10 AMAZING THINGS TO SEE AT NIGHT WITH COMMON BINOCULARS
It is quite amazing what you can see in the night’s sky with a simple pair of binoculars. Some people think that you have to be an expert and have expensive equipment to see beautiful things in the night sky. But with even a regular pair of binocular, you can view some breathtaking images from the starry heavens. There is so much to see in the night’s sky that you can spend a lifetime studying and appreciating what nature has to offer.To skip to any topic in this article just click the topic below or continue reading the article in order
As you go out on your next camping trip or the next time you are away from the bright city lights, take your binoculars with you, point them at the night’s sky, and see if you can pick out these amazing objects.
Once upon a time, putting a satellite into orbit was the goal of the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. In October of 1957, many American’s looked up into the night’s sky to see that the U.S. had lost that race as they watched Sputnik 1 glide across the sky.
Today, there are over 2,000 man-made satellites orbiting the earth. Many of these are in low enough orbits that they can be seen with just the naked eye just after sunset or just before sunrise. With binoculars, you can see them even better.
Many meteors are entering the earth’s atmosphere all the time. We often see the large ones as they flash while burning up during entry. But many more than these are also falling to Earth. During a decent meteor shower, a good pair of binoculars can see hundreds of these amazing objects that the eye can miss.
Of course, the biggest thing in the night’s sky will be the moon. The moon has been the source of human fascination and speculation since people started looking up at the sky. Given its close proximity, you can see a lot just with your eyes. But with some binoculars, you can see even more. Consider consulting a basic map of the moon to learn the different craters and other features, many of which you can spot. Binoculars can also be used to help track the various phases of the moon—a great family activity.
At different times throughout the year, many of the planets can be seen with the eye, and therefore with binoculars. The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, can be seen when they pass between the Earth and the Sun. Both of them are best seen at twilight rather than in complete darkness.
Mars can be seen more often than the inner planets. It will actually appear as a dull read orb, which is why it is called the Red Planet (even though it isn’t actually red).
Moving out from Mars, we come to Jupiter. With Jupiter, you can see some truly amazing things. With a simple pair of binoculars, you should be able to see four of its largest moons, known as the Galilean Satellites, after Galileo who first saw them through his telescope.
The other gas giants, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune can also be tracked with binoculars. However, they are too far away to pick up any real distinctive qualities. For example, you will not be able to pick out Saturn’s rings. However, you might pick up various color differences depending on the time of year.
Of course, you can see all the constellations with the naked eye, so you can see them with binoculars too. If you binoculars have a large enough field of view, many of these can be seen as a whole. Or you can get up close and personal with all your favorite constellations throughout the year. Keep a star chart handy to track the course of the stars as the earth moves around the sun.
A star cluster is a little different than a constellation. Star clusters consist of hundreds of stars in close proximity that are related gravitationally. There are two-star clusters that you can see well with a regular pair of binoculars.
First is the Double Cluster, NGC 884 and NGC 869. These are two closely related clusters within the Perseus constellation. It is pretty large in the night’s sky which makes it easy to spot and should be able to fit within most binocular’s field of view.
The second is the Beehive Cluster M44. The cluster was intensely studied by Galileo and appears within the Cancer constellation. It is large enough that you should have no trouble finding it with your binoculars.
The Pleiades are a special star cluster that deserves a category all its own. This cluster can easily be seen by the naked eye and was the source of speculation and writing in Ancient Greece and other ancient cultures. It appears within the constellation Taurus and consists of 7 bright clusters (hence it is sometimes called the Seven Sisters). Once spotted, its beautiful blue glow is truly stunning.
Nebulae are concentrations of gas within the Milky Way. This cloud dust can often be seen with binoculars and is the source of some of the best space photography. There are two nebulae you should look for with your binoculars.
The first is the Lagoon Nebula, M8. It can be seen in the Sagittarius constellation during the summer in most northern locations. Its red glow is truly amazing.
The second is the Orion Nebula, M42. This Nebula appears within Orion’s sword in the Orion constellation. It is possibly the closest nebula to earth at 1,270 light years. It is best seen during the winter.
The Milky Way
The Milky Way is the popular name for our galaxy. When you look up at the night’s sky, you will see a stretch of concentrated stars and clouds that rotate throughout the night. This is the center of the Milky Way as we look in. With binoculars, you can view this densely packed span and see our galactic home.
The Andromeda Galaxy
Speaking of galaxies, the object that is farthest away from the earth that you can see with the naked eye is the Andromeda Galaxy. At 2.5 million light years away, it appears as a faint cloud in the sky. Consisting of more than 1 trillion stars is has an apparent size of many times that of the moon as so is fairly easy to find in the night’s sky.