Reviews for the previous editions:
Among the many good books on binocular astronomy, Stargazing with Binoculars stands out as one of the best. [Scagell and Frydman] pack an amazing amount of information into a volume that's clearly written, entertaining, attractive, and portable. --Sky and Telescope
A serious contender for the title of best all-around introduction to binocular astronomy. --Sky and Telescope
Stargazing with Binoculars is the ideal guide for newcomers to astronomy. The authors review the range of the latest binoculars on the market and provide advice on features to consider before making a purchase. Then they lead the beginner through the first steps of using binoculars to observe the night sky, describing what will be visible and how to find specific objects.
This edition has been thoroughly updated to incorporate the latest binocular technology. Illustrated throughout and packed with handy tips and tricks, the book includes:
Binoculars are portable and financially accessible, whereas a telescope can be costly and unwieldy. Even binoculars without bells and whistles will give the viewer an exciting look into the night sky. This introduction is the ideal guide in that pursuit.
Robin Scagell is an author, consultant, broadcaster and operator of the Galaxy Picture Library. He is founder of the West of London Astronomical Society and vice president of the Society for Popular Astronomy. In 2007 he was awarded the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Space Reporting and in 2001 Asteroid Scagell was named after him. Unfortunately it cannot be seen using binoculars.
David Frydman is a lifelong amateur astronomer who observes the night sky mainly with binoculars.
Excerpt from the Introduction
Every stargazer has binoculars. Far from being the poor man's telescope, binoculars have their own special advantages. Even the most advanced amateur astronomers, whose telescopes cost far more than their cars, own binoculars and regularly put them to good use.
So what can binoculars do for you that a telescope can't? Their big advantage is that they give you a much wider view of the sky than most telescopes. Telescopes are essential for giving close-up views of objects, such as planets. But for general stargazing, binoculars show you the big picture.
Imagine yourself out under the stars, on a beautiful dark clear night somewhere deep in the country. The immensity of the heavens stretches above you. There are stars from horizon to horizon. As you gaze upward, you see little knots of stars and vague misty patches. What are they in reality? You raise your binoculars and suddenly those little stars are spread out before your eyes as a mass of glittering points of light.
The little misty patches are transformed, too. Though they remain as gray misty blobs, they now take on some real shape and in some cases we can see intricate detail in stellar birthplaces.
Binoculars can see much farther. With the unaided eye you can see our nearest large galaxy, in Andromeda. But with binoculars in a good dark sky you can start to pick out galaxies in the Virgo cluster, over 20 times farther away.
Though you can really only see planetary detail with a telescope, there are Solar System bodies that look much better in binoculars -- comets being a good example. When a good comet comes along -- though this is a fairly rare event -- binoculars are perfect for picking out its full extent, which may cover several degrees of sky. Even run-of-the-mill comets, of which there are usually one or two a year, are good targets for binoculars.
The wide field of binoculars and their portability makes them the instrument of choice on numerous occasions. Say you want to pick up some elusive cluster or nebula, or a bright asteroid such as Ceres, or a recently discovered comet. Yes, you can set up a computer-controlled telescope which could guide you straight to the spot -- if you have aligned it correctly, and if there is an adequate power supply, both of which can be quite big Ifs at times. But with binoculars and a half-decent star chart you can go to the object straight away, with a little practice. Even owners of good telescopes may take a look first with binoculars, just to check that the object isn't behind a tree, for example.
Suburbanites and city dwellers will find binoculars even more useful than their country cousins. In skies where you can see hardly any stars with the naked eye, binoculars will help you to pick out stars and asterisms that would otherwise remain invisible. A small constellation such as Cancer or Delphinus may be revealed to you for the first time.
And the best thing is that these wonderful instruments need not cost you very much. Though it is usually best to avoid the very cheapest, with a bit of care you can get perfectly serviceable binoculars for the price of a modest mobile phone, and from time to time there are real bargains available. In fact, as we shall see, it is not always a good idea to pay top money for your binoculars. You don't necessarily need the ruggedness of binoculars designed for marine use, or for birdwatching, if the worst that they are likely to suffer is a bit of dew on the lenses.
Chapter 1: Introduction