Prairie Grass Observatory Campus
Enjoying the Sky With Binoculars...

Each year at the Indiana Family Star Party, we focus on introducing people to exploring the night sky and beginning the hobby of astronomy. This year, we decided to add a guided binocular tour!


Some people (both kids and adults) would like to get started in astronomy but the cost of a telescope might be considered a bit steep.  Why not have a program to teach people how to use binoculars?  You get TWO telescopes for less than the price of one conventional telescope!  Also binoculars are useful for so many other things!


Binoculars are pretty easy for daytime objects but at night you have to learn many different things to use them properly.  Binoculars are simple optical aids and fairly simple to understand, but while they are pretty easy to use for daytime objects, at night you may have to learn a few things to both select the right binoculars for sky viewing, and to find things in the sky.  Issues that may present themselves are:

What does 10 x 50 mean on my binoculars?

What do you use for landmarks as you are looking at the sky?

How do you find things in the sky?

What is a sky chart and how do you use it?

What objects can you see in the sky with binoculars?

To start you off on the right foot in binocular astronomy, Lisa Wieland provided a new manual this year, A Brief Binocular Tour of the Summer Sky.  With the manual, binocular observers can first learn a little about their binoculars, how to maneuver across the sky with them, and how to find a small selection of summer sky objects.  The manual guides observers to objects in the Northern Sky, Northeastern Sky, Eastern Sky, Southeastern & Upper Southern Sky, as well as the Far Southern Sky for mid-summertime.  On page 12 there is a preview of when Saturn, Jupiter, and the Pleiades will be coming up in late summer and early fall.  An Appendix defines terms and abbreviations found in the manual, and provides pictures of the asterisms mentioned in the manual. For pictures of other objects mentioned in the manual, a Google search will be helpful.

This binocular tour is not only for beginners, but also for seasoned amateurs who would like a short list of fun objects to find in binoculars.  Feel free to download the manual and take your first steps to finding objects of wonder!"