22 January 2012

Binocular Observing Poll

For several months the Observers' Poll on knightware.biz has been about binocular observing. The question and results are:

Do you observe with binoculars?

Never: 14%
Occasionally: 48%
Frequently: 37%

The 14% that never observe with binoculars is a little surprising. My first attempt at observing was done with binoculars. I laid on the lawn in the summer of 1969 and aimed the family binoculars at the moon where Apollo 11 was convincing me that some form of science would be my avocation. That childhood dream led to a career in software development in engineering and scientific disciplines, and of course, amateur astronomy.

For many years binoculars have been my tool of choice for observing bright comets and open clusters. I have also learned some really neat applications.

My friend Tom Lorenzin showed me some beautiful sights many years ago at the Winter Star Party using his 8x50 binos with UHC filters in each eyepiece. I particularly remember viewing the planetary nebula Jones 1 on that occasion.

My friend Tatsuo Saitoh from Japan shared his 10x70 Fujinon binoculars with me to observe Comet Hyakutake. That observation was a game changer, and I saved for a pair of 16x70 Fujinons myself.

Binoculars are sometimes the only portable solution for observing. When there was not room for a telescope on a family vacation, I often packed my 16x70s and my T&T mount. Most of my binocular work has been done on these trips. I learned that observing the summer Milky Way from mountain campsites is a terrific way to observe.

To you 14%, I highly recommend giving binoculars a try. If you image, binocular observing while running exposures gives you something fun to do.

To the rest of you, I point you to the growing list of observing plans specifically for binocular observing in the Deep-Sky Planner Community's Plan Library. Plans for Phil Harrington's monthly 'Binocular Universe' articles are there. I am also working on providing plans that accompany his outstanding book, 'Touring the Universe Through Binoculars'.

Jan 2012 Binocular Universe Observing Plan