Rating Binoculars

Binos aplenty

A bewildering assortment of binoculars awaits at your local camera store. But when it comes to stargazing, some binos are better than others.

Binoculars come in a dazzling variety of magnifications and sizes. Many stargazers recommend 10x50s — binoculars that magnify 10x and have 50-millimeter-diameter objective lenses. A trip to your local camera store will likely show you a bewildering array of additional choices. You’ll see 15x70s, 8x40s, 7x35s, and so on. But how do we decide which combination of magnification and aperture is best for stargazing?
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Understanding Binocular Exit Pupils

Exit pupils

Do binoculars with small exit pupils really produce dimmer images?

One binocular specification that seems to generate more than its share of contradictory advice is exit-pupil size. I’ve often seen statements to the effect that you should avoid binoculars with smaller exit pupils because the view is “dimmer” than in models having larger exit pupils. But is this actually true, and more importantly, should it factor into your binocular selection?
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Gary’s Easy-Go-Round Binocular Mount

Easy-Go-Round Mount

Build this simple device for steady binocular views of the night sky.

I love binocular astronomy. At least, that’s my excuse for cluttering the house with a dozen (at last count) of these double-barreled optical wonders. Recently, my collection expanded to include particularly heavy 10×50s and inexpensive 15×70s. For the first time I really felt that I needed some kind of binocular support.
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Binoculars By The Numbers

Binocular numbers

Choosing binoculars is easy once you understand the specs.

Shopping for binoculars at your local camera store or on-line can be a bewildering experience. And if stargazing is your goal, the task becomes even more confusing — there are so many factors to consider and so many (often contradictory) opinions about what matters and what doesn’t. Fortunately, once you understand some of the basic specifications, figuring out whether or not a given binocular is going to suit your needs becomes a lot easier.

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