[AZ-Observing] Wide Angle Binoculars comparison

  • From: stevecoe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: SMTP <az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 02:50:08 -0600

May 14, 2013  2 AM MDT
Tom and Jeannie Clark's place in New Mexico
Seeing=6, Transparency=7

Test of Century 8X40 binoculars  9.5 deg FOV

I purchased a used pair of very wide angle binoculars and they arrived 
this afternoon.  I paid a very modest price and so I was not expecting 
much.  They arrived well packed and with no damage.  I got them outdoors 
and tried them on some distant hills and a radio tower.  I was happy to 
see that they did a good job, they were in collimation and I had no 
trouble getting the binoculars to focus.  When I bought them I was 
hoping they would do a good job for astronomical viewing as well as 
terrestrial.  Even if they did not work out for Milky Way viewing, I now 
knew that they could be put into the car and used for that "boy I wish I 
had my binoculars" event.

By 1:30 in the morning the Moon was down and the Milky Way was up.  I 
set up a chair for comfortable viewing and got started.  Beginning at 
the end of the Scorpion, I could get the Stinger stars, M 6 and M 7 all 
to fit into the big, wide field of view.  M 7 was resolved into 10 stars 
and another 10 could be seen with averted vision.  I moved up to M 24, 
the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud.  It had a dozen stars resolved across 
the face and the dark lane to the south was pretty easily seen.  Then I 
moved the chair and went after the North America Nebula.  This was the 
most disapointing object I observed.  The nebulosity was not obvious 
except in the Mexico area and few stars were seen within the faint glow.

As a comparison I went in my RV and got my Orion Savannah 8X42 
binoculars.  I immediately saw the difference, M 7 showed 18 stars and 
another 20 or so with averted vision.  Yes, the entire view of the 
Stinger stars, M 6 and M 7 did not all fit in one view, but the 
individual objects were much better.  The dark lanes along our Galaxy 
showed much better contrast and the North America Nebula provided that 
familiar shape with dozens of stars involved within the glow of the 

I finished off the observing session just scanning up and down the 
Milky Way with both the binoculars and naked eyes.  We do live in a 
beautiful Galaxy.  Just as the breeze started up a little I realize that 
my fuzzy slippers and wool socks were not keeping my feet warm; and my 
ears were getting chilly.  Just as I was coming inside to type this up 
an owl starting hooting from nearby and reminded me of the fun of just 

Now, I have not found a date of manufacture on the Century binoculars 
and I can tell you that I bought the Orion binocs about 8 years ago.  I 
would not doubt that the difference in the date of manufacture of these 
two pairs of binoculars is 10 years or more.  And, we all know that the 
technology of coatings has gotten much better in the last 10 or 12 
years.  That may be the greatest difference in the view, particularly 
the contrast.  Or, maybe asking a pair of binoculars to provide a really 
wide field of view is just asking too much.  I don't know.

I do know that I got a pair of binoculars that will fit under the seat 
of the Saturn SUV and provide me some nice views of distant mountains or 
flying hawks.

Clear skies to us all;
Steve Coe

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