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  • Writer's pictureAndy Cohen

Tonight's binocular sky

Binoculars will take a new stargazer deeper without the expense and frustration of a telescope.

Thanks to the Binocular Sky Newsletter

If you are new to stargazing - you've spent some time looking up, you can find some constellations and identify planets - and you're hungry for more, binoculars are a great next step. A decent telescope is a wonderful thing and provide a life-long pursuit of fainter and more distant objects, and better lenses, and better mounts and better tracking devices and image processors and .... Astronomy is the ultimate rabbit hole. Rather than down, down, down, to some ultimate destination, the night sky takes you up and out and back in time with limitless destinations to discover.

But a decent telescope will cost hundreds of dollars to start with, and even then, they're difficult to set up, expensive to maintain and only show you a sliver of the sky at a time

A decent pair of binoculars for a hundred dollars will be focused and filled with stars in seconds. And the sky available to you with binoculars is spectacular. Here is just a taste from the September 2918 Binocular Sky Newsletter

"The solar system highlight is Comet 21P; it’s been an easy binocular object for a month now. It makes its way close to some of the Messier open clusters in Auriga and Gemini when the Moon is out of the way, so if you can find them, you should find the comet."

"As the sky darkens at twilight, the Milky Way, always a pleasure to scan with binoculars of any size, arches overhead. In the north are NGC 457 (the Owl Cluster) and NGC 663 in Cassiopeia and the Perseus Double Cluster, from which you can easily find Stock 2 (the Muscleman Cluster). Kemble’s Cascade and its “splash pool”, NGC 1502 are also conveniently placed. To the East of them lie M34 in Perseus and the often-overlooked NGC 752 in Andromeda. More open Clusters are visible in the southern sky in the region of Ophiuchus. These include Melotte 186, NGC 6633 and M11, The Wild Duck Cluster, all of which are easily

visible in 50mm binoculars. Even further to the south-west is a group of open clusters in Serpens and Sagittarius that includes M16 (the Eagle Nebula), M17 (the Swan or Omega Nebula), M23, M24 (the Sagittarius Star Cloud), and M25. Also worth enjoying in this region of sky is the denser part of the Milky Way that forms the Scutum Star Cloud as a backdrop to this cluster."

"The two Hercules globulars, M92 and the very impressive, and very easy to find, M13 are at a very good altitude for observation. Although M13 is clearly larger than M92, it is easier to resolve the outer stars of the latter."

"The easiest planetary nebula, M27 (the Dumbbell Nebula – although I insist that it looks more like an apple core than a dumbbell!) – is visible in the evening skies in even 30mm binoculars."

Credit: Steve Tonkin for The Binocular Sky

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