Which would be a better gift? A 60mm refractor or a 10x50 binocular?
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.
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:
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.
That would be a better choice then. But I doubt I can get any from a pawn shop here.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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