July 14, 2010

Adventures with Binoculars: Using a Tripod

After initially getting my binoculars, I was very excited to be able to get out quickly and start observing. However, after a few short observing sessions, holding the binoculars in my unstable hands, I started to notice that my views were getting shaky. I have a pair of 15x70 binoculars (meaning they have a 70 mm or 7 cm aperture, which is the size of the objective). This is great because it captures a lot of light and can more easily reveal darker objects. But, that huge aperture also comes with the downside of a fairly large size and weight. As I talked about in my review, they can be usable handheld for short periods of time, but detailed observations lasting longer than about a minute or two can’t be done.

So the time came to start using a tripod. Luckily, the Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars that I have came with a tripod adapter. When researching to buy a pair of binoculars, I did find that most other similar binoculars (in size and price) also come with a tripod adapter. This tripod adapter (pictured) allows an easy attachment of the binoculars to a standard tripod, often used for photography. The whole assembly, with the tripod and the binoculars, can be done in just a few minutes, still allowing that short setup time characteristic of binoculars.

And the tripod has made such a big difference for my observations. Before I used to go outside for casual observing, just to sit down and try to quickly view and identify as many objects in the night sky as possible. Now, most of my observations are much more detailed. I can try to focus on more trickier targets and let myself absorb all the small details that casual observing did not allow. This small change has made a huge difference in my observing habits with binoculars, and it is absolutely necessary to do more detailed observations with powerful binoculars.

Adventures with Binoculars is a new series of posts I'm starting which documents my observations and experiences with my binoculars. For a review of the binoculars I am using, see this earlier post.

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