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What can I see with 10x50 binoculars in bortle class 4?


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I'm just starting out with amateur astronomy and decided to buy the 10x50 Celestron Up-close G2 binoculars. I believe that tomorrow is the planet parade (the aligning of 6 planets) and I'd like to catch a glimpse of it. In the bortle 7 location that I'm in, I could only see a handful of stars (that too with the bins, they weren't even visible to the naked eye). So, I've decided to drive about 10 miles to a bortle 4 location at about 5 in the morning.

So, I just wanted to know what I could see with my binoculars? Would the planets be visible? Apart from that I'd love to catch a glimpse of some nebulas and the Andromeda galaxy. Just wondering if they would be visible as well. And since I'm just starting out, do you have any tips for me? Since I didn't see any of the Messier's in my current bortle 7 location, I'm wondering if I might be missing something. Do you have any suggestions for spotting them? Thanks a lot.

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The planets are currently in alignment - plot them with Stellarium etc for details.  You might see Saturn at dawn, but the rest are mostly too close to the Sun. Venus is only visible via the SOHO solar satellite.

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I’m in Bortle 7, also have 10x50 binoculars and I’m a relative beginner. Off the top of my head things I can/have seen from my back garden with these that are are decent to great (in no particular order) include:

 

M42 Orion Nebula

M45 The Pleiades 

M31 Andromeda Galaxy

M13 Globular Cluster 

Hyades Cluster

The Double Cluster

Albireo Double

 

Venus

Jupiter & moons 

Saturn

Mars

Uranus

 

I’m sure that there’s more… I find that M45 & M31 best in binoculars. As are many open star clusters. 

Also remember that it’s summer and the sky in the UK doesn’t get completely dark - so faint targets are hard to see at the best of times. Some objects are seasonal eg will only be in the sky during the winter months. Of course go to a darker location and you’ll be able to see a lot more. 
 

Ohhh… make sure your eyes are dark adapted. I need at least 25 mins before I can see well in the dark. I was out last night, Bortle 7, and I could literally see dozens of stars after my eyes were accustomed to the dark. 

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@PeterStudz Thanks for the information. I'm also wondering how you find these messier objects. I have an app that gives me the right ascension and declination numbers for a particular object. Is that sufficient? Or do you use other techniques (for ex. star hopping)

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12 minutes ago, AryaanHegde said:

@PeterStudz Thanks for the information. I'm also wondering how you find these messier objects. I have an app that gives me the right ascension and declination numbers for a particular object. Is that sufficient? Or do you use other techniques (for ex. star hopping)

Most of these I can see naked eye, or at least a fuzzy patch naked eye which of course gives them away, eg:- M42; M45; Hyades Cluster & Double Cluster. The Beehive Cluster - M44 - is another great binocular target from my garden which I forgot to mention!

The planets on that list, apart from Uranus, can also been seen naked eye. 

For the others I do a star hop. M13 is an easy star hop once you can see some of (you don’t need to see every star) the Hercules constellation. 

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The 'planets lineup' is unlikely to be as good as the papers predict. Only Saturn and Mars are likely to be at all visible, and at this time of year, the ecliptic only has a very shallow angle in the morning, so the other planets will be lost in the morning twilight. 

There's an excellent resource for binocular users in the Binocularsky website (run by @BinocularSky on this forum). Until recently, he used to produce a monthly newsletter, but all the old ones are still available, so if you look at the ones for June and July they will still be relevant (except for Solar System targets of course). 

https://binocularsky.com/

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Using binoculars is the very best way to get into visual astronomy .

Just be aware, it takes time to find objects to start with.  You need a star map of the area of sky you are looking at (binocular sky is useful here!).

You will probably not realise at first that you have seen an object! It's not going to look like an image from the net. Instead most objects are faint fuzzy and slightly golwing patches of sky.

Time and experience really help.

As recomended above, the best object right now to strt with is M13 in hercules. It is very bright and really easy to spot. It will look like a large fuzzy star. You can then move on to M92.

Be very aware that June is the worst possible time to look for deep sky objects as the sky is never actually dark.

Autumn is soon around and offers a plethora of new objects!

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@AryaanHegde I was under similar skies with 15x50 binos on Saturday and saw a small handful of objects despite summer skies.

M13 is easy to find, 1/3 of the way along between ETA and Zeta Herc.

M92 is more tricky and it is smaller and a little further from the main four stars. In my case, with a 4.5 degree field, I placed Pi Herc at one edge of the fov and then carried on panning away from it. With a bit of panning around I found it fairly quickly.

IMG_9307.thumb.png.b2d09353c476b1a104e97d3bf4c7d588.png

M57 is tiny in binos, perhaps not worth trying in x10, but getting Sulafat and Shelia’s centred in the field of view allows you to find it just off the line between them.

M27 I find by extending a line from Alberio, perpendicular to the main line of Cygnus. This gets you in the right ball park to find it.

The Coathanger or Brocchi’s Cluster is a nice one and again I find it from Alberio.

Alberio itself is lovely, splitting at x15 and I imagine should just be possible at x10 but not sure

IMG_9308.thumb.png.7df92de580206bf97e732eeb906384d0.png

M81 and M82 are also possible, though trickier in these lighter skies. There is an easy star hop to them which takes you right there, shown in this image.

IMG_9309.jpeg.5e4031b67931030410f5b91a9787ceaa.jpeg

I find extending a line from Upsilon through h Ursa Majoris takes you straight to the triangle. Then extend a line from the base of the triangle and that gets you to the line, then you are there.

IMG_9309.jpeg.dfe71b509255c4b02133880fea0e3758.jpeg

All that seen in binos, plenty of other lovely stuff too, open clusters in particular are great such as Melotte 111.

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Binos are great when paired with a deck chair.  I like to do things a bit backwards and try and find objects by just scanning and then working out what I saw.  The fov is large so it helps.

If you do try for the planet parade be careful.  The wide fov of binoculars can make it easy to accidently catch the sun.  You so not want to be looking at the sun with them without appropriate filtering as it can cause very serious and permanent damage to your eyes.

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I live in a Bortle 4 area and in the summertime I find just scanning the milky way slowly with the binoculars to be absolutely breath taking. If you get a reasonably clear view to the south then from the southern tip of Aquila down through Scutum and into Scorpio is jam packed with beauty.

To find your way around it's definitely worth getting familiar with the constellations. All the 'directinns' on how to find things in the sky assume you can find at least the basic things like the brightest stars or the most visible constellations. Get a book out of the library or find a getting started web site https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/advice/skills/stargazing-top-tips 

Most importantly, get out there - even without the binoculars - and start learning to recognise the shapes and how the sky changes through the night and through the year.

 

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Some great advice here! 

A few other things I’d like to add - the Bortle scale is just a rough guide. Some nights are better, occasionally significantly better, than others. Eg I’ve been able to see things on some nights that I really shouldn’t be able to see just going by my Bortle 7. There are a number of reasons for this, but worth bearing in mind that night sky conditions will vary.

My sky is generally at its darkest after about 1:30/2am. I’m guess that’s down to lights being switched off.

And the sky isn’t uniform. Eg for me the darkest patch is towards the SE. And up high is darker than the horizon. So if I know when objects will be in these areas I tend to get the best views. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

😄  The last time I took a pair of 10x50s to a B3 / B4 site, there were so many objects visible that I didn't even use the scope I had brought along.  For awhile, I just stood staring up stunned.

Now I do live in a gray zone / suburban-urban transition so my skies at home are not good, but still...

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On 02/06/2024 at 12:29, AryaanHegde said:

@PeterStudz Thanks for the information. I'm also wondering how you find these messier objects. I have an app that gives me the right ascension and declination numbers for a particular object. Is that sufficient? Or do you use other techniques (for ex. star hopping)

Hi @AryaanHegde and welcome to SGL. :hello2:
Most apps that I have used do give an alt-az option. That said, there are also some star hopping apps for smartphones and tablets too. I use AstroHopper by SGL’er @Artik and Star Hop Pro by SGL’er @Kevdog

Are you mounting your binoculars on a tripod? - If “Yes!” than great… but you will need to find some way of attaching a smartphone/tablet to the binoculars or the mount.

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Try looking for some books on astronomy with binoculars either in the library or on the Internet. I have the vintage Italian edition by James Murden ("The astronomy with binoculars", I think this is the title of the original in English which I don't have and which I translated, hopefully not clumsily, from Italian). When I was a kid I literally read it over and over again. Since you have a Bortle 7 sky, I believe that with a 10X50 the moon is beautiful to see. At 14 years old I was from Cagliari and saw our natural satellite with a 10X30 monocle and looked for the various formations that I saw in Guido Ruggieri's lunar map which you should also find it on the Internet, but I think that in the UK you should definitely have something equally valid.

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I see the Pleiades with the Konus Vista, with X23 they fit all in the visual field and it is very beatiful; a 10X50 gives a nice vision having a field of 6o.

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A really fun target for binoculars is The Coathanger, also known as Brocchi's Cluster. About 1/3 of the way up from Altair to Vega in the Summer Triangle. 

Edited by Gfamily
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On 02/06/2024 at 11:46, AryaanHegde said:

I'm just starting out with amateur astronomy and decided to buy the 10x50 Celestron Up-close G2 binoculars. I believe that tomorrow is the planet parade (the aligning of 6 planets) and I'd like to catch a glimpse of it. In the bortle 7 location that I'm in, I could only see a handful of stars (that too with the bins, they weren't even visible to the naked eye). So, I've decided to drive about 10 miles to a bortle 4 location at about 5 in the morning.

So, I just wanted to know what I could see with my binoculars? Would the planets be visible? Apart from that I'd love to catch a glimpse of some nebulas and the Andromeda galaxy. Just wondering if they would be visible as well. And since I'm just starting out, do you have any tips for me? Since I didn't see any of the Messier's in my current bortle 7 location, I'm wondering if I might be missing something. Do you have any suggestions for spotting them? Thanks a lot.

I suggest you to scan the milkway, as something catches your eyes, check what it's in a star chart.

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I saw M31 with a Konus 10X50 at Cagliari, the largest city in Sardinia, in 1986; I think that you too can see it in the bortle 7.

Edited by Gonariu
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