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The RASC Montreal Centre Binocular Challenge

Winter Objects

Winter Star Chart

Hyades Cluster

This is the group of stars that form the V shaped figure of Taurus the bull. Although it's easily visible naked-eye, take a closer look with your binoculars and you'll see the beautiful and colourful double stars theta 1 & 2, and delta 1 and delta 2.

M45 Pleiades Cluster

Another naked-eye object, this is best viewed through the wide-field of a pair of binoculars.

M42 - Orion Nebula

The brightest nebula visible in the northern hemisphere. Appears as a bright green cloud surrounding theta 1 and theta 2 orionis: the middle stars in Orion's sword.

NGC 1981

What? An NGC object? Actually it's an easy one, once you find M42, just look at the top of the field of your binoculars and you'll see an attractive little group of 7 stars shaped like an aardvark.


This open cluster is located one binocular field below Sirius. Although several books mention that it can be glimpsed naked-eye from a dark sky, all I could see through my 10x50 from my suburban Pointe-Claire home was a dim patch a little smaller than the full moon. Yet from our out of town observing site in Ste-Chrysostome with the moon at first quarter, I was able to see several stars imbedded in the cluster.


Starting from Sirius, look about two binocular fields eastward for a little splash of stars. In dark skies, you may even see the faint wisp of M46 in the same field.


Another open cluster, this one lies at the feet of Gemini. Like M41, it's appearance will depend on the darkness of your sky. It was fairly well resolved in my 10x50 from Ste-Chrysostome.


If you follow an imaginary line northward along the feet of Gemini for a couple of fields of view, you should see this faint wisp of nebulosity. Although you won't be able to resolve many of this cluster's faint stars if you look closely you should notice how much more concentrated it becomes towards the center.


If you've managed to find M37, keep it in the edge of your field and hunt for the slightly fainter M36 nearby. It was dim when viewed from my suburban backyard, but easily glimpsed from Ste-Chrysostome.


Try using the same technique but this time starting from M36 and you'll find M38. Although these last three clusters may look alike at first glance, if you look carefully and patiently you'll begin to discern how different they really are.

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