Don’t forget the usefulness of simple binoculars

Why would one even want to use binoculars with all the huge
telescopes, equipment and accessories one has to choose from today?
So why even bother with those light, easy to handle, wide field,
store anywhere and less expensive binoculars? I guess I just told
you why.
Why would one even want to use binoculars with all the huge telescopes, equipment and accessories one has to choose from today? So why even bother with those light, easy to handle, wide field, store anywhere and less expensive binoculars? I guess I just told you why.

And don’t forget one of the best reasons to use binoculars – two eyes are definitely better than one when it comes to viewing the skies. Your power of resolution and the ability to see faint objects are improved dramatically when using both eyes. Next time you are out in your backyard on a clear night, try this test. Cover one eye and notice what faint stars you can see. Then uncover the other eye. You can actually see more stars with both eyes than you can with one. They say (I’m not really sure who “they” are, but they know a lot) you can see about 10 percent more when viewing with two eyes.

I often have classes from different schools come by to visit and look through my new 14″ telescope. I usually start out by showing them the sky with my 20×80 binoculars first. Here they are standing in line, waiting to take a peek through the binoculars when all the time they are thinking to themselves, “Why are we bothering with this when we could be looking through the big telescope?”

Well, they do eventually get to use the big one. But I must admit, I get just as many, “Wow, look at that!” from the kids looking through the binoculars as I do from them looking through the 14″ scope. The best advantage the binoculars have over a large telescope is the large area the binoculars can cover in one view. Take the Andromada Galaxy for instance. This is the farthest object we can see with the unaided eye, lying some 2.2 million light years away. I can’t even begin to get the entire galaxy in my view with the large telescope. The object is just too big. But with the binoculars, I can see the Andromada Galaxy in its entirety. And what a sight it is.

There are many other fascinating things to see through the binoculars, such as open star clusters, the moon, planets and so much more. With my 20×80’s, I can see four of the moons of Jupiter. And our moon, why it almost looks like you can reach out and touch it.

What about the sun? You are now saying to yourself, is he crazy? But yes, the binoculars are a fine instrument for viewing the sun. However, before looking at the sun, take this warning: Do not look directly at the sun, not even for an instant!

Without proper safety precautions, permanent eye damage and even blindness can result.

The best and easiest way to view the sun is to use your binoculars to project an image of the sun onto a piece of white cardboard. It is fun to check daily to see the movement of the sun spots as they circle around the sun.

You understand now that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the evening skies. If you don’t have a pair of binoculars, maybe your dad has a pair he might let you use or maybe a friend. Whose ever they belong to, make sure you take care when using them or you may not get the chance to use them again.

So there you are. Two eyes are better than one, along with portability, affordability and the ease of operation makes binoculars a very simple and enjoyable tool to use when viewing the heavens. Happy Holidays. Clear skies.

December Sky Watch

Dec. 2 Chi Orionid meteors (should be good this year)

Dec. 5 Mercury passes 7.2 degrees west of Venus in evening sky

Dec. 6 Phoenicid meteors

Dec. 7 Moon is farthest away from Earth (Apogee – 252, 450 miles)

Dec. 8 Full moon

Dec. 10 Moon passes 5 degrees north of Saturn

Dec. 13 St. Lucy’s Day, formerly regarded as the middle of winter

Dec. 14 Geminid meteor shower peaks

Dec. 15 Moon passes 4 degrees north of Jupiter

Dec. 16 Last quarter moon

Dec. 22 Winter solstice

Dec. 23 New moon

Dec. 25 Moon passes 3 degrees south of Venus

Dec. 27 Moon passes 5 degrees south of Uranus

Dec. 30 Moon passes 4 degrees south of Mars

Dec. 30 Venus passes 1.9 degrees south of Neptune

Dec. 30 First quarter moon

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