Over the years I’ve tested virtually every affordable image-stabilized binocular on the market for reviews appearing in Sky & Telescope magazine. Canon is the clear leader where astronomy is concerned. The company currently offers six models, each with something to interest the backyard stargazer. Some of these binoculars are among the very best available for astronomy, while some are more general purpose. (Fujinon also makes 14×40 image-stabilized binos. You can read my thoughts on this model here.)
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Binocular stargazing is full of surprises. Sometimes you stumble across a pretty cluster and wonder how you’d previously missed it. Other times, you hunt and hunt for a galaxy listed at 8th magnitude, only to come up empty handed. It’s enough to make you wonder — what makes one object a binocular standout and another difficult challenge? Compiled here are the five most important factors that determine whether or not a deep-sky wonder will turn out to be binocular trash or treasure.
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Requiring only a few parts, this simple and effective setup provides stable images for detailed views of the night sky.
“This is the best binocular mount I’ve ever used!”
Those were the first words out of my mouth as I came indoors from testing my just-completed binocular rig. It’s rare that I build something that actually works better than expected, but finally I’d come up with a binocular mount that provides steady views, is easy to use, very portable, and simple to build. It was a good night.
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Open cluster NGC7789 is located in western Cassiopeia.
Rather than simply chase down the obvious Messier objects (as fine as so many of them are), sometimes it’s nice to stretch out a bit and try for some less famous targets. One of my autumn favourites is open cluster NGC7789, located in Cassiopeia.
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The Scutum Star Cloud and M11 are prime, dark-sky attractions.
Summer new Moons are what deep-sky observers live for. Overhead, the glowing band of the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. There’s so much to see that it can be tough to choose! One area that I find particularly eye-catching is the Scutum Star Cloud.
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Planetary nebula M27 is only a short hop away from Sagitta.
Nestled within the rich swath of Milky Way that lies between Aquila and Cygnus is my favourite planetary nebula: M27.
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One of the most interesting globular clusters in the entire sky is M4, in Scorpius.
One of my favourite Scorpius targets is globular cluster M4. Here’s how to find it.
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Here’s a trio of Milky Way Messiers suitable for late-summer/early autum viewing: M16, M17, and M18. M16 is also known as the Eagle Nebula while M17 is often referred to as the Swan or Omega Nebula.
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Although the Canon line of image-stabilized binoculars (reviewed here) is the most comprehensive, there are other manufacturers making similar products. The one that I most often get e-mail requests to evaluate are the Fujinon 14×40 Techno-Stabi binoculars. Little wonder — Fujinon is a highly regarded manufacturer popular with backyard astronomers.
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Early summer is a great time to use binoculars to view a real odd couple: M4 and M80 in Scorpius. As the image above suggests, both globular clusters can be located by keying off golden Antares. That’s why I refer to them as “Antares Globulars.” Use the trio of images presented here to hunt them down.
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