Customer Reviews: Binocular Highlights: 99 Celestial Sights for Binocular Users (Sky & Telescope Stargazing)
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on February 19, 2007
I received one of the first copies hot off the press and took it and a good pair of binoculars with me on a recent vacation with dark skies.

The book is compact (6 ½ x 9 inches), spiral bound, and the cover folds back flat for easy handling in the dark. Print quality is excellent, text is easy to read in the dark (with a red flashlight!) and illustrations are sharp and uncluttered. The pages are coated to prevent damage from dew and the book seems very durable for field work. Overall the quality and design is excellent.

There is an introduction followed by a concise illustrated chapter on choosing binoculars for astronomical viewing, which explains important topics such as understanding magnification and the size of the objective lenses for a pair of binoculars, field of view in the night sky, making binocular choices, other binocular features to look for, tests for sharpness and optical alignment, and special types like image-stabilized and big binoculars. This is a nice section for those who know little about binoculars to help guide them into making good choices and avoiding problems.

The main portion of the book is essentially a compilation of many of Mr. Seronik's excellent Binocular Highlights columns from Sky & Telescope magazine. There are 99 Highlights, presented 1 on each page, all visible from North America. They are roughly divided up into four sections based on which time of year the object is best seen - December to February, March to May, June to August, and September to November. Each page is divided in half - on the top half there is a close up section of a star chart which shows the highlight. A circular binocular "field of view" with a black background on the chart shows what to expect when you are viewing. The bottom half of each page contains the text description of the object and other points of interest. These are well written, clear and enjoyable. To get you oriented to the right part of the sky there are fold-out star maps inside the front and back covers which show the entire sky, one for each season, with all the highlights for that section marked with a numbered red circle.

It's easy to find your way around. Pick the right star chart (February in my case) fact south and the sky roughly matches the chart. Then refer to the detailed chart on the highlight page for final directions. Since binoculars show you a right side up, correctly oriented image, there's little confusion. Some of the highlights were very, very easy to see and are great confidence builders, like the Pleiades , the Hyades, the Beehive cluster, Orion's Sword, and the bright star Betelgeuse in Orion. Several required a little attention to the star chart but were easily visible (open clusters M41 in Canis Major, the Double Cluster of NGC 884 and 869 in Perseus, and the clusters M46 and M47 in Puppis). Others were more challenging, like Kemble's Cascade in Camelopardalis, and the red carbon star U Hydrae, but I found every one I looked for with a little perseverance. In the end I enjoyed wandering through over half the objects in the book - the ones that were visible at the times I was observing. Some will be easily visible even in light polluted city skies; others will obviously require better visibility in a dark sky with no moon.

Final thoughts: if you have a pair of binoculars and can see the sky at night you should try this book - it gives a nice, well presented list of some of the most interesting things to see.
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on July 4, 2007
It was late one night a couple of weeks ago. I had been observing Jupiter and four of her moons with my Orion 90 mm refractor for several minutes when I felt the stiffness arch up my back into my neck. I'm in good shape for a guy in his early 40s, but still I'm more prone to aches and pains than when I was a younger man. Then I brushed against the scope tube and spent several minutes finding the planet once more. The cost was sore muscles along my spine and that inevitable thought: "there has to be a better way to do astronomy than this!"

Anyone who has ever used a telescope for any length of time at all can relate to the story above. That is why I am so happy to have discovered this book.

Don't know anything about binoculars? No problem. Seronik tells you how they work and what kind are best for astronomy. In fact, I must caution you now to NOT BUY A PAIR OF BINOCULARS FOR ASTRONOMY UNTIL YOU READ THIS BOOK. The insights it gives kept me from making a very expensive mistake!
I had a pair of Meade 12x50s stashed away in a closet which turned out to be more than up to the job.

After covering how binoculars work and what kind to use for stargazing, Seronik takes the reader on a tour of many splendid deep sky objects perfect for the binocular user. Believe it or not, there is plenty of stuff up there that looks incredible when seen through their wide field of view and low magnification.

This book is user friendly from cover to cover. It's not padded with needless fluff or technical details incomprehensible to the average person. However, it is written in an engaging, friendly style that makes it a delight to read.

All in all I am very satisfied with this book and recommend it enthusiastically to everyone interested in stargazing.
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on October 8, 2009
I have long had an interest in the stars. However, my interst was not strong enough to want to get buried in a telescope. The careful observing and scientific mindset of amature astronomers was just not working for me.

I suppose that I was more interested in the romance of the stars rather than the science they represent. I enjoy learing the constellations.

This book was a break-through for me. I already owned a good pair of binoculars, so one I had this book I was set.

The information is presented in a way a more causal observer can appreciate. In addition, it provides details a more experienced person will appreciate.

On the first two trips out with this book, I observed more than I ever imagined. As the seasons change, I will learn to see even more.

If you are a hard core astronomer, this books is probably too simple. If you want to simply look at the stars unaided, it is probably too deep. If you are like me, and fall between those categories, the book will serve you well.

The book is well printed, seems to deal with dew easily and is ring bound for easy use.
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on May 13, 2008
Although the book is aimed at binocular observers, it also makes a nice, portable "best of the sky" guide for people with small telescopes or anyone just starting out with a telescope. It's particularly attractive for those of us who like to take a telescope when we travel. Travel telescopes are usually small, and often we're using them to show the wonders of the sky to interested friends, relatives, or fellow travelers. That means that most of the time we're going to be looking at the best and brightest celestial objects, and the 99 chosen here are a great start for experienced observers and probably all that newcomers will need for a while. The book folds flat and has just one or two objects per page so it's easy to use and not at all intimidating or overwhelming. I like it better as a telescopic observing guide than many of the guides written just for telescope users.
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on December 11, 2013
This is an excellent tool for binocular astronomy. The charts on the first and last pages show an overall image of the night sky for each of the seasons. Then, after a brief intro the reader will see how to choose an appropriate pair of binoculars suited to astronomy. The rest of the book contains magnified views of 99 areas from the seasonal charts showing interesting objects as they would be seen thru 10X50 binoculars. This is NOT in and of itself a beginners guide. For the beginner, I would suggest this book to show you exactly what you will see in binoculars, this movable chart Guide to the Stars that will work in conjunction with the charts in "Binocular Highlights" to guide you in learning the night sky and finding objects in it, and this book NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe for more detailed information about astronomy and the universe as seen from our little planet.
AND, I would suggest that you get something like this Orion 5271 Versatile Tripod Mounting Adapter for Binoculars to mount your binoculars to a tripod or monopod. 10x50 binoculars can be handheld for viewing, BUT putting them (OR especially HIGHER powered binoculars) on a steady mount makes viewing MUCH nicer. I use both to hold my Pentax 65808 PCF II 10x50 Waterproof Binocular which are excellent binoculars for both astronomy and terrestrial viewing (I'm a birdwatcher too!).
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on August 15, 2015
This makes for an excellent tour guide for those of us who are getting to know the night sky with our binoculars. I have a pair of Orion 9x63 mini giants and am able to see many of the objects listed even with city light pollution.

I highly recommend getting a green laser pointer. You can use it to point to one of the reference stars in the book while looking through your binoculars to help you point to the right location. Of course, never point the laser *into* the binoculars while using them or view anything shiny that the laser is bouncing off. But it's definitely safe to view the beam while it's pointing up to a star in the sky. Especially helps if you're using high magnification binoculars with a narrow field of view.
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on December 16, 2007
Finally a simple to "understand and enjoy" guide for observing the night sky's treasures with my Canon IS binos.
When I see the night sky is clear, I quickly grab the Canon IS10x30's with this book (and red flashlight, of course), sit on a chair on my back deck and check out whatever is in view at that time. Gary does a good job to assist in making binocular observing an enjoyable past time. The book is well thought out and the charts are easy to read with a red flashlight in the dark. Helps make "quick Grab and Go" on a cold night a lot easier - especially on a cold night. Well worth the investment.
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on June 13, 2013
I bought this new binocular astronomy guide to accompany my new giant binoculars. I have two other binocular astonomy guides, and while each of those have their strengths, this book hits a home run: It is neither too simplicistic to be of little use, nor too over-blown to use at night in the field. It's just right.

The charts are excellent for locating the targets under dim red light, and the descriptions are readable and succinct. Gary Seronik know his stuff. The binding allows the book to remain open while going back and forth from binos to book if necessary, and the pages are made of a good weight paper, glossy and durable, and seems as if they could take a few exposures to dewy nights. Each binocular feature has a brief description and occupies only one page, and the book also has star charts placed at the front and back of the book, showing the sky during different seasons -- very handy! -- if you want to leave the old planisphere in the house.

This book is worth every penny -- for beginners, or even someone with more experience (like myself) who doesn't have the chance to get out too much (since I live in the cloudy Pacific Northwest). Grab a dim red light, whatever binos you have, and get this book. Head outside for a fabulous tour of the night sky. Clear skies!
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on April 27, 2015
A very handy guide for binocular observing. There are far more celestial objects observable with a good binocular than most people realize.
The information is presented in a logical way, with excellent diagrams. If you own a binocular, and are interested in viewing the night sky with it, Buy This Book!
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on September 23, 2007
I have been using Binocular Highlights for about three months. It is exactly what I have been looking for!

Where I live, Western Washington State, star gazing is often thwarted by clouds and rain. So using a telescope is often more trouble that it is worth. But, a quick venture into the mist with binoculars; now this made sense to me. However, I needed advice on which binoculars would be good to use and a manageable list of things to look for with binoculars. This is when, like a stroke of good luck, this neat, well written and very handy booklet, Binocular Highlights, was placed into my hands. I used the author, Gary Seronik's recommendation and bought a pair of Canon Image Stabilized binoculars. And have had a great time going through the pages of his book and successfully finding most of the objects listed. I am thoroughly pleased.

I can recommend this book to anyone with a general interest in astronomy or for someone who is just looking for something easier to use than a full blown telescope.
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