Weekly Binocular Objects
In this series a new observing target will be introduced every week that anyone can observe with almost any binocular.
If you have any binoculars at home, you may not have considered using them to look at the night sky, perhaps thinking (as many do) that a telescope is required to make astronomical observations. In fact, binoculars are an indispensible observing tool for beginner and experienced astronomers alike; their wide field of view and ease of use mean they are great for sweeping around the sights and delights of the universe, and even a modest binocular can show many hundreds of objects.
Objects in this series will range from star clusters and nebulae to double stars and galaxies, and a description of the object along with a representative photo and star chart will be included. Most objects will be visible in nearly any normal sized binocular - anything from a 7x or 8x30 upwards will be more than adequate. The usual recommendation for a handheld astronomy binocular is a 10x50 (10 times magnification, 50mm diameter lenses), but in truth any binocular with more than around 25-30mm lenses (referred to as the 'aperture') will be useful for observing. Larger apertures than 50mm and/or higher magnifications than 10x can show more, but enter the realm of tripod-based observations due to their size and weight. Suffice it to say that all of these objects have been easily observed with a handheld 10x42 binocular.
As always with observing, do wrap up warm and ensure your eyes have had at least a short time to adapt to the darkness. For objects high in the sky, it might be easier to steady the binocular lying on your back or in a reclining garden chair/deck chair. Seated binocular astronomy can be extremely relaxing!
If you have any questions about these guides, or would like more information or assistance, please use the enquiry form on this website. Better still, visit the JSL Observatory on one of our observing nights where a member of the observing team will be happy to help (see right-hand column for observing session details).
Whatever your level of experience, binocular astronomy is easy and intuitive, not to mention enjoyable, so dig out those binos and get looking up!
Links to all editions of the Weekly Binocular Objects (WBO) series.
- WBO 1: 2018 Week 5 [29th Jan) - Collinder 70 (Orion's Belt Cluster)
- WBO 2: 2018 Week 6 (5th Feb) - Orion's Sword and Messier 42 (Orion Nebula)
- WBO 3: 2018 Week 7 (12th Feb) - Messier 45 (Pleiades)
- WBO 4: 2018 Week 8 (19th Feb) - Melotte 25 (Hyades) and Tau Tauri