How to have fun in space without truly going to space? By observing the night sky through a pair of binoculars from the convenience of your backyard on a warm, summer night. But to feel like you are in fact up there, dressed in an astronaut suit, experiencing zero gravity, first make certain your binoculars are intended for astronomy and not for bird watching or marine use.
Size and Weight
Ensure that your binoculars are not too heavy to hold, as you may end up looking through them for several hours, depending on your target. However, all binoculars, and not only the heavy ones, work best when they are mounted onto something. That way you can also show what you see to someone else and not lose track of your target. But this is merely a suggestion, as spending a large amount of money on this is not necessary, you only need to grab your binoculars, focus them, and begin observing.
Some astronomers favor higher magnification to observe Jupiter’s rings and magnification is many times the first feature people look at when buying a pair of binoculars. However, bigger is not always better and magnification is not the only important thing, as a high magnification can lessen the field of view. Most will be content with 7x or 10x magnification, as this configuration offers plenty in order to observe the Moon and star clusters. But if your intent really is to observe the rings of Jupiter, a 20x magnification works wonders.
Field of View
Other astronomers often go for a wider field of view in order to get a larger picture and undergo the real-life, space-walking experience. With a wide field of view, more light is gathered through optical barrels, which results in a better image. And looking through both eyes enhances the experience even more. What is better when observing space than a wide field of view?
For some, the answer may be a clear and focused image. A great obstacle skywatchers face with astronomy binoculars is keeping their target in focus. However, as binoculars grow more intended for astronomy use, they tend to focus better. The better pair of binos you get, the more distant point of closest focus is. Of course, you will not be able to observe everything, as there are an infinity of targets, but the more and the farther away, the better. The majority of binoculars have a central focus knob that controls both eyepieces, but some have a focusing knob separated for each eye.
Fog and Waterproofing
We know that 75% of Earth’s surface is covered in water in both liquid and frozen state. So, the Earth is also called the water planet. That is why it is no shock that sometimes, your binoculars can get in contact with water. Sometimes it rains, and sometimes you drop them in your neighbors’ pool. It is not essential for your astronomy binoculars to be waterproof, but it is always an advantage, as you never know what might happen. That is why you should look for O-ring sealed and nitrogen or argon purged ones.
All sorts of great binoculars can be found out there if you just know where to look. Nevertheless, optics made for observing marine life or mountain hunts will not suffice. If you want to find galaxies, see planets and stars more up close, you do not necessarily need a telescope. A pair of 7×50 or 10×50 binoculars will allow you to feel like visiting space, without actually being there.
is an experienced author from the field of sports optics. He writes articles and reviews about binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, long range shooting and other topics for magazines like Lovec and Optics-Info.com blog. Currently, he is a member of Optics Trade team.