What makes the Moon so unique may be the fact that whether you are on a farm in the middle of nowhere, or in the Big Apple working late – the Moon will always be there, and it will be the same one, ready to be looked at. It may be the same one, but it will never look exactly the same, despite how many times and through what you observe it.
If you get up right now, walk out your front door, and look at the sky, what is the most distant thing you can observe? A building? The clouds? What about the Moon? Now, grab a pair of binoculars and look at the sky again. There is no reason you cannot use binoculars to observe the Moon, but for the best viewing, you should ensure the binoculars are suited for astronomy.
Telescopes VS Binoculars
Telescopes are bigger and heavier than most binoculars and consequently need tripods, which makes the image shakier. This is a problem, as the last thing we want when observing the night sky is a shaky image. Binoculars, however, can be tightly put to your eyes and give a clear and stable image of the Moon. Moongazers believe that simple binoculars fit their needs better.
When observing the Moon through binoculars, you get a bigger picture with a wider field of view than on a telescope. That is because telescopes have one eyepiece, and binoculars have two. Several telescopes also provide an image that is upside down, but astronomy binoculars provide an accurate perspective. Binoculars designed for astronomy have clear benefits over telescopes when observing the Moon.
The Best Binoculars for Observing the Moon
If you ask any seasoned astronomer about the best binoculars for skywatching, the answer will most likely be the 10×50 binoculars. Not saying that other magnifications will not enable you to observe the Moon, it is just that these achieve the best possible results.
Binoculars for observing the Moon should not be too heavy, as it is most likely that you will hold them for more hours at a time. Another reason you do not want them too heavy is because by putting them on a tripod, the view will get shaky. If binoculars with 7×50 magnification are too big for you, opt for 7×35.
What Can be Observed?
As mentioned, most of the time, the best way to observe the Moon, is through binoculars. Now we know how, so the next question is when? Strangely enough, the worst time to do so is when the Moon is at the brightest, so chasing your binoculars might not be the best idea on a Full Moon. This is so because the Sun is flashing directly at it, lessening the lunar shadows and detail. The best time to observe is after the New Moon as the Sun produces longer shadows and more detail.
Some planets are considerately targets for a pair of binoculars. Planets move around, not like the stars that are settled in one place. As they are drifters, having a finder chart might be helpful to spot them. Through binoculars, Uranus and Neptune are easy to find, Uranus even with the naked eye once a year. It looks a bit green, and Neptune looks like a star. Jupiter, as well, is a great target, even for those only starting out. Mars moves very quickly, so spotting it could turn into a game, and binoculars can be used to observe Saturn’s rich golden color.
The Milky Way
Even though you are not able to see much detail of galaxies through binoculars, you can still, with a good pair and some determination, see the outlines. In the winter, the milky way cannot be seen as the Sun is too close to it. In the spring, it can be seen a few hours before sunrise. It is best to observe the milky way in the summer, as it is visible for most of the night. In the fall, it is best seen in the evening. However, do not observe it two hours before sunrise and two hours following the sunset, as the sky is extremely bright.
Probably every beginner Moonwatcher thinks they need to have a telescope for proper observing, making binoculars feel left out. It does not feel good to be left out of things, especially, if you are able to do the job, like binoculars can. Besides, they can be even more efficient than a telescope when sweeping the surface of the moon. But to answer your question in a more simple way – yes, binoculars can see the Moon.
is an experienced author from the field of sports optics. He writes articles and reviews about binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, long range shooting and other topics for magazines like Lovec and Optics-Info.com blog. Currently, he is a member of Optics Trade team.