Can You See the Milky Way with Binoculars?
Whether you’re an astronomy fan or not, there’s simply no denying the beauty of the milky way. If you have little experience of viewing the night sky with an instrument such as binoculars, then it can be easy to assume that you’ll need to use a telescope in order to view the milky way in great detail.
This is actually far from the case, as the milky way is so large that on very clear nights it can be seen with the human eye! However, even though our eyes are able to detect the milky way, our eyes are not able to gather enough light to be able to clearly see the milky way, which is where viewing instruments come into the mix.
Similar to telescopes, binoculars will certainly help you to spot the intricacies and details of the milky way in greater detail, as well as being able to make out different colors. Below, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using binoculars to view the night sky:
The benefits of using binoculars to view the milky way:
People who are just starting out in the world of astronomy often overlook the benefits of using binoculars to view the night sky. When compared to a telescope, binoculars offer a variety of impressive advantages that a telescope simply does not.
For example, binoculars are very easy to use (which makes them ideal for beginners) and are also much easier to transport and carry around due to their smaller sizes. Plus, besides ease of use, binoculars tend to be a lot less expensive than telescopes, so they’re a great choice for just about anyone looking for a way to view the complexities of the night sky without breaking the bank.
Binoculars also offer a much wider field of view than telescopes can, which will allow you to really take in the expanse of the milky way, rather than having to view it in smaller portions.
In addition to all of that, binoculars also come with the added benefit of allowing you to use both of your eyes, which will allow you to view the milky way more comfortably and authentically than if you were to constantly have to interchange between eyes.
Another great advantage to using binoculars rather than a telescope is that you’ll be able to view the milky way as it truly appears, unlike a telescope that can often flip or reverse the display window.
As a side note, many stargazers that are just starting out often make the rookie mistake of trying to view the milky way at the wrong time of year. If you’re just starting out, it’s very important to note that the milky way is only visible for around half of the year, from spring to the beginning of fall. During the winter months, the milky way drops below the horizon and is located far too close to the sun to be able to view it clearly.
During the spring months, the milky way is best viewed during the hours right before sunrise. Although, as the warmer months roll in, you’ll begin to find that the milky way starts to rise just before midnight.
For this reason, the best time of the year to view the milky way is during the summer months, as it will be visible in the night sky for around eight hours or so before sunrise. As the summer moves to fall and winter, you will still be able to see the milky way for a short period of time during the evening.
Are binoculars better than a telescope for stargazing?
Whether you’re trying to view the milky way or you simply want to take a closer look at some of your favorite constellations, contrary to popular belief you don’t actually need to splash the cash on an expensive and bulky telescope. If you’re looking for a more practical alternative, then a pair of binoculars will be a fantastic addition to all of your stargazing escapades.
Don’t believe us? Well, just think of it this way: on a regular clear night with minimal air pollution, the human eye has the ability to spot around 4000 stars in the night sky.
However, when a pair of binoculars comes into the picture, this figure rises to an impressive 100,000 stars (yes, you read that right) and that’s only referring to a smaller pair of binoculars. If you were to use a large pair of binoculars with a bigger aperture, that figure can rise even higher.
Not only that, but a pair of binoculars will also help you to view stars in heavily polluted areas, so they’re a great choice for people who live in cities. To help give you an idea, in heavily polluted areas the naked eye is usually only ever able to see around 300 stars at best.
However, binoculars are able to cut through the pollution and allow you to see thousands upon thousands of stars in crystal clear detail. Impressive or what?
However, if you would like to be able to view planets and celestial objects in the sky in greater detail, then you might be better off going with a telescope. Even very powerful binoculars will struggle to be able to observe something very small, such as Jupiter’s clouds, even if it has a great magnification.
The main reason for this comes down to the fact that you need to hold binoculars in your hands to use them, and handholding at a magnification of more than 10X is going to be far too shaky, and you’re not going to be able to see anything.
This is where a telescope comes in. Similar to binoculars, telescopes come with magnifying glasses that will allow you to view the night sky in great detail. However, unlike binoculars, a telescope can be attached to a tripod, which will then allow you to observe smaller celestial objects without having to worry about shaking from handholding.