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First 'proper' night out with some 10x50 bins

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Well after having a couple of disheartening nights out, between finding the brightest stars in a constellation and then using the bins to focus in on them just to try and practice some basic star hopping, only to be greeted when viewing through the bins, many more stars in the same general area, all as bright as each other and not knowing which one is which i felt like i had hit a wall before i've even started. Anyway, thats another story and im sure i'll get there with some practice as i imagine even Jimi Hendrix struggled to hit a chord when he first picked up a guitar.

Was another clear night last night (2 in a row, hopefully the start of things to come) i thought i would just go out and goof around pointing at different things not knowing what they are and basically trying to train my eyes into picking out the brighter 'naked eye' stars through the bins.

I started off, same as usual in looking at the north star and the plough and found out something i did not know, on looking at the second star across (quick look on google says its mizar) i realised there is another star just above it. I was pretty impressed with that as i had no idea, as ive said i class myself as a very casual observer who just looks at the moon through some binoculars occasionally so my knowledge is very limited to say the least.

After seeing that (and a police helicopter flying around that general area) i decided to have a look around cassiopeia and follow the 'pointer' that the 3 stars on the right make to see if could find m31. While looking, a shooting star crossed my field of view in the bins which even tho it was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it thing, was pretty cool to see. I was not getting anywhere trying to find m31 the 'text book' way but since the streetlights were not on and they had turned the spotlights off that shine on the local theatre to where i live the back garden was as dark as i have seen it in a long time so i thought i would take advantage of it. I took my bins and basically just started to scan the general area where m31 can be seen and after a few minutes lo and behold, there it was. I found that i couldnt see it when trying to look directly at it but when looking at a star close by and sort of looking through the corner of my eye, i could see it then (if that makes sense). All it was is a very small feint greyish blob so i can understand people being disappointed when they first see it but not me. I was sat there staring in awe at this light that has come from so far away it was originally projected before humans had even started to walk the earth, and that blew me away. The next thing there were red and green lights coming into my field of view and i realised the police helicopter was still flying around so came back in one happy bunny.

The icing on the cake was about an hour and a half ago when i was woken by the milkman so i though i would go outside to catch a glimpse of venus and jupiter and there they were. I wasnt expecting it to look as impressive as it did, even with the naked eye you could just see these 2 bright glows in the sky, with a feinter star just to the right in between them both. I grabbed my camera to try to take some pictures but a 3.2 megapixel camera thats got to be about 10 years old just couldnt capture it, and lack of a tripod didnt help either. Not sure if one can see the transits of venus in 10x50 bins but i couldnt make it out, i could be the bins tho as they have seen better days.

Think im going to pop out later to see if i can pick up an adapter for the bins and borrow a tripod so can see a steady view, even with some cheap 10x50 bins well past their prime i guess a tripod will no doubt improve the experience. Sounds stupid but even typing this i had a cheesy grin thinking back on seeing the andromeda galaxy earlier. Looking forward to getting a telescope now to get some clearer views.

Sorry for the long winded post and hope everyone else taking advantage of the clear skies last night had as much fun as myself :)

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Great stuff, Kev and a very informative read.

I was also out last night playing around. I also did a little stargazing in Cassiopeia and Cygnus, went to bed and woke again a couple of hours later to check out Venus and Jupiter. The little star caught between them to the right was probably Aldebaren whose light you saw this morning more than likely occurred around the time of Queen Eli II's wedding. M 103 might be worth checking out in Cassiopedia and and Shedir (Alpha Cas) should offer a pretty optical double. I imagine through your 'cheerful' bins you were able to make out a few of Jupiter's moons this early morning, three a least. The two to his right heading westward were Callisto and Ganymede and the one on the opposite side was Europa. If you are able to follow Jupiter tomorrow morning, you'll find those moons have moved around a far bit and maybe even Lo will be visible.

Thank you for the report.

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Thanks for posting your enthusiastic report. Binoculars are great for finding your way around and it is surprising how much you can see with them - especially with a dark sky. Did you look at M45 - close to jupiter and venus - thats a glorious sight !


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I didnt look try looking for m45 or m103, its ignorance on my part more than anything as i have no idea whats visible in the sky at what times etc. Have downloaded stellarium now to get an idea of locations of different things as well as doing some light reading on whats visible with bins in the night sky at the moment. I can already see that a little preperation goes a long way in this hobby. Have just printed out a starchart via skymaps.com to get an idea of whats visible where, and hopefully help me learn a little about navigating as well.

As for jupiters moons, i can't say i noticed them if im honest, i thought it might have been the bins but just been outside with them and they focus fine so it must hasve been where i was just holding them in my hands and didn't have anything to help and steady the view, will be better prepared tonight :)

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