Binocular Observing

Astra's Star Gate

There are many advantages to binocular observing, especially if you are just starting out. They are portable and low cost instruments can be found, although there is no substitute for optical quality. For astronomical viewing, it would be nice to have a pair that could be mounted. Many astronomical objects can be observed with binoculars including the Moon, Star Clusters, Planets and Comets! You can see over 25 Star Clusters, 6 Nebulosities, 6 galaxies, 5 double stars; in addition there are many fine star fields to explore.

Start out with binoculars and observe with members of a local astronomy club. Wait until you know what kind of observing you are interested in before committing to a telescope. Understanding what you want to point your telescope at will help you make the decisions.

When buying a pair of binoculars, consider the cost of the mounting as well, especially if you plan on purchasing large binoculars that cannot be easily hand held. If possible try to build your own mount!

Astra's observing program includes a group of objects to find with binoculars. It's a short list, but may help you to decide what objects you are most interested in. Check out the Binocular Group and see how many objects you can find. You may also b interested in finding out how many Messier objects you can find, take a look at Don's Binocular Messier Catalog. If you are a beginner, challenge yourself to complete this list before you consider buying a telescope!

For more information on binoculars and how they work, check out the binocular basics page.

Commercial Sites for Binocular Information

Please note that Astra does not recommend any one of these products over any other - - This is FYI only!

You might want to start with this binocular guide by Sky & Telescope magazine.

Binoculars: Guides and Recommendations

Visit the Bushnell Web Site

Perhaps you can find just the right fit with their binocular finder page. Choose "skywatching" unless you have a different plan for using binoculars.

Oberwerk Corp - Binoculars and Telescopes

Or Binoculars.com - a Division of Orion Telescope. They also have a binocular wizard to help you find your fit.

Canon - This well-known optical company has taken their optical stabilization technology to binoculars.

Pentax Binoculars - Pentax's parent company Ricoh also sells eyepieces for telescopes.

Binocular Advice from the Web

This video presentation explains many of the features and basic information to help choose your instrument:

How to Choose Binoculars - Orion Telescopes and Binoculars

For more in-depth information and links to other beginner's aids try this article from Earth and Sky.

Top tips for binocular stargazing - posted March 2020

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Books on Binocular Observing

Astronomy with Binoculars, James Muirden, Arco Publishing, Inc., New York, 1984 - THE guidebook from my library, very good information and a great observing guide.

Binocular Astronomy, 2nd edition, Stephen Tonkin, Springer, New York, 2014. Tonkin also authored Discover the Night Sky through Binoculars: A systematic guide to Binocular Astronomy.

The Binocular Stargazer, Leslie C. Peltier, Kalmbach Publishing, Milwaukee, WI, 1995 - This book was original published as Leslie Peltier’s Guide to the Stars

Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars, David Chandler - I must recommend this one sight unseen. The price is right and Chandler’s other astronomical guides and aids are wonderful!

Patrick Moore’s Exploring the Night Sky with Binoculars, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986 - A nice observing guide includes Southern hemisphere constellations, some information on binoculars

Star Gazing Through Binoculars, Stephen Mensing, Tab Books, U.S.A., 1986 - A good reference for binoculars and observing.

Touring the Universe though Binoculars, Philip S. Harrington, Wiley Science Editions, U.S.A., 1990 - Primarily an observing guide, well-done by constellation.

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