Binocular Blogs

Binocular stargazing is one of my favorite activities. Telescopes may offer more spectacular views, but binocular astronomy has a peaceful, organic quality that's easy to lose when you're zoomed in on one object, attempting to squeeze every drop of possible detail through a high-tech telescope.

Tony Flanders
Binoculars give a direct connection to the night sky that's hard to achieve through a telescope. That's partly because binoculars are so simple and because viewing with two eyes is more natural than squinting through one eye. But it's also a function of their low magnification, their wide field of view, and the fact that you look directly toward your subject. All of these make it easy to correlate the binocular view and the naked-eye view. Telescopes, by contrast, tend to transport you into an alternate universe where familiar sights are completely absent — which has charms of its own, to be sure.

Over the years, I've written a number of blogs on binocular stargazing. To provide easy access from one to another, here's the complete list::

Nov 25, 2009 More on Scopes and Binoculars
Nov 15, 2007 Traveling Without a Scope
Sep 28, 2007 Big Binocular Messier Survey
Aug 31, 2007 Ridiculously Small Optics
May 10, 2007 Coda: Binoculars Versus Starblast
May 1, 2007 Binoculars Part III: One Eye Versus Two
Apr 27, 2007 Three Binoculars: Part II
Apr 23, 2007 A Tale of Three Binoculars: Part I

4 thoughts on “Binocular Blogs

  1. Jim Fisher

    Tony,

    Thanks for gathering these up. I think you’re right on about the “peaceful, organic quality” of binocular viewing. That direct connection with the night sky you describe always surprises me. In fact, it was the impulse behind a poem I wrote & published recently on stellar nucleosynthesis:

    http://thediagram.com/10_1/fisher.html

    Hope you get a kick out of it.

  2. Michael Wolfson

    I read your article in the current issue of S&T with great interest. My main question is with regard to what’s missing — using a binoviewer with a small refractor. You get two eyes, larger aperture, no neck strain when looking at objectc high in the sky, and a range of mags. Of course, the gear probably costs more, and is not so easy to carry around, but both of your other options involve at least a tripod… Where do you come out on this third approach? Best — Michael

  3. Anthony Barreiro

    I’ve been enjoying the night sky through hand-held 10×50 binoculars for a while now. In addition to being easy and enjoyable, I think it’s also the best way to learn the geography (so to speak) of the sky season by season. More recently I got a 5 inch schmidt cassegrain telescope, which definitely has its own charms. Tony, your article in the May S&T on big binoculars vs. small telescopes inspired me to buy a pair of oberwerk 15×70 binoculars and an orion tripod and parallelogram mount (yes, I totally copied you). I love the oberwerk binos! I find them manageable for hand-held viewing. The tripod and mount give a much steadier view, of course, but the additional weight, bulk, and hassle are all considerable. Now I’m craving a pair of image-stabilized binoculars, but I’ll have to save up.

  4. Anthony Barreiro

    I’ve been enjoying the night sky through hand-held 10×50 binoculars for a while now. In addition to being easy and enjoyable, I think it’s also the best way to learn the geography (so to speak) of the sky season by season. More recently I got a 5 inch schmidt cassegrain telescope, which definitely has its own charms. Tony, your article in the May S&T on big binoculars vs. small telescopes inspired me to buy a pair of oberwerk 15×70 binoculars and an orion tripod and parallelogram mount (yes, I totally copied you). I love the oberwerk binos! I find them manageable for hand-held viewing. The tripod and mount give a much steadier view, of course, but the additional weight, bulk, and hassle are all considerable. Now I’m craving a pair of image-stabilized binoculars, but I’ll have to save up.

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