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A lifelong amateur astronomer, Phil Harrington was bitten by the "astronomical bug" when he was assigned to watch the total lunar eclipse of April 1968 as a homework assignment.  Since then , Phil has spent countless hours touring the universe through telescopes and binoculars.

Phil is probably most familiar to amateur astronomers for his books, including: TOURING THE UNIVERSE THROUGH BINOCULARS, STAR WARE, and STAR WATCH.  Phil is also a contributing editor for Astronomy magazine, where he frequently reviews telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomical equipment, as well as authors observing features.  Phil also authored the magazine's monthly Binocular Universe column from 2005-2009.  In June 2009, his popular column moved to Cloudynights.com.

Each month, Binocular Universe will visit some of the many wonders of the night sky that are visible through a simple pair of binoculars.  Some of the sights may be familiar, while others may be brand new.  And if you spot something along the way that you would like to see mentioned in a future column, be sure to drop Phil a line here.

Welcome to the Binocular Universe, where two eyes are better than one.


Binocular Universe: Lamplighter
[Article | 11/22/12 | by Phil Harrington
Of all the amateurs that I have been fortunate enough to know over the years, one of the most endearing had to be Lucian Kemble. Father Kemble, a member of. . .

Binocular Universe - Mission Impossible
[Article | 02/08/11 | by Phil Harrington
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the Horsehead for yourself with your own binoculars. This article will self-destruct in 5 seconds. . .

Binocular Universe - Putting Our Best Foot Forward
[Article | 03/17/11 | by Phil Harrington
This month, we find the sky's twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, standing at attention in our western sky, as if to pay homage to those setting constellatio. . .

Binocular Universe: Balancing Act
[Article | 05/01/14 | by Phil Harrington
In between the bright stars Spica in Virgo and Antares in Scorpius lies a sort of celestial no-man’s-land of faint suns that often go unnoticed under the v. . .

Binocular Universe: Barlow Bob’s Star
[Article | 07/01/14 | by Phil Harrington
Last month, the community of amateur astronomers lost one of the “good ones” when news came that Robert “Barlow Bob” Godfrey had passed away.. . .

Binocular Universe: A Clearing in the Clouds
[Article | 08/01/09 | by Phil Harrington
The view through binoculars, especially 7x and 10x wide-field glasses, is simply overwhelming on a warm, dark summer's eve. There are more stars framed wit. . .

Binocular Universe: A Dynamic Universe
[Article | 03/05/10 | by Phil Harrington
On January 1, 1801 , the solar system became a little more crowded. That night, the Sicilian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi stumbled upon the first asteroid, . . .

Binocular Universe: A Few Hairy Objects
[Article | 04/05/14 | by Phil Harrington
Clear skies come few and far between at this time of year, at least in my neck of the woods, so I like to take advantage of just about every one that happe. . .

Binocular Universe: A Galactic Dynamic Duo
[Article | 04/21/11 | by Phil Harrington
This month, we leave the confines of our galaxy and head into the depths of intergalactic space.. . .

Binocular Universe: A Month of Luna-See
[Article | 07/02/09 | by Phil Harrington
What were you doing exactly 40 years ago this month? For those of us who were around way back in July 1969, we were anticipating the greatest technologica. . .

Binocular Universe: A Pair of Stingingly Beautiful Clusters
[Article | 07/01/10 | by Phil Harrington
Scorpius, the Scorpion, is one of those rare constellations that actually looks like what it is supposed to represent. Most stargazers find it easy to imag. . .

Binocular Universe: A Spot of Celestial Tea
[Article | 08/01/11 | by Phil Harrington
If there a region of the sky more beautiful through binoculars than the area around Sagittarius’s Teapot asterism, I don’t know of it.. . .

Binocular Universe: A Trio of Autumn Globulars
[Article | 10/02/11 | by Phil Harrington
We shouldn't let the constellation's faintness stop us from viewing some of its binocular sights this month. But to make it a little easier, we need to sta. . .

Binocular Universe: A Whale of a Tail
[Article | 10/26/13 | by Phil Harrington
Our autumn sky contains a large void of bright stars southeast of the Great Square of Pegasus and southwest of the rising Pleiades and Taurus, the Bull. Th. . .

Binocular Universe: Aurigan Treasures
[Article | 02/11/12 | by Phil Harrington
Head outside this evening and take a look high overhead. If you live in midnorthern latitudes, you will find a lone beacon cresting near the zenith as the . . .

Binocular Universe: Bear Facts and Dog Duty
[Article | 05/08/12 | by Phil Harrington
If you grew up north of the equator, chances are good that one of the first patterns of stars that you learned was the Big Dipper. Those seven stars are vi. . .

Binocular Universe: Berenice's Hair
[Article | 05/05/10 | by Phil Harrington
Ptolemy III Euergetes ("Benefactor"), the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt , ruled in the middle of the third century B.C. Under his reign, t. . .

Binocular Universe: Bikini Bottom
[Article | 10/05/09 | by Phil Harrington
April showers may bring May flowers here on Earth, but up in the sky, October is the soggiest time of year. That's because the "wet quarter" flows above o. . .

Binocular Universe: Connect the Dots
[Article | 11/28/13 | by Phil Harrington
Some of my favorite things to hunt for are small patterns among the stars, such as little arcs or other geometric patterns. This month, join me as we sea. . .

Binocular Universe: Curving to Corvus
[Article | 05/03/11 | by Phil Harrington
The longest constellation in the entire sky, Hydra the Water-Snake, slithers along the southern horizon during the month of May. Perched on the Snake's bac. . .

Binocular Universe: Hail the Queen
[Article | 11/03/10 | by Phil Harrington
I hope you're dressed appropriately, because this month we have an audience with the Queen… Queen Cassiopeia, that is. Cassiopeia reigns over the autumn sk. . .

Binocular Universe: Here’s the Poop
[Article | 03/06/12 | by Phil Harrington
If you look at an old star map of the late winter sky created 250 or more years ago, you'll find a huge, unfamiliar constellation dominating the sky to th. . .

Binocular Universe: Hero of Song and Story
[Article | 06/30/12 | by Phil Harrington
Wouldn’t you think, given his mythological prowess for killing the ferocious Nemean lion and multi-headed Hydra along many other acts of bravery, that Herc. . .

Binocular Universe: Hitting Below the Belt
[Article | 01/07/10 | by Phil Harrington
Normally, hitting below the belt is considered a low blow. But in our case this month, hitting below the belt is exactly on target. This month, we are go. . .

Binocular Universe: Horsing Around
[Article | 09/28/13 | by Phil Harrington
One look at any map of the northern hemisphere's autumn sky and it is clear that Pegasus, the Flying Horse, dominates the scene. Although none of the const. . .

Binocular Universe: Hydra's Head
[Article | 04/02/10 | by Phil Harrington
The sky's longest constellation, Hydra, slithers along the southern horizon every spring, spanning the full width of the seasonal sky. Westernmost Hydra, l. . .

Binocular Universe: Jack and Jill
[Article | 06/09/11 | by Phil Harrington
In all likelihood, you learned that nursery rhyme long before you became interested in stargazing. But did you know that Jack and Jill may have also been . . .

Binocular Universe: Let's Play Hydra and Seek
[Article | 03/30/13 | by Phil Harrington
Of the 88 constellations scattered across the sky, none spans so great a length as Hydra, the Water Serpent. Westernmost Hydra, lying just east of Canis Mi. . .

Binocular Universe: Lyre, Lyre
[Article | 09/29/12 | by Phil Harrington
The next chance you get, take a look at Vega through your binoculars. As you are enjoying its blue-white luster, consider that the light you are seeing is. . .

Binocular Universe: Messier Madness
[Article | 03/01/14 | by Phil Harrington
Baseball can have the World's Series, football can have the Super Bowl, and hockey can have its Stanley Cup. We observers have a full-blown marathon, and . . .

Binocular Universe: More Bull
[Article | 01/04/12 | by Phil Harrington
Quick, name a star cluster in the constellation Taurus the Bull. You probably said "the Pleiades," right? Okay, name another open cluster in Taurus.. . .

Binocular Universe: More Poop
[Article | 01/25/14 | by Phil Harrington
February may be the shortest month of the year, but its sky is long on mid-winter binocular treasures. We all know many favorite objects, like the Orion Ne. . .

Binocular Universe: Next Stop: Andromeda
[Article | 10/27/12 | by Phil Harrington
Like many of you reading this, I am a long-time fan of the original Star Trek television series. One of the more unusual episodes to come out of season 2 . . .

Binocular Universe: Northern Exposure
[Article | 02/28/13 | by Phil Harrington
The northern circumpolar sky holds many binocular targets that we can enjoy throughout the year. This month, let's take aim at the constellation Ursa Mino. . .

Binocular Universe: Oh, Bull!
[Article | 01/10/11 | by Phil Harrington
Every time you look toward the V-shaped head of the Bull, you're looking at "rain." Today, we call Taurus's head the Hyades.. . .

Binocular Universe: Orion's Arm
[Article | 01/01/13 | by Phil Harrington
Everyone's favorite constellation, Orion the Hunter, stands tall in the January sky. He's like an old friend who returns every year just to check in and s. . .

Binocular Universe: Pareidolic Pandemonium
[Article | 05/31/14 | by Phil Harrington
By studying the Full Moon and letting your imagination play with the maria, you may see some vague reference to a human face. This effect, where the human. . .

Binocular Universe: Sagittarian Secrets
[Article | 08/26/12 | by Phil Harrington
All good things must come to an end, and that includes our seasonal view of the center of our Milky Way galaxy in and around the constellation Sagittarius.. . .

Binocular Universe: Sly Fox (September 2010)
[Article | 09/03/10 | by Phil Harrington
Here are a few gems I bumped into along the way as I viewed the tiny constellation of Vulpecula the Fox. Vulpecula is a faint summertime constellation wed. . .

Binocular Universe: Some Crown Jewels
[Article | 06/01/13 | by Phil Harrington
If you're like me, then you probably noticed certain star patterns even before you became "an astronomer." One of mine was Corona Borealis. I remember look. . .

Binocular Universe: Some Lunar Lakes, Bays, and Marshes
[Article | 06/01/12 | by Phil Harrington
Identifying each major lunar sea, or mare, using a pair of binoculars, or by eye alone for that matter, is a simple task as long as you have a good Moon ma. . .

Binocular Universe: Some Royal Clusters
[Article | 11/04/11 | by Phil Harrington
There’s no denying it, my family and I are dog people. And we have three to prove it. All are wonderful…except when one wakes me up at 3 AM to take a trip . . .

Binocular Universe: Songs of the Deep South
[Article | 05/01/13 | by Phil Harrington
This month, we're taking a sabbatical from northern skies and heading to the deep south, where we will visit the finest globular star cluster in the entire. . .

Binocular Universe: Southern Treasures
[Article | 12/04/11 | by Phil Harrington
Sculptor is one of the sky's least conspicuous constellations. Here in the northern hemisphere, we find it scraping the southern horizon to the east o. . .

Binocular Universe: Subaru
[Article | 12/07/09 | by Phil Harrington
Japanese stargazers call them Subaru. You may know them better as the Seven Sisters. But call them what you will, the open star cluster known official. . .

Binocular Universe: Summer’s Swan Song
[Article | 09/08/11 | by Phil Harrington
As the haze and heat of summer slowly gives way this month to drier autumn nights, we find Cygnus, the Swan, flying high in the evening sky. Few constella. . .

Binocular Universe: Surfing Serpens
[Article | 08/01/10 | by Phil Harrington
Serpens the Serpent has the unique distinction of being the sky’s only constellation that is sliced in half by a second star group, the constellation Ophiu. . .

Binocular Universe: Taking Aim at the Archer
[Article | 08/01/13 | by Phil Harrington
It’s August, and that can only mean one thing: the Milky Way! This month, we’re going to focus our attention toward the center of our galaxy and survey th. . .

Binocular Universe: Tales of the Unicorn
[Article | 02/02/10 | by Phil Harrington
This month, we call on the northwestern corner of the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn. This seemingly empty region, bordered by brilliant Betelgeuse t. . .

Binocular Universe: The 13th Sign
[Article | 08/01/12 | by Phil Harrington
While your average citizen may not know much about Ophiuchus, deep-sky observers are aware that this huge constellation, named for the mythological docto. . .

Binocular Universe: The Coathanger
[Article | 09/01/09 | by Phil Harrington
The three brilliant stars of the Summer Triangle -- Vega, Deneb, and Altair -- ride high in the sky this month, framing the gentle glow of our Milky Way ga. . .

Binocular Universe: The Double Cluster and Friends
[Article | 11/02/09 | by Phil Harrington
Of the dozens of open star clusters that dot the autumn sky, none is more popular among binocular stargazers than NGC 869 and NGC 884, the famous Double Cl. . .

Binocular Universe: The Eagle Has landed
[Article | 06/29/13 | by Phil Harrington
I am a child of the 1960s, so whenever someone mentions the "Eagle" to me in the summer, especially in July, I immediately think back to the excitement of . . .

Binocular Universe: The Hare and the Dove
[Article | 12/30/13 | by Phil Harrington
The brilliant stars that make up Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Canis Major, and Auriga dominate the winter sky, but there are many less showy constellations that . . .

Binocular Universe: The Heart of the Scorpion
[Article | 06/01/09 | by Phil Harrington
"Two eyes are better than one!"... That’s been my astronomical mantra ever since I got hooked into this hobby 41 years ago because of a homework assign. . .

Binocular Universe: The Lion's Den
[Article | 04/01/12 | by Phil Harrington
Leo the Lion stands proudly among the spring constellations this month. While most constellations bear little resemblance to their namesakes, Leo's standou. . .

Binocular Universe: The Night of the Dolphin
[Article | 08/31/13 | by Phil Harrington
Even though the late summer sky is bespangled with bright fiery stellar jewels, a tiny pattern of five modest stars always seems to draw people's attention. . .

Binocular Universe: The Swan and the Lizard
[Article | 10/05/10 | by Phil Harrington
You probably know Cygnus well, but possibly not Lacerta. Lacerta was one of seven faint constellations created by the 17th-century Polish astronomer Johan. . .

Binocular Universe: The Table of Scorpius
[Article | 07/10/11 | by Phil Harrington
Last July, this column visited M6 and M7, two of the finest open star clusters visible through binoculars in the summer – or for that matter, any – sky. B. . .

Binocular Universe: The Winter Triangle
[Article | 01/21/13 | by Phil Harrington
Most of us probably learned to recognize the Summer Triangle early on in our astronomical careers. But how about the Winter Triangle? . . .

Binocular Universe: Two Late Spring Globular Clusters
[Article | 06/10/10 | by Phil Harrington
If you were asked to name the greatest visual observer of all time, who would you choose? My vote would have to go to the . . .

Binocular Universe: You're My Hero!
[Article | 12/05/10 | by Phil Harrington
This month, we return to the scene of the rescue, to our hero, Perseus. He stands in our sky to the east of Cassiopeia and Andromeda, should the Queen's b. . .

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