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Celestron Ultima DX 9x63 Binoculars

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Desiring a binocular that would be good for handheld astronomical observation and for “owling” at dusk, I chose the Celestron 9x63 Ultima Binoculars at just over $200. These would be my first astro binocs, and I was happy to think that I would finally own a Celestron product (I used to dream of owning a Celestron 14-inch SCT back in the early/mid eighties).

My initial research had revealed that Celestron’s scopes and binoculars, for the most part, were being manufactured overseas. I was dismayed that the company had been bought by the major Chinese telescope manufacturer, and its reputation had changed since the old days (1983 for me). I still chose the Ultima’s considering they had been touted as higher-end among Celestron’s binocular offerings, and the price fell within my budget.

The box arrived well-packed and in good condition thanks to Telescopes.com and Fed Ex. I surgically opened up the package and enjoyed the aroma of new rubber-armored optics. I inspected the fit and finish finding an unacceptable flaw in one seam of the rubber armor, which left one side hanging disjointed. The quality control process was apparently lacking.

I then began the daytime optical examination. These binos provided very bright crisp views and snapped easily into focus. I could nicely see the spines of my cacti growing at the other end of the backyard, and other greenery was beautiful in the FOV (283 feet at 1000 yards, per the specs). Looking at roof ridges I noticed some color fringing, but it wasn’t distracting from the overall quality of the image. The fold-down eyecups were handy, and the lightweight construction made for a steady image. I had nothing to compare to, so I could only assume that these binos were running at 9x.

The Ultima’s were bought especially to enhance a summertime trip from our home in Sacramento up to Mount Shasta, and then on to the observatory at Sun River, Oregon. Nighttime observation revealed a wealth of stars; I peered deep into the firmament as I swept the velvety black sky – contrast was remarkable. The edge of field correction wasn’t bad. I enthusiastically found M13 seen as a tiny blur of milky substance. I enjoyed being able to see the Galilean moons, although a little flaring was visible around Jupiter. Lunar craters were pleasant and crisp; CA was present, but not too distracting.

Overall, these were a solid pair of good all-around binoculars for sweeping the night sky and pulling in the larger celestial targets. After my trip I decided to take advantage of the Telescopes.com return policy and send the Ultima’s in for an even exchange, as the fit and finish problem was an un-overlookable. Turns out that after I shipped the binos back they became out-of-stock, and now are discontinued. Reluctantly, I exchanged for a lower-end Celestron binocular from the Skymaster line to discover that Celestron’s quality control was definitely a serious problem.

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