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Stargazing with Binoculars (Part Two)

Terms You Need to Know

  1. Ocular Lens is the lens closest to the eye and the number indicates the magnification (i.e., 10 x 50 means that objects will appear 10 times larger than seen with the naked eye). Choose a magnification of at least 7.
  2. Objective lens is the lens farthest from the eye and the number indicates the size of lens at the far end. Choose 40 or better for a wide-angled viewing range (i.e., 10 x 40).
  3. Zoom lens can be adjusted for various distances and will be indicated by more than one number before the "x" ( i.e., 20/40 x 50).
  4. Prisms are blocks of glass that reflect the light within the binoculars. BAK4 prisms are the finest quality and BK-7 are good.
  5. Anti-reflection coating is described as multi-coated (good) or fully-coated (best). Avoid ruby-coated which gives the view a green cast and does nothing to increase night vision.
  6. Diopters is the optical scale for spherical power.

Viewing Tips

  1. Adjust the binoculars by covering one objective lens, and then look through the binoculars with both eyes at a distant object and turn the center focus dial until the image is sharp and clear. Covering the other lens, and with both eyes open, focus on the same object and use the adjustable eye piece to make it sharp and clear. Future viewing at various distances will now require only an adjustment to the central focusing dial.
  2. Heavy binoculars require a tripod or they will start to shake when your arms become tired.
  3. For stargazing, choose a night when the moon is not visible or not very bright. The darker your surroundings, the better the view of the night sky. Wear warm clothing, and select a safe location.
  4. Wait in the dark until your eyes are accustomed to the darkness (15 to 20 minutes). If you are using a star map to identify stars, planets, and constellations, make sure your flashlight has a red-glow setting or shield it with red cellophane.
  5. Locate a bright star with your naked eye, and then use the binoculars to get a clearer look. "Star hop" by starting with a point you can identify, like the north star. Locate it by eye, find it with the binoculars, and then, by using it as a reference point, move on to the next object. After a little experience, you will be able to find and identify stars with your binoculars that can't be seen with the naked eye, and you will be on your way.

Terms You Need to Know

  1. Ocular Lens is the lens closest to the eye and the number indicates the magnification (i.e., 10 x 50 means that objects will appear 10 times larger than seen with the naked eye). Choose a magnification of at least 7.
  2. Objective lens is the lens farthest from the eye and the number indicates the size of lens at the far end. Choose 40 or better for a wide-angled viewing range (i.e., 10 x 40).
  3. Zoom lens can be adjusted for various distances and will be indicated by more than one number before the "x" ( i.e., 20/40 x 50).
  4. Prisms are blocks of glass that reflect the light within the binoculars. BAK4 prisms are the finest quality and BK-7 are good.
  5. Anti-reflection coating is described as multi-coated (good) or fully-coated (best). Avoid ruby-coated which gives the view a green cast and does nothing to increase night vision.
  6. Diopters is the optical scale for spherical power.

Viewing Tips

  1. Adjust the binoculars by covering one objective lens, and then look through the binoculars with both eyes at a distant object and turn the center focus dial until the image is sharp and clear. Covering the other lens, and with both eyes open, focus on the same object and use the adjustable eye piece to make it sharp and clear. Future viewing at various distances will now require only an adjustment to the central focusing dial.
  2. Heavy binoculars require a tripod or they will start to shake when your arms become tired.
  3. For stargazing, choose a night when the moon is not visible or not very bright. The darker your surroundings, the better the view of the night sky. Wear warm clothing, and select a safe location.
  4. Wait in the dark until your eyes are accustomed to the darkness (15 to 20 minutes). If you are using a star map to identify stars, planets, and constellations, make sure your flashlight has a red-glow setting or shield it with red cellophane.
  5. Locate a bright star with your naked eye, and then use the binoculars to get a clearer look. "Star hop" by starting with a point you can identify, like the north star. Locate it by eye, find it with the binoculars, and then, by using it as a reference point, move on to the next object. After a little experience, you will be able to find and identify stars with your binoculars that can't be seen with the naked eye, and you will be on your way.

Astronomy is an ancient and beautiful science. Begin your exploration of the universe today!

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Author: Astronomy Today Staff

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