Venus and the Pleiades in Binoculars

Posted by Kelly on April 3rd, 2012


Sometimes I make observing much harder than it has to be. A couple years ago I upgraded to an 8-inch Dobsonian, and now I feel that if I’m going to take the time to observe, that automatically means I am lugging my large telescope out into the dark. Or, more accurately, I’m having my husband do it for me.

On nights that I try to be more self sufficient, I go back to the 4.5-inch reflector, which is lighter and easy to carry outside on my own except for the fact that the tripod base sometimes gets tangled in my doorway. It doesn’t help that as soon as my cat Perseus hears the door open I have to stomp a jig to keep him from slipping out while I’m maneuvering the scope.

An occasion such as the Venus-Pleiades conjunction reminds me that sometimes it’s okay to keep it simple. Last night I grabbed my binoculars, looped the strap around my neck and sneaked out the door before my cat even knew what was up.

Venus was a radiant beacon high in the west, and for anyone just taking a quick look, they wouldn’t have even noticed the faint smattering of stars just above it. Venus outshines anything in its vicinity, and not until your eyes start to adjust to the dark do you start to notice the Pleiades, and then only because you’re looking for them.

Aim binoculars at Venus and out pops the teensy dipper shape of the star cluster. On the night I looked, Venus was like a brilliant interloper in the usually tranquil sea of the seven sisters. If you go out to view Venus and the Pleiades through binoculars, take the time to catch a couple other great binocular sights before they set. Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, and the Double Cluster in Perseus (not my cat) are all top contenders for viewing through binoculars. And don’t forget the moon!

2 people have commented

David. said,

wow so interesting,

Chris said,

I just got a pair of binoculars. The first Messier object I saw was Pleiades. It was great!

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