Interested in looking at the night sky

  • Thread starter Ironside
  • Start date
Hey guys. I wanna get started in looking at the night sky from my roof etc etc. I was thinking of getting Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars with a tripod as a starting tool which is only about $70-80. I don't want to buy a $4,000 telescope without knowing what I'm looking for lol.

I have two questions:

I live in New York City where light pollution is very apparent and you can only see a handful of stars. To anyone who is an expert in telescopes and binoculars, will these binoculars allow me to look at more stars or some of the planets in our solar system? If you have any other recommendations please let me know.

What's a good beginners astronomy book/guide which can teach me the locations of the basic constellations, galaxies stars etc that can be looked at in the night sky.
The wide aperture of the binoculars will collect more light and will increase the number of stars you can see. I've never attempted to star gaze from a city, let alone New York, so I can't comment on what exactly you're likely to be able to see. The binoculars will be an improvement though." [Broken]
That is a good site for finding light pollution in your area. From NYC you have two relatively close choices for some dark skys. The Catskills should be a couple hours away, and I can attest they have pretty good skys. Then there is Cherry Springs, PA which is a dedicated dark skys park. I've yet to make it out there, but I've heard it one of, if not the, best night skys on the east coast.

Stellarium is a great, and free, astronomy program. Enter you location and it will display the night sky at any time. If you can use this on a laptop while you are using your binoculars it makes it pretty easy to learn where things are in the sky." [Broken]
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You should be able to see any of the brighter planets with a decent pair of binoculars even from the city. These regularly are brighter than many of the stars in the sky, with Venus and Jupiter never less than magnitude -3 and -1.6 respectively. In comparison, Sirius is magnitude -1.46. (Smaller numbers are brighter, and -1.6 and -3 are both smaller than -1.46)

Saturn and Mars are less bright so I can't comment on them. Mars varies from -3 to +1.6, while Saturn varies from about 0 to +1.
Are the big binos comfortable to use, or will you need a recliner to get behind them ? Some models, IIRC, have 45' offset to mitigate the neck-crick...

Another factor, IIRC, is eye-correction. Do your eyes need correction for long or short vision ? Usually, good binos can slightly adjust their eye-pieces independently to match.

One 'gotcha' is astigmatism, where one or both eyes require 'cylindrical' correction. IIRC, you can get corrector lenses for telescopes' eye pieces, but I don't know about binos...

Uh, do you have a 'serious' SLR telephoto lens handy ? I'm told you can fit an adapter plus a telescope eye-piece or adapted web-cam...


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There is no perfect filter to deal with light pollution. The best filters for dso viewing are Orion Ultrablock and Lumicon UHC, IMO.

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