The marvels of binoculars, and why.
by Stan Petrovich
(New Bedford, MA, USA)
A young man when I first leaped into this delightful hobby, I began with the high-end Bausch&Lomb Zephyr 7x50s and in the inky skies of the high deserts of Arizona found DSOs that were supposedly beyond the reach of small instruments. Always (or nearly always) tripod-mounted, at times they revealed some quite faint globular clusters I sometimes (eureka!) thought just might be new comets and would bear my name...
But at that time my pupils dilated enough to accept the 7+mm exit pupils those provided. Then inevitably age ran it's accursed course and I needed to step down (against my raging will) to 10x50s, and discovered my will had no affect on my physiology. The 10x50s were providing, drat it, an equal light gathering for my night adaptated orbs as they did before.
So now, in my mid-60s, something wonderful has happened. I find that the 15x or 25x70 Celestron Skymasters I currently use, even though the angular field of view of the latter is nothing to write home about, giving me what would used to have been a looking-through-a-straw peeping hole of just 2.8 degrees, show me downright fabulous lunar views and even mysterious dust lanes in a whole slew of edge-on galaxies.
Goes to illustrate that if one expects to persevere in binocular stargazing one can also plan to make some changes in instruments. Either that, or the obvious alternative, getting a rich-field telescope and a big kit of various eyepieces. But I have a compulsion built into my personality to use two eyes all the time, if at all possible. But at the risk of being labeled a bino-centric nutcase, I have indeed owned a nice 90mm Maksutov and even presently an 8" Dobsonian reflector. The Maksutov was stolen during a home rip-off years ago and the Dob is just plain too bulky for me. That was a mistake rookie telescopers must frequently make. (I hate having to fiddle with laser collimation and realigning the finderscope almost as much as lugging an oversized black metal tube assembly for miles in my little car.)
So sticking by my beloved binocular obsession all that telescope stuff preceeding this is irrelevant, at least for me.
Now my enviable position might actually be whether I should liquidate some assets or seriously dent my life savings and buy something like Zeiss or Swarovski 8x42s. Sealing my fate so to speak. I know, I know, those are for birders or hunters specifically; but bear in mind that the first great binocular study of the heavens was for use with opera glasses (!).
Wish me luck, you few, you lucky few princes and princesses of the beautiful darkness where soon no one will ever even see the Milky Way in their tortured earthbound money-chasing little lives. We all need some kind of spiritual connection to the universe, and if religion leaves you gasping for breath like me, what's left but embracing the perfection of the Pleiedes or wondering how many other intellegent beings in M33 are looking right back at us? Bet there are millions...