Notes from Observing the SMC with Binoculars (Patrick Kavanagh)
15x70 Binoculars. The SMC spills out well beyond the FOV of these binoculars.
Nearby worthies Although not part of the SMC, 47 Tucanae and NGC 362 require comment. 47 Tucanae is very obvious as a striking globe of light with a distinct core surrounded by smooth regular halo. NGC 362 is also a distinct orb of light with a bright core, but fainter and smaller than 47 Tuc.
SMC Overall The SMC itself appears as a comma shape of bright haze with its head close to 47 Tuc and pointing south.
Eastern section To the east, the tail of the comma, near NGC 362 contains 3 distinct globules. Firstly NGC 330 is about 1/3 of the way into the comma from the tail and which is small and quite bright. Closer to the tip of the tail is the larger and slightly fainter NGC 346 and closest to the tail of the 3 bright objects is NGC 371. Beyond this is the fainter NGC 395. Tracing south is a line of stars and beyond is a patch of nebulosity just to the east of the midpoint between 2 bright stars and which appears detached from the SMC. This is the group of clusters containing NGC 456,460 & 465. At first this appears a homogeneous area of haze, but close inspection shows dark lanes separating the component clusters. Further to the east is a smaller and fainter circle of haze, which is NGC 602. Between NGC 371 and NGC 362 is a line of three stars. Close to the leftmost one is NGC 411. Further to the left/east and a bit to the north NGC 458 can also be discerned.
Western section Between 47 Tuc and the head of the comma is a small right-angled triangle asterism with 2 brighter stars forming the base near the SMC and the fainter star closer to 47 Tuc. The right angle is close to the body of the SMC. On the opposite side of the SMC to this asterism is another area of distinctive haze which is comprised of NGC256/265/269. I have the impression of a wide trail of luminosity extending south-west from the head of the comma to the west of Lambda Hydrae, but containing no distinct objects. In the head of the comma itself, there is a patchiness to the luminosity but I’m not able to discern particular objects. One of these patches does line up with one side of the triangle in a way that suggests it may be NGC 248