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Tasco 7x35 Binocular

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I live in Chicago, IL. In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I have no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned below. Many years ago I bought a little present for my sister’s young son. I had no inkling about it back then, but that gift got him hooked up on astronomy. What was it? He tells the story himself:

My childhood was spent in Karachi, a large city in South Asia at 24.9 N. More than 17 years ago, my maternal uncle brought us a Tasco 7X35mm binocular, model # H 92008, from the US. Unlike most of today’s dirt cheap binoculars and telescopes, the Tasco was made in Thailand. It was this family binocular with which I first looked skyward. No, it was not the Moon that was target number one. The first celestial curiosity I remember having seen with the binocular, having just studied about comets in 6th grade, was the twin-tailed Hale-Bopp. My first look through a telescope came ten years later. And I don't regret that.

The binocular features fully coated optics. The coatings on the objective and eyepiece lenses show a subtle bluish purple hue. The objective lenses are recessed 9mm from the front ends of the barrels. This might help as light baffles. The inter-pupilary distance can be set between 60mm and 72mm. I haven’t looked through many binoculars to date, but the best one I’ve yet seen was a Nikon 10X50. And its maximum inter-pupilary distance was too short for me, which made for a painful observing experience. The 7X35’s right eyepiece allows dioptre adjustment. The rubber eyecups on the eyepieces are softer than most others I have seen and are quite comfortable. The plastic focusing knob in the center allows the eyepiece bridge a maximum movement of 7mm. Although I primarily use it at night, I’ve found that the minimum distance at which the binocular can still form a tack sharp image is 14 feet (4.25 meters). Optically, the binocular is a great performer during the day. The exit pupils are round and well-defined. At night, it gives reasonably pinpoint images except on very bright objects within 85% (by diameter) of the field of view. Objects near the edge of the field do appear mushy and elongated. However, I never noted this before I read reviews of other binoculars. Bright objects like the Moon naturally show chromatic aberration, but it is much less than that which I’ve seen in other cheap Chinese binoculars.

Though I was too young to know anything about collimation when the binocular came, I suspect its optics were well-aligned. Only after so many years of both day and night time usage and some nasty knocks did it lose collimation. The warranty must have long been void but that did not matter since I had lost the documentation years ago. So I had it collimated and cleaned myself some months ago. One negative aspect of the binoculars is that they are very dust prone. I don’t know if this is a problem with most binoculars, but unless you wrap up this 7X35 in a plastic bag before putting in its case, you’ll find dust specks on internal surfaces within a couple of days.

What has this 7X35 binocular shown in the night sky? Although I’m past my teens, I’ve yet to see the Milky Way – all my observations have been from the city.

Galaxies:M31, M81
Globular Clusters:i) Easy: M2, M3, M5, M10, M13, M15, M22, M92, NGC 5139
ii) Difficult: M4, M12
Galactic Clusters:M6, M7, M11, M24, M25, M35, M36, M37, M38, M39, M44, M45 (of course), M47, M50, M90, the Double Cluster
Nebulae:M8, M16, M42
Comets:Hale-Bopp (1997), Holmes (2007), Lulin (2009)
Asteroids:4 Vesta
Planets:The crescent phase of Venus, Jupiter's major moons, Uranus and Neptune (magnitude +7.8 with averted vision)

The binocular was with me during the eight or so total and partial eclipses of the Sun and Moon that I’ve witnessed as well as during an occultation of Venus by the crescent Moon in 2007. I somehow missed the 2004 Venusian transit.

This little piece of optics is definitely not a Fujinon, but it is not junk either. It has its cons, such as small aperture and mushy images near the field edges, but its light weight and low cost more than make up for its shortcomings. Sometimes when we meet for urban skywatching and my friend’s 18” Obsession is in my hands, I find it almost impossible to locate all but the most obvious targets without first scanning the region of interest with the old 7X35. Only after I have located the guide stars with the binocular am I able to confidently slew the Telrad-equipped dob. You know, you don’t see many stars from the city with the unaided eye. I feel I’m obsessed with my 7X35!”

Cloudy Nights has members from all across the globe, so I thought sharing this review-like story might encourage someone to set sail for his/her personal voyage of discovery among the stars. After all, there are amateur astronomers in places where they have access to the latest cellular phones but not to a small, good quality telescope. If you are one of them, don’t despair. Pick up that long neglected binocular lying in that corner, dust it off and let it take you on a ride to the heavens. Enjoy!

Clear, dark skies


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