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Jayla

good viewing 30/06/09

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Wow, I've been quite reluctant to part with cash for any equipment so far, but after a brief session tonight thats changed

*places order on skywatcher 15x70s from FLO*

I'd picked up an old pair of vintage bins, must be a good 40 or so years old, just 2 lens in tubes bound by leather. I figured these would never be useful, was I shocked!

Clear night, not a single cloud, pointed these up at the moon and I could see quite a lot, I could make out the Mares and some detail down the terminator line, fantastic!

I then began looking around the sky in random directions, noticing more fainter stars the longer I was outside, I was absolutely fascinated by the 2 stars in the handle of "the plough". I could only see one to start with but now clearly can see two, fantastic!

Typical, it has to be a work night, and knowing my luck it won't be like this for weekends to come!

Next purchase, definately some form of camping lounge chair...neck....aches....

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Sounds like you had a brilliant night James :)

The Moon through binos is amazing, just wait til you get those 15x70s!

The star in the handle of the Plough you mention is (probably) Mizar. You should be able to make out - with dark adapted eyes and a bit of averted vision - Mizar's companion star Alcor - together they are known as the 'horse and rider.' These two stars are what you can see through the binos :) Mizar itself is actually a double star, though I don't think you can see it through binos. It's a beauty through my 5" telescope.

How about have a go at Jupiter next? You should be able to make out a moon or two with your binoculars, and also the 'disk' of the planet ;) Another great object is M13 - the great globular cluster in Hercules. Use any star map to find it, it is in the 'Keystone' - a sqaure(ish) shape of stars in the constellation Hercules. Through binos, you should be able to make out a grey fuzzy ball B)

Clear skies :(

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Hi Amanda,

Yeah I checked for Jupiter on stellarium/KStars but I couldn't find it, probably due to cheap binos/light pollution

I'd like to catch a glimpse of venus/mars/mercury at somepoint, but everytime I check Stellarium they are well below the horizon.

Also, been meaning to ask this dumb questions. Sometimes the moon looks a lot larger than normal, and looks red-ish like mars. I haven't noticed this in about 6 months, is this some kind of lunar eclipse or an atmospheric distortion? I'd really like to predict nights like those so I can get some good viewing

In regards to nebulae/clusters/andromeda, can these been seen well in binos? or will they just like slightly larger points of light on a black screen?

J

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Hi J :)

No questions is a dumb question on SGL! :) With regards to the colour of the Moon... I found this on a website:

The reason for the orange color is due to the scattering of light by the atmosphere. When the moon is near the horizon, the moonlight has to pass through much more atmosphere than when the moon is directly overhead. By the time the moonlight reaches your eyes, the green, blue, and purple pieces of visible light have been scattered away by air molecules. You only see yellow, orange, or red.

You can find the whole article here. There's lots of other websites around too, if you do a quick 'why does the moon sometimes look orange?' google search, there are some scientific explanations ;)

I live in an area with moderate light pollution, but Jupiter is still unmistakable! I was looking at the planet at around 1am last night. Just look towards the South-east (if you haven't got a compass just look in the general direction of where the sun rises) and you will be able to see Jupiter naked eye, very easily. He appears as a very bright star with a yellowish colour. It's an amazing sight, I can pick out two moons very easily with my binoculars. As the months go on Jupiter will rise earlier and earlier too, so by the Autumn we should (I think) be able to view him for much of the night.

Venus and Mars are morning objects at the moment. They both rise at about 2:30am, Venus in the Earth-northeast and Mars in the East. Venus is very very bright - a piercing silver star, whilst Mars appears as a more muted but distinctly orange star. I really don't think you'd make out much detail with binos - I can barely see the phases of Venus with my telescope.. but there's no harm in giving it a go!

Mercury is best seeen just before sunrise around about now in the Northeast... it is not as bright as the other objects but if you are looking in the right direction you should come across it fairly easily. (see this month's Sky at Night magazine for more info, page 56)

This little fact helped me lots when trying to find planets in the night sky - we all know that stars twinkle up in the sky. Planets do not! This is because the stars' light has come from a very very long way away... the light gets distorted as it travels towards us and hence we see it twinkle. The planets, on the other hand, are (relativey) closer, so their light isn't affected in this way. Have a read of this for more info.

On to the DSOs.

M31, Andromeda galaxy appears to me, through my 10x50s, as a smudged blob of light. It is very obvious though - and takes up alot of the field of view (FOV).

M42, Orions nebula (wait for the Autumn for this one, it isn't around atm) is lovely - beautiful colours and definite shape to it - you can pick up wisps of nebulosity too.

clusters are beautiful with binos and in my opinion binos are better instruments for viewing them than telescopes (unless of course you have a huge telescope that shows up massive amounts of detail). Globular clusters - like M13 I mentioned earlier appear as definite spherical globs hanging in a black vacuum of space. YOu can make out a brighter core and a hazy outer halo. You can't resolve any individual stars though. Open clusters, like the Pleaides, are a sight to behold through binos. Brilliant blue stars.. and so many more come into view.

So yes, DSOs like nebular, clusters and galaxies can be seen in binos - you are not going to get Hubble like views with any instruments from Earth (you probably know this). You'll be able to make out wisps of light, globs of stars and beautiful loose clusters... not to mention, with the wider FOV binos can give you, you will find them easier to locate. From darker sights, of course, the viewing is enhanced.

Use the technique of averted vision to bring out some of the fainter fuzzies - look a little tot he side of the object and you will be able to see more detail. B)

Hope this helps, any more questions just fire away. If I can't help I'll point you in the direction of someone who can. For the future, you'll get more specific help if you post your questions in one of the specific areas of the forum. If it's on observing Jupiter, for instance, post it in the observing - planetary section, or if it's on DSOs - in the 'deep sky' section. That way, people who know alot about that side of observing will be there and ready to help :(

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Hi J, what you can see totally depends on sky conditions and light pollution. Many members have had problems seeing M51 and M101 with their scopes, but under my dark skies when there's no lunar interference, i can easily see them using my 11x70 binos.

And yes, the orange-red color of the Moon is caused by our atmosphere refracting the other colors. Same thing happens during a lunar eclipse, but during an eclipse Luna is actually passing through the Earth's umbra instead of merely being viewed through our airmass, as is the case when she's near the horizon.

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Carol, I've been meaning to ask, do you use a tripod for your binoculars? I would like to buy some 11x70s by the end of the year, I imagine a tripod is most definitely needed for that size? Perhaps James would benefit from a tripod too. What do you think?

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Thanks for the responses, and thanks for taking the time to explain all that Amanda :)

Do you know of any reliable way of predicting when the moon appears in such ways? It'd be good to know in advance so I don't miss such occassions

Regarding tripods, I got one off ebay about a week ago, its pretty stable, but quite obvious a cheapie. (couldn't see a need for something with bells and whisltes that essentially does what I'm too lazy to make my arms do..)

This is what I got, you should be able to pick one up on ebay for £12 delivered if your interested

star%2061.jpg

I hope the bins arrive by the weekend, itching to go!

J

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Sometimes i use a tripod, but not usually. Basically the 11x70s are used to test the transparency, quickly scan a target area, or just have a leisurely look around. A tripod is always used when stability is needed for verification purposes though, like when i made the M57 sketch last summer or when i'm tracking an asteroid from night to night. The 22x100s are a different story.. they're as long as the OTA of my 8" SCT. :)

J, we'll keep our fingers crossed for you.. hope you get the binos in time and have clear skies, too. :) Regarding the lunar eclipses, do a Google search and then mark the dates on your calendar... that way you'll never have one sneak up on you. ;) I've set the 'events' tab parameters in my astro program (Sky Tools 3) to list them, maybe Stellarium has something similar, i'm not sure.

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Well well well, the bins arrived today! (good job FLO, speedy delivery!) I've been sitting out in the garden all evening waiting to catch a glimpse of the first appearing stars.

The first star that appears (at least from what I've found over the past two nights) is I believe, Spica (virgo?) Its to the right of the moon and up a bit (sorry I haven't learnt the technical terms yet!)

The second brightest star (and OMG probably the BEST so far) is directly behind, I think its Deneb according to stellarium, but I'm probably wrong. This is a little gem, my jaw is right on the floor still. It appears to the naked eye as one star, yet in the FOV of the bins its actually 2 bright stars with around 20 or so around it, amazing!

Fantastic, I had to call my Mum and brother out, I forced them to see that lovely view!

Another thing I found, I saw a few jets flying over so tracked them, it was pretty much "join the dots" on the stars, so found even more I didn't notice without the bins

It was still early (before 11pm), so I'm looking forward to the weekend where I can hit some higher ground over the Stour Valley, and later too :)

By the way, for anyone else considering purchasing the celestron15x70s, they seem sturdy as a rock, well built, and consideribly larger than expected.

My only moan is neck ache, and my tripod doesn't really help since most of the targets are directly up, any suggestions? Maybe invest in a camping/fishing fold up lounge-chair

This is only going to get better...

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So glad you're enjoying the binos, J. I had a chance to look through a pair of the 15x70s a while ago and they did provide very nice views.

A recliner of some kind may be a way to go for overhead observing - I have a plastic type garden chair which stretches nearly level and I can rest my elbows on the arms. I have a photo tripod which will take the weight of my 10x50s and extends high enough for me to view nearly overhead (but I'm not very tall! and it's still neck aching), although I don't know whether it would be stable enough for 15x70s.

This is only going to get better.....
Oh yes, definitely! The more you look, the more you see, no question. It's amazing how things suddenly seem to leap out at you as you gain more experience. And don't forget to let your eyes adjust to the dark. After 20-30 mins away from lights, you will see so much more.

Hope we all get some clear skies soon:)

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That's wonderful news... Kudos to FLO for the fast delivery, and congratulations to you on a successful first session. :)

Regarding the neck pain, you might also consider purchasing or making a binocular mirror mount... you look down instead of up.:) It takes a while to get your bearings, but everything's just as beautiful and you spend more time observing because you're a lot more comfortable.

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