FIRST LIGHT

Sky at Night Magazine - - FIRST LIGHT -

Good eye re­lief

If you need to ob­serve while wear­ing spec­ta­cles, the rub­ber eye cups fold down eas­ily. The eye lenses are re­cessed slightly for pro­tec­tion, but there is enough of the spec­i­fied 20mm eye re­lief avail­able to en­able the en­tire field of view to be vis­i­ble with spec­ta­cles.

just out­side the edge of the field of view, and none at all with first mag­ni­tude stars in the same po­si­tion.

We tested the Stel­lar IIs un­der a va­ri­ety of sky con­di­tions, mounted on a sturdy pho­to­graphic tri­pod with a fluid video head. Stars con­sis­tently came to a good fo­cus over the cen­tral 70 per cent of the field of view. We no­ticed a small amount of off-axis chro­matic aber­ra­tion on the Moon’s ter­mi­na­tor and limb, but the on-axis colour cor­rec­tion is good. This aids the colour ren­di­tion, which is ex­cel­lent. The dif­fer­ent hues of Alderamin (Al­pha (_) Cephei) and Zeta (c), Delta (b) and Mu (µ) Cephei were im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous, and the con­trast­ing gold and sap­phire of Al­bireo (Beta (`) Cygni) was al­most vi­brant. We could eas­ily split Al­bireo into its two com­po­nents and, de­spite some field cur­va­ture, could see that the star was a dou­ble over the cen­tral 85 per cent of the field of view.

Deep-sky ex­cel­lence

This was all very im­pres­sive, but where these binoc­u­lars re­ally ex­celled was on open clus­ters and ex­tended deep-sky ob­jects such as gal­ax­ies and bright neb­u­lae. The Pleiades leapt out at us, its col­lec­tion of hot blue­white stars blaz­ing like di­a­monds un­der a spot­light; both the south­ern Milky Way and the Cas­siopeia re­gion were filled with knots of stars and – even un­der sub­ur­ban skies – the North Amer­ica Neb­ula (NGC 7000) was ob­vi­ous as a bright­en­ing of the sky back­ground. The con­trast is very good and, when the con­stel­la­tion Cygnus and Aquila were at their high­est in the late sum­mer sky, their dark neb­u­lae gave a 3D ef­fect to the Milky Way.

The He­lios Stel­lar II 16x80s are a sig­nif­i­cant step up from typ­i­cal ‘starter’ binoc­u­lars, so if you’ve been bit­ten by the binoc­u­lar as­tron­omy bug and want some­thing that will show you con­sid­er­ably more with­out stretch­ing your fi­nances as much as pre­mium binoc­u­lars will do this would be an ex­cel­lent choice.

Good qual­ity carry-case

The mil­i­tary-style, wo­ven ny­lon case feels sat­is­fy­ingly ro­bust and has enough pad­ding to of­fer good pro­tec­tion to your in­vest­ment. It seals with a side-re­lease buckle, and the same de­vice is used to at­tach the web­bing shoul­der strap. It has very sub­stan­tial belt loops.

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