Last night was my first chance at star gazing. It was a pretty nice night — 25º — a little too chilly for setting up my telescope, but nice enough to use my new binoculars. Most amateur astronomers will tell you to start with binoculars anyway. You don’t see huge detail in the objects in the sky, but it is easy to find things, and a good way to get familiar with the sky.
I didn’t get out early enough to see the Moon. Tonight the Moon and Venus make a pretty nice pair in the early evening western sky. I’m going to try and get a view of them tonight.
I was surprised how many stars I could see through my binoculars that I couldn’t see with the naked eye. My view of the northern sky isn’t that great because of all the light from the city. I couldn’t see any stars, but with my binoculars I was a least able to make out the Big Dipper. Facing west, Jupiter was bright and impressive through my binoculars. Again you don’t get much detail through binoculars, but still great to see. I usually can’t make out the different colors of stars, but with binoculars I could clearly see the bright redness of Betelgeuse, and the bright white Rigel in Orion. What I was probably most impressed with was actually seeing the Orion Nebula.
I went out again early morning and got a shot of Mars. Again, no details, but it was obviously red, and just cool to at least get a better view than you can with the naked eye. I went out a few hours later to try and see Saturn, but it got cloudy, so I didn’t get to see Saturn.
I agree that binoculars are a great way to start. It’s easy to find things, and a good way to learn the sky. I can’t wait until it gets warmer so I can spend more time outside. I may even have to find a good place where I can get away from a lot of the light pollution.