Bolton Astronomical Society

"Star-hopping" with binoculars
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Author:  rwilkinson [ Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:16 pm ]
Post subject:  "Star-hopping" with binoculars

With the intermittent and wispy cloud making recent nights unsuitable for imaging, I've been taking my 15x70 binoculars out, to do some two-eyed visual observing for a change.
The bright image and wide field-of view make these binos pretty good for "star-hopping" to find the "faint fuzzies", and I had the Cartes du Ciel program running on my netbook as a guide.

The M13 & M92 clusters and the Double Cluster were quite easy, and I could just about make out M71, and I even found the M27 planetary nebula too.
Moving down to the bottom of the garden (where I could see better to the SW), I found M11, and could just about get M26, but no luck with M16 or M17.
Finally I had a look at the M31 galaxy, and even tried for M51 - but no sign of the latter.

And looking at these objects with such a low magnification makes it easier to understand why observers in Messier's time could have mistaken them for comets.

Author:  rwilkinson [ Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Whilst out with my binoculars last night, I had a wacky (no, not whackery!) idea to save time when star-hopping.

So this lunchtime I got my woodworking tools out to realise the dream:
File comment: "Can you guess what it is yet?"
binomount1.jpg [ 137.25 KiB | Viewed 9359 times ]

Yes - "Go-To binoculars":
File comment: Helios "Stellar" 15x70 binoculars mounted on Celestron NexStarSLT
binomount2.jpg [ 195.41 KiB | Viewed 9359 times ]

File comment: Close-up of the mounting: all made from scraps of wooden battens!
binomount3.jpg [ 180 KiB | Viewed 9359 times ]

With the tripod legs fully extended, the eyepieces are around the right height for a seated observer. Just needs a coat of matt black paint...

Author:  rwilkinson [ Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

The Go-To binoculars worked OK, but it was really awkward to manoeuvre my seat into a suitable place for each target, without banging into the tripod legs.
And the eyepiece height was wrong for higher objects.

So the mk2 version is designed for a standing observer:
File comment: 15x70s on a NexStar SLT mount atop my multi-function tripod stand
binomount4.jpg [ 189.75 KiB | Viewed 9337 times ]
It will be a lot more "whackery", but hopefully much more comfortable to use...

Author:  bholmes [ Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

That's brilliant Ross. More whackey than whackery, a cross between "Necessity is the mother of invention" and Heath Robinson

Author:  rwilkinson [ Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Yes, using my old speaker-stand to get the mount up to eye-level made the binos much more comfortable to use,
Testing last night trough the gaps in the cloud I was able to align on Altair and Dubhe, and then the GoTo found M13, M57 and M31 for me.

Author:  cmcdougall [ Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

What a clever idea!

Author:  rwilkinson [ Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

This tall tripod is actually a loudspeaker stand, and came with a flat mounting-plate to go on the bottom of the speaker. So all I had to make was a wooden "interface plate" to fix the bottom of the Tasco mount onto it:
binomount5.jpg [ 155.21 KiB | Viewed 8134 times ]

There's a 1/4" Whitworth bolt going up into the base of the Tasco mount, and then a pair of M8 bolts going down onto the speaker-plate.

Author:  jpinna [ Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Star-hopping" with binoculars

Yes it is a cracking idea, no more shakes and arm aches,

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