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My friends are visiting southern Australia and Tasmania for the next few weeks.

I am lobbying them to bring my Nikon 8x42 binoculars so they can appreciate the Milky Way and possibly see a few other things.

What I need is:

  1. What parts of the Milky way will be most spectacular in binoculars at night at about 40° South latitude around this time of year?
  2. Anything else? I've never stargazed in the Southern hemisphere so I have no idea what to point them towards.

I can use online star maps (e.g. in-the-sky.org) so I can give them directions how to find things if it's not hard, but I don't have any idea what "things" there are.

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    $\begingroup$ If your friends are spending time in Hobart a good viewing platform could be Mt Wellington (kunyani). Unseasonal snow fell on 7 Nov 2019. They can always check the weather forecast. Warm clothing is recommended. There is a bitumen road to the summit. $\endgroup$ – Fred Nov 21 '19 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred I'll definitely let them know, that sounds like quite an exciting mini-excursion! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 21 '19 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ Magellenic clouds should be impossible to miss, if they are up at night this time of year. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 22 '19 at 15:48
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My favorite resource for this sort of thing is the Skymaps.com evening sky map. The southern hemisphere edition is drawn for 35°S latitude. The November issue doesn't show the Milky Way, which hugs the horizon at that time. However, both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are well placed in the evening, and the back page lists several other objects "easily seen with binoculars." For example:

  • 47 Tucanae, a globular cluster visually near the SMC
  • NGC 2516, an open cluster in Carina
  • M42, the famous nebula in Orion
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  • $\begingroup$ Ah! The Magellanic Clouds, I totally forgot about those, thanks! I'll have a look at Skymaps.com now. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 21 '19 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ And of course, if you can see Orion you can probably also see the Pleiades, which look great in binoculars or a low power scope. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Nov 21 '19 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ Orion is definitely visible, rising around 2300 h $\endgroup$ – Fred Nov 22 '19 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ Skymaps was quite helpful, thank you! Unfortunately the weather was less than fully cooperative this time, but at least Orion's belt was spotted! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 8 '19 at 0:41
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I concur with those by Mike G but add :

  • eta Carina region: Milky Way between Southern and false cross. Most spectacular region apart from near Scorpius Sagittarius region
  • Omega Centauri globular: morning sky north of Southern Cross.
  • the Coal Sack: next to Southern Cross
  • Kappa Crux "jewel box" probably too small in binoculars. next to Cross on coal sack side

Note NGC 2516 is also called "Southern Pleiades"

Catch up with the Astronomical Society of Tasmania which has regular observing evenings

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  • $\begingroup$ Okay will look these up, thank you! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 22 '19 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. I almost mentioned the stuff in the vicinity of the Coal Sack, but I wasn't sure how good it looks in those binoculars. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Nov 22 '19 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks again! Unfortunately the weather was less than fully cooperative this time, maybe next trip I'll join them. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 8 '19 at 0:43

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