get to see them. For one, the images are often a collection of various electromagnetic frequencies accumulated over minutes of exposure. For another, most of us will never afford or have access to a telescope with the necessary multi-metre mirror. Binoculars however definitely improve upon the naked eye, are versatile enough for many applications and fit into most family’s budgets. Thus, where print media is always at least second hand, these special lenses make first hand viewing even more pleasurable.

So, if you were wondering about what to expect from using binoculars or how to go about selecting one, then this book is the perfect reference. It has three section to provide the reader with everything they need to start competently observing stars. The first section identifies the targets. Its pages contain month by month star maps with significant stars and constellations identified. Adjacent maps having looking north or looking south from either the north or south of Earth’s hemisphere. The text that follows fills in the details regarding the maps by providing historical information, waypoints to finding items of interest and viewing requirements. The next section of the book puts our solar system as the target with a brief synopsis of viewing each planet, some moons and the Sun. The third and last section provides a technical overview of binoculars. The apparent intent is to allow the reader to select the best binocular for their planned usage and budget. And the book achieves the intent admirably.

Aside from being a trite formulaic, this book delivers exactly what one would expect. All the necessary information to begin stargazing is present. The star maps are a bit small but a blank paper and steady hand can easily expand these. All the big names of the Messier objects are present. And there’s even a little bit on maintenance and repair of the equipment. Hence, as a starting point, this book delivers.

There’s a certain thrill to being able to sense something first hand. Smelling a rose is much more evocative than reading a description of the smell. Personally seeing a comet or viewing the phase of Venus can send shivers down the backs of some people. Using the optic aids as described by Scagell and David Frydman in their book “Stargazing with Binoculars“, may help these shivers travel your back too.

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3 Replies to “Stargazing with Binoculars”

  1. As an active member of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society here in northern California, who is involved in our Outreach program with schools and scouts, I have always brought binoculars to these programs. I use 15×70 and 10×50 to show people that you CAN use binoculars instead of a scope to see Jupiter and its moons, the Moon, clusters and galaxies, and with the use of a filter Sunspots. Even “tiny” Saturn can be made out. Most have never thought about using binoculars to view the skies at night, and at Outreach events will got straight to the scopes passing the binoculars. Only when the lines at the scopes get too long will they go to the binoculars and that’s when they see the wonders of the night sky. Being cheaper then scopes, and always at the ready, they can instantly view items. It’s great to see their faces when they view through binoculars. I highly recommend them for the newcomer to Astronomy as well as the seasoned viewer.

  2. I never go stargazing without my trusty 7X50 binos. I often try to see how many galaxies I can find with them. I think my record is 9 not counting the Milky Way.

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