The complete astronomer’s guide to viewing the Moon using binoculars
People often ask me whether they can get great views of the solar system using even simple 7 x 35 binoculars and the answer is yes. It doesn’t matter if you’re using relatively expensive 7 x 35 Leitz Leica BA Trinovid binoculars or the less expensive Celestron 71300. The night sky will explode with visual gems invisible to the naked eye and the Moon will come alive with color when viewed through binoculars.
The view becomes even better when seen through binoculars like the Oberwerk 100mm giant binocular telescope. Numerous double stars can be seen using state-of-the-art astronomy binoculars, variable stars will noticeably fluctuate at times, and you’ll see stars the naked eye isn’t able to discern. The list of objects to view using binoculars is virtually endless, but let’s start with the Moon.
A mere 238,000 miles distant, the Moon offers viewers on Earth more visual gems than any other object in the solar system. Soaring mountains, immense plains, insanely deep and wide valleys, and hundreds of craters are easily visible on the Moon using astronomy binoculars.
Selecting the best lunar phase for viewing the Moon is critical for people deciding to tour our closest neighbor using binoculars. Very little detail is often visible on the surface after a New Moon, but as the Moon rises further east night after night, more features of the surface come into view. During the First-Quarter phases of the Moon, an amazing variety of lunar surface terrain can be viewed through binoculars.
The huge plains of the lunar seas Serenitatis, Mare Crisium, Tranquillitatis, and Fecunditatis cover the equatorial regions of the Moon. Travel northward to view several large craters scattered across the landscape or south to view an area often called the “no man’s land” of the Moon. Experience the south polar region to be inspired by the rough beauty of a region with so many craters it’s often hard to tell them apart.
It’s always fascinating to view the line dividing the night and day on the Moon, which astronomers refer to as the Moon’s terminator (lunar terminator). Viewers can often see unusual lighting effects on the surface as the Sun rises and sets. If you view from the right angle, a crater can look like a bright, bottomless pit. Sunlight can often be seen traveling down the wall until it floods the bottom of the crater.
The best time to view a New Moon is normally April and May for viewers in the northern hemisphere, and October and November in the southern regions of the planet. Viewers north of the equator desiring to experience the Moon less than a day before New Moon should view during July and August, while those south of the equator will have better luck during January and February. During these times the Moon is higher in the sky, so if you slowly scan a point below the horizon directly under the Sun and the view is free of obstacles, you might experience an extremely thin crescent.
Modern astronomy binoculars offer grand and inspiring views of the Moon and solar system sure to open the mind to the usefulness of binoculars when viewing the universe. Make plans to check out the view they offer and we’re sure you’ll discover just how useful they’re.
Read about Albert Einstein and his space-time in “Space and Time, or Space-Time“
Ever wonder what space archaeologists in the future if our civilization crumbles? Read “Earth Mission Discovers Something Unusual“.
Does life exist beyond the dusty ball of dirty water we call Earth? Read “The Possibility of Intelligent Lifeforms Existing in the Universe“.