RONALD ZINCONE PHOTOGRAPHY | How to get started in backyard astronomy!

How to get started in backyard astronomy!

August 31, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Do you often look up at the night sky and stare in amazement of all those countless stars (suns)?  Does it send chills up your spine?  It does for me....since my young teen years and still to this day!  Getting started in backyard astronomy is simple and affordable.  All you need is a good set of binoculars in the 10X50 range.  Binoculars allow you to see more magnification and maintains a wide sweeping view of the milky way.  What does 10X50 mean?  The first number, 10 in this case, is the magnification of the optics; 10X power.  The second number, 50, is the "field of view" FOV in millimeters (mm).  The larger the first number is, the more magnification you get on your subject.  The larger the second number, the more your FOV is.

10X50 binoculars are ideal because they are not too heavy to carry and would not require a tripod for stabilization.  In this way, you can easily hand hold your optics while you visually sweep across the amazing cosmos.  Binoculars in the 10X50 range won't break the bank and are a great jumping off point from naked-eye visualization to the use of telescopes.  The amount of detail you will see with a pair of binoculars is amazing and, actually, could bring you a lifetime of enjoyment!  A good pair of binoculars can be used for nature and bird viewing, landscapes and the night sky.  Many companies make various types of binoculars such as Nikon, Canon, Orion, Zeiss, Kowa and many more.  Be sure to do your research when searching for and purchasing a pair of binoculars!

One caveat is "collimation".  It is not uncommon to order a pair of binoculars and upon arrival in the mail find that the optics are out of collimation meaning that the optics are out of alignment and you see a double image of your subject.  Sometimes this occurs because the optics are bounced around in transit due to either poor packaging or rough handling.  It many also occur from improper collimation at the factory or poor quality control.  You may want to think about going to a camera / optics store where you can touch and feel, ask questions and check for collimation before you purchase and walk away.

Be sure to purchase binoculars with good optical quality and have lenses that are fully multi-coated.  For the night sky, binoculars are great for wide-sweeps of the milky way, meteors, asteroids, auroras, constellations, satellites, the moon and, of course, terrestial viewing.  I use a Celestron Cometron 12X70mm binoculars.  You can also get giant astronomical binoculars that go up to 25X100mm or 25X125mm, but these are much more expensive and would require adequate stablization on a tripod due to their excessive weight.  A good name in this range is Oberwerk (Garrett).  Binoculars also give you the advantage of being able to view with both eyes, (bino), instead of one as you would with a telescope.  So, get yourself a nice pair of 10X50's and see what you have been missing both on our planet earth and beyond.


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