Viewing the Moon Through Binoculars

The complete astronomer’s guide to viewing the Moon using binoculars

Compare sizes to prices and you'll see bigger is better and more expensive
Compare sizes to prices and you’ll see bigger is better and more expensive

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.

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.

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A True Pioneer of the Human Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time

Crater Goddard is a good object to begin a young astronomers study of the Moon
Crater Goddard arcs past the Moons’ eastern limb during a few nights in October, beginning on the 10th

The Moon dances, spins and twirls and crater Goddard arcs past your view

On the 10th of October, you’ll see lots of real estate between the Moon’s eastern limb and Mare Crisium

The Moon was one of the first celestial objects viewed by man

Star gazers can pay respects to a true pioneer of human space travel Robert Goddard beginning on the night of October 10th, by taking a journey to the Moon to view the crater named after this gentleman of astronomy. Your view of the Moon’s crescent will show plenty of open landscape between the Moon’s eastern limb and Mare Crisium on this night.

Astronomy News – A large oval plain encompassing an area 270 miles wide by 350 miles long, with the long side running east to west, Mare Crisium will appear different on this night because of the foreshortening of the lunar globe. Mare Crisium also stands alone on the surface of the Moon and isn’t interconnected with the other maria you’ll view on the Moon’s surface during your “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”. The last place on the Moon’s surface to be visited by mankind, Mare Crisium, or the Sea of Crises, was host to the unmanned soviet spacecraft Luna 24 in 1976. Look for dark patches along the Moon’s limb on October 10th, which is actually hardened lava of Mare Marginis, the Sea on the Margin, and finds the short white arc just beyond the eastern shore of the sea. This short white arc is the illuminated rim of crater Goddard. Watch as Goddard arcs past the Moon’s eastern limb over the next few nights and you’ll get a good lesson in how the Earth’s satellite moves as the Moon’s eastern limb rotates away from Earth.

On October 15th, Goddard will appear in profile and you should see the rim of this crater poking outward, like two towering peaks framing a darker interior. On October 18th, Goddard will have disappeared over the limb and only about half of Mare Marginis will be viewable. On October 22nd, the Moon will be in full phase at 9:37 P.M. EDT and only an outline of the shoreline of Mare Marginis will be visible. By this time, Mare Crisium will appear much closer to the limb and is prominent in your view of the Moon.

Take a young astronomer on a journey to the Moon tonight

Why does Mare Crisium appear closer and what causes this visual sleight-of-hand? The Moon actually spins at a pretty constant rate, generally completing one rotation on its axis each month. In the same time frame, however, the Moon orbits the Earth on an elliptical path, and this means the Moon’s speed of rotation will vary. This allows viewers to see a few degrees beyond the normal limb of the Moon during specific time frames of the lunar cycle, which is an effect an astronomer refers to as the libration of the Moon.

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Green Cheese? Anyone!

 The Moon waxes on and waxes off in September

The Moon has astronomy treats to delight the heart
The Moon’s Mare is a land feature you don’t want to miss during September

Viewing the limb of the Moon

Astronomy News – Focus your time machine to the stars on the features along the Moon’s limb during the month of September. This is a rare chance to view a few limb sections of the Moon that star gazers have dreamed of taking a closer look at for generations, during a single month of the year. Astronauts didn’t report any green cheese, so our ancestors can rest safely as we have ruled out green cheese as the main ingredient in the physical composition of the Moon.

Watch as the crescent Moon waxes, between September 11 to 13, and take a close look at Mare Crisium, and how far this feature is from the eastern edge. The features on the limb that you’ll notice will be the elongated dark patches of Mare Smythii and Mare Marginis. The regions near the south-eastern limb will feature primarily bright highlands that will slowly change as the 18 of September approaches and the mottled Mare Australe rotates into view.

Focus your astronomy telescope on the Moon

Focus your time machine to the stars in the hilly south polar region a few nights later and you’ll see nice 3D effects that catch-the-eye of the viewer and Mare Smythii and Mare Marginis will have disappeared from view.

A Full Moon will greet star gazers on September 23 and this is the perfect time to take a look at some of the best features on the Moon’s surface. Mare Orientale will appear along the Moon’s western limb on September 23. A magnificent impact basin, with multiple visible rings and lava lakes, get your timing right over the next few nights, and you’ll witness a scene few humans have experienced. Watch patiently and you’ll see the rings appear in profile first. This scene will slowly change as the Moon’s libration and the rotation of the Earth bring the lava pools of Lacus Veris and Lacus Autumni into view.

There will be a Full Moon on September 23

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