Stargazing With Binoculars

Overview

"A serious contender for the title of best all-around introduction to binocular astronomy."
-- Sky and Telescope (on the first edition)

Stargazing with Binoculars is a practical guide to using binoculars to view the night sky for newcomers to astronomy. The book includes reviews of the wide range of binoculars on the market and provides advice on features to consider before making a purchase. The authors guide the beginner through the first ...

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Paperback (Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded)
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Overview

"A serious contender for the title of best all-around introduction to binocular astronomy."
-- Sky and Telescope (on the first edition)

Stargazing with Binoculars is a practical guide to using binoculars to view the night sky for newcomers to astronomy. The book includes reviews of the wide range of binoculars on the market and provides advice on features to consider before making a purchase. The authors guide the beginner through the first steps of using binoculars to observe the night sky, describe what will be visible and show how to find specific objects.

This new edition has been thoroughly updated to incorporate the latest technological developments in binoculars. Illustrated throughout and filled with handy tips and tricks, it covers:

  • What to expect from binoculars and how they actually work
  • Buying binoculars for the first time
  • Upgrading after the first purchase
  • Observing the sun, the moon, planets, comets, asteroids, stars, clusters, variable stars, double stars, novas, nebulas and galaxies
  • The effects of light pollution
  • Observing from the city and from the countryside
  • Terminology

Stargazing with Binoculars is a practical, easy-to-read handbook for newcomers to astronomy -- whatever their age.

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Editorial Reviews

The Cottager - Bruce Owen
This easy-to-follow guide tells you how to really see the stars, where to look and what you're actually looking at. It also offers practical tips on what equipment to purchase and how to use it to get the most of your new hobby, be it on the deck, dock or
From the Publisher
[Review of earlier edition:] You don't need a fancy, expensive telescope to enjoy the twinkly treasures of the nighttime sky. This handy, compact guide offers practical advice on buying the right kind of binoculars for stargazing, dozens of charts and graphs, and a bounty of tips on observing — and contemplating — the moon, planets, comets, asteroids, nebulas and other celestial bodies that come out after the sun goes down.
Coalition for Space Exploration.com
[Review of earlier edition:] This is a handy-dandy guide to heavenly viewing by using—what the authors dub—"the poor person's telescope." ....This 208-page book is packed with easy to use star maps, as well as a month-by-month guide to the best objects to study. So latch onto a copy of the practical guide and step outside for a sky full of enjoyment.
American Profile
You don't need a fancy, expensive telescope to enjoy the twinkly treasures of the nighttime sky.
— Neil Pond
Cottage Life
Astronomy is cooler than birdwatching and a lot less creepy than spying on your cottage neighbours. Get started with this beginner's guide, newly updated and revised.
Mobile Press-Register
What distinguishes this volume aren't the charts but rather the practical advice and clear instruction.
— John Sledge
American Profile - Neil Pond
You don't need a fancy, expensive telescope to enjoy the twinkly treasures of the nighttime sky. This handy, compact guide offers practical advice on buying the right kind of binoculars for stargazing, dozens of charts and graphs, and a bounty of tips on observing -- and contemplating -- the moon, planets, comets, asteroids, nebulas and other celestial bodies that come out after the sun goes down.
Mobile Press-Register - John Sledge
What distinguishes this volume aren't the charts but rather the practical advice and clear instruction.
Sky and Telescope
A serious contender for the title of best all-around introduction to binocular astronomy.
Sunday Herald
It's hard to go wrong with a Firefly book, and this one is no exception... The book is packed with text, photographs, charts and diagrams.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770853287
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/18/2014
  • Edition description: Fourth Edition, Revised and Expanded
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 683,813
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Scagell is an author, consultant and broadcaster, and he is the vice president of the Society for Popular Astronomy. In 2007 he received the Arthur Clarke Award for Space Reporting, and in 2001 an asteroid was named after him.

David Frydman is a lifelong amateur astronomer who mainly observes the night sky with binoculars.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Learning the sky
Chapter 3: The binocular observer's year
Chapter 4: The Solar System
Chapter 5: Choosing binoculars
Chapter 6: Using Binoculars
Appendix: Constellations
Glossary
Index

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Preface

Excerpt from the Introduction

Every stargazer has binoculars. Far from being the poor man's telescope, binoculars have their own special advantages. Even the most advanced amateur astronomers, whose telescopes cost far more than their cars, own binoculars and regularly put them to good use.

So what can binoculars do for you that a telescope can't? Their big advantage is that they give you a much wider view of the sky than most telescopes. Telescopes are essential for giving close-up views of objects, such as planets. But for general stargazing, binoculars show you the big picture.

Imagine yourself out under the stars, on a beautiful dark clear night somewhere deep in the country. The immensity of the heavens stretches above you. There are stars from horizon to horizon. As you gaze upward, you see little knots of stars and vague misty patches. What are they in reality? You raise your binoculars and suddenly those little stars are spread out before your eyes as a mass of glittering points of light.

The little misty patches are transformed, too. Though they remain as gray misty blobs, they now take on some real shape and in some cases we can see intricate detail in stellar birthplaces.

Binoculars can see much farther. With the unaided eye you can see our nearest large galaxy, in Andromeda. But with binoculars in a good dark sky you can start to pick out galaxies in the Virgo cluster, over 20 times farther away.

Though you can really only see planetary detail with a telescope, there are Solar System bodies that look much better in binoculars — comets being a good example. When a good comet comes along — though this is a fairly rare event — binoculars are perfect for picking out its full extent, which may cover several degrees of sky. Even run-of-the-mill comets, of which there are usually one or two a year,
are good targets for binoculars.

The wide field of binoculars and their portability makes them the instrument of choice on numerous occasions. Say you want to pick up some elusive cluster or nebula, or a bright asteroid such as Ceres, or a recently discovered comet. Yes, you can set up a computer-controlled telescope which could guide you straight to the spot — if you have aligned it correctly, and if there is an adequate power supply, both of which can be quite big Ifs at times. But with binoculars and a half-decent star chart you can go to the object straight away, with a little practice. Even owners of good telescopes may take a look first with binoculars, just to check that the object isn't behind a tree, for example.

Suburbanites and city dwellers will find binoculars even more useful than their country cousins. In skies where you can see hardly any stars with the naked eye, binoculars will help you to pick out stars and asterisms that would otherwise remain invisible. A small constellation such as Cancer or Delphinus may be revealed to you for the first time.

And the best thing is that these wonderful instruments need not cost you very much. Though it is usually best to avoid the very cheapest, with a bit of care you can get perfectly serviceable binoculars for the price of a modest mobile phone, and from time to time there are real bargains available. In fact, as we shall see, it is not always a good idea to pay top money for your binoculars. You don't necessarily need the ruggedness of binoculars designed for marine use, or for birdwatching, if the worst that they are likely to suffer is a bit of dew on the lenses.

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