The Binoculars see their first stars

Last night was sort of clear so it was the perfect opportunity to test out the new binoculars. We purchased a set of Celestron 15x70s just before Christmas and they arrived the day after Boxing Day. We had them set up on a tripod but that wasn’t too practical from the small viewing platform, and it’ll take a while to get the set up right, so we just used them without any assistance. They are quite a heavy pair of binoculars so really need a tripod to get the best out of them.

My useful reference point is the Southern Cross but that was half covered in cloud so I caught the top half and moved the binos up and to the left where the Southern Pleiades were. What a sight! That cluster looked fantastic in the new binos. The stars were crisp and some colour was evident, a really great sight.

The moon is just starting to wash things out a bit at the moment and that combined with the light of Wellington all around us make picking up Deep Sky Objects a little tricky. But that didn’t stop us having a look at Carina Nebula which stood out quite well with some nebula visible. It’s quite easy to find from the Southern Pleiades, you just go a bit to the left and below of the cluster and you’ll see a messy line of stars with a bright patch in the middle. The Nebula kind of looks like three wedges all pointing towards the bright stars in the middle. The binos gave a really crisp view, and were very easy to focus.

On the way to the Southern Pleiades from the Southern Cross there’s another bright patch of nebula called the Running Chicken Nebula (the first picture shows when to find it) and this stands out really well in the binos. We also had a look at the Jewel Cluster, the stars were tiny and looked a little bit like the Pleiades because there are so many stars – we couldn’t resolve any colour, in particular the traffic light, but with the tripod it might be a bit better. We also then had a look at Tuc 47 which was pretty easy to find by imagining a line between the Southern Cross and Achernar and going about a quarter of the way back and a little to the right. In the binos it looks like a big fluffy ball, no stars could be resolved, but it was very easy to spot being so bright. The rest of the Small Magellanic Cloud wasn’t visible due to the light pollution and the Moon.

The final object for the night was a quick look at Orion to see how much of the Orion Nebula was visible. This was very bright and had its customary green hue about it. The binos deliver such a crisp view, its amazing – certainly compared to the 10x50s we’ve been using up until now.

That was our first night time session with the new binos and the verdict is that they are an awesome addition to any astronomy collection of equipment. They fill a very nice gap between unassisted visual astronomy and using a telescope.