Binocular Highlights is a tour of 99 different celestial sights – from softly glowing clouds of gas and dust to unusual stars, clumps of stars, and vast star cities (galaxies) – all visible in binoculars. Each object is plotted on a detailed, easy-to-use star map, and most of these sights can be found even in a light-polluted sky. Also included are four seasonal all-sky charts that help locate each highlight. You don’t need fancy or expensive equipment to enjoy the wonders of the night sky. In fact, as even experienced stargazers know, to go beyond the naked-eye sky and delve deep into the universe, all you need are binoculars – even the ones hanging unused in your closet. If you don’t own any, Binocular Highlights explains what to look for when choosing binoculars for stargazing and provides observing tips for users of these portable and versatile mini-telescopes.
Many of us will already own a pair of binoculars, and their usefulness and convenience for gazing at the night sky is emphasised in this book. It is true that stargazing is usually associated with telescopes, although the attraction of binoculars, including their comparatively low cost and instant accessibility for a quick and rewarding wide-field look at the night sky, is made clear to the reader throughout.
Binocular Highlights offers an excellent guide to the night sky for binocular observers. Written by someone with experience in binocular observing, the book is based on the monthly column ‘Binocular Highlight’ which graces the pages of Sky & Telescope magazine. As well as containing interesting information on a wide range of celestial sights, some of which are easy to track down with others offering more of a challenge, it provides an extremely useful guide to choosing a pair of binoculars for stargazing, with advice on the different sizes and types of binocular and what to expect from each; testing binoculars for their condition and performance; binocular mounts and observing techniques; and the numerous pitfalls that can befall the binocular purchaser.
There are four fold-out seasonal star charts, located at the front and back of the book, each of which covers the specific seasonal area described in detail within each of the four main sections. Circled numbers on the seasonal star charts refer to the pages where objects in that region of sky are described in more detail in the main part of the book. The detailed charts to which the reader is guided have been rendered at one of three different scales; the wide-field charts (such as the example shown here) to magnitude 7.5; the medium-scale charts to magnitude 8.0; and the close-up charts to magnitude 8.5 and, regardless of the scale, the darkened circular area always represents the field of view for typical 10 x 50 binoculars.
The author mixes interesting facts with personal experience to introduce us to the star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and other celestial characters scattered across the night sky and which offer ideal targets for the binocular observer. Seronik’s fascination with the night sky comes across well in the Introduction and inspires the readers to actually go out there and take a look for themselves. The symbols depicting the various types of deep-sky object are clear and the coil binding makes the book easy to use while under the night sky. It should be pointed out that Binocular Highlights is written for observers located between 30º and 50º north latitudes and is therefore not suitable for observers in the southern hemisphere.
Many observers would indeed class themselves as casual stargazers, their main way of observing the sky being with a pair of binoculars. However, whether you are an experienced observer or a casual star gazer, Binocular Highlights is an ideal and informative guide to the night sky for the backyard astronomer, bringing the subjects to life in an entertaining and enlightening way.
You can purchase a copy of the book by CLICKING HERE.