These beefy binoculars for stargazing kind of changed my life

Have you ever seen the characteristics of the Moon’s surface?

Not just the slightly pie facade that our imagination transforms into familiar shapes like faces and cheese, but the different depths shadows that give birth to them, the roughness of an object that is not perfectly spherical? Do you, with your own eyes? Until recently, I had not done so. And the sight shook me to the core.

Like many others in these particularly dark times, I struggled to balance the constant, terrifying reminders of our mortality with the demands of being a productive member of society (whatever that means). If you took a look in my brain, I’m sure you’d be greeted with chaos. One thing has always helped, without fail: spending time in nature.

Besides being in the woods as much as possible, I found myself enjoying the night sky more than ever. And why not? You can get totally lost in it without going anywhere. After a lifetime of relying only on my bare eyes (which, really, are good enough for basic sky watching), I decided it was time to upgrade. Since I had used standard binoculars to give myself a boost on occasion and didn’t feel quite ready for a bulky and more complicated telescope, I bought myself a beast of a pair of binoculars. specially designed for star gazing: Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster Pro.

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With binoculars like this, the numbers in the name indicate the magnification and diameter of the objective you will be working with. In this case, it is 20x magnification and 80 millimeter objectives (about 3 inches !!). These are, scientifically speaking, big butt lenses. The set is almost comically bulky when you have this thing in your hands – and it’s heavy to match.

We might as well eliminate the negatives first. These aren’t design flaws we’re talking about, but drawbacks that naturally come with such big equipment. Without a tripod or at least a surface to reliably lean your elbows on, image stability will be an issue. You just focus and focus on the big, beautiful Moon and then … it’s bouncing all over the place. Suddenly there are a million moons and, whoops, here is the focus. And now your arms are getting tired; holding five pound binoculars in front of your eyes without help is exhausting.

This is all solved with a tripod, however. The binoculars have a built-in adapter to work with standard tripods and optimize stability. According to description: “The SkyMaster Pro 20×80’s built-in tripod adapter not only allows the binoculars to be attached to a tripod for added stability, but it also acts as a balance rail by sliding along the center support rod. . “

My first true To look at the moon with those things hit me on my ass.

I found this to be quite true. I was also lucky by simply using the objects around me – like a stump, an outdoor table, or the roof of my car – as a base on which to rest my elbows, in a sort of human tripod configuration. fortune. Important tip: For a more stable image, hold the part of the binoculars that farthest away from your face, not on the thinner end where they meet your eyes. If you know all of this before entering, you will have a much better viewing experience. It takes practice, however, and that’s good.

Now it’s time for performance. I’m not exaggerating when I say my first real look at the moon with these things hit me in the ass. I may or may not have cried a little.

Another blow with my hand (and I have huge hands) for the ladder.Cheyenne MacDonald / Entrance

The beauty of watching the moon is that you can look directly at it. Since the light it gives off is actually reflected instead of emanating directly from it, it doesn’t present the same risk as the sun of harming your eyes. Go ahead and watch it.

I first tried observing with Celestron during a full moon. With the binoculars, I could see the actual texture of the Moon’s surface as if it was 50 feet away from me, not 240,000 miles. It’s a feeling I can’t even describe – and I made sure that everyone who came to my house in the following days to take a look. I followed the Moon through its cycle, seeing the rippling shadow lines during its crescent phases. Many nights I sat alone in total darkness, speechless and completely enveloped in the sight. As a wise woman (Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic) once said: “There is no man … Only this moon.” I fully understand now.

the magnification is beautiful breathtaking in day light, too much.

There are other things to see in the sky as well, of course: opposing planets, stars that just seem to twinkle brighter than the rest, the International Space Station. You won’t see such amazing details as you would with the Moon in smaller or more distant objects like these, but it’s still 20 times better than seeing them with the naked eye. Now that I’m really used to handling and getting a clear view, there is so much to explore.

The magnification is also quite breathtaking in daylight. Although the design is optimized for low light conditions, it will still work to scan tree tops. It gave me a really, really good look at the pair of eagles I have casually tracked down since they took up residence on my property.

It has been an incredible experience.

I respectfully watch … the eagles in the tree next door. Cheyenne MacDonald / Entrance

At around $ 250, the Celestron 20×80 SkyMaster Pro binoculars are quite expensive, but reasonably priced for what they offer.

Once you start to immerse yourself in the world of astro-observation and photography, the tools become more and more expensive. Tougher binoculars and telescopes can climb into the upper hundreds and lower thousands. For serious enthusiasts, it’s worth it. And for us, less seasoned observers, a big pair of binoculars is not a bad starting point. Pair it with that of astrophysicist Sarah Barker 50 things to see in the sky and you are on your way to having a good time.

Just prepare to warm up. Few things in life are as humbling as staring at the night sky. Cliche? Perhaps, but it is no less true. And it’s good to remember how small we are sometimes; like everything else is vast in comparison. All it takes is a good look at the stars to spin the gears.


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