Nearly everybody has used a pair of binoculars sometime. But are all kinds of binoculars well suited for astronomy? Let’s have a look.
Binoculars are measured with two numbers. On any pair of binoculars you’ll see written two numbers with a multiplication sign in between, for example “7 X 50” or “10 X 80”. Let’s consider the “7 X 50” example. All this means is that this particular pair of binoculars magnifies seven times and its lenses have an aperture of 50mm each. That’s all there is to it. The first number measures the magnification while the second number measures the aperture of the lenses. So the second example means that this pair of binoculars magnifies ten times and its lenses have an aperture of 80mm each. That’s all. All binoculars use that kind of designation to measure their light gathering power and magnification. Now, what kind of binoculars should you look for if your interest is astronomy?
As with telescopes, the larger the aperture, the more light the instrument will gather. So in the above two examples, the 10 X 80 binoculars would gather more light, and objects will appear brighter and more vivid. Ok, so should you go for the largest binoculars you see? No. Remember that the larger the binoculars, the heavier they become (and the pricier!) Apertures larger than 80mm become too unwieldy to use with your hands and you’d need a tripod for support.
And what about magnification? Should you go for the highest magnification possible? Again, No! When you increase magnification, any jerky movement of your hands will be magnified as well. And again, you’ll need a tripod. Additionally, if you increase the magnification, you’ll lose the wide-field view that binoculars can offer.
So what should you go for? Well, there is no rule. However, it suffices to say that the most common pair of binoculars used by astronomers are the 7 X 50 and the 10 X 50 pair. You’d find some who own 12 X 80 binos as well. But it depends on how long you’ll be using the binos. One cannot expect to be able to hold a 12 X 80 pair of binoculars steadily for a long stretch of time, especially if the user is a kid. The size you should go for also depends on whether you want to use the binoculars only for astronomy or not. Remember that binoculars can also be used to observe nature. So 12 X 80 binos could be a bit too heavy to transport around your neck! It would be ideal to try out a few before you choose so that you can see for yourself what weight starts becoming too heavy for you. Finally, of course, check your budget.
Take a look at the links section of our website. There you will find a list of manufacturers. Search through the products and choose wisely by keeping the above considerations in mind. We wish you happy choosing!