Do you ever go camping, walking on the beach or a random stroll at night and look up at the sky and wish you had a clear and close view of the constellations. As we now know, we don’t need big telescopes like we often see in the movies to do so. The specially designed binoculars that enable stargazing are perfect for this occasion, but what would make it better is if you could share what you see with the people around you. If you don’t already have one, investing in a pair would be a good start to an endless adventure!
If you already have an instrument for astronomy, a tripod is a useful accessory to have. It doesn’t matter if your binocular is low power, high power, light or heavy, the accessory is a must have. A general knowledge is that there are astronomy instruments that are small, low powered portable instruments. Then there are the larger, heavier and high-powered instruments. A tripod can be used for either type because it will inevitably create a clearer, more stable view when stargazing. Now the larger the magnification, the heavier the binocular, and the more difficult it is to sustain steadiness. Whether the instrument is high or low powered, the solution to stabilize the image is through the use of a tripod.
When buying a tripod, you do not necessarily have to match the binocular brand with the tripod brand. The thread size of the binocular socket is standardized at 1/4x20. In the case of roof prisms, you need to watch out on the specifications because the barrels are closely spaced, therefore needing a tripod adapter that is specially designed and listed for the use of roof prisms. Porro prism, which is the common prism type to use for astronomy, uses a standard L shaped tripod adapter. If a standard L shaped tripod is used on a roof prism, it will cause problems, as the porro prism is much wider than the roof prism. Due to the fact that the porro prism has a lot of space between the barrels, unlike the roof prism, it is capable of using any standard tripod adapter.
Not all binoculars have a built in tripod mount, especially the handheld ones, therefore in order to use the instrument with a tripod you should buy a tripod adapter along with the tripod itself! First, when you shopping for your astronomy binocular, check the specifications if it is listed as tripod adaptable or has a tripod socket. If it turns out to be tripod adaptable, it doesn’t mean that it your instrument comes with a tripod, only means that it is threaded for a tripod adapter. You will need to buy a tripod adapter in that case. If the instrument has a tripod socket, you can locate it under the cap on the front of the center hinge that holds both halves of the instrument together. Typically, the cap unthreads to reveal the tripod socket underneath, if this does not happen then the instrument is not threaded for a tripod adapter. Once you have located the socket the rest is a piece of cake. All you have to do is thread the top of the tripod adapter into the socket and thread other end of the adapter into the stud of the tripod.
Some people enjoy stargazing without the need to adjust and add extra equipment to the process. The small instruments are perfect to be handheld; they come in smaller models with lower magnification. They also give you the ability to stargaze with free movement. If a handheld feels more right to you, make sure that the magnification does not exceed 10x or 12x and that the objective lens is not over 70 or 80mm. When keeping the magnification low, it will allow you to view the sky with minimum distortion from shaking. The general rule is the higher the magnification; the more likely you are to suffer from image distortion from hand unsteadiness. Also, if the objective lens is heavy, it will be hard to hold the instrument for too long. For the best outcome with a handheld, a magnification of 7x up to 12x will be most effective to properly see the star clusters, large nebulae and bright galaxies.
Handheld instruments may be more comfortable for some, but they are less effective when wanting to take a proper, more detailed look into the sky. This is why it good to have a tripod handy for when you want to see the finer details. You may be wondering if a tripod will make a difference in what you see, when using the same binocular. The answer is yes! Take a look at the moon with your instrument in hand, and then take a look at the moon with your instrument held in place between a tree or a doorframe. The amounts of detail you can achieve with the steadiness of your instrument are spectacular! This is the difference you see with an impromptu mount, imagine what a proper tripod will allow you to see. Especially in terms of craters, rills and mount ranges. Not only will a tripod give you a clearer more detailed view, it will also allow you to share what you are viewing with others. It is difficult to give someone you instrument and hope they will find what you are seeing. When the instrument is placed on the tripod, the view is ready for them to see! This way you don’t waste time looking for the object at hand for too long; instead you can be explaining the view, especially to a beginner who doesn’t know what they are looking at. This is a great way to get more people involved in this enjoyable activity. The good thing about using a handheld on a tripod is that you do not need to invest in a heavy tripod. Of course, it is recommended that you buy a well-made tripod that features a metal head for better stability, but it doesn’t need to be heavy such as the ones being used with the giant binoculars.
When choosing a tripod you must see the load capacity the tripod can handle and compare it with the binocular of your choosing. This number is not standardized nor will it provide you will a measurement of how well it will work with larger binoculars, but it is a step in the right direction to the proper tripod. A mistake most newbies do, is purchase a tripod that is too light for the instrument they are using. Now, heavier tripods are expensive, sometimes almost as much as the binocular itself, but without the right tripod giant binoculars will deem to be useless especially, if you have a 20x80 or 25x100. If you try and use a light tripod, you will have a major issue with sag or flex in the head and parts. What this means is when you place a heavy binocular on a light head and then find the object, lock the head and let go the target will no longer be in the field of view. This is because the head sagged under the load. If you then loosen the mount and redo the process again, the same outcome will happen. Also, using a light tripod with a heavy binocular, you are at risk of having the instrument toppling over. It is best to get a tripod that can properly accommodate your instrument.