Big Dipper – check. Cassiopea – check. Andromeda galaxy – uh, no. Constellations are easy to find in the night sky with a little bit of practice and a sky chart, but add a little more focal power and the whole night sky takes on a new dimension.
You’re not likely to pack a telescope with you on a backpacking trip, but even a simple pair of binoculars can change the whole stargazing experience.
- Binoculars are less expensive, easier to use, smaller and lighter than telescopes.
- Every pair of binoculars has two numbers, such as 8×21 or 10×50.
- The first number is the magnifying power or magnification.
- The second number is the diameter of the front lenses in millimetres.
- The bigger the lens, the brighter the stars.
- Most binoculars have a knob in the centre to focus both eyes at once.
- The right-hand eyepiece can also be focused individually to correct differences between your eyes.
What can you see?
- Moon features (dark lava flows such as Mare serenitatis, craters such as Langrenus)
- Jupiter’s moons
- Milky Way starfields
- Andromeda Galaxy
- Pinwheel Galaxy in Triangulum
- Orion nebula (looks like the single but hazy middle star of Orion’s belt)
- Earth satellites (such as the International Space Station)
- A galaxy is a group of stars held together by gravity and dark energy.
- A nebula is a cloud of gas and dust in space.