February 9, 2010

Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Binoculars Review

I've been using my new binoculars for a few weeks now, and finally have the time to write a review for them. From the beginning, I have to say that I am very impressed by them. As someone who is just beginning to perform observations of the night sky, I was not at all prepared for all that I have been able to see with the seemingly very simple device. Full review available below the fold.


Astronomy Targets

I would first like to point out that these binoculars are designed for astronomy. Sure, they are fine for terrestrial viewing, and other activities like bird watching. But their primary use is for astronomy, and that's where they excel.

The first night I went outside, I was blown away. It was my first time observing with binoculars this large. I sad down and turned the binoculars towards Orion, and easily found the Orion Nebula within seconds. I could clearly see the shape of the nebula, my first time seeing it on my own! Within minutes I was turning my sights towards all types of objects in the sky: the Pleiades, the Andromeda Galaxy, and Jupiter. And I could see all these targets clearly. I especially remember the four Galilean moons of Jupiter that I quickly discerned.

If you really want to use the binoculars to also view land based targets, you're limited to just those that are far away. Since the binoculars are designed primarily for astronomical purposes, they require long distances from the lenses to the object for a clear focus.

Use

When researching to buy the binoculars, I was won over by their convenience. I am able to prepare everything and go outside to observe within just a few minutes. And finding targets is simple as well. All you have to do is point in the direction and look through the eyepieces.

The binoculars are also great for glasses wearers, like me. The eyepieces have long eye relief, and come with eye cups that fold down to allow glasses. This is especially handy since switching from binoculars to naked eye while trying to find a target is quick and efficient.

Furthermore, these particular binoculars are great for both new and experienced astronomers. New astronomers, like me, can easily pick up the binoculars and start observing targets in the night sky. While experienced astronomers will appreciate the large aperture and the portability.

Size and Price

The size of the binoculars is barely small enough so that they are usable with just hands. However, they do have great weight, and the high magnification will be easily affected by shaking hands. If observing for a long time, a tripod will be necessary to prevent strain and shaking. The binoculars come with a tripod mount that allows this.

One of the best aspects of the binoculars is its relatively low price. They offer a great aperture, while at a price which is great for those that are just starting out in astronomy.

The binoculars are available at Amazon and Celestron, among other retailers online.

9 comments:

  1. I would like a link to the manufacturer's website for this product.

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  2. I get these delivered on Wednesday, and I can hardly wait! I have some good 10x50's, but the extra magnification will be great! I'm sure they will be a great addition to my night sky arsenal!

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  3. I wonder if with this binoculars i can do astrophotography

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  4. I’ve never tried astrophotography with them, but I would think it’d be tough attaching a camera to the binoculars and/or keeping it stable long enough to capture a photo. Feel fry to try it though, and report back if you’re successful!

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  5. @Lupu Victor

    I suppose you might be able to. I am about to purchase these binos as well (in a week or 2), and I also found an interesting accessory for binos+camera (see here: http://www.skywatcher.ro/Baader/microstage.htm -- Micro Stage II universal adaptor). But I suppose you'll need a sturdy (and I mean it when I say sturdy) tripod, to be able to hold both binos and camera (with lens, if it's a DSLR). This would amount to approx. 2-2.5 kilos of equipment, I presume. I am planning to try this myself, as soon as I get the binos. And the adapter, of course. And the very sturdy tripod :-D. I do have the camera.

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  6. @coje79

    Thanks, that product is very interesting, and it seems that they are using this same binocular model in one of the pictures. One thing I have noticed since writing this review is that the included tripod mount gets loose easily, allowing the binoculars to wobble a few minutes after use. It is not really a problem when doing naked eye observations, but might be something to take into consideration when trying long exposures.

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  7. Cool review, thanks. Just a quick question... these observations you spoke about, were they made whilst handheld or mounted to tripod?
    Thinking of buying these but don't have a tripod.

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  8. We were watching the Harvest Moon rise last week from the condo deck - amazing. I've had these for about a year and am still impressed. Good product - excellent bang for the buck. The only weak point is the tripod mount. It's not engineered well for the weight of the binoculars. The easy solution is to get some five minute two part epoxy and fill in the hollows on both sides of the tripod mount, let it cure 24 hours and spray it flat black. The mount is rock solid now.

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