Binoculars are an easy alternative and great to add to your stargazing tool kit. They are simple to use, easy to transport, and provide a different perspective of the night sky. Looking at objects such as star clusters with binoculars is especially helpful, as they provide a wider field of view. Cruising the Milky Way is easier than ever.
An illustration of the moon in the night sky

1. The Moon

The Moon is a wonderful first target for binoculars because it looks amazing through binoculars and is easy to find. With the help of binoculars, you can explore the Moon’s craters and the dark flatter areas called maria, they are dry lava beds. Then look to the dividing line of light and dark called the terminator, this is the line of sunrise or sunset on the Moon.
An illustration of the Saucepan in the Orion constellation

2. Orion Nebula

Within the Orion constellation lies the asterism, the Saucepan and If you train binoculars onto the middle star in the handle, you will find the brilliant Orion Nebula. This is the closest star-forming region to Earth, lying 1,500 light years away. This gaseous region is a stunning binocular target, seen from 8pm in the northern sky, December to April.

Image shows an illustration of the constellation of Orion
the Orion constellation, image credit: Jillian Carlson

A colour-composite image of the Pleiades from the Digitised Sky Survey

3. Pleiades Star Cluster

This pretty star cluster is better known as the Seven Sisters. It is an open star cluster actually made up of more than 800 stars. The wider field of view on this target reveals a multitude of brilliant stars and is a perfect object for binoculars. From 8pm, high in the northwestern sky.
Image is an artist's impression of the large and small Magellanic Clouds, they appear as two fuzzy galaxies

4. Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

These stunning clouds of stars are actually galaxies that lie outside our own Milky Way Galaxy. Lying high in our southern skies from December to March, they look like two faint clouds, one larger than the other. Under very dark skies, binoculars will bring these two satellite galaxies to life.
Image shows a stylised interpretation of 47 Tuc

5. Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae

Globular star clusters are a terrific binocular target as they are seen as a compact ball of stars and quite remarkable. 47 Tucanae (47 Tuc) is a cluster of up to half a million stars but is seen as a faint blob of stars just to the right of the Small Magellanic Cloud and only seen under very dark skies.
The Milky Way galaxy

6. The Milky Way

The band of the Milky Way as it stretches across the sky is always a great target to explore with binoculars. Under dark skies, within the arc of stars, binoculars will reveal dark dust lanes filled with huge gaseous regions and the widefield of view provides a fantastic new perspective of thousands of stars.

FIND the best places to see the night sky

You’ll need a nice dark sky location and there are some super suggestions on the Astrotourism WA website.

Donna, at Beam Me Up Media, is aiming to produce a television series featuring the amazing places and characters making WA the go-to destination for space science and stargazing.

Donna Vanzetti