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CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.
Fujinon 10x70 and Sky Window Mount
February 4, 2003
Fujinon 10 x 70 binoculars (approx $560)
and a Trico Machines' Sky Window ($249)
The Fujinon 10 x 70's with the SkyWindow have been a wonderful purchase. Together, these have added a new dimension to sky-watching that I have never experienced through any of my telescopes or even via hand-held binoculars. The eye relief is incredible, but almost too much. you must get the width of the bino's adjust just right, or you get the 'black-out' effect. But when they are set right, you get that airy-floating in space feeling looking at the stars. It's something you must experience to understand.
Well built, with much attention to detail. I understand they are nitrogen-filled with multi-coated surfaces. There are two individual focusers -- not a single one in the middle. Although I was used to the middle-focuser with a diopter adjustment, it turns that this two focus method is just as simple. There is a single lens cover for both eyepieces as with other large binoculars. There is a nice padded strap that comes with the unit. Also, a nice large case, with it's own separate strap, comes with the unit. 5 degrees, 18 minutes is printed on the front, which I take to indicate the field of view. They weigh 5.1 lbs, according my scale. It was a hard choice whether to purchase the 10 x 70 or the 16 x 70 (these are almost the same price). The 10 x 70's are brighter with a larger field of view. I wanted used use them for deep sky and wide-field use. So, I went with the 10 x 70's.
The Trico Machines' SkyWindow:
This is an incredibly well-built machined
product. This innovative device has the highest quality machined parts. It's
lightweight and adapts to many different binoculars. I purchased an extender
(the gold-colored adapter seen in the pictures) due to the length of the
objectives. At first, finding objects is a little difficult, but once you
do it a few times, it get easier -- you just naturally 'slew' to the correct
part of the sky. Given the 5 degree view of the fuji's all you have to do
is get close, and you'll see it somewhere in the field of view. You simply
turn your body, (i.e., with the entire unit) to see in other directions around
the sky. I used the provided plastic foot covers (these cover the regular
rubber feet) to make the Sky Window easily slide across a portable table.
The Sky Window is extremely comfortable for viewing for long periods of time
without any strain. Viewing at the dark zenith is a pleasure, unlike those
tripod-adapted binos. Also, you can mount the sky window on a tripod for
the perfect height adjustment and for field use.
The results: the fuji's provide a pin-point view of the stars. The color is right-on, with just the slightest color fringe -- and I mean slight. I've seen more color fringe in a $1000 achromat. The color of the stars is wonderful -- white, yellow, orange. The colors themselves help you navigate the stars. You simply tilt the mirror (covered by the included blue cover in these photos) to back and forth to move vertically across the sky. You can see the zenith and even slightly behind in total comfort. The images are rock-solid, and seemingly unaffected by the high-reflectivity mirror. I have not seen it cloud over at the dew-point for some reason. A great feature of these wide-view bino's is that object stays in view for a long time -- a nice feature, since I'm used to computer-driven scopes. The 3D-effect of this experience is remarkable and cannot be matched by standard telescope use. This equipment should really be considered a viable method to viewing the stars, just as one might use a telescope. After some practice, I was able to go directly to M42 or Saturn, for instance.
Viewing: the belt of Orion fits into view nicely. The Pleiades looks wonderful and is in view. M42/ Orion nebula -- can see some nebulosity (from my light polluted back yard). Andromeda Galaxy looks great (no dust lanes, but like a large cotton ball). The double-cluster is wonderful! Like you've read in other reviews, I always see many satellites every time I go viewing. You can't believe how many satellites are up there. Saturn's rings can just barely be seen as an outline -- Saturn is very bright. Jupiter is very bright also -- no bands could be seen. The four large moons could easily been made out. I would suggest the 10 x 70x for deep sky use, not for planetary use. However, the moon looks unbelievable, fitting entirely well into the field of view. It looks like a photograph. I've stared at it for some time.
bino's are so bright that the moon puts your eyes out for quite a while
until they re-adjust -- look at the moon last. What's amazing is the patterns
stars form -- such as the 'football' arrangement near the double-cluster.
Beyond just clusters, I've learned that there are many large and interesting
patterns that you can see scanning the sky for hours of interesting viewing.
Star clusters are spectacular! Some clusters I've found just by scanning
the sky, not sure which is which, but worth gazing at for some time, without
even the need for readjusting your position. The beehive is really nice.
The entire setup -- sky window and bino's can easily be transported in
one hand, making for very easy and quick setup. The faster you can setup
equipment, the more often you are likely to use it.
To wrap up, I suggest buying the Fujinon's and the Sky window. The comfortableness and stability of this setup cannot be matched. I used to get a tremendous amount of eye strain after working all day, looking a computer screen, then coming home and looking through my telescope. Now, there's absolutely no eye or neck strain -- what a huge relief. You might want to try the 16 x 70's as although the 10's are very bright, they do not magnify images as much as some bino's -- instead you get a wider field of view.
Note: I suggest (for any amateur astronomer) the use of the Caliber II (a digital hygrometer for $25), I just purchased, or similar instrument if you live in an area with high humidity -- it can save you from a nasty dew attack. When the humidity gets to 90 - 95%, I head inside.