Wednesday, March 26, 2008


As mentioned several times before, I have an abiding interest in astronomy. It is possible to do astronomy without any tools, i.e. telescopes, computers, and the like, but these add more dimensions to this hobby of mine. As a consequence I have accumulated, through my lifetime, several telescopes, computers, cameras, and binoculars.

It may surprise many people, but binoculars have a very useful niche in the application of "visual" astronomy. Galileo would have given his eye-teeth for this kind of "telescope", which binoculars are (actually binoculars are two identical telescopes, one for each eye). Be that as it may, I always use binoculars when I'm out, doing astronomy. As I've gotten older, I have developed a less steady hand; I've found that the tiny tremours in my hands have now come to a stage at which the fine details of what I'm looking at are hard or impossible for me to see. Tripods cure this problem, of course, but they tend to make it awkward to "point-and-look", when checking out the familiar objects in the sky (or on earth, for that matter).

Because of this, I decided to buy yet another pair of binoculars - but this time with the "image stabilizer" option. I opted for a pair of Canon 15x50's (picture at left). This means that the magnification power is 15 and the front lenses are 50mm in diameter. 15 power is normally considered to be beyond the "handheld" range of powers (7 - 10 power is traditionally recommended). However, with the stabilization mode on the Canon binoculars turned on, free-hand use is a real pleasure. The little jiggles disappear, and details become far more obvious.

I'm looking forward to a clear night, so that I can use these binoculars "astronomically", particularly away from the extremely light-polluted sky in this city.