CHAPTER 2: Choosing Binoculars — What’s New?Chapter_2__Binoculars_for_Astronomy.htmlChapter_3__Choosing_a_Telescope.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0
A Bevy of New Binocular Books

Since The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide was published in late 2008, several new binocular observing guides have come out. They serve as great aids to anyone wanting to explore the sky with just binoculars — that includes beginners and more experienced observers wanting to enjoy a relaxing, no-frills observing experience.

Binocular Highlights 
by Gary Seronik

First, our top choice, and one we endorse in our book, is Gary Seronik’s Binocular Highlights. Its outstanding feature is the flexi-coil binding and heavyweight paper that make it practical to use outside at night, with binoculars in hand. What a concept! Few observing guides are designed to actually be used when observing. This one is. Each page is devoted to a choice object (99 in total) and contains a finder chart, so is convenient and easy to use as a hands-on guide under red light at night. Highly recommended for all levels of observing expertise. This book and a pair of binos are all you really need to begin exploring the sky.

Not just recommended — it’s essential. Just get it!

Binocular Astronomy, 2nd Edition 
by Craig Crossen

This new edition of Craig Crossen’s excellent and durable hardcover book contains Wil Tirion’s Bright Star Atlas, a fine 6th magnitude star atlas ideal for binocular users. The principle problem is that the atlas provides the only finder charts and is at the back of the book, divorced from the object descriptions, and does not flag just those objects described in the book. So users have to hunt them down on the atlas charts first! While not as convenient to use as Seronik’s book, Crossen provides encyclopedic information on hundreds of objects, including many double and variable stars. As with O’Meara (below), Crossen is fascinated with ancient astronomy and provides lots of background on the origin of constellations from Sumerian times. The technical language and level of detail make this a book for experienced observers with big binoculars, not for beginners just learning the sky.

Recommended for all serious and knowledgeable binocular observers.

Observing the Night Sky with Binoculars 
by Stephen James O’Meara

Where Crossen is fixated on Sumerian astronomy, author Stephen James O’Meara seems to be fascinated with Egyptian skylore. That and other personal rambles through history make this as much a quirky guide to constellations as it is a finder aid for binocular targets. As such, this book fulfills its sub-title: “A Simple Guide to the Heavens.” We get a monthly guide to the constellations and to a select number (a handful per month) of objects suitable for binoculars, including some neat asterisms best seen with binoculars and not in any official catalogs. Finder charts are supplied but are not always with their object descriptions, causing some page flipping. This is a book designed to be read, and less useful in the field than Seronik’s book. However, the format is large and the softcover binding can be forced to lie flat for field use, though with enough nightly abuse the pages might come apart.

Highly recommended for anyone starting out in deep-sky observing.

Stargazing with Binoculars 
by Robin Scagell and David Frydman

This handy little pocket book from British authors Robin Scagell and David Frydman contains a fine assortment of binocular objects, along with clean, clear finder charts. Like O’Meara’s book, the continuous format of running text means that charts aren’t always with their object descriptions, making the book a little inconvenient to use in the field. The arrangement is month-by-month, with 4 or 5 objects described per month, including some southern hemisphere objects that all the other books ignore. Small monthly “star dome” charts, a guide to equipment and recommended models of binoculars, and information on solar system objects (with some simple moon maps) round out this surprisingly complete pocket guide to the binocular sky. It’s a good buy at $20, published in North America by Firefly Books but available in the Philips series elsewhere.

Recommended for all binocular observers — it’s small and low cost, so why not have it?

See the Recommended Reading page for Chapter 2 for publishing details of these titles.

See Chapter 12 for reviews of other deep-sky observing books for telescope users.