1,166 of 1,197 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
I've been an amateur astronomer for about 23 years. I have a broad amount of experience with the kind of optics that are used for astronomy. I have used most every type of instrument and have visited some of the great professional telescopes. I have hand built my own newtonian telescope including machining the german equatorial mount. Soon after completing this instrument I took it to a star party and ended up on my back with a pair of Fujinon SX binoculars. To make a long story short, I preferred the binos to the view in my telescope. Telescopes are expensive, they are big, heavy, hard to move, hard to store, complicated to set up correctly, and the view through the eyepiece can be crowded and dissapointing. For the casual observer binoculars are the superior choice. They are everything that a telescope is not...relatively cheap, light, easy use. And because they are so easy to use, you will end up using them much more often than you would a cumbersome telescope. That aspect of binoculars alone will make them show you much more than a telescope ever would. The Celestron 15X70 Skymasters are by far and away the best amateur astronomy instrument for the money on the market right now. They are truly and incredible value. You could spend $600+ on Fujinon SX binoculars and have a very fine instrument, but after using these, that would be a hard argument to make. Most everyone's eyes are not able to discern the fine differences between the two instuments. Mind you, I am not telling you that these are as good as the Fujinons, but at about a 10th of the price...well you get the idea. My experience with Celestron is that they are a first class operation. And now with their lifetime no-fault warranty, the best in the industry, you can purchase products from them knowing that if anything ever goes wrong for whatever reason, they will always stand behind their product. If you are looking to get started in astronomy or looking for an excuse to leave your telescope in the closet, these binoculars are a great value and with proper care will last a lifetime and show you more wonders than you will ever see frustrating yourself with a high magnification-small field telescope. Get them, take them outside at night with your kids and wonder why.......
349 of 364 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2006
My first night out under dark skies with these binoculars was a terrific experience. In ninety minutes of observing I had great views of M36, M37, M38, M44, M50, easily saw the Trapizium in Orion's nebula, saw the Andromeda galaxy and it's companions streaching across 75% of my FOV. It had taken me two observing sessions with my 5" reflector to find M33, with the Binoculars I found it in two minutes, M81 and 82 were also easy.
All this and I don't even have a tripod yet. I may well spend more time with the 15 X 70's than I do with my telescope.
They are also great for terrestrial viewing. Contrast and definition are excellent. Best optical value I've ever seen.
224 of 235 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2011
I purchased the 15x70 Celestron Skymaster Binoculars primarily for casual astronomical viewing. Most of my remarks and observations center around using them for deep sky scans.
First, the basic stats:
Magnification: 15 power (50% greater than 10x50's)
Objective size: 70mm (equivalent light gathering power twice that of a 50mm binocular)
Field of view is 4.4 degrees or 230 ft. at 1000 yards
A surprising near focus of a mere 43 ft.--exceptional for this type of binocular.
Eye Relief: 18mm so one can wear eyeglasses--providing the rubber eyecups are folded down
Exit pupil is 4.67mm (only .33mm less than 10x50's at 5mm)
Other stats: Center focused; BAK-4 prisms, Porro design; Multi coated (but not fully multicoated) optics; Tripod adapter included an extra value (3 ½ inch vertical clearance). Case with strap--the latter the weakest part of the whole package.
During daytime, we used it for scanning distant wildlife and mountain ridges. Excellent performance. Tripod adapter best used when viewing level or slightly above level angles. I found it too tedious and straining to attempt oblique views with a conventional photographic tripod. A tip on holding it steadier by hand: rather than grasping it the normal way, try holding each 70mm objective end with your hands.
For amateur astronomers and novices wondering what you can see and its limitations, here are some notes in viewing familiar objects: Jupiter is readily resolved as a disc but seems too bright to see its bands. Its four moons can be easily seen (when in view); Saturn was near the sun but I think one may be able to resolve or infer its ring shape; Compared with a traditional 7x50 or 10x50 binocular, The Pleiades (M45), the Lagoon Nebula (M8), M35 in Gemini and the Orion Nebula (M42) are all breathtaking. So are the Scorpius open clusters M6 and M7. M13--the great Hercules Globular Cluster--was tantalizingly larger than the fuzzy spot I saw in my 10x50's. If you have a favorable southern horizon, the globular cluster M22 in Sagittarius also exhibits size. You can resolve some of the Wild Duck Cluster, M11. The shape of the Beehive open cluster (M44) in Cancer can be traced. Given a dark night, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) almost sprawls across the entire field of view with the companion galaxy M32 glimpsed as a fuzzy smudge. Even under urban and suburban skies, M31 does show expansive width. Both the North American and Pelican Nebulae near the star Deneb at the top of Cygnus the Swan--the Northern Cross--can be detected on a dark night's viewing--with patience. The colorful double star Albireo (at the opposite end of Cygnus) can just be resolved if you can manage a steady view. Mizar & Alcor in the Big Dipper's handle are easy to separate. I found it difficult to keep the stars in the Pleiades from dancing across the view unless I used a flat surface to lean on or a tripod.
In terms of field of view (4.4 degrees): You can see the entire belt of Orion in one field; you can capture the entire sword--including M42--in one field of view; The near parallelogram head of Delphinius the Dolphin fills a field; So do the Coat Hanger and Kemble Cascade asterisms, respectively; In Lyra, Vega and the stars epsilon and zeta fill a field. The latter two are revealed as double stars. So also is Castor in Gemini. The Perseus Double Cluster and nearby open cluster Stock 2 can fit in one field, but in urban or moonlit settings this is more of a challenge. The three delightful open clusters sprawling across Auriga can be seen two at a time: Either M36 and M38 or M37 and M38, respectively. One of the four keystone stars in Hercules, eta, can be positioned with the globular cluster M13 also in the same scene. As the field of view is less than five degrees, one cannot place the pointer stars in the Big Dipper in the same field nor contain the entire of the Hyades in Taurus. The central four stars in Cancer the Crab are just barely outside the field.
I also own a pair of Celestron OptiView 10x50's and have found the increased magnification and light gathering power of the Skymaster 15x70 worth the price to upgrade. In a quick comparison, the increase in apparent size of Jupiter's disc in the latter is quite noticeable as is that of M13 and M31. There is a pair of stars several degrees west of M13 that appears white in the 10x50's (at least to my eyes) yet are a stunning red with the 15x70 Skymaster. The moon, of course, can be seen with greater clarity in the Skymaster yet it does not fill the entire field of view. The down sides--and no surprise here--are that I can hold the former much steadier and see more of the sky with the smaller binos. There is also some chromatic aberration with the brighter objects like Jupiter but then again, for the price point (about $60), that's part of the game.
All in all, I find the Skymaster 15x70 an excellent investment for the price. I've already relegated my trusty 10x50's to backup and use the Skymaster to quickly and effectively tour the heavens on nights when I don't want to take the time to set up my 8" SCT. I'd especially recommend it as a portable alternative for those considering purchasing the typical 60mm/2.4 inch department store telescope. The caveat is that one will have greater satisfaction with the use of a tripod or other means of steadying for sustained observing of stellar objects. I suggest acquiring a different tripod adapter such as the all metal Celestron Binocular Tripod Adaptor (#93512-A or equivalent) to alleviate some of the strain of viewing because it extends the height and clearance from the tripod an additional 1 1/8 inch vertical dimension beyond that of the supplied Bakelite tripod adapter.
256 of 285 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2006
The optics are truly amazing for the price. The field is wide, the image is bright, razor sharp and with fine contrast and color rendition. My complaint is with the center focusing mechanism which tends to drift and requires constant attention. This problem could have been easily fixed at the factory with a properly sized washer to take out the play in the center focusing knob. I hope Celestron gets the message and takes the last small step to make these binoculars just right.
141 of 158 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2007
I purchased these binoculars for night sky viewing. I had a pair of 10X50 Bushnell binoculars and I was impressed with what I was able to see through those so I bought these for even more in depth viewing and they have not let me down. They are ideal as supplements to a telescope or if you don't have a telescope, these are great for your first introduction to optics that will open up the night sky to you. They are much easier to use than a telescope and you can see all kinds of neat things. I viewed such things as the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, the Pleiades, and double stars such as Mizar and Alcor in Ursa Major with relative ease and they looked stunning. Focus these binoculars in on the Milky Way and you will see tons of stars you wouldn't be able to see otherwise. I was even able to look at Saturn and with some steadying of the binoculars against my chest, could slightly make out the definition of the rings. These binoculars also do a magnificent job of viewing the moon.
I had read some reviews that they are really heavy and bulky, but I found that they were surprisingly light and easy to steady free handed. They are quite large, which means that they will take up more space than a normal binocular, but this is to be expected. Mine did come with a carrying case and a tripod adapter (which I haven't used yet, so I cannot comment on its quality).
Overall, for the price, you can't go wrong. I've used these binoculars in the daytime and they are great--crystal clear optics. They also seem very durable and with some care, will probably last you many many years. If you are new to stargazing and are considering a good pair of binoculars that will show you all kinds of wonderous things, look no further than the Celestron Skymasters--you will not be disappointed.
59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2006
These binoculars are just plain amazing for the price. The crisp images of the star fields in Saggitarius is worth the price alone, not to mention the beautiful views of the Lagoon nebula, Orion nebula, and Andromeda galaxy.
Past reviews have pretty much summed it all up, but I wanted to offer some helpful advice to those who are having difficulties with the tripod adapter. First of all the outlet to screw in the adapter to the binoculars s under the screw off cap in front on the binoculars. When using the binoculars and tripod adapter on a tripod out of box, you may find that the adapter bends, making the binocular view swing left to right. To remedy this, buy some epoxy for plastic at your local hardware store, the good kind is the kind with two siringes in one, and put the glue into the open space on both sides of the adapter. Glue one side at a time, mix the glue in the space, and let it dry solid. This should make the adapter more solid, and your viewing more stable! =)
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2008
We bought these binoculars for our son when he turned seven. He has a great interest in astronomy, and we considered buying him a telescope. We had read several reviews recommending buying a student a nice pair of binoculars before purchasing a telescope. This recommendation proved to be exactly right. Our entire family has enjoyed these binoculars, and the lunar eclipse over Michigan a few weeks ago was a delight! They are heavy, but our seven year old is able to handle them, and they come with a neck strap. He knows their value, and has been quite careful with them. I wouldn't hesitate to give them to another child this age.
The reason I can't give the binoculars five stars is as follows: This last weekend, one of the eye-pieces broke off. Knowing that there is a no-fault warranty on the binoculars, I called Celestron. The customer service man was knowledgeable and cordial, but it was only then that I became aware of the warranty catch. To take advantage of the no-fault warranty service, you must send back the broken binoculars and pay $25 for service, handling, and shipping of the new binoculars. I somehow missed this little detail when we received the binoculars and read through the warranty information included in the box. When I stated that now the $80 binoculars that I bought in September are going to cost me $105, he said, "Well, that's two sets of great binoculars that you got for $105." That's just a ridiculous point for him to make, because I have to send the broken ones back, and they are unusable anyway. He obviously didn't major in debate in college, OR that's what he's told to say when a customer challenges that policy.
Needless to say, I feel it is important for Amazon customers to know this before purchasing. I am going to send back the binoculars, pay the $25, and see how Celestron does with standing behind their warranty claims. I will update this review when I get the new binoculars.
I would still purchase them, but I would have liked to be aware of the warranty catch ahead of time. Happy stargazing!
UPDATE: I sent the binoculars back to Celestron and received a brand new pair four weeks later. They didn't give me any hassle, and everyone I spoke to on the phone was very helpful. We are enjoying the new pair very much. The only downside is that along with the $25 I had to pay Celestron for warranty service, handling, and shipping of the new ones, it cost me almost $15 to ship the original broken binoculars back to them. So now I have spent $80 on the first binoculars and $40 to get a new pair. I also advise anyone with a warranty issue to spend the few extra dollars for delivery confirmation if you have to return a product. When I called two weeks after sending back the binoculars, the man I talked to had no record that they had ever arrived, but the post office was easily able to confirm that they had been delivered to Celestron. Also, in reading through the included booklet again, I realized why I had missed the warranty catch in the first place: It's not there. The customer is referred to the Celestron website for further warranty information. It seems like that information should be pretty prominent. While they definitely didn't hassle me on the warranty issue, the extra $40 to get a new pair is enough to make me think twice about purchasing from Celestron again.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2007
I ordered these about two weeks ago and just started using them to view the moon (YOWZER--do they bring in the light!) and to view raptors, ducks, and other birds a half mile across a section of the Susquehanna River below the Conowingo Dam. I was floored by how well these did. I can not only see incredible detail on birds in the middle of the river on small islands, but birds completely on the other side sitting in trees. My husband was able to identify a blue jay sitting in the shrubs on the opposite bank. They are NOT heavy to use without a tripod. I have arthritis in both hands and could use them easily, propping my elbows occasionally on a nearby fence, but that was just to steady myself in the brisk wind, NOT because they were too heavy. I am very happy I did not go with my first instinct to get a spotting scope and tripod. I was walking from spot to spot easily, picking out different winter visitors, while another fellow viewing birds had to keep folding up his spotting scope and tripod, moving, unfolding tripod, resetting scope--too annoying!
This works very well at the half-mile distance I am using it, and closer distances are a delight! Very pleased with this buy!
95 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2005
I took these out to some dark skies recently and they were increadible, stars looked like i could touch them, crisp pinpoint stars all around. These were easy to use will laying on my back, however, i must say while standing or sitting up a tripod is recommended to steady the view as they are heavy for hand held observing. I picked up a sturdy but inexpensive tripod with use with these binos which has made it possible to use for birding or bison watching in Yellowstone. The price is terrific i could not find them any cheaper but plenty out there way more expensive. Get these and with the saved cash pick up a tripod and you will be on your way to some great viewing.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2009
This posting begins with a discussion of some core information about binoculars for astronomical viewing that may help potential purchasers make a more informed purchase decision.
If you have other viewing objectives than astronomical objects, or are already familiar with binocular specifications, you may want to stop here or just read the latter part of this review before going on to other postings; otherwise, read-on.
There are two models often used in astronomy, roof prisms or Porro prisms binoculars. Roof prisms are more modern and have a straight through appearance, i.e., the binocular cylinders form straight tubes. Porro prism binoculars (named after Ignazio Porro) have a tell-tale right angle bend. These usually are manufactured with two prism on each side of the binoculars, i.e., double Porro prisms. Although considerably larger in size, because of their improved optical qualities Porro prism binoculars, such as the model reviewed here, are usually preferred over roof prism binoculars for astronomical viewing.
Another important aspect of binoculars is the size of their exit pupil. Younger folks have pupils that can open, dilate, to a maximum size of slightly over 7mm. However, as one gets older the size of this window into the eye reduces. Over the age of thirty most folks have a reduction in their dark adapted pupil size of approximately 1mm every 20 years. The exit pupils for a pair of binoculars should ideally approximate the entry pupil of the observer's eye. Some suggest an even smaller exit pupil size, see below. The size of a binoculars' exit pupil is found by dividing aperture by magnification. For example, common 7 x 50 binoculars (7 power by 50mm) have an exit pupil of approximately 7.14mm. In practice, this exit pupil size is larger than many adult's dark-adapted pupil size, particularly when some extraneous light is also present. In most viewing environments such as in or near a city such extraneous "light pollution" is almost always present. In addition, the periphery of the eye's lens exhibits some inherent optical degradation. Thus, an exit pupil size around 5mm may be preferred, although some experimental evidence suggests an exit pupil even less than 4mm may be most appropriate. These 15 x 70mm binoculars have an exit pupil of approximately 4.7mm resulting in more of the light exiting the lenses entering the eye than might occur with e.g., 7 x 50mm binoculars.
Possibly the most important consideration when choosing binoculars is their light gathering ability. Binoculars are essentially "light buckets". As noted the human eye at its widest has about a 7mm entry window. A 70mm objective lenses, as here, has over 50 times the light gathering area of the human eye. Another factor affecting the light transmitted through binoculars are the materials used in their lenses and prisms, and their lens coatings. The least expensive binoculars have uncoated lenses or single coated lenses, or may even use plastic lenses. Multi-coated binocular lenses, and BaK-4 barium crown glass prisms, as in these Celestrons, are typically more expensive but improve light transmission resulting in sharper and brighter images.
The best eye relief, i.e., the eyes' distance behind the exit pupil to see the full exit image is probably between 15mm and 20mm. These binoculars provide 18mm and additionally come with rubber eye-cups. Thus, I've been able to use these both with and without glasses. I use lightly tinted sunglasses when viewing the moon to see more detail. In that case I leave the eyecups down. When viewing without glasses I leave the eye-cups up.
In use, I've found these binoculars' images sharp and with adequate contrast to enjoy star clusters such as the Hyades and Pleiades, along with the moon and planetary observations. Its primary negatives are its size and weight. This pair is large, although slightly smaller at 11 x 9 inches than the 12 x 10 inches described in the listing.
Owing both to their size and weight, as well as their relatively high magnification they are not comfortable to use hand-held for any but the shortest period of time. For many the best binoculars are ones that can be strung over the neck and easily hand-held. These are definitely not such a pair. Because of their magnification, the slightest shake moves the astronomical object out of the field of view. Fortunately, they come with a tripod adapter. However, for many the need to use a tripod runs counter to the desire to have a "portable" pair of hand-held binoculars. For these observer's a smaller 50mm pair of binoculars is probably more appropriate.
However, even recognizing these binoculars cannot be hand-held for any extended period, they are probably one of the best choices for astronomical observers who need relative portability compared to a probably more cumbersome and expensive telescope. Perhaps surprisingly, they are also quite a useful adjunct even when using a telescope.
In summary, these binoculars allow for considerable additional exploration of astronomical objects compared to the naked eye. However, a tripod or, support for the arms, is required for extended observations. Highly recommended.