Start Stargazing Today with the Right Telescopes and Binoculars
If you have ever looked up at the night sky and wondered what else might be out there, then astronomy could be the hobby for you. To get the most from this hobby you need the right equipment. This will include beginners guides to the different heavenly bodies that can be seen at different times, and something to view them with. Traditionally astronomy revolved around large, high powered telescopes, but the right binoculars can also provide you with some amazing sights. To determine the equipment you need, you first need to understand the differences between the types of telescopes and binoculars that are available.
Choosing the Right Type of Telescope
Telescopes can be divided into three broad types. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these is the first step to finding the right equipment for your needs. These are refractors, reflectors and Cassegrain reflectors.
The first type of telescope is the refractor, such as the Gskyer Space Astronomical. The main advantages of this type of telescope include the optics holding alignment well, good contrast and image definition and there is no central obstruction. Additionally, they are easier to maintain than reflectors as there are no mirrors to clean and maintain. This is the ideal type of telescope for resolving close double stars and can be used for viewing planets, and good solar and lunar views.
However, this type of telescope is not without its drawbacks. If you want a portable version, then you will need to purchase one with a small aperture as it is one of the bulkiest types of telescope available. Refractors are not always suitable for using for photography, although some of the difficulties can be removed by the use of filters.
One of the main advantages of reflector telescopes such as the Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker is price per inch of aperture. They are also better for photographic use and have conveniently placed eyepieces. Smaller reflectors make excellent instruments for beginners and they work well for fainter objects.
However, the mirrors can deteriorate over time, reducing the lifespan of the instrument. Moving the instrument regularly is not recommended as the mirrors are sensitive and this affects the optical alignment. Image contrast is also reduced by the secondary mirror that blocks some of the light.
If you are looking for a portable reflector, then this is the right choice for you. Cassegrain reflectors such as the Orion 9823 are extremely compact and have the eyepiece in an excellent position. It is powerful for its size and suitable for photographic use. Cassegrain reflectors work just as well in the daylight as they do at night.
One of the main disadvantages of Cassagrain reflectors is the price, particularly for the more powerful instruments. Another issue can be the secondary mirror. It can produce a blind spot at lower power.
Binoculars for Seeing Stars
If you don’t have the budget or space for a telescope, or you are just looking for something that is more portable, then binoculars could be the answer you have been looking for. If the choice is between a small cheap telescope and similarly price binoculars, then binoculars are usually the better buy. The Celestron range for example, provide the perfect aperture for lowlight conditions, making them excellent for stargazing. However, there are a few things you do need to be aware of before you buy.
It is very important to get this right if you want to use your binoculars for astronomy. Usually binoculars will be classified by two figures such as 7 X 50. This is the magnification factor X the size of the objective lenses in mm. The greater the magnification the smaller the field of view; the more light that enters the binoculars the easier it is to see fainter objects. Generally, you are looking for a magnification of between 7 and 10 and lens size of between 40 and 50. At this size you will still be able to use them by hand. If you increase the size, then you will need to consider adding a tripod. That being said, you do need to check that the binoculars will take a tripod, such as the Orion 51464.
It is possible to buy binoculars that have the ability to vary the level of magnification that you use. However, these are more susceptible to problems and are much more expensive than fixed magnification binoculars. For astronomy one of the benefits of binoculars is the ability to see and track objects quickly, this ability may be lost if you are busy concentrating on changing the magnification.
One of the main differences between a telescope and a set of binoculars is the number of eyepieces. Using a telescope requires one eye, binoculars require two. This can present difficulties for individuals who have slightly different focus in each eye. If this is the case, then you need to look for binoculars that allow you to adjust each eyepiece separately for your individual needs. Another aspect to be aware of is the eyecups. If you wear spectacles, you will need eyecups that fold down. This will make using them more comfortable to use and improve the view you experience. An alternative is to look for binoculars that are designed specifically for those who wear spectacles, such as the Celestron SkyMaster.
Choosing Between Telescopes and Binoculars
Whether you decide to go for a telescope or a set of binoculars will be primarily a personal choice. But, you need to consider what you are getting for the budget you have available, and how you are going to use the instrument you buy. If you are going to be stationary, then a quality telescope is worth the investment, for those looking to travel around, then binoculars may be better value for money. Similarly, binoculars are often better for beginners because of their ability to track objects more easily. This will prevent a great deal of frustration as you learn more about the night sky.