Yesterday evening, I had the chance to finally use my new 4x22 ultra wide-field binoculars. They have 68° apparent field of view and 17° true field of view, enough for whole constellations. They appear to be made in China and sold under various brand names. Mine came from Holland via a generous CN member, Starcees, who gave them to me.
I received them just after the Moon began to dominate the evening sky and after a few sessions in various degrees of moonlight, it was apparent that they were sharp and bright, so I was really eager to try them out under some dark, clear skies. Unfortunately, the weather turned for the worse, but yesterday evening, I had a spot of luck and could try them out on a dark, moonless sky, through some sucker holes. Clouds came and went and I constantly had to change targets. Distant lightning flashed regularly.
So, what do such small binoculars do?
The Milky Way is ultra super stunning in them from a dark site. I just can't say this enough. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Dark nebulae and starclouds everywhere. The area from Cassiopeia and through Cygnus was simply beyond description.
Messier objects are small, but many are visible. Very large open clusters, such as M34 and M39, that loose a lot of their splendor in even a small telescope at modest magnification really looked like open clusters. M31 was splendid, with M32 suspected in moments. I couldn't get really deeply dark adapted, because distant lightning kept flashing and illuminating the clouds. M33 was distinctly visible. I suspected M81. I think M101 might be visible. M13 and M92 could be seen as small, fuzzy blobs. M27 was visible as a tiny glow. NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia was a tiny fuzzball. NGC 663 could also be glimpsed.
But I kept going back to the Milky Way and just swept it again and again. It was like observing it again for the very first time. I can't even begin to imagine how good it must be on a truly great night. I get goosebumps already, just thinking about it. Yes, it really was that good.
The outer edges of the field aren't pretty, but as long as you look near the center 50% of the field and pan the binoculars around to center objects, you don't notice it, because our peripheral vision is so unsharp in itself. If you do this, the field looks gorgeously sharp and it becomes almost like bionic vision. The Milky Way suddenly looks like it does in poetry, resolved into literally countless stars. It is simply fantastic. This binocular does the Milky Way justice like no other I've ever seen (but I haven't tried the Vixen SG 2.1x42 or Widebino 2.3x42 - yet!). A pair of these should belong in any stargazer's collection, simply for its amazing Milky Way views.
More will come, when I get a truly fine night, or get some other interesting observations in.