01 January 2014

Binocular Observers: an under-served community?

Binocular observers seem like an under-served community of astronomical observers. Imaging and observing with telescopes receive much more attention, even though binoculars are regularly mentioned when new observers ask 'how should I start?'

With that issue in mind, Knightware has produced observing plans from Phil Harrington's monthly Binocular Universe column on CloudyNights.com for over a year. Each plan, and a compendium of all 2013 plans, are available to licensed users of Deep-Sky Planner 6 in the online Plan Library (http://knightware.biz/community/loginfm.php).

In each article, Harrington describes several objects visible during the month, and he provides a star chart to accompany the article. Objects are visible to northern hemisphere observers, and many are also visible to southern hemisphere observers. For objects that are described in his book, Touring the Universe Through Binoculars (Wiley & Sons), he provides a page number reference. The book is a wonderful reference for binocular observers, so Knightware's observing plans include these page numbers. If you haven't read Binocular Universe, you can find it at http://www.cloudynights.com/. Touring the Universe Through Binoculars is available in paperback and for Kindle.

There is another excellent resource for observers that comes from the UK. Stephen Tonkin publishes a monthly newsletter for binocular observers entitled Binocular Sky. You can find his web page and newsletter at http://binocularsky.com/. Stephen also authored the book Binocular Astronomy (Springer), and he currently authors a column called Binocular Tour each month in Sky At Night magazine. Binocular Tour includes a handful of popular binocular targets that any observer would enjoy. Binocular Astronomy is available in paperback and for Kindle.

If you haven't observed with binoculars lately, why not take them out next time you observe? And don't forget these resources specifically for binocular observers.