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Monday, December 17, 2007

First Light: Tasco Binoculars


The skies in Ashtabula finally cleared tonight, and gave me some time to try out my Tasco 10x25 binoculars. These little binoculars are relatively cheap, waterproof, and well made. Following is a quick first light report:

First target - M42, The Great Orion Nebula. The nicest thing about binoculars, as I've found is that they are quick to be ready. I put on my cold weather gear, put the binoculars around my neck and walked outside. That's it for setup! Within 5 minutes, the binoculars were cooled down and I was observing M42. It was also very easy to find with the binoculars' much wider field of view (FOV). Just point and shoot! I was able to see the "bat's wings", the outer limbs of the inner nebulosity. The light of the trapezium stars was obvious, but I couldn't resolve individual stars, as I would expect in binoculars of this modest size.

Second Target - M45, The Pleiades. I was simply astonished at the view of M45. I had never before seen M45 in a wide-field view, and the difference in view from a 50 degree AFOV Plossl eyepiece to a binocular's FOV is stunning. The whole of the cluster fit inside the field, and the cluster had that nice crystalline blue look I'm so used to in a telescope. No nebulosity was apparent, but of course, I wouldn't expect that in these binoculars.

Final Target - Luna. The moon was a waxing gibbous, a little less than 60% full. This is where I tested the binoculars' contrast. Here I was pleasantly surprised. Views of Luna in the binoculars were tack sharp and nice contrast.

At about this time, clouds once again started to roll in. But all is well, I've got to work tomorrow, and this is why these binoculars will be seeing a lot of use. They are a quick, convenient way to check out your favorite celestial objects, especially when you've got limited time. I would recommend to any 'scope fans to pick up a set of mid- or high-quality binoculars. You won't be let down.

Clear skies!

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