When it comes to Astronomy and observing the night sky, Telescopes are often cited and recommended as being the best equipment for the job. And while they can provide fascinating views and intricate details, you’ll be pleased to know that they are not your only choice. In fact, in many ways Binoculars can prove superior.
But are 10×50 Binoculars Good for Astronomy? Whilst lower in Magnification than some other Astronomical Binoculars, 10×50’s will enable you to observe the Moon, the Planets (and their individual detail), and some Deep Sky Objects (DSO’s) in the Milky Way and beyond including Star Clusters, the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. In many ways 10×50’s are the sweet spot for general purpose sky scanning and spotting. Like any astronomical observations, the darker the sky (and the less the light pollution) the better – in some cases it will be mandatory. The Celestron 10×50’s are some of the most widely used and recommended pairs you can find. I personally use these and have been incredibly impressed with the combination of quality/cost and performance.
In general, using binoculars comes with a host of distinct advantages for Astronomy – making observing the sky more convenient, affordable, accessible, portable, practical and spontaneous.
If you are wondering if they are going to be worth purchasing, this guide will help you make a decision.
What Are 10×50 Binoculars?
The specs of binoculars tell us a lot about their abilities for stargazing.
10×50 refers to the power, strength provided by the specification of the components that make up the binoculars.
The “10” refers to the magnification (how far they enable you to zoom in) and the “20” refers to the diameter of the objective lenses in millimeters.
Both of these numbers are essential, because they help us to understand what we can see and in what level of detail.
The magnification is calculated against the naked eye (so 10x what your eyes would normally see). The diameter is the measurement of the lenses at the front of the binoculars.
So, ’10×50′ binoculars give you 10 times the magnification of the object viewed by the naked eye, and achieves this with front lenses that are 50 millimeters in diameter.
Now you may be thinking, the higher magnification the better – the more you can see. Not so fast.
The higher the magnification the dimmer the object being viewed; so you always want to strike a fine balance.
Now onto the Objective Lenses. When it comes to Astronomy, ultimately the larger the lenses you are using the better. This is due to the fact that larger lenses gather more light and allow you to observe fainter objects in the sky. This is true for both Binoculars and Telescopes.
With binoculars, the front lenses are known as ‘objectives’, whereas the small lenses you look through are called eyepieces.
Both of these lenses work hand-in-hand to gather light in and direct it toward your eyes – this presents the image.
Overall, a great pair of binoculars for astronomy are portable, cost-effective, and provide adequate and optimal power. 10×50’s meet this criteria, and are in many ways great all-round apparatus.
(This is not to say that more powerful binoculars are not worth considering).
Why 10×50 Binoculars?
Opting for 10×50 Binoculars will provide you with a number of benefits than opting for a Telescope. From a design perspective, binoculars are actually made up of two smaller telescopes that have been joined together.
Here are the main three benefits of 10×50 Binoculars:
Unlike a large investment that is typically required for a telescope, binoculars are considerably cheaper to purchase outright. Plus, they usually do not require extra components which you need to purchase to upgrade elements of your scope.
Plus, as they are generally cheaper, you can afford to get a more powerful pair, or purchase a couple of pairs at the same time accross different specifications. Like 20x80s. You can then go out with your friends or family together and observe at the same time.
The design of binoculars, using two eyepieces, is natural and doesn’t require any getting used to. They’re typically more comfortable for longer too. This makes them great for beginners or even young children.
Plus, the design means you get what is known as a “wider view of view”. Essentially,y the ability to observe more of the sky at once. This makes identifying objects a lot easier, especially when you do not have a knowledge of the sky.
Binoculars are hand-held devices, unlike large and heavy Telescopes that need a mount and a tripod to fix to and balance. This can make them a pain, of impossible to carry around.
Binoculars on the other hand can be easily packed and taken with you on the go.
What Can You See?
With a pair of 10×50’s you’ll get a good view of the objects in the sky. Here’s what to look out for:
Whilst this is probably not going to be a surprise to you, one of the first things to take a look at is the Moon.
With 10×50 binoculars, you will be able to observe the finer details of the lunar surface. you can expect to see the craters and dark areas (also known as Maria).
One of the craters to look out for is called “Tycho” – which you can find by looking for white rays that come up from the crater.
A great technique is to pinpoint the “Terminator”; the divide and line that separates day and night. By focusing here, you will notice that the features are more prominent.
Other areas to look out for are: The Lunar Maria, Apennine Mountain Range and the Copernicus and Clavius Craters.
If you’re like me, then one of the reasons you got into Astronomy was to start observing the planets.
Jupiter and Saturn are perhaps the two most easily observed when using a pair of binoculars. It must be stated that you will need to observe in the most optimal conditions and with binoculars you will need a steady hand (unless you purchase a tripod to fix them in place).
The reason in why Jupiter and Saturn are so easily observed is because they are both very bright and emit a lot of light.
If you are wondering where to look, you can always reference a star charts or apps which help you track and observe.
The largest planet, and a one of the easiest to identify. You can also see great levels of detail with a pair of 10×50 binoculars. I love to look at the Jupiter’s four moons – each of which surround it: Ganymede, Europa, Io and Callisto.
Plus, as these moons are orbiting Jupiter, they will change in position and how they look depending on what day you observe them. You can always observe them in consecutive nights or across a time period to see their movement.
Plus as Jupiter is so light, you do not need to wait for complete darkness to see it through your binocs!
Falling closely behind in terms of size comes Saturn.
By holding your binoculars tightly, you should be able to see an Orb (spherical shape).
With 10×50’s its going to be a bit of struggle to identify Saturn’s Rings, but with higher magnification binoculars you’ll be able to see these more easily.
Titan on the other hand, Saturn’s moon, is easy to identify and observe with 10x50s!
Similarly to find Saturn just use a chart or an app to find where Saturn is at the time and date you are observing.
Beyond just the Solar System, you will also be able to venture into the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Milky Way
When observing the Milky Way, you are going to need to ensure you have the right viewing conditions or otherwise your views will be limited or restricted entirely. A completely dark night sky for one is required.
Part of this is moving away from any significant light pollution. If you live in a city or town, then this may require some travel.
Up until very recently, you could observe the Milky Way regardless of where you were. Since the advancement of technology, and a heavier reliance on light, the Milky Way is now concealed from view in towns and cities.
The best time is on moonless night as these often provide optimal viewing conditions.
From there, to get orientated onto the Milky Way, focus on the glowing arc that stretches across the southern to northeastern horizon.
You will see a faint glow and some small signs of shadowing.
Now, due to the distance, colors will not be able to be detected. So, you will see the Milky Way in shades of grey.
A good place to start is with the bright star Deneb, but there are a lot of other objects that will be fascinating to view.
These include the North America Nebula, the Messier 39 star cluster, The Northern Coalsack and the Messier 13 Globular cluster.
Many nebulae are also worth viewing, these include the Eagle, Trifid, Omega and Lagoon.
As mentioned previously, to help find and identify these, consider a star chart or app.
Beyond the Milky Way
With a pair of 10x50s, you will also be able to observe galaxies beyond the Milky Way. One of my personal favorites is the Andromeda Galaxy and its fellow satellite galaxies known as M110 and M32!
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
A very distant galaxy, you are going to require three things to observe the Andromeda Galaxy. These are: a dark and moonless night, a viewing location with very little light pollution, time and patience to stay up late.
The Andromeda Galaxy appears in the eastern sky, and can be seen by looking directly below the Cassiopeias.
It will appear as a small white image – but believe it or not its actually double the size of the Milky Way! It is around 2.5 million lightyears from us on Earth.
Although it appears as a small white speck – its actually a combination of a trillion stars. The light that they all emit is what makes it visible to us.
Using binoculars will enable you to see it in more detail. The oblong shape appears and you will also be able to see the distinction between the core (oldest stars known as the “bulge”) and the edges.
A pair of 10×50 binoculars are a terrific aid and excellent apparatus for use in Astronomy.
The best pair with this spec are the Celestron Outlands, which I routinely use and thoroughly recommend. So if you are looking to get a pair look no further than this widely respected brand.
I hope this article was of help and not only do you know that you can use this spec, but you now have some objects to go out and view and observe!