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What you can see through a small inexpensive instrument

[ Small Refractor ] | [ RTF ]

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Milky Way

Globular Clusters
M13: Great Hercules GC

Open Clusters
M44 Praesepe
M45 Pleiades

M42: The Orion Nebula
M20: The Trifid Nebula

M31: The Andromeda Galaxy

SEDS is an independent, student-based organization which promotes the exploration and development of space.

What can be seen through binoculars

Many of the open star cluster and larger nebula are good targets. These often times look there best in binoculars. Also general overall views of our own galaxy the Milky Way is best viewed with binoculars. The most fantastic views of the Milky Way you will ever obtain can only be had with binocular vision, that is, having the use of both eyes.

Look into Sagittarius for the Trifid nebula. Also seek out the nebula in Cygnus. Find the open clusters M46 and M47 for they are in the same field of view and have become one of my favorite return objects. The Great Orion nebula, M42,  is viewable in binoculars. Open cluster M41 lies exactly south of Sirius, making it an easy to find target. Several open cluster are found in Auriga as well. These are just a few to get you started with, look to the side bar for more info from SEDS.

If you do not yet know your night sky then binoculars are an excellent tool to learn with.You will be learning the sky like never before this way. Of course be sure to bring along a good sky chart.

What about a small refractor?

Small telescope targets would included all the Messier objects. Normally all of the open clusters, planets, double stars, and some of the nebula are game as well. Some gems are, double star Albireo, and open clusters M35, and M41. The Great Orion nebula M42 is easily captured.

The moon is an often over looked object. A small scope is the ideal instrument for lunar observation. You can get the full disk of the moon in a small scope yet still show more detail then binoculars do. Use higher power eyepieces when viewing is good. The moon is loved by children. Don't pass up the opportunity to show it off to them.

For solar observing big scopes are not necessary. Eyepiece filters for the sun are dangerous and should not be used. One  can use a small scope to project the sun onto a white card.

Comets do exceedingly well in the small telescopes. Comets take up a few degrees of sky with their tail, low power instruments can take it all in a single view. Variable star watchers normally use small scopes as well. The double cluster in Perseus is an excellent site to behold. Globular clusters M13 and M5. Even M31 is a large and bright enough galaxy for a small scope.

Rich Field Telescopes (RFT)

These are excellent for comets, open clusters, large bright nebula, and all along the milky way. They are not for close up views of planets or double stars. However the moon is very impressive in one. Binoculars are really RFTs but these comet catchers offer many of the benefits of binoculars ( except binocular vision), only with the added aperture size and power.

Standard binoculars have 7-10x power while a comet catcher normal view around 20-30x power. Remember the higher the magnification the smaller the field of view, so it's a trade off. Ever wonder why some advertised eyepieces are so expensive? They try to offer both worlds, high power with the riches fields of view possible. This is tricky business and people will pay a lot of money for it. Once you look through one of these eyepieces you'll know why.

Binoculars | Small Refractor | Rich Field Telescope

Related Links

The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide: With Complete Maps, Charts and Tips to Guide You to Enjoying the Most Famous List of Deep-Sky Objects
by H. C. Pennington


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