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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Looking Up: See the stars 7 to 10 times closer

  • A simple pair of binoculars will take your view closer to the stars.
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  • A simple pair of binoculars will take your view closer to the stars.
    Magnifying the view seven or 10 times and seeing thousands of stars not visible to unaided eyes. Common binoculars will allow you to pick out- with the aid of a good star chart- planets Uranus and Neptune and the brighter asteroids.
    The hazy Milky Way will burst into a myriad tiny stars. An abundance of colorful double stars, star clusters, some galaxies and nebulous wisps will come into view. When Jupiter is in view you can even detect its brightest moons, and start to see that the brilliant point of light of the planet is a little disc and not a star-like point.
    Then there's the Moon. Binoculars reveal a jumble of craters and mountains, and clearly show the dark plains and bright rays emanating from certain craters. The crescent Moon is most spectacular in binoculars, showing the earth-shine filling the dark portion of the Moon so much better.
    You will have a better view if you support your binoculars on a tripod, railing or other fixed object.
    Larger is not necessarily better; it depends on your budget and plans to use them. Small 7x35 binoculars are handy for everyday use and can give good night sky views. The "7" means it magnifies seven times. "35" means each of the front (objective) lenses is 35 millimeters (mm) in diameter. Another popular variety is 10x 50, which gives you added magnification and light gathering ability yet is still not too heavy to hold and use. The larger the front lens, the more light it collects and the fainter the star you can see. If you will primarily use them for daytime, then 35mm lenses are probably enough and cost less than 50 mm.
    Keep them covered in a case or bag when not in use (of course) to keep out dust. Avoid touching the lenses. Keep the strap around your neck- it is all too easy to drop them! Clean them carefully, as you would eyeglasses.
    Galileo opened up a whole new understanding of the Universe with a telescope in the early 1600's, much smaller than today's binoculars.
    If you have binoculars, the next clear, dark night step out in the evening hours and look almost overhead in the north. You will see the M-shaped constellation Cassiopeia. To the lower right of the "M" scan for the fabulous "Double Cluster." You can see this as a double hazy patch with just your eyes. The cluster pair is among the rich field of the Milky Way Band, where most star clusters are seen. The Double Cluster is among the most spectacular within reach of a small telescope or binoculars.
    Also look at the middle star of the "handle" of the Big Dipper, low in the northwest on a November evening. Tell me what you see!
    Page 2 of 2 - Full Moon is on November 17.
    Notes are welcome at news@neagle.com.
    Keep looking up!

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