Monday, December 12, 2016

Backyard Astronomy 101 - Binocular Tips

As many of you that have read my blog know, I love Astronomy. 
I don't write about it daily but it is very deep in my soul. Looking to the stars and what they all mean have a profound effect on me. 
And I am happy to share it with you. 

Lets get to it, here is an unedited pic from my iPhone to a pair of 15X70 Binoculars, made by Celestron.  Now the image quality isn't perfect by any means, but it has some potential.  The examples I took below were on a 26 degrees Fahrenheit evening and it was slightly cloud. 

The first number refers the magnification of binocular. A "15X70" for example, magnifies the view by 15 times. Objects appear 15 times larger than they do without the binoculars.
The second number refers to the objective size (diameter in millimeters). The objectives are the large lenses at the end of the binocular (opposite from the eyepieces). There are roughly 25mm in an inch, so a 15x70 binocular's objectives are approximately 3" in diameter. The size of the objective lenses determines the light-gathering power of the binoculars. Generally speaking, for astronomy binoculars, the larger the objectives, the more you'll see. For daylight usage, the larger the objectives, the brighter and clearer the view will be. But as objective size increases, the physical size and weight of the binocular increases, and price also goes up almost exponentially.  

There are 3 basic keys to capturing a good image through a scope or bino's using a Smartphone. 
They are:

1.) Have a steady mount for the telescope or binocular. If the scope moves a lot you will never get a steady clear shot of whatever you are trying to capture. A strong, sturdy mount is very important to your success! For me it was a $40 camera tripod as the binoculars I purchased came with a bracket to mount to a tripod!

2.) Have a steady hand on the camera and sitting down is very helpful. I always like to sit down or lie down when looking up at the stars. But sitting down while capturing the night sky is most helpful. It will assist your hands on taking a great shot!

2.5) Yes 2.5 because its a little extra tip - Make sure you invest in a nice head lamp. Its easy light, that you don't have to carry in your hands. 


#3.) Post processing!! Since this is an iPhone, there are tons of apps to tweak photos. But I have found Instagram to be a very good tool and allows for quick sharing. 

The next 4 images are untouched, just the raw image from the bino's to the phone.

These last two are the comparison shots, the first image was using the iPhone to crop it. The second image is using Instagram. Pretty impressive and relatively easy! Good luck shooting!   

So with just a pair of Binoculars and a SmartPhone you too can take some pictures of the celestial bodies close to Earth! Hope you give it a try and if you do, let me know!

Thanks for reading!