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.......
on October 22, 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.
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.
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.
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.
on November 10, 2013
This makes a great instant alternate to my 18 inch Dobsonian telescope when I am not sure if the sky is worth the 10 minute telescope setup. (and compared to the 80-pound telescope, much more portable)
Great on a tripod - yes, it does oscillate interminably - but see my uploaded customser image for an easy way to stabilize it with its own neck strap. (My Vanguard tripod works great; which I bought for its smooth panning ability)
Incredible value for the money. Mine came pretty well aligned, but if it hadn't been, I would have had the factory fix the alignment.
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.
on June 14, 2014
15x magnification porro prism binocular
Large 70 mm objective lens offers maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions
Four-element objective lens for ultra sharp focus across the field of view
Multi-Coated optics for sharp, clear views
Suitable for terrestrial or astronomical viewing
Protective rubber covering for ultra-firm grip
Large center focus knob for easy focusing
Tripod adapter included
Long eye relief ideal for eyeglass wearers
Carrying case included for travel and safe storage
OPTICAL DESIGN: Porro
DIAMETER: 70 mm (2.76 in)
MAGNIFICATION: 15 X
ANGULAR FIELD OF VIEW: 4.4 Degrees
LINEAR FIELD OF VIEW (@1000 YDS): 230.406 ft (70.23 m)
EXIT PUPIL: 4.7 mm (0.19 in)
EYE RELIEF: 18 mm (0.71 in)
NEAR FOCUS (BINOCULARS): 40 ft (12.19 Meters)
OPTICAL COATINGS: Multi-Coated
CARRYING CASE: Nylon
WEATHER PROOF: Water Resistant
TRIPOD ADAPTABLE: Yes
WEIGHT: 49 oz (1,389.10 g or 1.39 Kg)
Great clean vision as if you're not looking in a binoculars but with Eagle eyes.
What makes this binoculars so highly rated and popular is the amount of light it captures and thus giving you so much to see that it will give other binoculars which are more powerful second place.
Received my Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter this last Wednesday June 11, 2014. Very very good condition I received it. Alignment is perfect, no collimation is needed. Contrary to one person's review saying "...that the center focusing mechanism tends to drift and requires constant attention." I beg to differ on that, I find everything is perfectly adjusted and pretty stiff which is great.
In layman's term I'll write my review:
Exact weight of the binoculars with caps and strap attached is 3 pounds 1 ounce.
Using the binoculars at approx 40 feet distance will max out the "focus" not "zoom in" to get the clearest image. That is the closest object viewing as you can use it.
Looking from the furthest point lets say at the moon will let you "focus" not "zoom" to a point where the image is clear as you can get but still do have more adjustments for further objects. So I trust I explained it a very simple way for others to understand.
This binoculars has no zoom in or out, what it does have is the focusing knob to adjust for eyesight.
Watching the full Moon on Friday June 13, 2014 approx 7:40 P:M I was amazed at all the stuff you can see on the moon which is not visible with the eye. I can easily see craters but not in details. The best way to see the craters especially with a full moon is to look at the right side edge of the moon, that will definitely show some craters easily.
At approx 15 miles away I can clearly see a telecommunications tower with its dishes and antennas. I can also see a large red roof building at the same distance not far from the communications tower. At approx quarter mile away I can clearly see a sign with it letters which is not visible by my eyesight but the sign board is visible to my eyesight. That said, I'll consider this binoculars a real little beast.
My eyesight is very good at spotting things in the distance, I'm 20-20 with my vision. So I have a pretty good eyesight. During the daytime I was scouting around the horizons around my home (I have a great view of our southern and central range and other places of interest) and noticed a place I always look at, I took the binoculars and was really surprised at seeing people that I could not see under normal circumstances, even birds flying in the distance which I could not see. I own a pair of Zenith binoculars for many years but never saw so much details like what I see with this Celestron binoculars.
I have a lightweight Samsonite 1100 tripod which I use to setup my new Celestron Binoculars (its broken at the top and I did some modifications so I can use it for the binoculars). I also use my tripod like a monopod (unipod), pull up two legs and leave one leg fully extended for balancing the weight of the binoculars. The tripod adapter that came with the binoculars works great on the tripod. I do intend to purchase another heavy duty tripod in the near future just for the binoculars. Thank you Amazon.
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.
on October 26, 2013
I purchased these as a first foray into stargazing. I really wanted a small telescope, but most of the review sites suggested a pair of 10x50 binoculars to start with. I'm no fool, bigger is always better, so I ordered these 15x70 giants instead.
Lesson one: You will never, ever, hold these steady enough to enjoy the view they give of the stars. Try holding them near the front lenses instead of the normal grips. They're fairly heavy and the 15x means the view is very wiggly. 10x50s would be much lighter and, with less magnification, easier to hold steady.
Lesson two: You're not going to use these without a tripod. Get a good name brand tripod to go with these, the $20 model won't be steady enough. Go ahead and order an aluminum binocular mount as well. The plastic one included with these isn't strong enough to support them and will wobble around for 5+ seconds every time you bump it.
Lesson three: Once you get a nice mount and attach it to a good tripod, these binoculars are amazing! The Orion nebula jumps out at you! Jupiter is extremely bright, and you can count the Galilean moons. Saturn is a little oblong thing. The moon....WOW the moon is amazing. I've never seen a magnified view of a star cluster until I bought these. It doesn't sound that impressive, (wow, a bunch of stars on a black background?) but you're scanning across the sky and suddenly BOOM, your vision is FULL of thousands of stars. Amazing! If only I could see these things a little closer! This leads to...
Lesson four: Why didn't I buy a small telescope? I get the limitations of a small scope. Optical quality, mount quality, difficulty of use for a beginner, all of the other things people fault them for. I just don't see how these are much better for stargazing. Jupiter is very bright. Wouldn't it be nice to trade some of that brightness for 30x magnification and see some detail? At least with a small telescope, you'd have the option. Same for the moon and saturn.
I should have listened to the sages of the internet and bought some 10x50 binoculars to learn with. I wouldn't hesitate to buy the Celestron brand again. The coatings on these are great, the build quality is good and there's plenty of eye relief for a glasses wearer. There were a few little glue spots visible, but no big deal. I recently compared them directly to a Nikon pair of the same size. The build quality on the Nikons was a little better, but optically there wasn't much to choose between the two.
These are actually fantastic for watching deer, elk and birds out in the woods. Even as it gets dark (when the elk come out), the 70mm light gathering ability of these lets us see much later than our friends with 30-50mm binoculars. The tripod adapter is actually perfect in that setting. The wobble doesn't seem as bad when viewing wildlife as opposed to tiny specs of light.
These probably aren't the best choice for a beginning astronomy enthusiast. You'd be better off with 10x50s or the 70mm Celestron Travel Scope, which sells for about the same price and lets you add eyepieces for more magnification. For stargazing, these are probably best for experienced astronomers looking for a particular piece of equipment.
On the other hand, if you want fantastic views of wildlife and the occasional glance at the moon, these are perfect. I'm saving for a telescope, but I will probably buy a Celestron based on my experience with the build and optical quality of these binoculars.