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Hello everyone! i'll be moving to the french countryside soon and i'd like to finally take that step and buy some binoculars since i've been living in a dark red light pollution hotspot since birth. I have no idea which ones to get though, here are some specifics: -Price between 50 and 100 euros -Can make out planets, some nebulae and maybe a dso or two (wether they are smudges or not doesn't matter to me) -I have glasses so apparently i need something like 16mm eye relief? soo yeah that -used for astronomy (duh) -no further equipment needed (like tripods, lenses etc) aside from a bag or something -purchaseable from amazon or ebay or any other online store since there are no astronomy related stores close to me (Entire country is entirely light polluted so no interest in astronomy) Its a very specific request but i have no idea who else to turn to, i'm willing to spend a little bit more if something fits the requirements perfectly but i'm broke at the moment so 200 is the absolute limit. Thank you to anyone willing to help!
The latest edition of the Binocular Sky Newsletter is ready. As well as the usual overview of DSOs, variable and double stars, this month we have: Explainer: Integrated magnitude and object visibility Four lunar occultations of bright stars Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) Vesta returns to the morning sky at the end of the month I hope this helps you to get the best out of these extremely short nights with your binoculars or small telescopes. To pick up your free copy, just head over to http://binocularsky.com and click on the Newsletter tab, where you can subscribe (also free, of course) to have it emailed each month, and get archived copies.
Last week I've finally got my Opticron Oregon 15x70 binoculars repaired - they've been collecting dust since March when they took a graceful fall from the tripod. So when the skies opened up yesterday night I was ready - binos on the tripod, window open, sky chart and sketch book at hand. And let me tell you - this was one of my best stargazing sessions. What I expected to be a quick glance at the night sky turned into a mind-blowing exploration of the outer Solar System, which until now I've only seen with naked eyes. I'm listing the observations below along with the sketch that I made while observing. And by the way, all the underlined words are links, with extra info. Alright, let's get going! Jupiter I saw it as soon as I opened my window - it was hanging in Aquarius, appallingly bright and very physically present. Two things really struck me when looking at it "zoomed in". First, I saw four little white dots forming a horizonal line on both sides of Jupiter, as if piercing it. From left to right these were: Europa, Ganimede, Io and Callisto. The first two were both affected by Jupiter's brightness, Ganimede still prominent, being the biggest one of the bunch, and Europa only visible with eyes squinted. And second was that Jupiter was a circle. Up until now all space objects (excluding Sun, Moon and hazy dispersed things) looked like dots to me. Even the bright-red Mars looked like a dot, but Jupiter had a white-yellowish body with an outline! I tell you, I really took my time eyeing this little 140 000km wide circle. Saturn A little to the East from Jupiter, in Capricornus, was another little dot, which to my absolute bamboozlement resolved into a disk in my binoculars. Like a little sandy-brown UFO it hung among the stars, mesmerising and enchanting. 15x magnification didn't show me neither the moons of Saturn, nor the separated rings with their coveted Cassini division. But the joined outline of the planet with it's rings looked like what it's meant to be - a planet with rings. And I don't think I will ever forget this celestial pictogram. Neptune After checking Neptune's visual magnitude, which is 7.9, I started star-hopping left from Jupiter: σ Aqr -> Hydor -> φ Aqr -> 96 Aqr. From there I leaped to three YBS(HR) catalogue stars that were poking right into Neptune. Visually, it was a simple dim dot, akin to myriads of stars that don't have a proper name. But don't get an impression that I was disappointed - I was actually stoked to see it, given that it is the furthest planet from Earth visible with my astronomical equipment. I was however surprised that it lacked colour, which I expected to be much more blue. It was instead white, with a veeeery subtle blue tinge. So subtle in fact, that I would've probably mistaken it for a star if I focused on it by chance. Still, I was happy that I have finally met my childhood's favourite planet, the big blue one. Uranus Now this one was a real challenge. First, the Moon's yellow waning crescent was quite close to Uranus. It was not as bright as a full Moon, but still somewhat blinding through the binos. Second, Uranus was hanging at a low altitude, where the sky was yellow from city lights. Third, it was by then 4AM and the sun was about to peek above the horizon - it was only two weeks since summer solstice. And the cherry on the cake - noctilucent clouds were scattered all over Aries, where Uranus was located. I was also quite sleepy, but decided to give it a go nevertheless. I tried star hopping eastwards from the Moon, but soon figured out it's really hard to do when you only see one star. So this idea was scrapped. Then I zoomed in on Uranus in the SkySafari app on my phone (no, they don't pay me), used the accelerometer mode to estimate the planet's position in the sky and pointed my binoculars roughly in that direction. And now for the good part. In-between noctilucent clouds I somehow noticed a vertical pair of stars: π Ari (below) and 40 Ari (above). They were both at least of apparent magnitude of +5 , which was well within the capability of my 70mm binos, but because of the sky brightness, the stars looked extremely dim. Nevertheless, left of these two I spotted another couple, also vertical and sitting closer to each other: ρ2 and ρ3 Ari. And finally, after getting a reference from the app, I made a leap of faith to the right and there it was - Uranus, with ο Ari sitting just right from it. To say I was happy to see the 7th planet would be an understatement. The planet and ο Ari have the same m of ~5.8, but Uranus stood out from the surrounding stars due to it's colder hue. But after the whole ordeal, I was not as much affected by the looks of Uranus, as I was by the peaceful perfection of the entire view before me. In dawning summer skies, covered with ethereal noctilucent clouds, all planets of the outer Solar System lay in front of me, embodying the boundary between Us and the vast Nothing of the Universe. The birds were welcoming the rising sun and I could finally go bed, feeling so at home here, next to our ☉ P.S. I say all planets of the outer Solar System because Pluto was also there, next to Saturn. Though it's m was +14.3, so I'll have to write about it some other time. P.P.S. That night all of the outer planets were aligned in what people call a planet parade. P.P.P.S You might have noticed the Andromeda Galaxy on my sketch. I observed it too, however the viewing conditions were entirely against anything DSO-related, so it's a topic for another write-up.
The August edition of the Binocular Sky Newsletter is ready for download. In addition to the usual overview of DSOs, variable and double stars, highlights this month include: * Uranus and Neptune * Some tricky lunar occultations * Mini-Review of the 'Ukranian parallelogram' mount * A couple of Mira variables near maximum We have astro-darkness back (except in the extreme north) so grab your binos or small telescope and use this guide to enjoy, and share with others, what the night sky freely offers us this month. To get your (free!) copy, or to subscribe (also free) and receive it monthly, please go to http://binocularsky.com and click on the 'Newsletter' tab.