Monday, May 23, 2011

Excellent discussion of the benefits of binoculars

Here's a link to an excellent discussion of binoculars for stargazing (and moongazing) from 365 Days of Astronomy. It's a podcast, so you can download it and listen to it on your way to work if you want to, or listen at home or simply read the transcript.

The post examines the reasons why a good pair of binoculars are a better first purchase for gazing at the heavens than a telescope, and then goes on to discuss the specifications to consider when selecting a pair of binos.

He also explains the concept of the "exit pupil," which dictates the amount of light magnification that binoculars can provide. In the Army, we were taught that binoculars can be used at night as a sort of low-level night-vision device, because they can actually gather light and enable you to see objects in the dark more brightly than you can see them with your naked eye. This podcast explains why.

The spectacle of the four planets Venus, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter is still taking place in the early pre-dawn hours on the eastern horizon. You will need binoculars to see Mercury and Mars. The positions of the four planets have shifted somewhat since the post from April 28 -- their new relative locations are illustrated in this post from the Urban Astronomer.