Observing the stars with binoculars
The monthly descriptions refer to about 9 pm around the middle of the month, at my latitude of 40° N. I am beginning to add some notes on how the sky appears from Sydney in the southern hemisphere. This should help a little if you are down there. By going out two hours earlier, you see the sky described last month, and by going out two hours later, you see the sky that will be described next month. Notes on the bright planets are also included. I have a bad viewing location, with only the southern sky really available, and a lot of light pollution, so these notes concentrate on that area, and on what can be seen under such conditions. A rural site should reveal at least the same without the aid of binoculars, and much else besides.
A planet-like body, designated 2003 UB313, has been discovered at a distance of 97 au from the Sun, in an orbit of inclination 44°. It is said to be three times the size of Pluto, and is probably a similar body. The large inclination may be due to an encounter with Neptune. There are probably more such bodies, but they would be dim and hard to detect. Pluto has been demoted to "dwarf planet", so the Solar System now has only eight planets. There is no significance in this change.
Observing notes for this month are in May.
A list of the bright stars by month is in Bright Stars.
What you need to have an enjoyable observing experience will be found in Getting Started.
Explanations of the terms used on these pages, and a list of references, will be found in Observing Fundamentals.
Juan Carlos Casado has an impressive website at Skylook. It is really in Spanish, but there are English subtitles to guide non-Spanish-readers around. There is a dark background (possibly appropriate here!) and some nice tricks, but it is an informative site and well worth a visit. Stephen Barnes has a more commercial but still useful site at Skyoptics. There are some excellent photos of the December 2000 lunar eclipse on both sites.
I use my own program Sidera to see what is in the sky at any time and at any point on earth. Other programs I have seen are not as satisfactory for me, but you may find them useful. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend any.
Composed by J. B. Calvert
Last revised 3 Jan 2013