Binocular Double Star Program Introduction

Binocular Double Star Program Chair:

Bob Kerr
8516 Virginia Road
Bloomington, MN 55438
kerr_comm at hotmail dot com


Welcome to the Astronomical League’s Binocular Double Star Program.  For observers whose primary instruments are binoculars this will be a rewarding program.  Other observers ready to set aside their bulky telescopes for the freedom of viewing the heavens with binoculars will rediscover the wide field glory of the night sky.

This program takes you on a grand tour.  Since double stars are everywhere, your travels will sweep you past blazing suns, dazzling star clusters, glowing nebulae, and distant galaxies. You’ll navigate the dense thickets of the Milky Way and explore the nooks and crannies of the polar constellations.

This program is independent of the Double Star Program, which is intended for observation by telescope, and one need not precede or follow the other.  Any binocular or combination of binoculars may be used in this program. Several observations combine binocular and naked eye viewing. This program would complement concurrent observations for the Binocular Messier Program and Deep Sky Binocular Program.

The visual appearance of double stars (used throughout to include multiple stars and star pairs) can be among the most striking in amateur astronomy. This is as true for wide groupings, suitable for viewing with binocular and by naked eye, as it is for close, telescopic systems. The varied color combinations, luminosities and separations of these stars never fail to surprise and delight. In this regard, they are well worth observing in their own right.  And viewing with both eyes enhances our ability to see dimmer stars and perceive subtle colors. Most observers find that viewing the heavens naturally, with two eyes, lends a depth and clarity unmatched in the telescope eyepiece.

Another advantage of wide field double star observing is that we experience these magnificent multiple suns in their relationship to the entire night sky, the constellations and other fascinating celestial objects in their immediate neighborhoods. This may include familiar named stars, asterisms and clusters, other double stars, and nebulae - perhaps viewed in the same binocular field as the double star target. This is also an ideal way to learn the night sky, its features, and its movements or to reacquaint ourselves with some of our favorite celestial sights.  The visual study of double stars has a long and storied tradition, so as you progress through this club you will experience views first glimpsed and admired by some of astronomy’s greatest observers.

Appendix A contains a varied list of 120 of the finest binocular double and multiple stars and star pairs in the heavens, any 50 of which you may choose to observe to qualify for your certificate and pin.  Details are contained in Appendix C.

This broad selection presents targets suitable for observers using most popular binocular sizes, and many are visible with the naked eye. The luminosities and separations of these systems can be viewed by observers with reasonably good eyesight, many from under moderately light-polluted skies. For other pairs, excellent conditions (defined as dark skies and steady seeing) may be required. Refer to Appendix B for more information on using binoculars to observe double stars.

It is hoped that experienced observers, users of large binoculars, mounted binoculars or image stabilized binoculars will enjoy hunting down some the more challenging pairs on the list.

Additional Links:

Appendix A: Binocular Double Star Program Observing List
Appendix B: Observing Double Stars with Binoculars
Appendix C: Program Rules and Requirements