For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream. I must agree with Van Gogh on these words. Astronomy has always been fascinating to me.
Once you’ve been through with the early phase of interest, you know you now want more. You want to see the sky clearer and closer. A few things can help you with this, good weather, little light pollution, and a telescope or binoculars.
The telescope vs binoculars debate is where it gets tricky. They both offer some extraordinary benefits for space fanatics. I’m writing this article now to try to guide you through this choice.
Telescopes vs. Binoculars: Main Features
Binoculars and telescopes might seem like two faces of the same coin. However, there are some major differences you need to know about before shopping.
This is pretty obvious. Binoculars have two lenses and telescopes have one lens. But this point has a greater implication on the field of view.
Binoculars have wider fields of view than telescopes. This means that if you can see 3 stars in a cluster using a telescope. With binoculars, you can see four.
This is an advantage for beginners who can understand the sky in context. Binoculars show you a larger piece of the sky as it is, making it easier to learn the constellations and the position of planets and stars.
Some people also find it easier to use both eyes for stargazing. It helps give you 3D views of planets and celestial objects.
Another difference concerning lenses is size. Telescopes have bigger lenses allowing more light in. The aperture is one of the most important aspects of a telescope.
Dim objects can appear clearer, which is evidently necessary for stargazing.
Telescopes were the way Galileo discovered the sky, and for a good reason, too. They offer a much longer range than binoculars.
Binoculars’ magnification ranges from 6 to 12 times, while telescope’s magnification can reach 400 times. This allows you to see several planets, dozens of nebulas, hundreds of distant galaxies, and millions of stars.
Moreover, a telescope gives you a more detailed outlook of celestial objects. You can see thousands of moon features, including lunar craters.
Ease of Use
Binoculars are certainly easier to use than telescopes. There’s no need for a tripod and image is defined, regardless of hand movement.
They’re also portable. You can view the night sky from anywhere, at any time.
Besides, you see the sky as it is. No mirror-reversed or upside-down images. It could prove very useful for the space novice.
Telescopes offer immense potential to grow. You can change lenses and add on eyepieces or filters.
You can also attach your camera to your telescope and take some of those close-up full moon pictures you’ve always seen on Instagram.
Moreover, there are also computerized telescopes now and astronomy has never been easier.
It’s a telescope paired with a computer and a GPS that can track and pinpoint celestial objects without the need for a star navigation map.
Telescopes vs. Binoculars: Pros and Cons
Now that you got a grasp on the main differences between binoculars and telescopes in astronomy, this section is a quick summary if you feel a little lost. Pay attention to the cons of each and see if that’s a dealbreaker for you.
Wider field of view
Easy to use and portable
Versatile; they also work for bird watching
Have a shorter range of view
Detailed viewing of celestial objects
Very effective in low light conditions
More room to upgrade
Cameras can be attached
Can be used with a computer tracking system
Requires occasional maintenance
Narrow field of view
Purpose limited to astronomy
Advanced ones can get quite expensive
Require tripods to be stable
All in all, as a beginner in any field, it’s tough to know where to begin with equipment shopping. But if you’re as fascinated as I am by astronomy, you already know you’re getting a telescope.
Telescopes get you where you need to be. You see moons, stars, nebulae, and galaxies up close. And once you do, you realize it was all worth it.
Although binoculars are more versatile and affordable, I think buying a telescope is an investment with a huge potential to grow in one of the most magical interests there is.