As well as serving as a refresher to those whose interest in astronomy has lapsed for a time, this feature is designed to teach the night skies to those new to astronomy.
On these pages you'll find easy-to-follow instructions for finding the principal stars of any constellation. All seasons are available, so in the middle of summer -- while you can learn about Lyra and Capricorn and Aquila first hand -- you can also read up on Orion and Taurus, the favourite Winter constellations.
You'll soon be identifying the major stars and beginning to link them into the asterism (or ‘line drawing’) of each constellation.
Those who own a pair of binoculars will benefit even more. Binocular views of the major stars and important objects of each constellation are given. These include star clusters and wide binaries suitable for binocular study. While even an inexpensive 7x35 will be better than the naked eye, the larger you can go, the more rewarding. A standard astronomical pair of 10x50 can split double stars down to about 30".
A good test of your binoculars is to investigate the two outstanding double stars in Cygnus: beta Cygni (Albireo) and 61 Cygni. Beta has a separation of 41.3" and 61 Cygni has a separation of 30.3". You can find Albireo easily in the summer skies with the naked eye while 61 Cygni takes a little more work -- check the Cygnus binocular page.
You will note many binaries listed on these pages have much smaller separations, even in the single digits. While not meant for binoculars, one can at least locate these binaries for the day when that telescope becomes a reality.
Absolute beginners are encouraged to start here.
Others can go directly to the Binocular/Naked Eye Menu.
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