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I've been looking for a cheapo solution to attach the cheap and ubiquitous red-dot finder to my Celestron 20x80 but didn't like the official clip thing that Celestron sells. Bad reviews complaining of it easily snapping, and to me, overpriced.
After much research and counting of pennies, I went for this all steel, no-snap solution, costing a whopping £6.90 (with free shipping). From the top:
1 x 20mm Dovetail to 11mm Rail adapter. £2.69 with free shipping.
1 x Picatinny/Weaver 20mm Rail Base Adapter (used to attach scopes to rifle barrels) . £5.11 with free shipping
1 x bit of thick plastic to act as a shim. Anything will do.
Although I've owned a pair of Celestron Skymaster 20x80s for over six years now, but because they went badly out of collimation, I haven't used them for ages. I sent them back to Celestron, but, apparently, they couldn't be repaired. Amazingly, though, they gave me a brand new pair (!), and these arrived yesterday.
Once mounted on the tripod I took a look at the 69% waxing Moon. Absolutely incredible view! Sharp, bright, big, three-dimensional, and only the very slightest hint of chromatic aberration. Kept coming back to this over the course of the evening.
Next up M31 and M33. Although quite washed out by the moonlight (as was everything I looked at), I was amazed at the brightness, the size, and the hint of detail in M31. Again, the three-dimensionality was obvious. M33 was only just visible.
Open clusters: Double cluster, Owl cluster, Coathanger – all were fantastic, with a variety of star colours obvious, and only a hint of distortion around the edge of the fov (really had to drag my eyes away from the objects in the middle of the fov to experience it). The Coathanger pretty much filled the fov, and was pin sharp and bright.
Double stars: Epsilon Lyrae, a very easy split, as was Albireo (again, the different colours were obvious). Mesarthim was just too tight to split. In passing, one of the things that amazed me the most last night was star colour. Mirach, Algol, Vega and many others were all pin sharp, bright, and their colours were very obvious.
Globulars: M15 and 92 were small and dense fuzzy balls, M13 bigger, brighter, and with just a hint of granulation to it (like the Moon, I kept coming back to M13).
Ring nebula: The ring shape was obvious, even at x20, though small.
Being a work night, I was back indoors by about 10, but although just a brief session, it was hugely enjoyable, and a real buzz to be using 20x80 bins again.
Been a while since I have been on the site – work has been really busy these last 18 months, and although it’s still manic, things are slowing down a bit!!
Viewing my previous posts, you will see that I was in the market for a new scope to adorn my EQ3-2 mount that I had purchased ages ago now!! Well, things didn’t turn out as expected, and while I am still hoping to get a scope, hopefully at Christmas if Santa is kind to me (I have been a good boy lol!!) I decided to get a pair of Binoculars to fill the gap!
Budget was tight, and I did want a pair of larger aperture bins. A lot of reading up on the internet, and I settled on the Celestron Skymaster 20x80’s. I already have a pair of 10x50’s so was after something with a bit more power, and larger objective’s. The skymasters seemed to fit the bill, and the price was right as well! I dropped into Rother Valley Optics with my cash on the off chance they would have a pair in stock – they didn’t, so I left my details, and less than 24 hours later, Adam from the shop called me to say they had a pair in! I drove over to their shop, tried them out outside the shop, as I had read that some pairs are known to have collimation issues. These where perfect, so I parted with my £99 cash and went home with them! First class service from RVO, and I will be using them again when it comes to getting my scope – thanks guys!
So, onto the bin’s. They came double boxed up, and within the branded box inside the plain box, the bin’s were securely packed in foam and wrapped in plastic. They come with a basic carry case, which won’t protect them from hard knocks, but will keep the dust off them while not in use. The eye pieces are protected by a one piece cover, while each large objective is covered by its own, separate cover. There is also a basic neck strap, but it appears quite flimsy, and I won’t be using it.
The bins have a built in tripod adaptor, on an adjustable slider, meaning they can be securely attached to a tripod and balanced up. Weight wise, they tip the scales at just over 2.6kg. This isn’t hugely heavy, and while I did use a tripod for some observing, when I wanted to look at things nearer the zenith, I hand held them, and did so for quite some time. I didn’t feel they were overly heavy, even after prolonged use.
It seems that new scope curse also affects owners of new binoculars, as I had to wait 5 days for clear skies!! I went out at about 10:30pm into the back garden, and while the side of house has a street lamp directly over the hedge, round the back its cut off, and quite dark. I began by finding M31, which at is currently nearly at the Zenith. I could see the central core clearly, and with some averted vision, make out some finer details in the disk. Moving on to M45, the Pleiades, that was just rising over my neighbours fence – what a sight!! Even though it was quite low down, the cluster filled the view, and I could see loads of fainter stars within it. Moving through the Milkyway, the view was filled with thousands of stars and star clusters!! I was really impressed. I intend to go to a dark sky site up in the Peak District, just north of Ashbourne when time and the weather permit, to get some proper dark sky viewing in!
I have not yet been able to look at the Moon or any planets through them – the Moon hadn’t risen by the time I turned in, and is now a very small waning crescent. I will have to wait a bit longer, and will update the review once done. Mars was up, but low in the sky, and due to the street lights, swamped with LP.
With terrestrial viewing, they provide bright and crisp views. While there is some CA when looking at things with bright edges, general viewing wasn’t affected in any way. I plan to take them to my local nature reserve to test them out on some wild life as well. I am also a bit of a plane fan, and when time permits I park up near East Midlands Airport to watch the aircraft coming and going – these will be great for that, set up on my tripod for easy viewing!
Conclusion – the Skymaster 20x80’s are a decent pair of binoculars. While they don’t have the build quality of more expensive ones, treated well I can see no reason why they won’t last for years. They actually come with a 5 year Celestron guarantee anyway! For causal use when you don’t want to set up the main scope I think these fit the bill nicely, and I would recommend them to anyone.
I have been gifted a pair of Arena Observation 25x100 binoculars and a Slik Pro 700DX tripod. I have trawled the internet, but have been unable to find any information on the binoculars. Could someone kindly provide me with any info on them, they seem pretty damn good.