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First light with William Optics binoviewers

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Apologies up front if this is a little long or rambling. There are some conclusions at the end if you want to skip ahead.

Last night I got the chance to try out my new WO binoviewers. Having read some posts on the forum about the benefits of binoviewing I’d decided to put them on my list and to get some to improve my view of the planets now and in coming years.

Setting up both scopes (a newt and a frac on tracking mounts) at around 10.30pm I was just aiming to make this work with both scopes and to see whether they needed the 1.6x barlow that’s included in the box to achieve focus. If that went well, then I’d see what kind of difference they’d make to observing planetary targets.  Jupiter was waiting.

Firstly, the build and feel of them is good. The eyepiece holders are focusable and smooth and there’s nothing flimsy. Inserting the viewer into the newt it quickly appeared that I didn’t have enough back focus to get an image. Hmmm. Ok let’s try the Frac. Again, no joy. I even removed the spacing rings on the frac focuser… close but it’s not quite there.

So, a quick rummage through my bits and pieces and I wonder, how about trying the element from the ES 2x barlow I have instead of the 1.6x? Well amazingly yes. That’s focussed, and wow. The viewers come with two 20mm eyepieces but with the barlow the image scale with Jupiter is good and the planet and its closest moons fill a nice portion of the field and the planets disc seems about the same size as I’d expect using a 5mm eyepiece. As I sat and tweaked the focus the grs and the main equatorial belts began showing some more detail and colour, and the temperate regions the same. It’s obviously a good seeing night as the whole planet seems mostly stable with just occasional wobbles but I’m really picking up more detail at a better scale than I have before. The images come together nicely and although it is a bit dimmer than with just one ocular, on a bright target like this that’s no bad thing and there is no squinting or need for an eye patch or anything else to distract. Very relaxing.

I try a couple of 12mm celestron plosyls to see if I can up the image size. The result is not great though; bigger yes but mushier and the narrower field of view really feels uncomfortable compared to the 66 degree supplied eyepieces, so it’s quickly back to those.

It’s at about this point that I get buzzed by a couple of dozey cockchafer beetles who seem to want to break into my kitchen by headbutting the window until something gives! I’m also getting pretty dozey and although I‘m desperate to wait for Saturn and Mars I decide to pack things up. It is nearly 2am.

The evening’s highlight though comes just before I pack up and I see a distant bird (maybe an owl) fly in front of Jupiter’s disc! It only lasts a second. I’ve seen the occasional one when viewing the moon but never this. Really unexpected.:smile:


Did they work straight out of the box with my set ups? Well no, but a bit of fiddling and I got there. I kind of expected that. I’ll try a few other combinations next time and see if the 1.6x element will work.

Are they good quality? Well they seem solid and give clean and clear views. So far so good.

Did binoviewers improve my planetary viewing? Yes. If future nights are only partly as good I’m converted. I was very impressed with the views of Jupiter this evening. Probably among the best I’ve ever had in terms of detail and the scale at which I saw it. In part that was down to the conditions being good but also, I’m sure down to the fact that I could relax both eyes and just wait for those better moments to see what’s really there allowing me to see more details on those belts and the spaces between. I’m really looking forward to the next opportunity with the planets and bring on that devil’s light bulb I say!

Thanks for reading.


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Nice report. Good to hear your experience of using binoviewers for the first time as I'm thinking about buying a pair. I had a view through a pair a week or so ago and it was my best ever view of Jupiter and M13. On the latter object there was a perceivable 3D effect. Having said that the views were also helped by being through an APM 152 ED refractor.

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Very nice report Dan. Hope it all works out for you.

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Try them on the lunar terminator , you're in for a 3D treat ! Nick.

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Promising first light Dan. They should be great as you get the hang of them, and in the moon will be superb.

Personally I struggle with binoviewers on planets, but I think that is just me and my eyes! I love them for the moon and solar viewing, much more relaxed and they keep my floaters under control nicely too so I can use high powers in my frac still.

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