how binoculars work

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How binoculars work

In essence, binoculars are like two telescopes adjoined side by side. Much like a telescope, its chief purpose is to magnify objects situated at a distance and make them appear nearer to see more details. The word binocular comes from the Latin word "bi" (meaning two) and "oculus" (meaning "eyes"). It was Galileo who first discovered the use of lenses to make a telescope that enables an observer to see distant objects more precisely. Most of those principles in making a telescope, particularly on how binoculars work, are being applied in recent technology.

How binoculars work
Binoculars are hand held devices having a range of applications. Whether in home safety, law enforcement, military, astronomy, sports events, or wildlife observation binoculars allow distant objects to appear close using refractor optic lenses. Most binoculars today are constructed with glass lenses.

The objective lenses (the front lens) collects as much light from an image and collects it at a certain point (focus) inside the tube. The magnified image as it passes through the focal point appears upside down. To correct this, a second lens is required - a prism fills this purpose. The eyepiece lenses, meanwhile, fills the retina of your eye with more light from distant objects, hence magnifying it further. The objective lenses and eyepiece are two indispensable elements in binoculars. Another element in binoculars is the vertical prism.

Two kinds of prisms
How binoculars work today is by utilizing two kinds of prisms (roof prism and porro prism) inside the tube that serve the purpose of a second lens. The prisms correct the images created by the objective lens. Binoculars are categorized according to these two prism types.

Porro prisms are positioned adjacent to each other. When light strikes on the above prism it is bounced back at an angle and passes through the lower prism until it reaches the eyepiece and on to the retina of your eye. Binoculars using porro prisms have angular designs, are more bulky, but costs lower than the other. They were the standard before the 1960's when Leitz and Zeiss companies introduced roof prisms.

Roof prism binoculars have a straight barrel design. They may look simpler but inside the tube involve farther complex mechanisms that require more optical precision. They also cost more and are the most dominant types in the high-end binoculars market.

How binoculars work in recent times may have taken up much of Galileo's principles of a telescope, but it has perfectly attuned to recent necessities for better performing binoculars.

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