Three Achromatic Binoculars.

Three fine achromatic binoculars; from left to right; the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR, the Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 and the Pentax PCF WP II 20 x 60.

After three years of surveying the binocular market, I’ve settled on three instruments – all achromats  – that fulfil all of the terrestrial and celestial binocular observing I’m now pursuing.

 

Tune in soon to see which niches they fill……………………………………..

 

De Fideli

Spectrum.

Take a Closer Look.

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.                                                   

                                                                                                            John 8:31-32

 

 

In this blog, I’ll be exploring subjects of general interest/concern to me and wider society in this age of mass information, deception and rapid moral decline:

 

The Dark Side of Transgender Medicine

 

How the Media Manipulates Truth

 

Cogito Ergo Sum

 

The Secular Case Against Homosexuality

 

Our Fragile Home

 

The Anti-Social Network

 

A Form of Child Abuse

 

Cool stuff you never hear in Church

 

The Rise of Homeschooling

 

James Clerk Maxwell: a Great Life Lived

 

Reasonable Faith: An Interview with Professor Alvin Plantinga

 

Doubting Dodgy Science

 

Evaluating World Views

 

Depraved Minds

 

The Beauty of the Creation

 

The Preciousness of Free Speech

 

Walking your Way to Good Health

 

Did the Eye Really Evolve?

 

Unholy Alliance: when Dodgy Science Merges with Theology

 

The Truth about UFOs

 

The Rise of Neo-Paganism

 

From Spiritual Shipwreck to Salvation

 

The Rise in Euthanasia Killings

 

The Greatest Story Ever Told

 

Holocaust Survivor

 

Coming Soon to a Town Near You: The Rise of Bestiality

 

The Death of Naturalism

 

Anything Goes

 

From Gaypo to Paedo

 

When Scientists Lose the Plot

 

The Sixth Mass Extinction Event in Our Midst

 

‘Depth Charging’ the Values of the Ancient World

 

The Truth about the Fossil Record

 

AI

 

The Language Instinct

 

Not the Same God

 

Greening the Deserts

 

Moving the Herds

 

Evolutionary Atheist gets his Facts Wrong…..Again

 

Distinguished MIT Nuclear Physicist Refutes Scientism

 

Pursuing Truth

 

The Dangers of Yoga

 

Pseudoastronomy

 

Get thee right up thyself! : The New Transhumanist Religion

 

The Biblical Origin of Human Rights and why it’s a Problem for Atheists

 

A Closer Look at the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

Winds of Change: Prestigious Science Journal Concedes Design

 

A Distinguished Chemist Speaks the Truth

 

The Scourge of Pornography

 

Eye

 

Bart Ehrman Debunked

 

An Evil Generation Seeks After a Sign

 

Magnetic Pole Shift

 

Decimation of Global Insect Populations

 

The Spiritual Suicide of a Once Christian Nation

 

Mass Animal Deaths Worldwide

 

Not Going Anywhere

 

UN Report: World’s Food Supply under ‘Severe Threat’ from Loss of Biodiversity

 

False gods of the New Age

 

From Abortion to Infanticide in the “Land of the Free”

 

Sports Personalities Speak Out Over Transgender Athletes

 

Magonus Sucatus Patricius

 

Celebrating a Killing

 

Human “Out of Africa” Theory Debunked

 

The Other Side of the Rainbow

 

Vintage James Tour: How to Cook Up a Proto-Turkey

 

Big Brother Watching

 

Follow the Evidence: The Problem of Orphan Genes

 

Follow the Evidence: The Genius of Birds

 

The Butterfly Enigma

 

Man’s Best Friend

 

Darwinian Evolution On Trial Among Biologists

 

New Fossil Finds Thwart Human Evolutionary Predictions

 

Global Persecution of Christians

 

 Ratio Christi

 

Questions About the Qur’an

 

Engaging with Islam

 

Calling Evil Good

 

Parousia

 

Tall Tales From Yale: Giving up Darwin.

 

More on the Proto-Turkey:  Dr. Tour Responds to Cheap Shots from the Pond Scum Merchants

 

Good Riddance: Despicable British TV Show Axed after Death of Participant

 

There’s Heehaw Out There…ken.

 

The Fastest Growing Insanity the World has Ever Seen

 

Pharmakeia

 

Darwinism & Racism: Natural Bed Fellows

 

The Modern Root of Anti-Semitism

 

Jesus & Archaeology

 

A Victory for Common Sense: Transgender Weightlifter Stripped of his Medals

 

The US Equality Act: A Plea for Caution

 

Reunited: Music & the Human Spirit

 

Gladys Wilson

 

1st Century Christian Insight: The Didache

 

The Clothes Maketh the Man

 

Why Some Books were Left Out of the Bible

 

Why the Human Mind is not Material

 

What God Thinks of Scientific Atheism

 

For the Love of the Creator

 

An Essential Component of a Modern Education

 

Peace Cross

 

Earth: “Presidential Suite” of the Universe

 

How to Really Stand Out in a Crowd

 

Straight from a NASA Scientist: Jewel Planet

 

The Singularity

 

No Life Without Super Intelligence

 

Darwinism as a Cargo Cult

 

Body Plan Development Raises New Headaches for Evolutionists

 

Membrane Biochemistry Stymies Evolutionary Origin of Complex Cells

 

Science Speaks: Common Abortafacients Harmful to Both Mother & Child

 

Biblical Ignoramus Twists the Words of Christ

 

Apologia Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

 

Attention Parents: American Psycho Association Promoting Polyamory to Pre-Teens as ‘Ethical.’

 

The Only Rainbow God Recognises

 

Calling Time Out on Evolutionists’ Failure to Explain The Cambrian Explosion

 

7 Reasons to Reject Replacement Theology

 

Psychiatric Diagnoses are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ Study Shows

 

Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God

 

Universalism Debunked

 

The Prosperity Gospel Debunked

 

New Science Reveals First Cellular Life to be “Amazingly Complex”

 

New Law Firms Being Established to Counter the Rise in Christian Persecution

 

Playing the Numbers 32:23 Game

 

Multiple Lines of Scientific Evidence Converge on 3rd Century BC Age of the Famous Isaiah 53 Scroll.

 

Meet the Gestapo

 

Exposed: Theologians Deceived by Darwinian Ideology

 

New Insights into the Shroud of Turin

 

What we Know and Do Not Know About the Human Genome

 

Debunking Da Vinci Code Tosh

 

Sorry: No Such Thing as “Gay” Penguins

 

Genetic Entropy

 

Dunderheid Alexa

 

The Extinction of Reason

 

A Biblical Perspective on Diet

 

Revelation: Number of Transgender People Seeking Sex Reversals Skyrockets

 

Psychologist Debunks Pseudoscientific Explanations for Human Love & Compassion

 

The Dismantling of the Feminine

 

Disturbing Trends in the Roman Catholic Church

 

N = 402

 

The Nazareth Inscription

 

A Christian Response to Halloween

 

Seeking Methuselah

 

Beware the Enneagram

 

No Safe Spaces!

 

Pale Blue Dot

 

Encyclopedia Galactica

 

Phillip E. Johnson: A Tribute

 

The Darwinian Response to Human Life: Let the Baby Die!

 

The Best Explanation for Beauty

 

What is Feminism?

 

Insects & Light Pollution

 

Candy-Ass Christianity

 

Antiobiotic Resistance in a Post-Darwinian World

 

Adam & Eve: Redux

 

Joyce Meyer

 

Michael Behe Says No to Theistic Evolution

 

New Atheism: An Autopsy

 

Serenading an Old Girl.

 

“Progressive” Christianity as a Political Cult.

 

The Church of Satan, Sweden

 

A Rational, Christian Response to Humanism

 

More Depravity: the Sexualisation of Children

 

Shameful Humanity:  Murder of the Unborn Now the Biggest Worldwide Killer.

 

Origin Stories

 

Privileged Planet

 

Brokeness

 

Sorry Sam Smith, You’re Still a ‘He.’

 

Nature Genetics: How ‘Evolutionary Thinking’ led Biologists Astray about Pseudogenes.

 

A Kingdom Divided Against Itself: Why Evolutionary Psychology is Bunk

 

Of Melting Glaciers and Darwinism

 

First US President Addresses 47th March For Life, as theSecular Media Duck for Cover

 

Wolves Among the Sheepfolds

 

The New Science of Separate, Distinct Creations

 

That Sacred Space

 

Faith of the Fatherless

 

More Tales of Darwinian Thuggery

 

Keeping your Children Strong in the Faith

 

Former Editor of Nature Waves Bye Bye to the RNA World

 

At Scientific American: Physicist Pours Cold Water on Scientism

 

A Biblical Perspective on Alcohol Consumption

 

High Priest of a Pseudoscience Rears His Ugly Head Again

 

Another Step into the Human Immorality Sewer: Normalizing Throuples & Sologamy

 

Symptom of a Depraved Society: Scientists Now Fighting to Affirm a Basic Fact of Life: Sex is Binary

 

Speaking the Truth in Love: Where the LGBTQ Community is Ultimately Headed

 

The Power of Biblical Prophecy: The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

 

Origin of Life Debate: James Tour versus Lee Cronin.

 

7 Rock Solid Scientific Arguments for the God of the Bible

 

SETI@Home Shuts Down

 

An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience

 

AI Hype and the End of Moore’s Law

 

Discerning Fact from Spin/Fiction in Cosmos 3.0

 

Polly’s No Statistician!

 

Why All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men Cannot Put Humpty Together.

 

COVID-19

 

The James 5:16 Phenomenon; the Healing Power of Prayer

 

Heart of Darkness: Organ Harvesting of Chinese Prisoners

 

Confessions of a (yet another) Darwinian Sceptic

 

Selflessness

 

Darwinism as a Mentally Retarding Virus

 

Who is the God of the Bible?

 

Legendary Biologist Claims Atheism has Nothing to do with Science

 

Why Nature Should Never be Worshipped

 

What ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is Really Good at Explaining: Cancer.

 

Avoiding the Most Deadly Virus of All

 

The Prince of Peace Versus the Prophet of Islam

 

Coronavirus Outbreak Spurs Record Bible Sales

 

More Tales of Woe for Darwinian Junk Science: No Such Thing as Pseudogenes

 

Earth Fine-Tuned for Space Exploration

 

Pious Frauds

 

The CCP Virus

 

By the Rivers of Babylon

 

Abiogenesis & the Tooth Fairy

 

A Whale of an Evolution Tale

 

New UN Report: COVID-19 will Produce Famines of ‘Biblical Proportions’

 

American Schism

 

An Interview with Dr. Frank Turek

 

The S-Blob

 

Neanderthal DNA & the Leviticus 18:23 Question

 

Debunking Scientific Materialism through Mathematics

 

Incompetent Experts & Bad Government

 

Intelligent Design Now Thriving in Europe

 

Cosmic Fine-Tuning: an Interview with Christian Cosmologist, Dr. Luke Barnes.

 

Ivy League Philosopher Dismisses Evolutionary Psychology as  Pseudoscience

 

Preterism Debunked

 

Ravi Zacharias(1946-2020) RIP

 

Ten Things you Need to Know about Scientism

 

Why Humans have Souls

 

Freeman Dyson: God is a Mathematician

 

J.K. Rowling Takes a Stand Against Militant LGBT Activists

 

Humans Together

 

Talking about Racism

 

Lest We Forget: William Wilberforce

 

Update on the Long Term Evolution Experiment(LTEE): Sickening News for Evolutionists

 

An Interview with Mathematician William Dembski

 

Fatherless America

 

A Technical Look at Fine-Tuning in Biological Systems

 

David Pawson(1930-2020) Remembered

 

The Colour of Christian Art

 

Date Setters

 

Punctuated Equilibrium Debunked by Researchers

 

Harari’s Fictions

 

For the Attention of Greta Thunberg

 

Why We Should Cancel Darwin

 

No Ordinary Star

 

Darwin, Africa & Genocide 

 

What Everyone Should Know About the BLM Movement

 

The Principles that Made America Great:

Part I

Part II

 

The Artifact Hypothesis Debunked

 

Why the Multiverse is Bunk

 

Why Christians Should Support Israel’s Claim to the West Bank

 

Earth’s Deep Water Cycle Fine-Tuned for Life

 

When Darwinism is Applied to Politics

 

Science Update on COVID-19

 

COVID-19: The Economic Fallout

 

Whale Evolution Further Debunked Part 1

Part 2

 

New ENCODE Results Unveil Still MORE FUNCTIONS in So-Called Junk DNA.

 

Concerning Energy

 

The Politicisation of Hydroxy Chloroquine

 

The Wonders of the Human Mind Part 1

Part II

Part III

 

God Among Sages

 

Trapped by Language: Why Biologists Can’t Avoid Teleological Verbiage

 

A Little Lower than the Angels

 

Heretic Pope Affirms Transgender Depravity

 

Latest on Orphan Genes Affirms Creationism

 

For Math Challenged Woketards: Two Plus Two Really Equals Four

 

A Critical Review of Josh Swamidass’ Book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve

 

Angels & Demons

 

Worrying Developments in the American Workplace

 

The Decadence of Gender Ideology

 

Electric Mud

 

 Strictly Come Dancing Turns Gaypo

 

The Philadelphia Statement

 

Graceland Vandalised by BLM Thugs

 

Update on Recent Desperate Attempts to Find a Naturalistic Origin of Life

 

More Bad News for Pond Scum Merchants: No Sign of ETI in New Mega-Survey

 

Netflix Promotes Paedophilia

 

Open for Business

 

Cultural Marxism

 

A Lost Generation

 

World Class Paleontologist Debunks Ancestors to Cambrian Animals

 

Empire of the Beast

 

Religion of Green

 

How Christians Should Respond to Environmental Issues

 

Breakthrough: Intelligent Design Theory Now Being Published in Mainstream Science Journals

 

Woke Pope

 

The Great Barrington Declaration

 

The Astonishing Hypothesis

 

Facebook n’ That

 

Auschwitz Rising

 

Jesus was No Socialist!

 

Facebook Removes Ex-Gay Testimonies

 

Responding to Richard Dawkins & The Old Testament

 

The Perils of Favouritism & the New “Woke” Gospel

 

British NHS Defends Giving Sex Change Hormones to 10 Year-Olds

 

American Pastors Organising to Fight Back Against “Tyrannical” Democrat Shutdowns

 

The Rule of Six

 

The Left’s Communist Manifesto for America

 

The Origin of the Lockdown Mentality

 

The Developing Beast System : Apostate Pope Attends One World Religion Event

 

Victory for Common Sense: UK Equalities Minister Blasts BLM & Critical Race Theory

 

Update on Masks

 

No Phosphine Found In the Venus’ Atmosphere Follow-Up Study Shows

and

A New Call for the Retraction of the Original Paper After Another Analysis of the Data

and

Another Negative Report

and

Yet Another Rebuttal

 

First Eukaryotic Cells were Already Complex

 

When Scientists Make Truth Claims Outside Science

 

Warning to Masktards: A Distinguished Neurologist Speaks

 

Davos Great Reset

 

Did China Fund The Phony Joe Biden Campaign?

 

The Great American Coup

 

Democrat-Run Oregon Decriminalises Crystal Meth, Heroin and Cocaine Use, as its  Cities Burn.

 

Why Origin of Life Researchers Must Embrace Intelligent Design

 

Should Christians Ever Employ Civil Disobedience?

 

Are Bacteria Really Evolving?

 

Catholics Discuss their Apostate Pope

 

Marxism Appropriated to the 2020 US Election

 

Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed Develops Moderna Vaccine with 95% Efficacy

 

Veteran Military Chaplin Fired from US Air Force for Holding Biblical Views on Sexual Morality

 

Schooling Masktards: Multiple Studies Show Masks are Ineffective and Possibly Harmful

 

An Amusing Take on the Utah “Monolith”

 

From the USA: A Major Victory Over LGBTQ Tyranny

 

Sidney Powell’s Kraken

 

Treasure Trove of Rock Paintings Dating Back 12,500 Years Discovered in Remote parts of Colombian Rain Forests

 

Sick Morality: As Countless Unborn Humans Are Murdered, Activists Push for “Personhood” Rights for Elephants

 

Galapagos Finch “Evolution” Debunked

 

USA Faces Tsunami of Evictions in 2021

 

After Weighing the Evidence, Medic Ditches Theistic Evolution for Intelligence

 

Some Effects of Transgenderism

 

Leaked: Biden Administration Urged to Persecute American Conservative Christians

 

Advanced Computer Models on Earth’s Long-term Habitability Continue to Affirm its Extreme Rarity/ Uniqueness

 

Raven Intelligence Raises More Problems for Evolutionists

 

I’ll Own What I Choose to Own and my Happiness is none of your Damn Business……Comrade!

 

Another Defeat for Darwinian Junk Science: the Thymus is Not a Vestigial Organ

 

Argentinian Socialist Government  Legalises Abortion

 

Morons in da House

 

Requiem for the American Republic

 

A Catholic Priest Comments on the Consequences of the 2020 US Election

 

Warring Against the Beast

 

Darwinian Time Trees Don’t Work, New Analysis Suggests

 

Battle for the Soul: Surviving a Chinese Communist Re-Education Camp

 

The New American State Religion- Wokeness

 

Conservatives: You Gotta Get Your Kids out of Illinois Public Schools

 

New Geochemical Research Findings Affirm the Genesis Creation Account

 

An Interview with Dr. John Sanford

 

Illinois Christian High School Student Faces Disciplinary Hearing after Refusing to Take a Class on Deviant Sexual Behaviour

 

Did the American People Really Vote this Guy in?

 

The Curious Case of Ivermectin

 

Mormons

 

Burn it Down!

 

New Zealand: where Capitalism Triumphed over Socialism

 

Hitting Woke Big Tech & the Fake News Media where it Hurts

 

More Bull from the Masktard King

 

The Devout Catholic

 

Yet Another Putative Human Evolutionary Ancestor Debunked 

 

Marxist Pope Francis Pushes Great Reset

 

Revisionist View of Homosexuality Debunked

 

Poisoning of the Youth: A look at Amerika’s New, Ultra-Woke School Curriculum

 

From Newsweek: Transgender Man Warns Others About the Dire Health Consequences of Her Actions

 

The Wonders of Honey

 

Curbing Wokeness & Cancel Culture: UK to Introduce Legislation which will Fine Universities that Limit Free Speech

 

It Happened on Your Watch: How the Rise of Evil is Destroying American Cities

 

 

Great Reset Creep’s Plan to Destroy the American Agricultural Industry

 

Lessons for the USA: Venezuela’s Experiment with Socialism Falters as it Embraces Privatisation

 

New Insights into ‘Super’ Earths Suggest they are Uninhabitable

 

Insane Biden Administration Destroying Girl’s Sports

 

Amazon Quietly Removes Book Criticizing Transgender Ideology

 

WokaCola

 

Just Like You!

 

Dozens of House Democrats Requesting Biden to Relinquish Sole Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons

 

What the Equality Act Means for Ordinary US Citizens

 

Great Reset Creeps Suffer a Propaganda Crash

 

Why Darwinian Junk Science Remains Popular with the Pagan Masses

 

Levity

 

Another Evolutionary Icon Bites the Dust: Beta Globin Pseudogene Shows Functionality

 

Are Electric Vehicles Really the Future?

 

Prehistoric Cave Art & The Imago Dei

 

Vatican Clarifies its Position on Same Sex Relationships – Declares them “Sinful”

 

Where Cancel Culture Naturally Leads

 

Self-Evident Truths

 

New York Columbia University’s Woke Graduation

 

Trump to Launch New Social Media Empire

 

Long-term Study from 10,000 Generations of Yeast Cells Reveals Devolution not Evolution

 

What the Green New Deal is Really All About

 

Avi Loeb’s Oumuamua Alien Hypothesis Debunked

 

What Everyone Needs to Know About the Proposed Vaccine Passports

 

America: Land of the Insane

 

Son of the Devout Catholic

 

Mars & Nestle Join the Woke Brigade

 

Why People Who Have Had Covid-19 Needn’t Get the Vaccine

 

Attention Parents: What the Sexually Depraved are Now Teaching Your Children 

 

What Next? Incest?

 

Right on Time: The O’ Biden Masktard Administration Begin the Process of Consolidating a One Party State by Court Packing.

What I’m Reading.

See my up and coming review in Salvo Magazine.

 

 

Meyer’s book is a masterclass, lucidly exploring every alternative from multiple points of view. It persuasively shows that the God Hypothesis is the best explanation of the fine-tuned, information-laden universe. The book does irreparable damage to atheist rhetoric.

JOHN C. WALTON, PHD, DSC, FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH, RESEARCH PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS

A comprehensive and lucid argument for theism as the best explanation for the scientific evidence.  Stephen Meyer has a true gift for conveying complex concepts clearly.

DR. ROBERT KAITA, FORMER PRINCIPAL RESEARCH PHYSICIST, PRINCETON PLASMA PHYSICS LABORATORY.

Reviewing all relevant evidence from cosmology to molecular biology, Meyer builds an irrefutable “case for God” while delivering an unanswerable set of logical and scientific broadsides against the currently fashionable materialistic/atheistic worldview. Meyer builds his argument relentlessly omitting no significant area of debate. The logic throughout is compelling and the book almost impossible to put down. Meyer is a master at clarifying complex issues making the text accessible to the widest possible audience. Readers will be struck by Meyer’s extraordinary depth of knowledge in every relevant area. The book is a masterpiece and will be widely cited in years to come. The best, most lucid, comprehensive defense of the ‘God hypothesis’ in print. No other publication comes close. A unique tour de force

DR. MICHAEL DENTON, FORMER SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, BIOCHEMISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO, AUTHOR, NATURE’S DESTINY

This book makes it clear that far from being an unscientific claim, intelligent design is valid science.

BRIAN JOSEPHSON, EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY, NOBEL LAUREATE IN PHYSICS

 More than 400 pages of straightforward, engrossing prose, close reasoning, intellectual history, and cosmology, all in the interest of asking the most important questions about existence itself. An astonishing achievement.

PETER ROBINSON, MURDOCH DISTINGUISHED POLICY FELLOW AT THE HOOVER INSTITUTION, STANFORD UNIVERSITY AND FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPEECHWRITER.

A meticulously researched, lavishly illustrated, and thoroughly argued case against the new atheism. Even if your mind is made up — especially if it is — Meyer’s refreshing take on humanity’s most unbridgeable divide—between secular and divine accounts of origins of the Universe—is a joy to read. You may not come away convinced, but you’ll be richer for the journey. 

DR. BRIAN KEATING, CHANCELLOR’S DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO. AUTHOR, LOSING THE NOBEL PRIZE: A STORY OF COSMOLOGY, AMBITION, AND THE PERILS OF SCIENCE’S HIGHEST HONOR.  

A marvelous compendium of indisputable scientific evidence in support of the existence of God.

DR. MARCOS N. EBERLIN, PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY, MACKENZIE UNIVERSITY. BRAZILIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, THOMSON MEDALIST, INTERNATIONAL MASS SPECTROMETRY FOUNDATION. 

With this book, Stephen Meyer earns a place in the pantheon of distinguished, non-reductive natural philosophers of the last 120 years, from the great French savant Pierre Duhem, through A.N. Whitehead, to Michael Polanyi…He has written a profound, judicious book of great value bringing to bear both advanced, detailed scientific expertise (Pascal: “l’esprit géométrique”) and philosophical, integrative wisdom (“l’esprit de finesse”).

DR. MICHAEL D. AESCHLIMAN, EMERITUS PROFESSOR BOSTON UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR THE RESTORATION OF MAN: C.S. LEWIS AND THE CONTINUING CASE AGAINST SCIENTISM.

Meyer masterfully summarizes the current evidence from cosmology, physics and biology showing that the more we learn about the universe and nature, the more relevant the ‘God hypothesis’ becomes. 

DR. ANTHONY FUTERMAN, PROFESSOR OF BIOCHEMISTRY, WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE, ISRAEL

Anyone who wants a state-of-the-art treatise on arguments and counter arguments for intelligent design must get this book. It performs a gigaton task of covering the origin of everything from molecular machinery to the entire universe. A much-needed book.

DR. STUART BURGESS, PROFESSOR OF ENGINEERING DESIGN, BRISTOL UNIVERSITY; RESEARCH FELLOW, CLARE HALL, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.

 When you don’t understand the details of living systems, ignorance permits discounting a Creator.  But when the details of science are thrust upon you, you’re forced to ask: How on Earth — literally — did that happen? Thus, the God hypothesis returns.  Stephen Meyer convincingly drives the point home: How could it be this way?  Only God!

JAMES M. TOUR, PH.D., T. T. AND W. F. CHAO PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY AND PROFESSOR OF NANO-ENGINEERING, RICE UNIVERSITY.

 Stephen Meyer is a genuine renaissance person.  His work tears down many purported barriers between science, philosophy, and religion.  An important book of both breadth and depth.

DR. HENRY F. SCHAEFER III, GRAHAM PERDUE PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR COMPUTATIONAL QUANTUM CHEMISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

No one else in my experience can explicate such complex material with the grace and clarity that seem so effortless to Stephen Meyer. With cold logic and meticulous rational analysis of the latest discoveries in cosmology, physics, and biology, Meyer confirms a truth that the ideologues find too frightening even to consider. By the ad hominem nature of their attacks on his brilliant work, they confirm its importance and suggest an eventual end to the scientism that warps our culture.

DEAN KOONTZNEW YORK TIMES #1 BEST-SELLING AUTHOR

Dr. Meyer does a superb job in accurately describing the physics and cosmology that show the universe had a beginning. He also convincingly shows that quantum mechanics will not eliminate a cosmological singularity.

DR. FRANK TIPLER, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS, TULANE UNIVERSITY; CO-AUTHOR, THE ANTHROPIC-COSMOLOGICAL PRINCIPLE (OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS).

This is a long overdue book that until now neither scientific experts nor religious believers have had the courage to write. Readers will appreciate Meyer’s consistently patient and humble style of exposition and argumentation. And for those genuinely curious about the God hypothesis, this book provides the fairest, most comprehensive statement available. 

DR. STEVE FULLER, AUGUSTE COMTE CHAIR IN SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK, AUTHOR OF KNOWLEDGE: THE PHILOSOPHICAL QUEST IN HISTORY.

This is a truly superb analysis of the relevant evidence.Stephen Meyer convincingly demonstrates that the God hypothesis is not just an adequate explanation for the origin of our fine-tuned universe and biosphere: it is the best explanation.

DAVID J. GALLOWAY, MD DSC FRCS FRCP, HONORARY PROFESSOR OF SURGERY AT COLLEGE OF MEDICAL, VETERINARY & LIFE SCIENCES UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW; FORMER PRESIDENT, ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS OF GLASGOW.

Leaving no materialist, reductionist or determinist stone unturned and unrefuted, Return of the God Hypothesis exposes atheistic materialism as a modern superstition. Meyer reveals atheism as a feckless faith that resorts to ever more preposterous hypotheses — from an infinitude of multiple parallel universes, infinite expanses of missing matter, imaginary time, and other far-fetched canards — all to conceal the academic emperor’s intellectual nudity, vanity, and obesity, riding on a high horse in a pompous parade of self-defeating nihilism. Intelligent scientists will benefit greatly from this newly coherent philosophy of their sciences.

GEORGE GILDER, AUTHOR, TELECOSM AND KNOWLEDGE AND POWER

Exhibiting deep and broad research, familiarity with recent developments, and forged in a life of debate and dialogue with those with whom Meyer differs, it is hard to imagine a more important book on this topic. Stephen Meyer is one of those generational thinkers whose courage, thought and influence are pervasive on the world-stage.

DR. JP MORELAND, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, BIOLA UNIVERSITY; AUTHOR, SCIENTISM AND SECULARISM.

Meyer not only meticulously documents his scientific case for the God hypothesis, but he presents the story of the discoveries that support it in an engaging way. The arguments Meyer makes helped fuel my own personal transition from atheistic materialism to a rational belief in classical theism.

GÜNTER BECHLY, PH.D. IN PALEONTOLOGY, EBERHARD-KARLS UNIVERSITY OF TÜBINGEN; FORMER SCIENTIFIC CURATOR, STATE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, STUTTGART, GERMANY; SENIOR SCIENTIST, BIOLOGIC INSTITUTE.

Since his Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer has been a beacon of humility, humanity, and courageous thinking in that ever-changing interface between science and religion. His new book does not prove the presence of a designing intelligence or supermind, but it certainly renders the “God hypothesis” more plausible, coherent, and respectable. Thoughtful people need no longer assume materialism, mechanism, and meaninglessness. Turns out: anything but. 

DR. JEFFREY J. KRIPAL, J. NEWTON RAYZOR PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS THOUGHT, RICE UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR OF THE FLIP: EPIPHANIES OF MIND AND THE FUTURE OF KNOWLEDGE.

Few public intellectuals can rival Stephen Meyer’s range and depth of scientific knowledge or, critically, his insight into the meaning of science.  Return of the God Hypothesis reads like a detective story … beautiful and profound. 

MICHAEL EGNOR, M.D.; PROFESSOR AND VICE-CHAIRMAN FOR RESEARCH; DEPARTMENT OF NEUROLOGICAL SURGERY; RENAISSANCE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY

Weaving together philosophy, history and science in lucid prose, Meyer skewers materialism for its inability to create the information necessary to a universe teeming with life. The claim that the God hypothesis is unscientific is laid bare as a red herring.

PAUL ASHBY, PH.D., PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY; STAFF SCIENTIST, LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY

 An illuminating investigation of the intersection between science, religion, and philosophy. Meyer provides deep historical context for understanding current controversies. He deftly demonstrates the stark consequences for scientific knowledge of materialist attempts to avoid the theological implications of recent scientific discoveries.

DR. ROBERT C. KOONS, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN; AUTHOR, REALISM REGAINED(OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS).

Following a sweeping overview of recent discoveries in cosmology, physics and biology, Meyer makes a compelling case for a cosmic designer, the God of theism. Meyer is following in the footsteps of Boyle, Kepler, and Newton.

GUILLERMO GONZALEZ, PH.D. IN ASTRONOMY, THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, CO-AUTHOR, OBSERVATIONAL ASTRONOMY (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS); THE PRIVILEGED PLANET. 

 Meyer’s book provides an especially valuable analysis of biological and cosmological fine-tuning arguments in a single, coherent narrative.

DR. DAVID SNOKE, DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

Not since Robert Jastrow’s God and the Astronomers, has a book touched me with the power of science to declare the glories of God. Jastrow kept me from the deism and atheism of college physics, and this book will surely have that same effect on the next generation. Whereas Jastrow left off too soon, Meyer skillfully follows the evidence to its logical and scientific conclusion, by examining recent developments not only in physics and cosmology, but also in biology. Warmly written with a historian’s eye, illustrated profusely, a perfect graduation gift for all those embarking on a lifetime of discovery.

ROB SHELDON, PH.D. IN SPACE PLASMA PHYSICS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND; FORMER NASA ANALYST AND INSTRUMENT DESIGNER, AUTHOR, THE LONG ASCENT 

Stephen Meyer’s fine new book is aptly summarized by the opening line of Beethoven’s magnificent musical composition ‘Die Himmel rühmen des Ewigen Ehre’: ‘The heavens praise the glory of the Eternal.’ He mounts a powerful case that the best, the most reasonable, explanation for the full suite of scientific evidence about the origin and fine tuning of the universe and life is — as he puts it — ‘the God hypothesis.’”

MATTI LEISOLA, DSC, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF BIOPROCESS ENGINEERING, AALTO UNIVERSITY, FINLAND

Meyer shows how the theistic world view, creation theology and design argument have long been part of the structure of western science and motivated key figures who invented it in its modern form — including Kepler, Boyle and Newton. But Meyer also shows that today’s science makes the ‘God hypothesis’ as compelling today as it ever was.

STEPHEN D. SNOBELEN, PH.D. IN HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE;   ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, HISTORY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF KING’S COLLEGE, HALIFAX

Meyer’s trilogy (Signature in the Cell, Darwin’s Doubt, and now Return of the God Hypothesis) is now the most powerful challenge to scientific materialism in print today. His analysis of the central issue of the origin of genetic information is the best I’ve seen. Readers will enjoy Meyer’s brilliantly lucid and engaging style of writing, including illuminating personal anecdotes in the development of his thought. A very gratifying read indeed!

DEAN KENYON, PH.D. IN BIOPHYSICS, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF BIOLOGY, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY; CO-AUTHOR BIOCHEMICAL PREDESTINATION

Dr. Meyer’s book, impeccably researched, clearly and concisely spells out the modern scientific case for the existence of God. It begins two centuries ago, when science ran away from God and ends with a shocking twist. Namely, just when scientists thought they’d left God in the dust, recent startling discoveries are leading them right back to him!

MICHAEL GUILLEN, PHD IN PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, FORMER ABC SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT; AUTHOR, FIVE EQUATIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

Meyer’s challenge to the current consensus is comparable in magnitude to that of Copernicus’ in 1543. Like Copernicus, Meyer compels us to rethink our entire understanding of the cosmos. His book provides overwhelming evidence in support of “the God hypothesis.

LEONARD SAX, MD, PHD, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA; NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR. 

Philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer builds a clear, cogent, and compelling case for theism based on the most current findings of cosmology, physics, and biology. He bases his stunning conclusion — that the evidence points toward a personal Creator — on persuasive facts and convincing logic. This masterful book should be required reading for anyone grappling with the ultimate mysteries of the cosmos.

LEE STROBELNEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR

Meyer tackles fundamental questions of origin systematically and rigorously, providing an enormous amount of physical and biological evidence pointing to an intelligent designer — indeed, one responsible for two trillion galaxies and life in all its overwhelming complexities. Does this designer deserve the title GOD? Evaluate this book critically and draw your own conclusions! 

DR. WOLF-EKKEHARD LÖNNIG, SENIOR SCIENTIST EMERITUS; INSTITUTE OF GENETICS, THE UNIVERSITY OF BONN AND THE MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR PLANT BREEDING RESEARCH.

This book presents a captivating overview of a range of scientific evidences that cumulatively point to the existence of a Creator, and a compelling refutation of the superficial objections of the New Atheists. A must-read for anyone interested in the Big Questions.

ANDREW T. LOKE, PHD, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, HONG KONG BAPTIST UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR, GOD AND ULTIMATE ORIGINS

Clear, compelling, and entertaining to read, Return of the God Hypothesis makes a strong case that the identity of the intelligent designer as a personal God, and that the scientific discoveries of the last 75 years support the God hypothesis as the better, and indeed best, explanation.

RUSSELL W. CARLSON, EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF BIOCHEMISTRY & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND THE COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATE CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

Stephen Meyer has written a masterpiece. The evidence for God is extensive, and now much more accessible due to his lucid exposition. Scientists and philosophers who wish that God did not exist will hate this book. Newton would have loved it.

MICHAEL NEWTON KEAS, PH.D. IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA; AUTHOR OF UNBELIEVABLE:  7 MYTHS ABOUT THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION.

This thinking-person’s tour of the universe visits all the important discoveries without losing the reader in facts. Meyer pulls this off brilliantly by keeping it personal, putting faces to names and displaying each not only in historical context but also within his own search for meaning. Above all, his answer is personal — not blind, pitiless forces, but a Creator who is intimately involved in our lives.

DOUGLAS AXE, PH.D. IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING CALTECH; MAXWELL PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, BIOLA UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR OF UNDENIABLE: HOW BIOLOGY CONFORMS OUR INTUITION THAT LIFE IS DESIGNED

This book is the crowning opus in a masterful and transformative trilogy in which Stephen Meyer challenges the pretensions of presumptive naturalism in science. As Meyer shows, the God hypothesis is indispensable to science. Its return, and the re-enchantment of the world with it, is most welcome.

BRUCE L. GORDON, PH.D. IN PHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICS, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY; PROFESSOR, HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY

This magnum opus is a must-read for students, historians of science, philosophers, theologians and scientists. Meyer’s scientific arguments supporting the God hypothesis are thoroughly and convincingly presented; counterarguments are objectively presented with equal clarity, and forthrightly rebutted with compelling reasoning and evidence.  His philosophical arguments are equally compelling and will inevitably have an indelible impact on the worldview of the reader. Stephen Meyer is one of the finest minds in this field and with this work he has done a great service to science and society.

DR. FRIK VAN NIEKERK, NUCLEAR ENGINEER, FACULTY OF ENGINEERING, NORTHWEST UNIVERSITY, SOUTH AFRICA

Return of theGod Hypothesis balances the author’s personal intellectual journey with objective fact-based analysis in an engaging style. Weaving sound historical inquiry with the latest theories in physics and biology into a rich explanatory tapestry, this book shows how science is rediscovering the foundational worldview principles that launched modern science in the first place — the inescapably resilient God hypothesis. A must-read and a convincing argument.

MICHAEL A. FLANNERY, AUTHOR OF NATURE’S PROPHET: ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE AND HIS EVOLUTION FROM NATURAL SELECTION TO NATURAL THEOLOGY. PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UAB LIBRARIES, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM.  

 

De Fideli

Product Review: Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR.

Defending limes

A work commenced March 19 2021

 

 

Product Name: Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR

Country of Origin: Portugal

Field of View: 110m @1000m(6.3 angular degrees) advertised, 113m@1000m(6.5 angular degrees measured)

Eye Relief: 15mm

IPD Range: 34-74mm

Close Focus: 1.8m (advertised and measured)

Exit Pupil: 2.5mm

Chassis Material: Rubber armoured aluminium/titanium

Coatings: Fully multi-coated, High Durable Coating(HDC),  phase correcting coating P40 , HighLux-System (HLS), AquaDura coatings applied to outer lenses.

Dioptre Range: +/- 3.5 dioptres(lockable)

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Waterproof: Yes to 5m

ED Glass: No

Weight: 245g(8.6 oz)

Dimensions: Folded W/H 6.0/9.3cm

Warranty: 10 Years

Accessories: Logoed Cordura case, eye caps, woven neck strap, test certificate, warranty card, instruction manual

Retail Price: £495-570 (UK), $749 (US)

 

 

Every now and then, something crosses your path that is truly remarkable and worthy of discussion, something that radically changes your perceived priorities when it comes to choosing the right equipment for your intended needs and purposes. Having thoroughly test-driven the smallest instrument in Leica’s Ultravid line of binoculars, I would have to concede that the 8 x 20 BR is one such instrument, as I hope to elaborate on at some length in this review blog.

When I began my exploration of the world of modern binoculars less than three short years ago, I was amazed what a relatively small financial outlay could buy you in terms of optical quality. As with telescopes, gone forever were the days when you couldn’t acquire decent optical performance without breaking the bank. As my curiosity for all things binocular grew however, so did my appetite for buying up and hoarding lots of different models – some very expensive in the scheme of things – to the extent that I soon recognised that my collection was getting far too large, and indeed was becoming a bit of an obsession.

The catalyst for this personal reflection started when I tested a Leica Triinovid HD 8 x 32 against a far less expensive Barr & Stroud Series 5  8 x 42 binocular. The latter proved to be very good indeed, with a very wide and well-corrected field of view (of the order of 8 angular degrees). Optically, the Series 5 was only marginally less sharp and contrasty compared with the Leica and much easier to use owing to its larger and more forgiving exit pupil and comparable mass(less than 100g heavier than the Leica HD). Ergonomically, it was no slouch either, with a magnesium alloy body, excellent focuser, high-quality twist up eye cups, and a nicely finished rubber armoured exterior. I rapidly grew very fond of this binocular after using it extensively on my walks, and wondered if I had made the right choice in going for the 8 x 32 Leica. After some reflection, I decided that I would part with the Leica glass and embrace the Series 5 as my mid-size binocular. of choice Since then, I’ve had no regrets. Indeed, I’ve completely ruled out buying a more expensive mid-size instrument, as the Series 5 8 x 42 fulfils all my needs from that binocular aperture class.

Incredulous? Why don’t you test drive it?

Thus began a selling off spree that radically reduced my binocular collection. But it also freed up funds to acquire a state-of-the-art pocket binocular that utterly amazed me from the moment I acquired it; enter the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR.

Leica make some seriously nice kit. I had experienced the optical wonders of no less than three Trinovid binoculars; two pocket glasses – the BCA 8 x 20 and 10 x 25 – and the larger HD 8 x 32. Built to last, with optics to write home every day about, it soon became clear to me that Leica were a world-class binocular maker, holding their own or even exceeding the best other optical giants in the field could offer, including Zeiss and Swarovski. I had sworn to myself that the optical performance of these two pocket binoculars was as good as I could possibly perceive with my average eyes, and that acquiring their Ultravid pocket glass would not be justified. But I was wrong about that!

The 8 x 20 BR was purchased from a reputable dealer – Cley Spy of Norwich, England. I got it for a good price – at least as this model retails for – £495 delivered. It arrived the next day in a very large box filled with paper and foam, surrounding a much tinier box containing the binocular and its accessories. As is typical of Leica products, everything was immaculately packed inside; the instrument snugly placed inside the Cordura pouch, with the neck strap, user manual, warranty card, and test certificate.

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR; up close and personal.

As I discovered in testing lots of different binoculars of different sizes, I deduced that as the instrument gets larger, they are easier to make well owing to their less stringent design tolerances. This is especially true of 42mm class instruments and above, and it was self evidently the case when I tested the excellent Series 5 binocular marketed by Barr & Stroud. But the opposite is also true, the smaller the binocular, the harder it is to make well – and the tiniest ones of all are the most difficult of all to build. And that’s why they are quite expensive as binoculars go. That said, what Leica achieved in miniaturising almost all of the technologies that went into their large Ultravid models is nothing short of phenomenal! To see why, read on!

Ergonomics

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR is beautifully made instrument, with a very solid feel in the hand. Weighing in at 243 grams, its frame is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminium  overlaid by a thick layer of easy-grip black rubber(whence its BR labelling). It has a dual hinge design, just like the Trinovid BCA models but has fixed stops that prevent it from unfolding too far unlike the latter. That said, it can be used by anyone; from kids to adults, with a wide range of inter-pupillary distances to suit most everyone’s face.

The eye cups twist up and click firmly into place with a very reassuring ‘thwack’ sound. There are no detents just like the Trinovid pocket glasses. You simply leave the eyecups down if you wear glasses or pull them out if you don’t. I personally love this arrangement, as I don’t like having multiple stops as you usually find on most larger binoculars. They are held rigidly in place and only retract after applying a firm downward force to the edges of the soft-rubber-clad padding on the top of the eye cups.

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR can be deployed in seconds.

One slight gripe I have is that the left eye cup is harder to deploy than the one on the right. Indeed I have to twist them round as I pull them up to get them to deploy quickly( I don’t observe using eye glasses), but I suspect this will become slightly easier to do with more use. The eye relief is a decent 15mm, a full millimetre more than the 8 x 20 BCA Trinovid. This makes for very comfortable viewing and easier squaring on of one’s eyes with the small exit pupils. Eye glass wearers will also have no problem seeing the entire field with this instrument. I checked this with my varifocals on.

The Ultravid pocket glass has a lockable dioptre mechanism. You adjust it by pressing a small button under the bridge of the binocular just ahead of the focus wheel. When the button is pressed in, you rotate the focus wheel which is indicated by a dial on the focuser. But this must be carried out while looking through the right barrel of the binocular, which can be quite a tricky task, especially if you have large hands. Once the button is released the dioptre setting is locked in place and need not be adjusted again – at least in theory.

The lockable dioptre setting on the Ultravid is located under the bridge of the instrument and is a bit fiddly to adjust. Note also the lack of a numeric scale on the display.

Although I do acknowledge that this is a clever engineering solution, I believe it’s a bit  overkill, and a bit fiddly to boot, as I found the dioptre adjustment on the Trinovid BCAs to be perfectly adequate in comparison, located as it is on the right objective barrel of the latter instruments. Furthermore, I find I need to tweak the adjustment of the dioptre from time to time, and the Trinovid solution is much more amenable to this kind of micro-adjustment on the fly compared with the Ultravid. The other minor gripe I have with the lockable dioptre on the Ultravid pocket binocular pertains to the lack of a numeric index on the scale. If you already know how much to offset the dioptre from its zero position, and in which direction to rotate it – either plus or minus – you can just go ahead and move it to that position. But that’s not the case with the Ultravid dioptre. You’re simply left guessing which way to turn the dial when first adjusting it. Ho hum.

The large, centrally placed focus wheel on the Ultravid is a significant ergonomic advance over the Trinovid BCAs, which has a much smaller focuser in comparison, and which is especially noticeable when wearing gloves. It is very smooth but rather stiff, especially using one finger. Indeed, I find I like to use two fingers while rotating the focus wheel to get optimum momentum. Close focus was precisely measured at 1.8 metres, exactly as advertised, taking just 1.5 revolutions to go from one end of focus travel to the other. It also can focus just a little beyond infinity.

The objectives of the Ultravid are recessed just a tiny bit more – perhaps 3.5mm – than I remember on the 8 x 20 Trinovid BCA. And while still rather shallow, I’m grateful to have that small improvement, as it affords the objectives with a little bit more protection from rain, dust and peripheral light. You also don’t have to worry quite as much about standing them upright on a level surface in case the lenses get scratched.

The thick rubber armouring covering the aluminium chassis is applied via a novel vulcanisation process which ensures that it will not come loose from the metal even under the harshest conditions of cold or heat.

The slightly more deeply recessed objective lenses on the Ultravid 8 x 20 BR is a step in the right direction.

Optical Evaluation

First class ergonomics counts for nothing of course, unless the optical quality is up to scratch. Beginning with my iPhone torch light test to look for internal reflections, diffused light and diffraction spikes, I was relieved but not really surprised to see that it was every bit as good as the Trinovid binoculars, but did fall a little short of my Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 control. Specifically, when the torch was set to its brightest setting about 2.5 metres away, the Ultravid served up very clean images of the light beam with only the merest trace of faint internal reflections, and no diffused light that causes a haziness to develop around bright light sources. There was however, a more pronounced diffraction spike in comparison to my superlative Series 5 control binocular. When pointed at a bright sodium street lamp, the little Ultravid served up a lovely clean image, with no diffused light, and only the merest trace of faint internal reflections. I could not make out any diffraction spiking however. Here again, I thought the Series 5 images of the street lamp were that little bit cleaner but the results for the Ultravid pocket glass was more than satisfactory.

The torch test never tells the full story however, as it doesn’t test for veiling glare, one of my pet peeves concerning binocular optics. Veiling glare comes mostly from on high lol, and is seen most easily in daylight in an open area away from the shading canopy of trees and observation hides. It occurs when light from above strikes the edges of the lenses in the objective causing a contrast-robbing veil of glare to manifest in the image. In addition, I discovered yet another source of veiling glare, not reported before in the literature to my knowledge, while testing binoculars during bright sunny winter days, with fresh snowfall underfoot. Under such conditions, the highly reflective snow adds to the veiling glare by causing the upper edges of the binocular objectives to add a significant additional source of this annoying stray light. It is easily detected by pointing a binocular high up in a tree canopy against a bright overcast sky. It also shows up in strongly backlit scenes, such as near a low-lying Sun.

The Leica Ultravid BR 8 x 20 exhibits excellent control of stray light and veiling glare but  is not quite as good as my superlative Barr & Stroud Series 5 8x 42 control binocular.

Well, I was absolutely amazed when I tested the Ultravid 8x 20 BR for this phenomenon! It proved excellent in supressing veiling glare; certainly in a different league altogether to the Trinovid BCAs and quite comparable to my Series 5 8 x 42 control binocular! Leica have really done their homework on this model and it is one of the major contributing factors to its optical excellence. Of course, while no binocular yet made can completely eliminate veiling glare, with pocket binoculars being particularly sensitive to it, the little Leica Ultravid is certainly the best pocket glass I’ve yet tested for this by some considerable margin. Leica binoculars are well known in the industry for their very aggressive control of stray light, being ahead of some other premium manufacturers such as Zeiss and Swarovski in this department. Well done Leica!

The field of view of the 8 x 20 Ultravid is advertised(as in the user manual) as 110m@1000m or about 6.3 angular degrees. I discovered however, that the true value is nearer 6.5 angular degrees or 113m@1000m. This I ascertained by imaging a star field at night. The Plough asterism provides a convenient test; specifically the distance between Mizar and Alkaid is a precisely known 6.66 angular degrees, and I was able to see that the Ultravid almost captures both stars in the same field; not quite but very nearly! The result is not surprising, as I’ve found that many manufacturers misquote their fields of view, but mostly to over-estimate field size.

From the moment I picked up the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR, I was deeply impressed with the images it served up. Even before tweaking the dioptre adjustment on the instrument it was showing an intensely sharp, bright and well corrected field. The lack of any glare has the effect of peeling away another layer that brings out the finest details in the image. I would describe the effect as being rather like going from a mediocre 7 element  eyepiece to one of the highest optical quality with just 3 or 4 elements. You can really see the contrast and sharpness gain immediately!

The Ultravid serves up a slightly brighter image than the Trinovid BCAs owing to its superior light transmission. Some independent testing by others have estimated its transmittivity to be of the order of 90+ per cent across much or all of the visible spectrum, even exceeding 94 per cent at green visual wavelengths (~550nm). In another test carried out on a larger first generation 10 x 42 Ultravid, a transmission value of 88 +/-3 per cent was measured.

Colour correction is excellent. Indeed, I have yet to see any secondary spectrum from this binocular, even after testing in very challenging light conditions. In good light, the colour rendition of the image is very rich and vivid but also stays natural. Greens and yellows are particularly vivid in this instrument – an observation I’ve made before with the Trinovid binoculars. Depth of focus is also very impressive in this 8 x  20, with objects beyond about 50 yards being in sharp focus and only requiring the tiniest tweak of the focus wheel for optimum results.

The other thing that was immediately noticeable to me was the flatness of the image across the field, with off-axis performance being particularly impressive. There is noticeably less edge distortion in the Ultravid pocket glass in comparison to the Trinovid BCA glasses(which are already very good). Furthermore, this was not only true horizontally but also vertically(hardly ever tested by users).  What is especially remarkable is that all of this is achieved without employing extra low dispersion (ED) glass elements!

This is not just hearsay. In an optical matter like this it’s always best to consult with the manufacturer. I contacted Leica Sports Optics UK, asking for information on this matter, and I got this reply:

Dear Neil,

Nice to hear from you!

We are glad to hear that you are impressed with the Ultravid. As you correctly guessed, the Ultravid 8×20 BR doesn’t have an extra-low dispersion element like the bigger “HD” Ultravid. Despite this, the compact Ultravid features aspherical elements that greatly reduce colour fringing and increase sharpness.

Please let us know if you have any more questions.

Best wishes,
Tizia

Tizia Barci
E-Commerce Manager| Leica Camera UK

So, there you have it! That extraordinary sharpness and excellent colour fidelity of the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR is achieved using specialised aspherical elements built into the eyepieces most likely, but maybe elsewhere in the optical train. But it also serves as a reminder to those who think the addition of ED glass somehow makes a binocular magically better or brighter.

Absolutely untrue!

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 is arguably the world’s best achromatic binocular! 

But I believe there is yet another ingredient that contributes to the extraordinary image quality of the Leica Ultravid  8 x 20, and it pertains to the small exit pupil. The aberrations in the human eye increase as the exit pupil increases. This enables you to take in more light of course, but with the added disadvantage of introducing more aberrations. For normal daylight observations for much of the year, the exit pupil reduces to between 2 and 3mm, so there is no big optical advantage in using a binocular that serves up a larger exit pupil. Furthermore, because you are sampling the image with the best corrected part of the eye, the image does present as unusually sharp and well defined.  Again, this is not mere opinion. Studies have shown the same thing!  Thus, when you are using the Ultravid 8 x 20, you are delivering a very well corrected image to the best part of your eye.

Note added in proof: It’s amazing how some so-called ‘experienced’ folk discover the virtues of a small exit pupil after the fact!

Of course, all of this comes with some trade-offs; small exit pupils make it harder to align your eyes with the small light shaft emerging from the binocular making them more fastidious in regard to precise eye placement, with the result that some glassers report blackouts as the eye becomes misaligned with the exit pupil. This makes them unsatisfactory to some users, but I find this is a skill that most glassers can easily learn. You get better with practice! And because there are no collimation issues with these mechanically robust instruments, eye fatigue even after prolonged use is minimised.

Trust but Verify

Don’t be a snowflake: the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR submerged in a bowl of tap water for 10 minutes.

Unlike the Trinovid BCA pocket glasses, which are splash proof, meaning that they can handle light rain, they are not water proof in the same way that the Leica Ultravid  pocket glass is. Indeed, the latter is advertised in the user manual as being watertight to a depth of 5 metres(16.4 feet). Judging by its excellent build quality, I had no real reason to doubt this but decided to conduct a simple submersion test with the Ultravid, by placing it in a bowl of tap water and leaving it there for 10 minutes before retrieving it and letting it dry naturally. To my relief, it presented no problems whatsoever. The binocular remained bone dry inside with nary a sign of any trapped moisture.

I can also confirm that the AquaDura coatings applied to the outer lenses work very well indeed, by testing against another pocket glass with no such coating. Remarkably, even though the ocular lenses were of the same diameter, it took about six times longer to disperse a fog breathed on the surfaces of the control binocular in comparison with the Ultravid. I found a short youtube clip showing AquaDura strutting its stuff. You can see that clip right here.

In yet another test, I placed the little Ultravid inside a small tupperware container and left it inside a freezer at -20C for an hour. Despite being covered in ice crystals, the focus wheel remained smooth and functional, and the optical glass showed no signs of stress, so the instrument should be reliable in these extremely cold conditions.

These features really add to the robustness of the binocular. You needn’t worry about rain or rivers, or even whether the binocular will fog or freeze-up on even the coldest winter days

What does all of this give the owner? In a phrase, peace of mind!

 

Notes from the Field

The very first thing I did after giving the Leica Ultravid BR 8 x 20 a quick once-over was to affix the strap. Unlike the neoprene neckstrap that attends the Trinovid BCA binoculars, the Ultravid carry strap is fashioned from fine woven cotton. It’s quite comfortable but there is no provision to quickly remove it by unclipping it from the binocular like you can do with the Trinovids. With such a small and expensive instrument as this, one doesn’t want to tempt fate and drop it while you’re using it. Getting that strap on gives you that little bit of extra security.

Though there has been a tendency for sports optics manufacturers to provide ever wider and wider fields of view, I feel very fortunate indeed not to have been caught up with that rat race. The 113m@1000m field of view is plenty wide enough for most any outdoor activity. Leica binoculars have wonderfully delineated field stops that give the distinct impression that you’re looking into a finely textured landscape painting. I have referred to these picture paintings as vignettes and derive great joy framing objects in the landscape that present the finest blend of colour, light and contrast. It might be a tree trunk covered with moss or lichens, a rocky river bank, a cascading waterfall, a craggy outcrop on the summit of a hill catching the last golden rays of a setting Sun,  the delicate stone masonry of old, abandoned farm houses and water mills. The Scottish rural landscape is studded with such visual marvels.

The Ultravid 8 x 20 a fine binocular for birding. The very next morning after receiving the instrument, I took myself off for a quick walk down by the river. Frequent rain had replenished the streams that fed into the Endrick and many of its drier spots were now covered in fast flowing water. It was on this occasion that I came across a brand new species I had never laid eyes on before; a plump little Dipper. Presenting with a snow white breast and throat, a truncated tail and short wings, a jet black nape and mantle, and a ring of chocolate brown plumage on its lower belly, it sat on a rock in the middle of the rapids, bobbing its head up and down as if contemplating its next dive into the water. I got quite close to it- within about 15 yards or so- but the little Ultravid presented the creature in exquisite detail. I watched in amazement as it submerged itself in the water, disappearing for a few tens of seconds before coming back to the surface.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea it was a Dipper. It was only afterwards when I rummaged through my RSPB handbook, that I finally knew what I was observing. Apparently they are fairly common in rural waterways, but are quite elusive owing to their small size and tendency to remain submerged for long periods. They are supremely adapted to life underwater, another book informed me, having denser bones than normal which decreases their buoyancy. They actually walk along the bottom of the river seeking their next meal. How ingenious!

The next sighting I had of the Dipper was on the early evening of St. Patrick’s Day, nearly two weeks after my maiden sighting, but after that a longish dry spell put paid to any more visits. But after a day of rain on March 24, a short dry spell in the evening coaxed me back outside and down to the river to see if the Dipper would return; and sure enough it had! But it wasn’t just one – there were two Dippers enjoying the fresh rainwater. I had learned that pairs begin nesting at this time of year and usually set up home within a metre of water. As one bobbed frantically on a rock in the middle of the river, the other took to flight, hovering just a few inches out from the rock, calling its mate with a high pitched ‘zit zit zit’ sound. And then I watched as they took their turns scuba diving. What a wonderful treat to see such marvellous creatures just a short stroll from my home.

But the rain changes the behaviour of other birds too. I had learned quite some time ago that crows and ravens, wood pigeons, common and black-headed gulls, and even the odd Buzzard descend on the rugby fields annexed to the village sports centre in search of juicy earthworms that tend to come near the surface after prolonged rainy spells. The Ultravid has provided some sterling views of these avian species and their great inventiveness for finding grub.

The natural world pays little or no attention to what humans do. Thank God for that!

Can you imagine if nature turned as wicked and destructive as human souls have become?

God forbid!

Will animals and plants accompany redeemed humanity in the New Creation?

I would like to think so!

 

Another memorable birding event occurred on the afternoon of March 22, when a walk to my local pond in the grounds of Culcreuch Castle revealed a young Cormorant perched on a branch of a fallen conifer tree at the water’s edge. When I first caught sight of it, it was about 120 yards distant at the northwestern corner of the pond. Its relative youth was all too easy to discern owing to its light coloured underparts. When I tried to get a closer look, I frightened off some Mallard ducks that immediately took to flight, and the somewhat anxious Cormorant headed for the water, and began to swim away from me. This is not the first time I had chanced upon seeing a Cormorant at Culcreuch Pond. More than a year had passed since seeing one(an adult), where it remained for several weeks before moving on. Alas, a long staycation was not on this bird’s mind, as several visits to the pond over the next couple of days showed up nothing.

Unexpected Findings

The reader may recall that I subjected the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR to a water submersion test on March 23 2021. Specifically, I placed the binocular in a bowl of tap water for 10 minutes, after which I left it dry naturally. I reported that I encountered no problems after it had dried. The binocular seemed to pass the test flawlessly. In the coming days, I used the instrument on a daily basis and still encountered no problems. But things changed on the afternoon of March 29, when I noticed a marked drop in contrast while glassing some Dippers in the local river. Puzzled, I examined the objective lenses and discovered, to my horror, that one of them had completely fogged up!  Worst still, when I got home and inspected the optic more thoroughly, I noticed that the prisms had also fogged up!

Deeply concerned, I took a couple of photos to document what I understood to be clear evidence of a water leak, which took several days to manifest itself!

The Leica Ultravid 8x 20 BR showing an internally fogged up objective lens.

The internal prism also shows internal fogging.

The next morning I contacted the seller, informing them of my findings and also including the two photographs of the instrument featured above. They asked me to box up the instrument and send it back to them via a courier pickup they had arranged for it. They agreed to dispatch a replacement for the clearly defective instrument upon receipt of the defective binocular. The replacement binocular was received on the evening of April 7 2021. Thank you Cley Spy! To be honest, the whole experience was a bit of a shock for me. I mean, the instrument was meant to be water tight to a depth of 5 metres. In reality, it couldn’t withstand a simple submersion in just a few centimetres of water for 10 minutes!

Will I be checking the water tightness of the replacement binocular?

Are you nuts?

No.

But it does raise all sorts of questions in my head. Maybe this was just a fluke; an unfortunate one-off? But what if it wasn’t? If a leading binocular manufacturer such as Leica can have slip ups like this one, what chance do lesser manufacturers have in this regard?  How many other brands claim to be water proof and are not? Are you willing to test your investment? Is it really correct to designate the Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR  as water tight to 5 metres? If so, for how long exactly? 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute? And if it’s not water tight, it can’t be air tight either. How long will the dry nitrogen pumped into it realistically remain?

At this stage in the game, I am only confident to assign the term ‘splash proof’ to this binocular and thus must tread more carefully with it than I had initially intended!

Having said all of this, I’m very grateful for the replacement binocular and remain suitably impressed with the instrument’s mechanical and optical quality.

Intended Usage

The tiny Leica Ultravid 8x 20 BR fits snugly inside the small clamshell case with a sachet of silica gel to keep it bone dry while being stored.

The Leica Ultravid 8 x 20 BR is to become my most used binocular for daytime use. Its superb optics in a small, ultra-portable package makes it the ideal companion for walks, treks through the forest, hill walking and birdwatching. It has replaced my two Trinovid binoculars – the 8 x 32 HD and 10 x 25 – and thus represents a significant cost-saving measure. My larger binoculars will be used exclusively for low-light and night time use, where greater light gathering power is an obvious advantage. I will store the instrument in my small clamshell hard case, with a fresh sachet of desiccant enclosed; the.same shell I used to store my long-gone, but missed; 8 x 20 Trinovid. Unlike the supplied Leica soft storing pouch, this smaller, tougher and  less expensive caddy can be zipped closed, keeping the instrument away from dust and moisture while not in use. I hope to write considerably more about my adventures with this small binocular in the months ahead, Lord willing.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Neil.

 

 

Neil English is the author of seven books on amateur and professional astronomy.

 

De Fideli.

Review: KJVER Sword Study Bible; Giant Print Edition.

The KJVER Sword Bible Giant Print Red Letter Edition in Genuine Leather.

Preamble

 

Title: KJVER Sword Study Bible Giant Print Genuine Leather(Burgundy)

Publisher: Whittaker House, New Kensington, PA, USA

Country of Printing: South Korea

ISBN: 978-1641230476

Dimensions: 21.34 x 5.33 x 25.4 cm

Format: Double Column, single ribbon marker

Page number: 2352

Font Size: 15 point.

Retail Price: £54.70 UK

 

 

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 KJVER

 

If you’re not a Christian, the world must seem to be a depressing, confusing and bizarre place right now. Global lockdowns, pestilence, freak weather, a dramatic increase in the frequency of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, strident attempts to create a one world government, massive spikes in human conflict leading to wars and rumours of wars, the ‘celebration’ and empowerment of the sexually depraved, wholesale economic collapse, the current implosion of the formerly Christian United States under a thoroughly wicked and illegitimate Marxist government, which is tearing down every traditional institution that once made the nation great, large increases in UFO sightings(demonic in nature) and so on and so forth.  To the Christian in tune with God’s unchanging Word, as uniquely revealed in the Bible, there can now be no doubting that we are living in the final phase of human civilization; a time the Bible refers to as the last days.

The Bible predicts that such events are like the birth pangs of a woman with child. As the time of delivery approaches, so too do the birth pangs become more frequent and more intense. I believe that is what we are now seeing in this dying world in which we live. Human wickedness is now off the charts and it’s time for God to begin to wrap things up. But the body of Christ shouldn’t be fearful or anxious. God is acting and in complete control, and Jesus is coming back! So we continue to watch world events with a sense of excitement and anticipation.

This past year, I’ve been spending more time than ever reading the Scriptures. They are a source of great comfort to me and help me make sense of world events as they continue to unravel. Having read and enjoyed many of the fine English language Bible translations now available, I felt it was high time that I settle on a good study Bible that best reflected my convictions and nourish me spiritually as these last days unfold. And while many Christians have moved away from the King James because of its archaic language, I’ve found that I’ve been swimming against the tide, as it were, moving back from the New King James, which has been my favourite for many years now, to the Old King James.

Why? Well, I have been witnessing the trend in recent years to continually update and ‘improve’ the Biblical texts with new research findings, new footnotes etc. But what I’ve also been noticing is how the arrival of these new translations has dove-tailed with the rampant apostacy in the Church. Instead of coming together in Christian unity, all we see is schism after schism. My own personal reaction to all of this was to seek out a version of God’s word that could not and would not be changed and the only one that was immune to this constant flux was the Authorised King James Version.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the language of the King James Version(KJV) is the most majestic and beautiful of all Biblical renditions. It uniquely connects the faithful across many generations since it was first published in 1611. It was the Bible of Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Spurgeon, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, James Clerk Maxwell, William Thomson(Lord Kelvin), C.S. Lewis and Amy Carmichael. The men who served on the committee to create the KJV were undoubtedly godly individuals who were deeply interested in conveying Biblical truth to the masses. In contrast, many Biblical scholars today are non-believers or have developed nuanced opinions about the truth claims of Christianity, and this can sometimes come across in the work they do. They bring naturalistic science into their decision making, sowing more seeds of doubt. When I read the text of the KJV I can be assured that, as far as is humanly possible, the doctrines it outlines are those most clearly delineated by Almighty God.

But having said all that, I recognise that no translation is perfect and that also is true of the KJV. I have followed the ‘KJV Only’ controversy with great interest, but I also had the presence of mind to consider both sides of the argument. Accordingly, I have read some of the works of David W. Daniels, Gail Riplinger, and Dr. James White. I have sympathy with both sides of the argument, but ultimately my reasons for gravitating towards the Byzantine line of manuscripts(from which the KJV is derived) were based on nostalgia and literary beauty more than anything else. Still, I recognised that some of the language of the King James has become dated. Some of the words it uses no longer mean what they once meant. Nor do we speak in Shakespearian English and I’m pretty sure God doesn’t either. Accordingly, I recognised a need to update the language of the KJV in a reverent but minimalist way.

I wanted a study Bible that would strongly uphold the doctrine of Creation, thoroughly purged of satanic evolutionary thought. I have spent many years explaining to people that evolutionary thinking, as applied to the biological sciences, is, as St. Paul so eruditely claimed, ‘science falsely so called‘(1 Timothy 6:20). There’s a good reason why it is now falling from grace among a growing army of serious scientists. Modern science has clearly shown that living things are stupendously complex and couldn’t possibly have evolved. And the more we probe the living realm, the more complex it becomes. Quite simply, we are ‘without excuse‘(Romans1:20). But instead of expressing awe and humility for the mysterious, some militant materialists cling to evolutionary ideology like a sinking ship. I have faced reality. Evolution is pseudoscience and damnable heresy. It is blasphemy. And if you continue to believe it in light of all the science now stacked against it, you’re a naive fool and you deserve to be deceived!

These considerations led me to this unique study Bible produced by Whittaker House, the King James Version Easy Read (KJVER) in giant print format. As we shall see, it ticks all of the above boxes.

Content & Presentation

The KJVER is a beautifully constructed Study Bible, from end to end.

From the moment I unpacked this Bible, I was overpowered by the strong smell of leather from the burgundy Bible cover. This is by far the best quality Bible I have thus far purchased for personal use. Sure, it’s not a Cambridge or a Schuyler but it’s a nice, soft genuine leather with a good Smyth sewn binding and beautiful gold gilding on the page edges. How can you tell it’s Smyth sewn? Well, a good sign is that it opens flat in the Book of Genesis and requires little or no ‘breaking in’. This Sword Study Bible does. Another way to verify a sewn binding is to open the Bible near the centre and look carefully along the spine edges of the pages where the stitches should be clearly seen; and they are!

The contents in a nutshell.

Unlike the thinline version of the KJVER I previously reviewed, this giant print edition contains a list of all the words – about 700 in all – that were changed from the original KJV. The vast majority of these are simple modernising of the archaic word. For example, ‘doeth’ becomes ‘does,’ ‘craveth’ is changed to ‘craves’ and so on. The thees and the thous are changed to ‘you’ and ‘yours,’ and unlike all other Bible versions where it is unclear if the ‘you’ is singular or plural, the KJVER places a small p subscript after the ‘you’ to indicate that it is plural. Although the text renders the name of God as ‘Lord’ throughout, the KJVER also tells you the exact Hebrew expression used for God at the end of the sentence.

The words in the KJVER changed are shown upfront. No doctrine is changed by these updates.

Because of these minimal changes, the text of the KJVER is much closer to the KJV than the NKJV. The Biblical text is a lovely, large 15 point font, is properly line matched and very easy to read, even without glasses. Each book of the Bible has a useful, two- page introduction covering the background to the text. Words of God are presented in red throughout the Old and New Testaments – a unique feature of the KJVER. Words that are a difficult to understand are underlined and a modern alterative is placed at the end of the sentence. The alternative words are not strictly meant as substitutes so the reader is free to ignore them as appropriate. The KJVER study Bible also contains an excellent essay on the so-called inter-testament period, covering the time between the writings of the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.

The text of The KJVER study Bible is large and very easy to read. Words of God are in red, even in the Old Testament, and difficult words are underlined, with a modern alternative suggested at the end of the sentence.

Now for some negatives.  Although the Biblical text is 15 point, the accompanying study articles are considerably smaller, and are of varied size. Some are 12 point, some are 10 and a few are smaller still. Indeed, it looks like 7 or 8 point in some places. In addition, there is only one ribbon marker for such a large study Bible. Finally, I found a typographical error in Luke 12:59;

I tell you, you shall not depart from there there, till you have paid the last mite.

Luke 12:59 (KJVER)

 

The Study Notes: Emphasis on Creation

The Bible makes it crystal clear that the Biblical God is the “Author of life”( Acts 3:15) and this KJVER study Bible honours that position better than many others I’ve perused. There are some really great essays by Ken Ham(founder of Answers in Genesis), the late Dr. John D. Morris, Dr. Carl Wieland, Dr. Don Batten and Ray Comfort, who have written excellent mini-essays on the origin of the races, the Noachan flood, scientific discoveries that support Creation, interpreting the fossil record, and how evolutionary theory is fundamentally at odds with Biblical teachings. While the contents of these essays present their anti-evolution stance from a Young Earth Creationist(YEC) perspective, I personally take the view that the Earth and the Universe around us are old. Indeed, I see no problems whatsoever with holding to a Old Earth Creationist(OEC) perspective and fully embracing the Biblical narrative.

There is however, a widespread misconception that those who do not accept a YEC worldview are somehow compromising their faith because they falsely claim that believing in an old Earth and Universe also entails accepting evolution. This is categorically not the case, because even if the Universe had millions of times more matter and existed for trillions instead of billions of years, the laws of physics and chemistry are just not capable of generating anything viable without Divine fiat. In short, all creationists hold the following to be true:

Physics + Chemistry  + Time  ≠  Life

 

In addition to upholding a creationist worldview, the KJVER study Bible also has very interesting material on the strengths of the Authorised King James translation,  the Biblical End Times(by Rev. Charles Childers) into which we are now entering. Though the KJVER writers seem to favour a pre-Tribulation rapture scenario, they also give mention to other eschatological positions. Personally, I haven’t ruled out or in any of these options, so it’s good that all have been included for posterity.

The KJVER study Bible also presents an essay on angels, a comprehensive list of Messianic Bible prophecies, genealogies, the significance of Babylon and the Tower of Babel, but also a wealth of ancillary material, such as a guide to Christian witnessing, how to interpret the Bible, Biblical chronology & symbolism, and the harmony of the gospels. Finally the KJVER study Bible features a very comprehensive 300 page topical concordance, enabling the reader to study any Biblical topic or concept in depth. 8 comprehensive maps cover biblical geography, from the Holy Land and the city of Jerusalem, to the conquering Empires surrounding it. They are not in colour though, as many study Bibles now are, but are still very clear to read and easy to understand.

Having a good physical copy of a study Bible that you can hold in your hand is important to me. Make no mistake about it; the banning of Bibles is coming! With more and more government officials now influenced by the wicked woke in our societies,  they’ll soon be calling for our holy books to be removed from sale. That’s why it’s very important that serious Christians buy a good Bible that they can study and memorise tracts from after the online Bible software websites get wiped.

I would highly recommend the KJVER study Bible to anyone who enjoys the KJV. It will provide an excellent bridge back from the newer Bibles now saturating Christian bookstores the world over, and will undoubtedly help more people appreciate the majesty and literary beauty of the greatest story ever told.

Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

 

 

De Fideli.

Springtime Observations with Plotina.

Plotina, the author’s grab ‘n’ go 130mm f/5 Newtonian reflector.

 

Date: 03.04.21

Time: 21:30-22:30 BST

Instrument: 130mm F/5 Newtonian reflector on a Vixen Porta II, using no fans or automatic tracking.

Eyepieces used: 32mm Plossl, 26 mm Celestron X-Cel, 10mm Orion Sirius Plossl, 2x and 3x Barlows.

Seeing: Average, Ant III

The evening of April 3 2021 proved to be fine and clear, but remaining unseasonably cold for the time of year. It was a good night to set up my trusty grab ‘n’ go Newtonian reflector, a modified 130mm f/5(aka Plotina). After assessing the sky conditions by observing Theta Aurigae, I deduced that this was going to be an average night seeing-wise, and so kept my magnifications to a maximum of 195 diameters.

My first targets included Mizar & Alcor, Algieba (Gamma Leonis) and Polaris, all of which showed their companions at powers between 65x and 130x.

I then moved onto some more challenging targets: Castor A/B/C in Gemini which showed me the snow-white A and B components beautifully resolved at 130x and 195x. The wider and fainter companion C was best seen at 130x.

Moving to Wasat (Delta Geminorum), the 130mm f/5 showed me its close-in faint companion on and off at 130x with a concentrated gaze. Panning eastward into southern Ursa Major, I trained my 6 x 30 finder on the interesting pair of stars, Alula Australis & Borealis. The latter presented quite similarly to Wasat, with its very faint companion close in to the primary at 130. Cranking up the power to 195x rendered the companion invisible on this occasion however. Alula Australis was stunning at 130x and even better at 195x, its yellow near-equal pair resolving nicely so high up in the sky. This is a fascinating system to watch in the present epoch, as the pair orbit their common centre of gravity in just six decades!

Next I tried two more challenging systems for these average conditions; Theta Aurigae now lying lower in the west, and Iota Cassiopeiae, still well situated fairly high up in the northern sky. All three stars of Iota Cass were best seen at a glance at 130x but less stable to discern at 195x. Ditto for Theta Aurigae, the faint close-in companion of which was seen intermittently on and off at 130x as the star was allowed to drift through the field.

Finally I moved the telescope on its Vixen Porta II mount to the front of my house, where I enjoyed a better view of the eastern sky. Aiming the telescope at Epsilon Bootis( Izar) I was delighted to get a reasonable split of the system at 195x but I knew that it would look better and better as it gained altitude with the progress of the night.

Turning my attention next to some larger deep sky objects, I enjoyed a lovely view of the Beehive Cluster in Cancer at 26x. Moving over to Auriga, I passed several minutes observing each of the three Messier open clusters at 65x. The most compelling of the three was M36, with many dozens of stars strewn haphazardly across the entire field of the 10mm Plossl ocular.

Moving the telescope into Perseus, I enjoyed a very grand view of the faint naked eye open cluster, M34, best observed at 65x. Finally, I decreased the power to 26x and moved back into Ursa Major to pay the endlessly fascinating M81 & M82  galaxies a visit. Both were easily framed in the same low power field and the distinct morphology of both galaxies clearly discerned in the 130mm telescope.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable hour under the starry heaven with a small, but powerful Newtonian telescope!

 

De Fideli.

 

Schooling Evolutionary Pond Scum Merchants : A Course On Abiogenesis.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

                                                                                              Psalm 139:14

 

Preamble

Oculus Historiae 1

Oculus Historiae 2

 

In this series of lectures, world-leading synthetic organic chemist, Professor James Tour, takes on an internet troll who claims that scientists have discovered how life got started from simple chemicals on the primordial Earth. In this series of presentations, Dr. Tour explains, in exquisite technical detail, why scientists are really clueless about how life got started.

Indeed, abiogenesis is actually impossible!

So buckle up and enjoy the ride!

 

Aims of the Lecture Series

 

An Introduction to Abiogenesis

 

The Primordial Soup

 

 Hype

 

Homochirality

 

Carbohydrates

 

The Building Blocks of Building Blocks

 

Peptides

 

Nucleotides

 

Intermediate Summary

 

Lipids

 

Chiral-Induced Spin Selectivity

 

Cell Construction & Assembly Problem Part 1

 

Cell Construction & Assembly Problem Part 2

 

Summary & Projections

Product Review: Barr & Stroud Series 5, 8 x 42 Binocular.

The Barr& Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 package.

A work commenced March 2 2021

 

Product Name: Barr & Stroud Series 5, 8 x 42

Country of Manufacture: China

Field of View: 142m@ 1000m (8.14 angular degrees)

Eye Relief: 17.2mm

Close focus: 2m advertised(1.78m measured)

Exit Pupil: 5.25mm

Chassis: rubber armoured magnesium

Coatings: fully multi-coated,  BaK 4 phase corrected roof prisms, water repelling coatings on outer lenses.

Dioptre range: +/- 4

Waterproof: Yes (1.5m for 3 minutes)

ED Glass: No

Nitrogen Purged: Yes

Weight: 716g

Dimensions H/W: 15.4/12.6cm

Warranty: 10 years

Accessories: Hard clamshell case, lens cleaning cloth, rain guard and objective lens covers, quality padded neck strap, generic instruction sheet, warranty card.

Retail Price: £160-£200 UK

Ever since I was first introduced to Barr & Stroud by a village acquaintance, I’ve been singularly impressed with their line of roof prism binoculars. The Sahara range is one of the best options you can buy for under £80 and even these give you perhaps 60 per cent of what any premium binocular of similar specifications can offer up. Why can I assert that with confidence? Because technology has advanced so much now that even budget binoculars today vastly outperform premium instruments produced just a few decades ago. Advances in mechanical and optical engineering are now providing the budget consumer with instruments that are fully multi-coated, with phase corrected roof prisms, full waterproofing and purged with dry nitrogen to prevent internal fogging. Coupled to all of that are advances in material science, which enable the binocular manufacturer to create solidly constructed chassis fashioned from light weight metallic alloys like magnesium, titanium and aluminium, as well as synthetic polymers. Taken together, these advances mean that there has never been a better time to purchase a quality binocular at a price that won’t break the bank.

Having sampled various binoculars from Barr & Stroud, including the Sahara, Sierra and the Savannah range, I am more convinced than ever that this company employ staff that have advanced or even specialised knowledge in optical design. As I’ve explained in a few previous blogs, Barr & Stroud once enjoyed an illustrious reputation for delivering fine optical products to the British Navy during two world wars. With the advent of increased globalism in the post-war era, the company ceased trading independently in the late 1970s, but in 2008 the company was re-registered Barr & Stroud under its new parent company, Optical Vision Limited.

I surmised that any firm that created state-of-the-art optics for the British Navy would also know a thing or two about making rugged and long-lasting instruments that worked in the harshest environments and under very severe lighting conditions. They would therefore know how to suppress glare and internal reflections, how to hermetically seal off optics from the elements and how to build instruments that would stand the test of time, even if they are manufactured and assembled in China. All of these considerations came flooding back to me as I began testing one of their most advanced models; the Series 5, 8 x 42.

I purchased the binocular from a reputable dealer, the Birder’s Store in Worcester, England. I paid £159.95, which included a free two-day delivery to my home. That was a very good price, as other outlets were selling the same binocular for £200 +. I have learned the hard way about buying more pricey binoculars from mass market outlets like Amazon, which seem to have inventories that often have mechanical and/or optical deficiencies which ultimately leave you cold.  Reputable dealers, in contrast, get stocked with the best gear from any given range so you can be much more confident of obtaining a properly functioning instrument if purchased via these routes.

First Impressions

The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 is a handsome instrument that feels good and solid in the hand.

The instrument arrived double boxed, with everything packed away safe and securely.  Unzipping the hard clamshell case revealed the binocular packaged inside a plastic bag. From the moment I held it in my hand, I could see it was a well-designed instrument, quite conventionally styled, and at 715g, weighing in more than 100g lighter than the Savannah 8 x 42 binocular I showcased very favourably in another review. The chassis is constructed from a magnesium alloy overlaid with a thick rubber substrate for extra grip.

Though it sports much of the same optical specifications as the Savannah 8 x 42, the ergonomics of the Series 5 are a good step up from the Savannah. For one thing, the dioptre ring is situated back under the right eyepiece, which is more sensibly placed than that of the Savannah series, which placed the dioptre setting just ahead of the central focusing knob. The dioptre ring is quite rigid and difficult to turn and so is not likely to get out of place easily.

The focuser on the Series 5 is remarkable, easily the best I’ve encountered in models costing as much as three times its modest retail price. It is buttery smooth, completely backlash free and very easy to grip owing to the textured rubber covering its all-metal construction. Unlike a few other models I’ve tested which possessed an outwardly similar appearing focus wheel, you don’t hear the sound of cheap glue unhinging from the internal focusing mechanism as you hone in on your object of study.  I’ve noted several times before that Barr & Stroud (B & S) produce binoculars with excellent focusing knobs and this one is no exception. Indeed, I would rate it of higher quality than its counterpart on the Savannah series and just a notch below my state-of-the-art Leica Trinovid 8 x 32 HD. In addition, I would describe the focuser speed as slow to progressive, moving through just over two full rotations going from one end of its focus travel to the other. It also focuses beyond infinity- a useful attribute that helps tweak edge-of-field images as and when required.

The focus wheel on the Series 5 8 x 42 is a work of art. Exceptionally smooth, backlash-free and a joy to turn.

The eyecups are made from metal overlaid with soft rubber and twist up in three stages. The eye relief on this instrument is a very generous 17.2mm, ample enough for eye-glass wearers to engage with the vast majority of the field. They are quite firm once locked in place, though I have noticed that the left eye cup is not quite as rigid as its right eye counterpart. They are less rigid, for example, than those found on the Celestron Trailseeker and Nikon Prostaff 7s series.  As a reasonably experienced binocular user, I felt a bit of anxiety over this issue, as I like my eyecups to be absolutely rigid and don’t want to wake up one day soon to find it fails to lock at all. I would have liked if B & S took some time in designing the eyecups so that they would hold their positions as rigidly as possible.

A good test for eye cup strength. If they can withstand the weight of the binocular whilst fully extended, they’re probably OK to go.

The fully multi-coated objective lenses are deeply recessed, conferring extra protection from rain, dust and stray light.

The objectives are deeply recessed, as all good mid-sized binoculars ought to be.

The accessories that attend this Series 5 binocular are also of good quality. You get a nicely padded neck strap adorned with the B & S logo, snugly fitting rubber rain guards and tethered objective covers that protect the instrument from the elements as well as from accidental scratching.

The B & S Series 5 also boasts a hydrophobic coating applied to the outer lenses which causes any accumulated moisture to pool and run off / evaporate quickly. I tested to see if this was the case by performing a simple breath test on the ocular lens and comparing it to an untreated lens surface. In the picture shown below, I can reveal that the ocular lens on the Series 5 binocular dispersed the fog about twice as quickly as my control binocular, a Celestron Trailseeker 8 x 32. Even though the latter has a smaller ocular lens surface area, the fog dispersed faster on the Series 5. Impressive stuff!

The fog test shows the Series 5 (bottom) does have a hydrophobic coating that disperses moisture faster than a non-coated ocular lens( top). Both ocular lenses were fogged up at the same time.

Optical Evaluation

In order to be objective as possible, I decided to carry out tests of the Series 5 binocular alongside my control instrument; a Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32. My first impression of the Series 5 8 x 42 showed a lovely bright, sharp, high-contrast image with a huge field of view and a very large sweet spot. Depth of focus is excellent, with anything beyond about 60 yards remaining in sharp focus and only requiring the merest tweak to obtain optimal results. Handling is superb. The focus wheel is beautifully responsive and focuses down to about 1.78m – that’s significantly closer than advertised (2m), but not as good as the class-leading 0.95m the Leica Trinovid is capable of. Contrast and colour saturation in both binoculars was excellent with the nod going to the Leica, which has a more neutral colour tone compared to the slightly warmer tone of the Series 5. The Leica had better off-axis performance than the Series 5 however, with less pronounced pincushion distortion, lateral colour and field curvature. That said, it must be noted that the Leica has a considerably smaller field of view than the Series 5 – 7.12 vs 8.14 angular degrees, respectively.

The Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32 (left) compared with the Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 (right).

Performing my iPhone bright light torch test revealed superb results for both instruments. The image was clean, with no significant internal reflections in either instrument, no diffused light and the merest trace of a weak diffraction spike. The same was true when I pointed both binoculars at a bright sodium light after dark.  The image was crystal clear with no diffused light, internal reflections and diffraction spikes. To be honest, I was actually expecting such a result for the Series 5, as several other tests I carried out on their less expensive Savannah series also yielded excellent results. These tests affirmed what I observed in my preliminary comparison of the two binoculars during a quick daylight evaluation.

But there was still more excellent results when I tested the Series 5 alongside the Leica glass for veiling glare. This is easily evaluated by pointing the instrument upwards at some tree tops against a bright, overcast sky. I am delighted to report that the Series 5 was every bit as good as the superlative Leica Trinovid in this regard. Taken together, these are excellent result that set the Series 5 well ahead of other binoculars costing significantly more, including the Viking ED Kestrel and Merlin, the Zeiss Terra 8 x 25 pocket, and way ahead of the otherwise beautifully designed Leica Trinovid BCA 10  x 25. Barr & Stroud have really delivered wonderful performance in the suppression of internal reflections, glare and lens flare; an amazing result when you also factor in its modest retail pricing!

The Camera Never Lies

After acquiring a neat new binocular mounting platform and digi-binning gadget I was able to capture images through the Series 5 and Leica Trinovid, enabling me to more objectively assess the optics of both instruments. And here again, the Series 5  stepped up to the mark!

The binocular mounting platform used to take images with my iPhone.

Below is an image taken of the wood carving in a tree located some 60 yards away as seen through the Series 5 8 x 42. The images are completely unprocessed; just the raw images as they were shot through my iPhone mated to the digi-binning adapter.

iPhone image of wood carving through the Series 5 8x 42 binocular.

The next image is shot though the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32  under the same conditions.

Image taken through Leica Trinovid HD 8x 32.

You can see that the Leica has the edge in terms of image sharpness, colour saturation and edge of field correction, but what’s remarkable to me is how good the Series 5 binocular has turned out!

I took another set of images of some wooden steps located about 20 yards away. The first image was taken through the Series 5 8 x 42.

Close up of some wooden steps taken with the Series 5 8x 42.

And here is the same target at the same scale taken at the same time with the Leica Trinovid HD 8x 32.

Image of the same steps taken through the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32.

The Series 5 image has a warmer tone than the Leica, but I think that there is little to differentiate them in terms of sharpness. The Series 5 shows a little more chromatic aberration in high contrast areas than the Leica but if you look carefully at the images, you’ll find some secondary spectrum in both glasses. All that having been said, the view through the binoculars using your eyes is far better than what the camera picks up. Bear in mind that your eyes were created to accommodate things like field curvature, chromatic aberration, and other optical defects far more effectively than an Iphone camera.

Now let’s compare prices: the Leica costs nearly 5 times the retail price of the Series 5 Barr & Stroud!

The exit pupils in both barrels of the Series 5 Barr & Stroud are nice bright circles, indicative that the optics have not been truncated. Also check out the nice dark areas immediately around them! Very nice indeed!

Right eye exit pupil.

Left eye pupil.

 

Further Notes from the Field

The Series 5 feels really good and sturdy in my middle-sized hands. It is supremely comfortable and immersive to look through, a consequence of the large exit pupil of the instrument. I’m also quite fond of the colour tone the Series 5 throws up. Once again I was reminded of why this particular configuration of binocular is close to being the ideal all-round instrument used by the naturalist. Even though it has a very large field of view, the level of correction it achieves is very impressive. While a lot of binoculars presenting this size of field have very blurry edges, the Series 5 field is pretty much useable from centre to edge. The focus wheel rotates at a speed roughly mid-way between a good hunting bino(slow) and a birding bino(fast), making it ideal for both activities. I measured the size of the true field under the stars. I was just able to fit the two stars in the Big Dipper – Phecda and Merak  – into the same field.  These are separated by 7 degrees 54 arc minutes(7.9 degrees), thus a little under the advertised field size of 8.1 angular degrees.

The reduced mass compared to the Savannah series is also very noticeable, enabling it to be worn for longer in the field before neck strain sets in. The padded neck strap also increases the level of comfort afforded to this binocular.

The instrument begins to pull ahead of my 8 x 32 Leica Trinovid shortly before sunset, where its larger aperture and greater exit pupil size transmit more light to the eye as dusk progresses. It’s also considerably better as an astronomical instrument than the 8 x 32, pulling in more starlight across a noticeably wider field of view. I enjoyed some spellbinding views of the Beehive cluster, the Belt stars and Sword Handle of Orion, the magnificent Pleaides and Hyades and many other celestial sights. It’s also an excellent moon-gazing binocular, throwing up the most gorgeous pastels as clouds approach and recede from it on a windy night.

Conclusions & Recommendations

An exceptional binocular at an exceptional price!

The Barr & Stroud Series 5 8 x 42 is a remarkable instrument in a number of respects. The images it serves up are very sharp, bright and show very high contrast with impressive depth of field. The field of view is very large and well corrected, with only a little peripheral softness. The binocular also shows exceptional control of glare and internal reflections. Ergonomically, the Series 5 is a joy to use, with an exceptionally smooth and precise focus wheel and a very tight right eye dioptre which rigidly stays in place. The instrument feels solidly made, with high quality twist-up eye cups and with its large exit pupil, easy to align with one’s eyes. And on the night sky, the 8 x 42  is vastly superior to any 8 x 32.

My experience with this Series 5  has led me to re-evaluate my current inventory of mid-size binoculars. Indeed, with a heavy heart, I must concede that it is a better general-purpose instrument than the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32. Indeed, the only real advantages the Trinovid has going for it pertain to its lower mass and slightly smaller frame, but if I’m being honest, these differences are not enough to justify staying with the 8 x 32 format.

I would highly recommend this binocular to birders, hunters and other nature enthusiasts who want maximum bang for the buck. If you’re thinking of getting a more expensive brand, I would encourage others to test-drive the Series 5  first before parting with their hard-earned cash. Incidentally, Barr & Stroud also market an ED version of the same instrument; that is, you get the same ergonomics with an extra-low dispersion objective element for about £70-100 more. Would I be interested in the ED version? No, for reasons that I have explained in a number of previous blogs. My eyes are perfectly sated with the achromatic version of this binocular, but your mileage may vary!

A very valuable addition to my binocular collection!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy, who currently is enjoying a new lease of life exploring the fascinating world of binoculars. If you like his work, why not consider buying one of his books or by making a small donation to the upkeep of his website so that he can keep bringing you more of what you like.

 

 

De Fideli.

Enjoying Winter with Small, High-Quality Binoculars.

Enjoying an early sunset at Loch Lomondside, Balmaha,  Scotland, December 30 2020.

A work begun January 2 2021

It’s taken no less than two and a half years for me to settle on the binoculars that I wish to use in the long term. In this time, I have bought in, tested and rejected the vast majority of instruments, finding fault with their optics, mechanics or both. Some of those instruments were mechanically quite sound but proved deficient in critical optical tests; others displayed the very opposite. These experiences have collectively shaped my philosophy about binoculars for personal use, and it is admittedly quite different from the conclusions I have garnered regarding astronomical telescopes. Because telescopes are relatively simple devices, the best bangs for buck are clearly Newtonian reflectors, where one does not need to invest a great deal of money to acquire very good optics. My three regularly used telescopes – all Newtonians – deliver brilliant, high-resolution images of the heavens when properly collimated and acclimated to the environment I set them up in.

Yet, in comparison to my binoculars, my telescopes are now used far less frequently. Where typically I would employ a telescope for a couple of hours every week, my binoculars are employed for timescales at least five times longer- at home by the window watching the birdfeeders, or during long walks out of doors and also at night. And because these small, portable instruments are used so frequently I quickly concluded that it pays to invest in the best instruments that deliver everything I could possibly wish for in a binocular. These instruments are both made by the world-leading optical firm, Leica; a little Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 and a larger Trinovid 8 x 32 HD, featured below:

My two instruments of choice: the Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25(left) and the Trinovid 8 x 32 HD(right).

They are both light weight and easy to transport, they have excellent build quality and are designed for prolonged use, even under the harshest of outdoor conditions. Built to last, they will likely outlive this author if properly cared for. They also deliver excellent images, rich in contrast and accurate colour fidelity, with great control of glare and internal reflections. And while both fall a bit short of Leica’s flagship models, the Ultravids, these Trinovids provide 95 per cent of the performance of the former, so here, yet again, is a classic case of diminishing returns; you have to fork out considerably more to gain that last five per cent in optics and ergonomics, which, with my average eyes, I can well do without. The Trinovids have a pedigree that goes all the way back to the 1950s, unlike the Ultravids, which are relatively recent additions to their product line. In this capacity, the ‘Trinnies’ are more thoroughly tried and tested by binocular enthusiasts, not just from my own generation but also from a generation once removed from me. Of course, you don’t need to take my word for that. You will hear this from enthusiasts who own instruments from both of these lines. Check out this link as an example in point.

The 8 x 32 is a brilliant general-purpose binocular with a superb close focus of under 1 metre and a field of view of 124 metres @1000m, while the smaller, pocket-sized 10 x 25(with a field of 90m@1000m) provides an extra magnification boost when the need arises. Because both instruments do not make much demands in terms of size or weight, I can and often do take both of them along with me on general walks. This blog will describe some of the wonderful things I enjoy glassing with these instruments during the short days of Winter.

Enjoying the Magical Light of a low Winter Sun

Sunlight is a precious commodity in the bleak mid-Winter. God gave us sunlight to sustain living things by providing electromagnetic radiation that fully penetrates our atmosphere, providing both light and heat. But while we take such things as sunlight for granted, it is really a miraculous event, as the laws of physics and chemistry could well have prevented that light from penetrating all the way down to the surface. Sunlight lifts the spirit, strengthens the immune system and allows to us to see amazing details. The low altitude of the Sun at this far northerly latitude(56 degrees) creates wondrous light shows, bathing trees, hills,  streams and snow covered open fields in magical light. The 8 x 32 Trinnie serves me best during these short days, its larger objective lenses drawing in a good amount of light to the eyes.

Winter is also a great time to start birdwatching, as the trees where many birds take refuge in are much easier to pick up in the binocular, as they are devoid of leaves. Red breasted Robins, blackbirds and Blue tits are very commonly observed on my walks, and they also seem to be quite undaunted by human passers by. But the cruel frosts of Winter can make life difficult for bathing birds such as mute swans, ducks and geese, which sometimes get into a spot of trouble when the pond freezes over. Culcreuch Pond, a mere half mile walk from my home, is one of my ‘local patches,’ a place where a variety of habitats are provided for our feathered friends. During the cold snap of early January, I was anxious about the swans in particular, as they have been known to get trapped by ice on the water’s surface. Luckily, they were sensible enough to move elsewhere before the ice got the better of them. When milder conditions return, so hopefully will this monogamous couple, which together successfully raised 6 strapping cygnets this past season.

A nearly fully frozen over Culcreuch Pond, with Mallard Duck and a couple of Mute Swans( far right) preparing to leave temporarily.

The low Winter Sun also illumines the walls of Culcreuch Castle beautifully. The castle holds a special place for my family, as we had our wedding reception here some 22 years ago come the end of April next.  I often spend many idle minutes glassing the stone masonry of the castle on sunny afternoons, with its many nooks and crannies, and enjoying the glint of reflected sunlight from the hardy moss and lichens that eke out a living from the bare stone. There is history here too; the oldest parts of the castle dating back to Norman times (12th century). In the months ahead, God willing, Swallows and Swifts form Africa and southern Europe will roost and rear a new generation of these avian super-migrators.

Culcreuch Castle bathed in weak winter afternoon sunshine. January 2 2021.

 

 

Pure as the Driven Snow

A fresh fall of snow: Fintry, January 8 2021.

The second week of January 2021 brought very cold temperatures to our shores, when temperatures struggled to get above -6C during the day and plummeted to -12C at night, making it the coldest spell we have endured in about a decade. But we were also graced by a decent fall of snow which transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland, albeit for a brief few days.

While my sons enjoyed a few hours of sledging, my wife and I took ourselves off out to enjoy the frigid air in brilliant winter sunshine. There is something magical about enjoying the great outdoors during these conditions, when just a few inches of snow changes the valley into a bonnie, white desert under a cobalt blue sky. It’s during these conditions that one appreciates the larger focus wheel of a mid-sized binocular, which is easier to negotiate with thick-padded gloves on, though I was quite surprised to discover that even the small focus wheel of the 10 x 25 Trinovid can also be used reasonably productively under such conditions, and thus shouldn’t be a deterrent for those who use such a diminutive instrument.

In such an environment, even dull greys become quite intense and snow covered trees become especially colourful. One may not imagine that targets that are normally perceived as ‘white’ take on entirely different hues with snow on the ground. Take, for example, sheep foraging on the meagre vegetation available on the hilly crags. I was very surprised to discover that their thick woollen coats would render them almost invisible under such conditions. But quite the opposite is true; those woollen white coats show up as decidedly yellow under such conditions, making them quite easy to find and follow.

Even at the end of the first week in January, the increase in day length is quite perceptible and very much appreciated. It’s especially important to get out during these short but very cold days as even the feeble sunshine does wonders to keep one’s spirits high, now that the entire country is once again under these economically crippling, pseudoscientific lockdowns. Thankfully, the vast majority of the locals venture out without wearing masks, although it is occasionally distressful to see the odd mask-clad  soul struggling to get about and visibly frightened out of his/her skin. The Scots are canny people though- they’re not easily swayed by the cock ‘n’ bull propaganda constantly being beamed into our houses by the government. Even a short walk stimulates vitamin D production which has been shown in several studies to help protect against the Rona virus. During winter, I also take a few antioxidant supplements such as N-Acetyl Cysteine, a modified, sulphur-rich amino acid that has been shown to keep the lungs from clogging up and acts as a powerful protector against respiratory viruses. Indeed, ever since I started taking such a supplement during winter, I have not suffered a bad cold in nearly two decades! I also take extra vitamin D and astaxanthin(another powerful antioxidant) during the winter months, which helps keep one’s joints moving well. All of these supplements are available cheaply and without prescription. And true knowledge is power!

The bird feeders in my back garden are especially lively during these cold, snowy days, which I can enjoy from the comfort of the warm indoors, using the 10x glass to get up-close and personal with each subject. Starlings, which are rarely seen ’round these parts, make the most of the fat ball crumbs dropped by the hyperactive tits that swarm the feeders at this time of year.  Such harsh conditions often invites larger animals too, such as grey squirrels, which venture down from the conifer trees in the copse to the west of our home.

And up at the pond, the snow and ice provide some advantages over the usual grass and mud-covered tracks that make identifying some of its inhabitants, such as these laid down by a resident moorhen.

Birding is not always about looking up and about. It can also pay dividends to look down to the ground from time to time.

The effects of a snow covered valley on the night sky are especially pronounced. The  reflected light, even with the Moon out of the sky, greatly diminishes the glory of the winter stars. I was astounded by the darkness of the sky once the snow cleared from the valley, as if I were peering into another heavens altogether! Such is the power of the gentle snowflake!

Divine Light

One of the great tragedies of the modern world is that the vast majority of human souls, working in great cities strewn across the globe, never get to see the true splendour of the sky after dark.

God made the stars not only for signs and seasons but also to display His supreme power;

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Psalm 19:1

It is my firm belief that the emergence of towns and cities is one of the principal reasons why so many of their inhabitants have lost much of their sense of the divine. Furthermore, I feel very fortunate to live in a place where much of the majesty of the heaven is still manifested, and my binoculars are the ideal tools to explore its manifold wonders.

God made the Sun to rule by day and the Moon to rule by night, with both serving as masterful timepieces to orchestrate the fantastical rhythms of life in the Earth’s biosphere. But with the advent of human global civilization, science is yielding some alarming facts about the effects of artificial light on its various biomes. For example, recent studies suggest that the alarming decline in insect populations might well be attributed to the encroach of street lighting, and an even more extensive study has provided very compelling evidence that LED lighting is responsible for the decimation of coral reefs. These findings are completely at odds with the usual mantra of “climate change” parroted by environmentalists – for the most part, pagan to the core –  as well as those who worship at the altar of the new green religion.

Though valiant efforts have been made to raise awareness, both of light pollution in general, and to reversing its effects in some restricted cases, I’m not entirely sure whether much, if anything, can be done to reverse these worrying trends.

Birding Milestones

As a novice and only half serious twitcher, I have made some good progress finding new birds to add to my list of ‘conquests.’ On my river walk, for example, I discovered a patch of rather over grown bramble bushes where one member of the smallest species in the British Isles – the Goldcrest – hangs out. This tiny creature, barely 9cm long, betrayed its presence by virtue of a conspicuous yellow crest on the crown of its head, bordered by a prominent black stripe on either side. The fact that it was a yellow crest and not orange revealed to me that this was a female. Since first sighting it back in November, I have visited the same patch several times and have been lucky enough to glass this rather rotund bodied marvel a few times since with my trusty 8 x 32. And on one occasion, I was fortunate enough to observe her hovering over the same brambles, stalking its lunch or some such.

The aeronautical displays of the tiny female Goldcrest astounded me. Human aeronautical engineers have only recently been able to to design drones that only very clumsily approach the gracefulness of hovering birds and other flying creatures. And the same is true of the ubiquitous blue tits that frequent the birdfeeders in my own back yard. Birds are marvellously designed animals that abundantly display the power of their Creator who spoke them into existence. Of course, evolutionists will conjure up some just-so, cock n’ bull story that they evolved from therapod dinosaurs or some such, but there is no compelling evidence that even a single species emerged in this way, just like aeroplanes and drones must likewise have intelligent designers, and all are merely examples of reverse-engineering from our ongoing study of bird and insect flight.

On the dull, overcast afternoon of January 13 2021, I bagged yet another raptor. Glancing out of my front window across to the trees in the swing park, my eye caught the outline of a bird perched on one of the higher branches of a leafless Sycamore tree. Reaching for my 10 x 25, I could see that it was rather a large bird, about the size of a fully grown Woodpigeon, but with long, square-ended tail feathers. I called my wife, a far more experienced birder than myself, while scrambling to deploy my big gun, a Pentax 20 x 60. With its back to us, the 10x magnification wasn’t quite enough for us to identify the creature given the misty air we were peering through, but our luck changed as I was taking the caps off the objective and ocular lenses of the big bin, and it turned round facing us some 35 yards away in the distance. The 20 x 60 gave us an amazing view, its off-white belly adorned with dusky horizontal striping. But it was its ferocious stare, golden coloured talons and hooked yellow beak that finally convinced us that we were watching a female Sparrowhawk! After a few minutes, she took to flight, displaying her broad, rounded wings, which the RSPB handbook had alerted us to look out for.

What a wonderful distraction from an otherwise ordinary Winter day! And who says a 20 x 60 is too large to use as a birding binocular? On this drab afternoon, it made all the difference between vaguely suspecting and actually confirming a new bird of prey had paid us a visit.

Cool or what?

 

The Great British Garden Birdwatch

The last weekend in January will be a weekend of birdwatching. The RSPB is organising a nationwide backyard birdwatch. No cancel culture here folks: everyone is welcome to take part. Well, I’ve done my little bit to advance the cause of birdwatching by gifting binoculars to a few of my next door neighbours, so they will hopefully be participating too.

The idea is fairly simple; you just make a note of all the different kinds of birds that visit your garden. Of course, I expect Blue tits to dominate the scene, as they always do, but I also expect lots of curious Robins, blackbirds, Great tits, Long-tailed tits and even the odd Wren and House Sparrows, but no matter how many times you look, nature throws up a surprise, so it will make for an interesting weekend. Once completed, the data can be posted to a central data base where it can be analysed to reveal trends over time. This is my second year participating and so it should be fun!

Recently, I’ve started collecting some books by avid birdwatching celebrities. Two of them are by comedians; Bill Oddie and Bill Bailey; they’re good reads and very funny as you might expect, but sadly, they’ve succumbed to the propaganda of the evolution lunes. “These birds evolved this trait and these other birds evolved this way,” yada yada yada, and so on and so forth. My eyes glaze over when I read such bunk, but such is the level of deception among non-scientists, not only in the British Isles, but right across the world.  Never mind, maybe some day I’ll write a book that correctly attributes the properties of birds to their rightful Creator. But will anyone buy it? I mean, facts don’t really matter anymore do they?

In our post-truth world, facts will never change the brainwashed. They just don’t want to know!

After a weekend of family birding, we finally got to submit our tally to the RSPB website. As well as the usual suspects; Blue tits, Long tailed tits, Blackbirds, Song thrushes, as well as the odd House Sparrow, Starling, Coal tit and Treecreeper, I finally got to see a new(for me) bird; a colourful Nuthatch, gorging its way through the newly filled monkey nut feeder. Though my wife is well accustomed to seeing Nuthatches at her work at the nearby University of Stirling campus, where she would often send me close up pictures of one feeding just outside her office window, there is nothing quite like seeing a real life bird in the flesh, as it were. Mind you, it never stayed for long; just a few minutes feeding and then off it flew on the wings of a cold January wind. Perhaps it will visit the garden again soon? Time will tell.

A local boy, who hangs about with my two sons, was astonished at the number of birds he saw at our feeders and wondered why his own bird feeders were not as busy as our own. Then it dawned on me that it could well be due to the small wooded area of common ground just beyond the confines of our back garden, where many birds hang out and eventually make their way over in search of a free meal. In contrast, his bird feeder lies in the wide open, well away from the protection of trees. We suggested that he might have better luck moving the feeder closer to the hedgerows at the edge of his family property. He said he’d give it a try!

A Cold Winter

Compared with the last few years, this winter has been on the cold side. Many nights in December and January have been at or below freezing and sometimes the temperatures have fallen into negative double figures. Nor have we seen the last of the snow, as we enter the short month of February. Furthermore, it’s been very cold in many nations during this 2020-21 winter, a fact that may at least in part be attributed to a very inactive Sun that has only recently come alive again. Many of my students and new acquaintances I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with over the years have asked me  what I think about ‘climate change.’ They are often surprised to learn that while I do accept that the Earth is warming, I would never go so far as to become alarmist about it. I’m suspicious of so-called scientific ‘consensus.’ Why? Because the word consensus is a political concept not a scientific one.

Climate alarmism is a cult and I put those folk in the same box as I place evolutionists and militant vegans; annoying, generally uninformed and weaponised only with selective knowledge. And while I readily point them to some relevant literature that challenges their world views, they generally never follow up on any of it

As a Bible believing Christian, I understand that we have been given a clear mandate from God to properly steward the planet, but ultimately our Creator has resoundingly stated that humans will never be granted the opportunity to bring this world to an end:

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

Genesis 8:22

Yep, God and God alone, will decide that time for us.

He will end humanity’s tenure when He’s good and ready, so why all the alarmism?

Take a chill pill man!

And climate has always changed. Sometimes it was hot- very hot – such as when the magnificent dinosaurs roamed the planet – and we have had several ice ages. And in the days of the Romans, the climate was warmer than it is today, and humans certainly didn’t cause that. Indeed, I recall some of the Augustan poets eulogising the fecundity of the Italian countryside and how it delivered two or more harvests in a single year!

Nor do I believe that we must take drastic measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, certainly not in the way presented by those creeps at the World Economic Forum, who outline a truly dystopian outlook for humanity. Let’s get one thing crystal clear; those folk hate humanity. Why else promote measures to aggressively reduce global populations?

No, God clearly intends to have a very large family of redeemed humans in the New Creation. People chosen from all the nations of the Earth:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

Revelation 7:9

 

Yes sir, God’s got an awesome plan, watching over His word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12)

 

Let’s trust His good judgement!

 

Digibinning

With the inclemency in the weather continuing into February, with constant sleet, snow and rain, glassing out of doors is challenging to say the least but there are always new things to do and learn. Recently, I have developed an interest in so-called digibinning, that is, taking images through my binoculars with my iPhone.

I bought a new adapter for my tripod – the SnapZoom -that allows me to stably mount an assortment of binoculars on;

The SnapZoom binocular mount.

It’s simplicity itself; a horizontal platform that one places the binocular on and a simple strap that clasps it in place. I needed it because the 8 x 32 Trinny  doesn’t have a stalk to allow me to mate it with a regular binocular tripod adapter. But I also like the simplicity of the SnapZoom because it is so quick and easy to use, and it accommodates all of my binoculars, from the largest to the smallest.

I also purchased a neat little iPhone adapter mount that can be attached to the eye cup of a wide range of binoculars enabling me to take images through them. It’s a a bit fidgety but very easy to use once you get the hang of it.

The iPhone adapter that can be affixed to the binocular eyepiece.

My first results were very encouraging. Shown below is an unmodified image of a tree carving located some 100 yards from my front door as captured by the 8 x 32;

A tree carving, as imaged through the 8 x 32 Trinovid.

This gives you some idea of the bright and sharp images served up by this binocular. But it can also be used to provide an objective way of comparing the images generated by different binoculars.

Here’s an image taken through an inexpensive 8 x 42 binocular costing about £70.

An image taken through a budget-priced 8x 42 binocular retailing for about £70.

Now compare the above to an image taken through the Leica Trinovid 8x 32  below costing ten times more:

An image taken through the Leica Trinovid costing £700.

As you can see, the Trinny serves up a brighter, sharper and more contrasted image for sure, but is it ten times better?

I dunno.

 

Deep Freeze

Sunset, Culcreuch Pond, February 10 2021.

The second week of February 2021 has continued to see 10-year record low temperatures in Scotland. The night of February 10 is believed to see the mercury fall to -20C further north, but down here, just north of the central belt, it will fall to a relatively balmy -13C. Much of central Europe and North America is also in deep freeze. The snow fall in Germany, as well as having no wind nearly caused widespread electricity blackouts – surely a dangerous thing in these cold days. The cause? Germany’s over-reliance on renewables; solar and wind power in particular. Only the coal burning power stations saved the day – a stark reminder that these green technologies can let a nation down. France, in comparison, with its many nuclear power plants – suffered no such outages. All of this goes to show what the best available science tells us. A truly green economy will continue to rely on fossil fuels, hydroelectric and nuclear power if it is to be maintained in the long-term. And the best way to turn developing countries green is to lift their citizens out of poverty, by generating cheap sustainable electricity supplies so that they don’t have to resort to raiding forests and grasslands for many hours a day, gathering enough fuel to make their next family meal.

In these cold spells, farm animals need a little more TLC.

The Trinnies perform brilliantly in the cold. I have now had them operating for several hours, well below zero, and over several days. The mechanics work flawlessly. Their ergonomics increases in value, after trusting then verifying. Moreover, the quality of the images they serve up are  nothing short of breath taking! On the afternoon of February 9, my wife and I went for a walk round the castle grounds. Just as we reached the castle itself, she alerted me to the sight of a hovering Buzzard passing right overhead. Luckily I had the little 10 x 25 with me for extra reach. Soaring less than 80 yards above my head, I enjoyed a magical few seconds imaging this magnificent creature with its dark banded wings outstretched, passing right over my head! For a split second, I saw its extraordinarily dark and acute eyes looking right back at me, its hooked beak standing out starkly against a bright blue sky. What a way to see the world!

The Leica Trinovid 10 x 25 is right at home on a snowy winter day.

So, even on the coldest days, there are miracles worth witnessing with a small, quality glass.

The Gemini Hour

The evening sky in mid-February is one of my favourite times of year to enjoy the binocular heavens. With the snows now gone(and creating a new, ten-year low of -21.5C) from our shores, the true majesty of the winter night sky has returned. A beautiful, waxing crescent Moon graced the early evening sky, displaying wonderful earthshine through the 8 x 32 Trinovid. By 9pm local time, Gemini lies on the meridian, with mighty Orion still prominent but sinking lower into the southwestern sky. The intensely bright belt stars of the celestial Hunter are painfully beautiful in the 8 x 32, surrounded by a blizzard of fainter suns comprising Collinder 70.

Auriga, Taurus, Perseus and Cassiopeia form a grand procession of starlight, from southwest to northwest, and are considerably easier to enjoy, owing to their lower altitudes, which entails less neck strain while glassing. The placing of Perseus in particular in the north-western sky makes observing the beautiful Double Cluster and the Alpha Perseii Association particularly enjoyable to glass with my 32mm Leica.

Just a little off the southeast of Castor & Pollux lies the comely Beehive cluster(M44), jewel of Praesepe in Cancer. Though the objectives of the Leica glass are small as stargazing binoculars come, its impressively high light transmission gathers enough celestial photons to really make observing its numerous stellar components very worthwhile. The endearing Pleiads & Hyades are still well placed for exploration, as are numerous Messier open clusters that stand out well against a dark and transparent sky – M35 in Gemini is very prominent, M36, 37 & 38 can be enjoyed in a single field coursing through the heart of Auriga. M34 in Perseus stands out well also, as does M52 which shows up as a roughly kidney shaped misty patch over in Cassiopeia. And to top it all off, looking over in the east, the sprawling Coma Cluster (Melotte 111)  begins to take up a commanding position, a sure sign that Spring is on its way.

A walk by the river bank reveals myriad tender Snowdrops, now in full bloom, and even the Daffodils are beginning to poke through the frigid soil, though it will be many weeks yet before their radiant yellow flowers grace our eyes.

Rambling in Balmaha

The Conic, overlooking Balmaha, Loch Lomondside.

Every once and a while, we get incredibly mild and clement days during the Scottish Winter, and Sunday February 21 proved to be one such day. Gentle southerly winds brought warm air over the British Isles and temperatures responded by rising into double figures(11C). But while we normally associate such mild spells in Winter with rain and cloud, today was bright and sunny; the perfect day to go for a short family drive within our region and visit the picturesque Balmaha,  on the shores of Loch Lomond.

A choppy Loch Lomond on a mild and bright Winter afternoon

This is a favourite tourist spot irrespective of the time of the year, but owing to the Pandemic, we were greeted by far less overseas visitors. The Conic, which rises some 361 metres above the eastern side of the Loch, is perennially popular with hill walkers and provides fabulous views of the surrounding countryside for miles around. Though we’ve climbed this hill many times over the years, we decided we would do something a little less strenuous this time round, and simply enjoy the beautiful ancient woodland surrounding it.

Magnificent trees are great glassing targets.

The 8 x 32 Trinnie is the ideal instrument for exploring forest terrain, serving up stunningly beautiful images of  trees, burns, leaflitter and all manner of fungi, lichen and  moss that set the scene ablaze in a verdant riot. Forests have always been associated with sacred spaces, even in pre-Christian times, and to me, they are places of deep contemplation. I can’t help but think that God created these places to calm the human spirit, packing them full of life so that we might wonder after Him. For thus says the Lord God;

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

Psalm 50:10-11

Alas, there were few birds to see this afternoon, save for the odd Robin, Pied wagtail and Wood Pigeon. Perhaps it was because it was a Sunday, which brings more people to these places.

Beautiful freshwater burns flow gracefully across the forest floor.

After enjoying a lengthy ramble along well trodden pathways, we ended up taking a look around the village of Balmaha. Arguably one of the most visited sites is the statue of Tom Weir(1914-2006), one of Scotland’s best loved ramblers. But he was much more than a rambler. Weir was also an accomplished writer(as was his sister, Molly), broadcaster and evangelist for the great Scottish outdoors and its conservation; much like a 20th century John Muir. I fondly remember watching many of his TV shows, which ran for years and years on TV. There probably wasn’t an inch of Scotland he didn’t walk over or comment on! To say he’s sorely missed would be a gross understatement!

Tom Weir(1914-2006) suitably attired for the great out of doors. Note his trusty little Porro prism binocular, which accompanied him everywhere, round his neck.

Balmaha is a glasser’s paradise, that’s for sure.

I’m very glad I had my 8 x 32 with me to enjoy the scenery!

At home in the forest.

Investing in Quality

The Trinnies have served me well this winter, performing flawlessly under often harsh conditions, whether in rain or snow or ice. Their brilliant, bright images are the result of constant upgrading of their coatings which transmit a very high percentage of the light they collect, rendering them extraordinarily efficient instruments. I already mentioned, the 8 x 32 achieves 90% efficiency with the little 10 x 25 being not far behind. Indeed, I recently stumbled across a most interesting article by a German optics enthusiast who has documented the steady increase in light transmission of Leica binoculars over several decades. .According to his measurements, a 1978 pocket 8 x 20 had a transmittivity of only 55%, but by 1998 these same beauties were delivering light transmission values of 85 or 86%. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if my recently acquired 10 x 25 is a few percentiles higher still!

Sunset, Culcreuch Pond, March 1 2021.

My visit to the pond on St. David’s Day revealed some more curious visitors; a few Common Gulls enjoying a dip in the water, and a pair of Greylag Geese with their prominent orange beaks. It will be interesting to see how long they stay, as my birding handbook informs me that these are migratory species that winter here in the UK before moving back to Iceland and northern Scandinavia in April and May. The Corbies have now become much more vocal, as they begin to build their nests in the conifer trees to the west of the house.

We have now reached March 2021, the end of a long and cold winter here in Scotland. It’s been a tough season, what with the lockdowns, the very long nights and the bitter cold, but the Sun grows stronger every day, rising higher in the sky on its sojourn northwards.  The vernal equinox is just weeks away and by month’s end we’ll be back in good ole British Summer Time (BST). What will the Spring and Summer bring? Only time will tell! One thing’s for sure though, the little Trinnies will continue to accompany me on my outdoor adventures!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: Pentax UD 9 x 21 Compact Binocular.

The Pentax UD 9 x 21 package.

A work commenced February 12 2021

 

 

Product: Ricoh Pentax UD 9 x 21

Country of Origin: China

Eye Relief: 9.9mm

Exit Pupil: 2.3mm

Field of View: 104m@1000m(6.0 angular degrees)

Close Focus: 3m advertised, 2.5m measured

ED Glass: No

Chassis construction: Plastic

Waterproof: No

Nitrogen Purging: No

Coatings: Fully broadband multicoated, no phase coating on prisms

Weight: 195g

Dimensions: H/W 8.7/10.8cm

Cost: £70.00 UK

Accessories: Case, carry strap, ocular lens caps, instruction sheet and warranty card

 

Over the last few years, I’ve come to really love and appreciate binoculars of all types – big ones, medium sized and tiny pocket glasses. In that time I’ve used several Pentax models, a little 9 x 28, a huge 20 x 60 and discovered the joys of the almost universally lauded Papilio II 6.5 x 21, noted for its exceptional close focus of about 0.5m. Pentax make good products, delivering quality optics and ergonomics at decent retail prices.

In August 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, Pentax launched their very economically priced UD series of pocket binoculars. Tiny and funky, their chassis come in a variety of colours; black, orange & grey, lime green and even pink. In addition, the UD series came with two magnification options 9 x 21 or 10 x 21. Intrigued by their appearance, I decided to order one up to see what was what. I went for the 9x model, as lower magnifications tend to have the least compromised optics. I chose the black chassis as I do not enjoy garish colours.

The product arrived double boxed. The binocular was accompanied by a nylon pouch together with a neck strap, ocular lens caps, a generic instruction manual and warranty card.

Ergonomics

The 9 x 21 Pentax UD is arguably the lightest binocular I have ever experienced. Weighing in at less than 200g, it made my 8 x 25 Opticron Aspheric LE and Leica Trinovid 10 x 25  seem heavy in comparison. The binocular chassis is constructed from ABS plastic and has no rubber armouring. Instead, it has a glossy finish that makes it a little bit of a challenge to grip properly, but once you get used to it, it doesn’t really present a problem.

The Pentax UD 9 x 21 has a glossy plastic chassis but no rubber armouring.

Fully deployed to my IPD, and with the eyecups extended upwards the binocular is as wide as it is tall. Here it is pictured side by side with the diminutive Leica 10 x 25 as a size comparison;

The Pentax UD 9x 21(left) compared with the Leica Trinovid 10x 25( right).

Despite its smaller physical size and mass compared to my other pocket glasses, the Pentax UD’s single hinge design means it can’t fold up as well as my Leica, with its dual hinge design, so storing it will require a little extra space.

The Pentax UD’s single hinge design means it can’t fold as neatly as the Leica (right).

The underside of the binocular has two small thumb rests that help you grip the instrument for a steady view:

Small thumb indents on the underside of the Pentax UD are designed for extra grip while glassing. Notice the single lug on the right barrel that attaches the carry strap, quite unlike anything I have seen before!

The eyecups are made of a soft plastic that can be twisted up for non-eyeglass wearers or left down for those who use glasses. However, the small eye relief of 9.9mm means that you won’t be able to see the entire field if using glasses. That wasn’t an issue for me though, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind if you must wear eye glasses. However, the good news is that these eye cups click into place and hold their positions reasonably well.

The Pentax UD has fully multi-coated optics, which Pentax define as  “a multi-layer coating applied to all reflective lens surfaces.” However, those interested in looking at the 10x model might be somewhat disappointed as the above webpage states that it only has single layer coatings, which will definitely cut down on light transmission and contrast.

The ocular lenses are smaller than on more expensive pocket glasses I’ve showcased elsewhere on my website, and are more in keeping with those I encountered with the Kowa SV and Olympus WP II  8 x 25 models.

 

The ocular lenses are smaller than the 8x 25 Opticron, Leica and Zeiss 8/10 x 25 models.

The 21mm objectives are quite deeply recessed for a binocular of this size; certainly better than the Leica and Opticron 25 models I’ve used. The interior appears to be clean and dust-free and has decent baffling as well.

The green-tinted objective lenses on the Pentax UD appear to be well baffled and are fairly deeply recessed for a binocular of this size.

The focus wheel on the Pentax UD 9 x 21 is quite remarkable. On such a budget-priced model, I just wasn’t expecting such good quality. It is covered by a very grippy rubber substrate and moves smoothly with no backlash, either when rotating clockwise or anti-clockwise. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, owing to its large frame – a big plus on such a small binocular as this. Close focus was a very decent 2.5 metres and takes just over two full rotations to go from one end of its focus travel to the other. It also focuses a little beyond infinity, which is good for helping to clean up the edge of field performance of the glass.

The textured rubberised focus wheel is big and smooth to turn; a huge bonus on a small binocular!

The dioptre setting is very conventional and lies just under the right ocular lens. It is reasonably stiff but easy to use, and holds its position adequately in the field. As you can imagine, handling this binocular takes a bit of getting used to, as it is so small, but if your hands are not overly large, or if it’s being used by children and smaller adults, this shouldn’t present a problem. Remarkably, this tiny binocular can be mated to a tripod or monopod by unscrewing the cone shaped stalk at the head of the central bridge.

This featherweight binocular can be tripod mounted.

The UD series are not water or fog proof, so I would avoid using this model if you intend to explore the wet and the wild. That said, after I evaluated its optics, I can definitely see a niche for it. For more details, read on.

Optical Evaluation

On paper, the Pentax UD 9 x 21 doesn’t have much to write home about. The prisms are not phase coated(fully expected for a roof prism binocular in this price class), so light transmission and edge sharpness might have suffered somewhat as a consequence. After adjusting the right eye dioptre ring for my eye, my first impression was actually quite good! The image was brighter, sharper and more contrast-rich than I fully expected, but then again, Pentax know how to construct a decent binocular, and they sure as hell surprised me in the past!

Performing my iPhone bright light torch test, I was amazed to see that there was little in the way of internal reflections – excellent by almost anyone’s standards. It was clean and with little sign of diffused light like I had seen in other budget-priced instruments in this price class. It wasn’t perfect though. The intense torch beam showed up as a very strong diffraction spike; indeed the strongest spiking I’ve thus far encountered in my binocular education! But I had learned from many past experiences that this particular artefact would not be a fatal blow. Yes it did show up on bright outside lighting and while slightly annoying to see, you can quickly get used to it, especially if you avoid very intense night light sources or intend using the instrument only during daylight hours. In addition and for the record, no roof prism binocular is entirely free of this diffractive phenomenon; although more expensive models do manage to suppress it better.

Daylight observations of some tree trunks during bright winter sunshine served up an impressive image. The image was brighter than expected (remembering it has an exit pupil of just 2.3mm), contrast was good, colour tone seemed very natural, and the image has a nice big sweet spot, with only a little peripheral softness creeping in. How can this be achieved in such a low-priced binocular? The answer is by keeping the field of view on the narrow side. At 6.0 angular degrees (~ 5.9 measured), the image shows less field distortion at the edge of the field, allowing the sweet spot to seem impressively large. My notes on the Olympus 10 x 25 model showed that it served up a field of about 6.5 degrees in comparison, but the image had a noticeably smaller sweet spot and was quite badly distorted as one left the central part of the field, moving towards the field stops.

The Pentax UD 9 x 21 does show more veiling glare than I would have liked though. The glasser does have some control over this however, by observing under a roof or a forest canopy, or simply by stretching out one’s hand to shade the objectives better. That said, while it was no where near as good as the Opticron 8x 25 or superlative Leica 10 x 25, I have seen worse veiling glare in binoculars costing many times more than this little Pentax.

Colour correction is quite well controlled in the centre of the image, but does show some lateral fringing as a high contrast target(a telephone pole in this case) is moved off centre. In addition, there is some field curvature and pincushion distortion near the field stops.

Overall though, I was quite impressed with the optical performance of the Pentax UD 9 x 21, especially when you factor in its very modest price tag.

Brief Night Sky Assessment

Turning the Pentax UD 9 x 21 on the Hyades in Taurus, I was able to image the main stars in the bull’s horn. The stars were nice and tightly focused with most of the field being useful. There was definitely some softness and a bloating of the seeing discs  right at the edge though. The Pleaides looked good but a wee bit dim even for a pocket glass. Waiting up into the wee small hours of early February, with a break in the clouds, I finally had a chance to image the last quarter Moon fairly low in the sky. The Pentax delivered quite a decent image but you could clearly see the weak diffraction spike smeared across the field. This would definitely appear worse had I glassed a full or gibbous Moon.

Conclusions & Recommendations

The Pentax UD 9 x 21 is a fun little binocular. It offers very decent optical performance for a modest price. While it will never pique the attention of serious glassers who want to experience the very best views, there are many more people who just want something small, convenient and inexpensive, which will allow them to get close up to the action. It will therefore suit those who enjoy spectator sports, theatre goers, watching garden birds, trekking in the mountains, or campers who like checking out the local scenery. It’s small size, weight and inexpensive price tag, makes it ideal for kids and will provide a decent enough optical experience to sustain their curiosity until they cultivate the desire to buy a more serious instrument.  Its lack of waterproofing means you should take extra care and not use it in damp and rainy conditions but as long as you’re aware of these shortcomings you should be Ok to go!

 

Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. If you like his work why not consider supporting him by making a donation or buying one of his books? Thanks for reading!

 

 

De Fideli.