Stargazing Telescope or binoculars?

  1. Which would be a better gift? A 60mm refractor or a 10x50 binocular?
  2. jcsd
  3. Labguy

    Labguy 725
    Science Advisor

    The BINOCULARS by far. With them a person can "learn their way" around the sky with a 5 to 7 degree field of view and see many open clusters, nebulae and even split some double stars. The Moon is great in my 10x50's.

    A 60mm scope is just too small to see much more than the Moon and a little bit of detail on Jupiter and Saturn. Also, the mounts that come with most 60mm refractors is just too unstable to use and/or find objects.
  4. Thanks! :smile:
    Just out of curiousity, can your 10x50 see Jupiter in detail? At least Its belts or the great red spot?
    My second scope I got is a 60mm and I can't even see details on Jupiter. Maybe it's because I live in a city. :grumpy: The mount is definitely unstable. :grumpy:
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
  5. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    7x50s are a little easier to hold steady than 10x50s, and the exit pupil of 7x50's is almost perfect for dark-adapted eyes. 7x50's were really popular for many years and there a LOT of them around used, especially since many folks switched to compact, lightweight roof-prism model with smaller objectives. You may be able to find a really nice pair of 7x50's used for a fair price at a pawn shop, thrift store, etc. I paid about $50 for my Nikons in a close-out sale (this was about 15 years ago). Remember that "coated optics" doesn't mean "multi-coated" or "fully multi-coated". Good coatings greatly improve contrast, so try to get the best optical quality you can find in your price range.
  6. That would be a better choice then. But I doubt I can get any from a pawn shop here.
  7. Labguy

    Labguy 725
    Science Advisor

    Yes I can see the cloud belts, but as turbo-1 said, anything above 7x is unsteady to hand-hold. I mount mine on a standard photo tripod and can see much more than just hand-held.

    I would go with the 10x50's instead of 7x50's for the increase in power. These would give you an exit pupil of 5mm. Very few people ever actually get "dark-adapted" enough for their eyes to open past 5mm, you would have to be totally away from all lights in a very dark-sky site.

    As for the Pawn shop, I would steer clear unless you know a lot about how to "check out" binoculars before you buy. I just got a nice pair of Pentax 8x40's for hand holding for under $100 on sale at Adorama in New York. I also have a pair of 7-pound 20x80's, but the tripod and mount cost more than the binoculars did!
  8. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    This is one reason I never opted for the big 100mm binoculars. It means one more tripod and mount to carry and a lot more bulk. I have a nice Cassegrain/Newtonian as a wide-field scope, but I never take it out for that reason. Once I've set up the Astro-Physics (with its Vernonscope and 2" 50mm ocular as a finder), I've pretty much got all I need, with the 7x50s for quick scans.

    I live in central Maine where there are no big cities and few large towns. A 20-minute drive will get you to skies where the milky way will knock you out and M31 glows like a beacon. The crisp bright images and 7.2 degree field of view of the 7x50s (and being able to use both eyes to integrate the images) are a big plus under these circumstances.

    True, you've got to do your homework or deal with a seller that is knowledgeable and trustworthy. If you deal with a pawnshop, you'd better count on the "homework" factor to protect yourself. Go out armed with price lists and specs to make sure you're getting a fair deal. For sure, there are lots of junk binoculars in pawn shops, but there are occasional prizes, too, including some well-made military surplus ones.

    Here is a link to a most informative page (from Sky and Telecope) about how to evaluate binoculars.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
  9. don't buy junk for 200 dollars.good quality binoculars or telescopes are quite expensive.
    I bought Fujinon 16 x 70 binoculars and they are simply excellent,but I had to pay for them 1000 bucks.
    Scanning the sky with binoculars is much better on your eyes, go for binoculars.
  10. Labguy

    Labguy 725
    Science Advisor

    Where do you live that the Fujinon 16 x 70 binoculars cost $1000?

    They can be had for $600 a lot of places. I bought those about 5 years ago when they were selling for about $450.

    Also, there are some fine binoculars from Japan and Germany, some small ones costing well over $2000, but there have come onto the market some very good ones, BAK-4 prisms, full (and correct) multicoatings, waterproof, etc., etc. that can be had for far less than the big-bucks that Swarovski, etc. want for their jewel-plated stuff. A lot of the price of the famous names goes into just buying the name, not better binoculars. Some of the $2000+ jobs ARE sharper to the edge, but not enough to justify those prices.

    P.S. The Pentax 8x40's I just got retail for over $200, were on sale for $120 and had a Pentax rebate for $40. That's $80 for waterproof, BAK-4, famous Pentax FMC and all. I got them yesterday and just took them out back for a "first-look" and they are VERY sharp. Certainly not junk, but cost me $80.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
  11. Labguy

    Labguy 725
    Science Advisor

    Adorama will send you the following email when you request a price for the Fujinon 16x70 FMTSX binoculars:

    Unfornunately, this binocular has only 10mm of eye relief which is very tight for most people. I sold mine.
  12. I paid for mine 16x70 Fujinon's in Canadian dollars few years ago, that would make about thousand US bucks.Sorry about that.
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