Astronomy on the Cheap – Part 2
I recently spent a day working at the Atlantic Photo Supply booth at the Saltscapes Expo. We were promoting our telescopes, weather stations and binoculars but most people were drawn into our booth by our impressive display of Sky-Watcher and Celestron telescopes. We were joined by volunteers from the Royal Astronomical Society who gave expo attendees brief lessons on astronomy and how to use the scopes.
One of the most interesting things I learned from these folks was that a simple pair of binoculars can be a great way to start learning about astronomy. They emphasized that you don't have to shell out hundreds and hundreds of dollars to buy a large telescope that you may not end up using often due to its size. With a half-decent pair of binoculars, you can still see double stars, Milky Way star clouds and even some dim distant galaxies, according to the 'Binoculars for Astronomy' tutorial on Sky & Telescope. We sell simple inexpensive brackets that make it possible to mount almost any pair of binoculars to a tripod, which will make viewing those dim objects a little less shaky.
Spending some time getting acquainted with the night sky with a pair of binoculars will make using a traditional telescope much easier since you will have a better idea of where to start looking for interesting subjects. If you do end up upgrading to a larger telescope, chances are good that you'll still find your pair of binoculars handy to have around. Astronomers who have graduated to the larger, brighter telescopes still use binoculars on a regular basis because it can be a little bit easier to find celestial objects with the wider field of vision, and also because binoculars won't flip images upside down, like telescopes usually do.
And the best part is that binoculars will never become obsolete! Even if you don't end up pursuing astronomy as a full-fledged hobby, they'll be great to have around for so many other uses!