Product Review: The Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 Pocket Binocular.

The Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 package.

A work begun December 18 2020

 

Preamble

Instrument: Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25

Country of Origin: Portugal

Eye Relief: 15 mm

Exit Pupil: 2.5mm

Field of View: 90mm @ 1000m/ 5.2 angular degrees

Close Focus: 4.5m

ED glass: No

Weather proofing: Splash proof

Nitrogen Purging: Yes

Operating Temperature Range: -25C to +55C

Dioptre Compensation Range: +/- 3.5 dioptres

Coatings: Fully multicoated, P40 phase coating, HDC coatings, HighLux System((HLS), water and dirt-repellent coatings applied to outer lenses

Warranty: 10 years

Weight: 255g

Dimensions W/H/D: 6/11/3.6cm

Supplied Accessories: Neck strap, field bag, test certificate, warranty card, multi-language instruction manual

Retail Price: £370-400 UK, $499-525 USD

 

If you know anything about my recent adventures into the world of binoculars, you’ll already be aware that I have a particular fondness for pocket-sized instruments. I just think the idea of being able to carry one anywhere and deploy a small pocket-sized glass at a moment’s notice is an irresistible prospect. Having tested and enjoyed a variety of models in the 8x category over the last two years or so, I settled on something larger and more versatile – a Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32 – as my general purpose instrument. But I also hankered after a smaller instrument of comparable quality to the 8 x 32, but in a 10x format, and that led me to investigate a number of models in the 10 x 25 class. Fine optical and mechanical quality were important to me, having learned that both are necessary if one intends to use it for long periods of time, and over many years. Those considerations led me to explore a few options, but in the end I decided to go with what I already knew about Leica – that they manufacture excellent, high-performance binoculars which not only deliver optically but also ergonomically, and have exceptional durability. Many users of these instruments have reported decades of flawless operation in the field.

This was especially the case since I have previously enjoyed Leica’s tiniest glass – a Trinovid BCA 8 x 20 – for the best part of a year, but its very small size rendered it quite awkward to use, not to mention it throwing up a substantial amount of veiling glare, which also got on my nerves. Its bigger brother though – the Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25- should be easier to hold in my hands, I reasoned, without adding much more weight, and so I pulled the trigger and purchased it from a reputable dealer – the Birder’s Store, Worcester, England – who had one of the 10 x 25s in stock. I paid £369.00 for the binocular, which included free, expedited, next-day delivery of the instrument to my home here in Scotland. Shown above is what I received in the package.

Would I be happy with my purchase? Thankfully, the answer is Yes!

The Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 has the same dimensions as other high-quality 10 x 25 pocket glasses but weighs only 255g – much lower than the competition!

Fit & Finish

The first thing I noticed about this little Leica is just how light weight it is; at just 255g it comes in at just 20g heavier than its smaller 8 x 20 counterpart! That’s quite amazing when you consider the mass of the Zeiss Terra 10 x 25 (310g), the Zeiss Victory pocket( 290g) and the even heavier Swarovski CL pocket, which tips the scales at 350g. This means that it will never be an issue carrying this instrument on even the most exhausting of excursions, including hill walking and mountain climbing – where weight is always a very serious consideration. Indeed, such weighty matters can sometimes be a deal breaker, as this reviewer concluded.

The 10x 25 BCA is easily deployed thanks to its superbly designed dual hinge system.

Weight considered, the other good news about this instrument is that it unfolds to become an instrument that fits my hands much better than the ‘uber-klein’ 8 x 20. Its narrow bridge and long, slender barrels mean that you can get a much better grip of the instrument; and that translates into much less anxiety while handling, and much greater viewing comfort – an important consideration for a 10x glass.

Proof of the pudding is in the handling; the narrow bridge and long barrels allows one to grip the instrument firmly even with one hand.

Small details count for a lot when you purchase a luxury item like this little Trinovid binocular. As a case in point, consider the neck strap that accompanies the instrument. Composed of neoprene, you simply slide it through the eyes on the side of the binocular barrels and then clip it into place. This also enables the user to disconnect the strap if need be.

Even the neck strap on the Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 is a study in elegance.

One of the great joys of using these little Trinovids is their wonderful ergonomics. The pull-up eyecups are rigidly held in place and will not retract unless a sizeable down-ward acting force is exerted on them. I love the simplicity these offer, with only two options – leave down if you wish to use glasses and pull-up if you don’t. I actually prefer these eyecups to those on my larger 8 x 32 Trinovid, which offers up to six different positions in comparison.

The focusing knob on the 10 x 25 BCA is centrally placed and though on the small side, is exceedingly smooth to operate. You can feel the friction it generates while it’s being rotated, rather like moving over gritty sandpaper. An unusual feature of these pocket-sized Trinovids pertains to their dioptre setting, which unlike the vast majority of other binoculars, is housed on the right objective barrel. It works brilliantly though, just like the smaller 8 x 20, and stays rigidly in place even after many hours of use in the field.

The dioptre setting on the Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 is located on the right objective barrel, just like its smaller sibling, the 8 x 20.

Leica is famous for its meticulous anti-reflection coatings which are applied to all of the lenses and prisms. Looking straight through the instrument from the objective end, you’ll have a hard time seeing any reflections, almost as if the lenses have disappeared. From the side, they reflect a very subdued purplish hue. No doubt these are some of the best optical coatings available in the entire industry.

Meticulously applied, the Leica anti-reflection coatings help transmit a very high percentage of the incoming light to the eye.

Like the smaller 8 x 20 incarnation, the 10 x 25 BCA has objectives that are not as deeply recessed (which I’ve estimated at about 2.5mm) as full size binoculars, which doesn’t bode well for suppressing veiling glare. Yet despite this concern, I was relieved to discover that these did not have quite the same problems as the 8 x 20 glass in this regard, as I shall elaborate on more fully later in the review.

The carrying pouch that comes with the Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 is identical to that which was supplied with the smaller 8 x 20 unit. I reported that this pouch was just too big for the 8 x 20 and that led me to seek out a better fitting case for this pocket binocular, when I eventually stumbled on a small clamshell case which could be zipped closed.

The Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25(centre) with the supplied Leica logoed pouch seen on the left and the clamshell case I acquired for the 8x 20 on the right.

While the supplied carrying pouch fits the 10 x 25 that little bit better, it still cannot be sealed off, so I investigated whether the clamshell would fit the 10 x 25. As you can see for yourself below, the answer is affirmative. This will prove to be the ideal storing vessel for this binocular, as it can be zipped closed and still fit inside an ordinary trouser or jacket pocket.

A small clamshell case fits the Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 perfectly, protecting it from dust, moisture and inadvertent knocks.

Optical Tests

My first test always involves examining how well the binocular handles a beam of intensely bright light, which can show up problems with internal reflections, diffused light owing to departures from homogeneity in the glass used etc. So out came my iphone torch set to its brightest setting. The results were very good but not quite as good as I had found in the smaller 8 x 20! The image was clean, with very little diffused light, a very subdued diffraction spike, but there was some moderate internal reflections of about the same quality as I had experienced with the Zeiss Terra 8 x 25. Don’t get me wrong, the Zeiss rated very highly in these tests but it was not quite as good as my notes showed the 8 x 20 to be.

Examining a bright sodium lamp showed that all was well though; very weak internal reflections and a clean image with little or no diffused light. Examining a bright waxing gibbous Moon showed a crisp, clean image, with plenty of lunar surface detail and no visible reflections around the bright orb. Collectively, these tests showed that the various coatings and glass quality in the 10 x 25 BCA is of a very high standard.

Daylight Evaluations

As I’ve described in previous blogs I have absolutely no problem accommodating a small, 2.5mm exit pupil such as is found on this 10 x 25 binocular. Indeed I strongly believe that the images are especially fine when using such a small exit pupil. This is because the most optically perfect part of the eye lens occurs near its centre and Leica knows this. During bright daylight use, the eye pupil shrinks to about this size making larger exit pupils unnecessary. Sure, there are trade offs in regard to eye placement but once you get used to it, it doesn’t present as a problem. The collimation on this binocular is so precise that you will not develop eye strain even after using the instrument for many hours.

From the first time I put this binocular to my eyes, I was very impressed with the quality of the image. Targets remain wonderfully sharp across the entire field and contrast is excellent, though not quite at the same level as my larger 8 x 32. I was delighted to discover that the amount of veiling glare was not as hindering as it was on the smaller 8 x 20 model, as evidenced by glassing a column of trees under a bright, overcast sky.  Even in the most demanding light conditions, the veiling glare is usually weak enough to remove simply by shading the objectives with an outstretched hand.

Colours really pop in this little binocular, with green and brown hues being particularly vivid. There is some pincushion distortion at the edge of the field but to my great surprise, chromatic aberration is nearly impossible to detect! Indeed, the level of secondary spectrum is actually less on this binocular than it is on my larger, 8 x 32 Trinovid! This is all the more remarkable since the Trinovid BCA 10x 25 does not have ED lens elements, while the 8 x 32 model does!

What’s going on here? Can an achromat outdo an ED instrument in the colour correction department? No, if all else is equal. This pleasant fiction is probably attributed to both the lower light gathering power of the 10 x 25 over the 8 x 32 format and the greater need to get one’s eye perfectly square on with the small exit pupils on the former. With the larger exit pupil of the 8 x 32, you have more wiggle room and any misplacement results in seeing some chromatic aberration in difficult lighting conditions. The small instrument gathers less light under normal conditions than an 8 x 32 of comparable quality, so I think the results I have found also reflects the relative insensitivity of my average eyes to detect secondary spectrum under standard testing conditions.

Moving from 8x to 10x in a pocket glass has been a very pleasant and rewarding experience. On paper, one might assume that a small field of view of 90m@1000m would render a tunnel vision effect, but I must admit to not experiencing anything like that. Indeed, comparing my Opticron Aspheric LE  8 x 25 with its slightly larger field of 91m @1000m, this tunnel vision is significantly more pronounced than it is in the 10 x 25 BCA. The higher magnification of the latter appears to do away with this effect. And the enlargement in detail is very impressive. Bird targets that are a strain to see in my 8x glass are much more easily picked off at 10x, though of course, the trade off here is smaller field of view.

Nor have I experienced much in the way of decreased stability of the image, oft reported by users of 10x systems over 8x. Because I can hold the 10 x 25 BCA very securely with my hands, I can get nice, stable views with little shake. That said, it does take some practice to minimise this effect, but that’s been a fun experience for me.

Intended Uses

A wonderful achromatic binocular.

The Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 has given me all of the joy the smaller 8 x 20 glass I had and more besides. Because it is so light, I can bring it along with my 8 x 32 to use on the spur of the moment to get a magnification boost if and when required. I use it routinely each day at home, watching the riot of activity at my bird feeders. I have fallen in love with the adorable platoons of long tailed tits that frequent the feeders in these dying days of 2020 – the way they ruffle their feathers in the Rowan tree, before swooping down to gorge on the nuts, seeds and fat balls set out for them; the way they habitually mingle with groups of blue tits before flying off somewhere else.

The close focus of the Leica Trinovid BCA 10 x 25 is about 4.5 metres, so is not great for looking at insects, rocks and flowers at close range. I knew this going forward though and was quite deliberate on my part, as I did not want the little pocket glass to compete with my 8 x 32 Trinovid which has an exceptional close focusing distance of about 0.95m. Thus, in this capacity, these instruments complement each other more than anything else.

Because a 10x glass is ideal for studying open fields, valleys and rivers from an elevated vantage, I also plan, God willing, to bring the glass along with me on hill walking excursions and mountain climbing in the coming year.

I have also discovered that the 10 x 25 is a much better tool to study the heavenly creation than the smaller 8 x 20. The larger aperture and greater magnification boost afforded by the former has allowed me to enjoy the splendours of the silvery Moon in its phases, from slender crescent to fullness, with more resolving power than the 8 x 20 could ever achieve.  Stars are tiny pinpoints of perfectly focused light. Views of the more spectacular deep sky objects, such as the Sword Handle in Orion, the Alpha Perseii Association, the Beehive and Double Clusters and the comely Pleaides and magnificent Hyades, are very satisfying.  Indeed, comparing it to my 8 x 25, I especially enjoy the wonderful aesthetic effect of its imparting a darker sky background in the 10 x 25. So, while not being able to pull in as much starlight as its larger sibling(my 8x 32), the view of bright stars against a sable winter sky never fails to pack a powerful punch on my retinal masses.

At the end of a very challenging year, it gives me great joy to use this tiny but optically perfect glass. And while I certainly don’t hold out much for 2021, I look forward with great anticipation to the lengthening of the days once more, so that I can more fully enjoy this beautifully crafted pocket glass.

Surely that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

 

Dr Neil English was a regular contributor to Astronomy Now, Britain’s best-selling astro magazine for 25 years, but grew weary of the one-sidedness of the editorial’s stance on life in the Universe and their unwillingness to entertain any other ideas which threatened their increasingly unassailable scientific views. He now writes feature articles for Salvo Magazine, whose editorial team has welcomed his content with open arms. 

Thank you all for reading, and have a blessed Christmas!

 

Post Scriptum: On the early evening of December 23, our family finally got to see the “Christmas Star,” the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Alas we were unable to observe them at their closest on December 21 and 22nd owing to cloud cover. We took a short car trip to the top of the Crow Road to see the apparition low in the southwest sky after sunset at 16:45 UT. We brought along both the 8 x 32 and 10 x 25 to observe them quite close together.  Below is a quick sketch I made with the 10 x 25.

Jupiter(left) and Saturn as seen from the top of the Crow Road, Fintry, on the early evening of December 23 2020.

 

 

De Fideli.

Experiencing Autumn with the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32.

The Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32; a marvellous companion for autumn exploration.

A work begun November 5 2020

The Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32 has been my constant companion over the last few months, having gone on long days out, both at home, and on vacation to the Scottish borders. It has also been a marvellous instrument in my ongoing exploration of the binocular night sky.  It’s one of those pieces of kit that keeps on delivering, time and time again, and while it is expensive as binoculars come, I think it was worth every penny, for reasons that I wish to elaborate on in this blog.

A Blaze of Autumn Glory

Rich autumn colours are a delight to experience with the little 8 x 32 Leica.

The vibrant colours of autumn are a visual gift from the Lord, a pick-me-up before the dull, cold days of winter. They’re meant to be enjoyed and there is no finer glass I’d rather use to explore them. Many Leica aficionados have described the extraordinary vibrancy of reds, oranges and greens they get from their binoculars.  For a while, I dismissed that claim as subjective prattle, but having enjoyed the 8 x 32 Trinovid for several months now, I can more fully understand what they meant. And there may be some science to back that up. For example, the opticians at Leica can optimise the colour correction to peak in the green-red part of the visible spectrum, while leaving the blue end less corrected. I see evidence for this using the 8 x 32, since it does show some blue-violet fringing on highly contrasted targets. The fringing is only very slight mind you, and very lovely; in an innocent way; so I think it’s an acceptable compromise.

While the human world is increasingly dark, psychotic and distressing, I make a special effort to get outside and make the most of my free time, enjoying the wonders of creation. Unlike humans, mother nature still behaves as God intended it. The low autumn Sun creates extraordinary light shows, illumining the hills round my home. The contrast in this little Leica binocular really has to be seen to be believed. Its exceptional control of veiling glare produces images that are truly sumptuous to my average eyes. Details just pop. The intricate graining of tree trunks, the contours of exposed rock formations, the stark beauty of ruined farmhouses, castles and water mills – things and places hardly anyone notices have suddenly become worthwhile glassing targets, though I still get the odd funny look from passers by lol.

The exceptional close focus on the Leica Trinovid brings objects a smidgen less than 1 metre away into sharp focus. That’s unmatched by any binocular on the market, with the exception of the Pentax Papilio (with its 0.5m close focus). I have been able to get up-close and personal with rocks by the riverside and succulent autumn berries, and golden leaves glistening in weak sunshine after a shower of rain. The Scots are always moaning about the rain, but it is the key ingredient that creates and maintains the surreal beauty of the Scottish landscape. Long live the wet and the wild!

A Great Birding Binocular

Culcreuch Pond, looking east, with the Fintry Hills soaring in the background.

I’ve found the Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32 to be the ideal birding binocular. With its 32mm objective lenses, it provides significantly brighter images than the best 25mm pocket glasses, particularly on dull, overcast conditions in the open air and in lower light conditions, such as under a forest canopy. And when the light is feeble, such as at dawn and dusk, the highly efficient light transmission(90 per cent) of the Leica glass really comes into its own, picking off details that elude lesser glasses. The silky smooth and fast central focusing wheel on the Trinovid is particularly well suited to birding, since it’s easy to adjust the focus as birds vary their distance from me. Added to this, is the instrument’s impressive depth of focus, allowing one’s subject to remain in sharp focus  over a large range of middle-to-long distances.

My interest in birdwatching really took off during the cruel,in-human lockdowns starting in March earlier this year, and since then, I have continued to learn from books, as well as  gaining some solid practical experience in the field. I have fitted new bird feeders in my garden and seed-laden fat balls that have served to lure many an avian species within striking distance. When I joined the RSPB, I was gifted a small bird box which our family has since erected about 2.5 metres above ground level on a conifer tree in the copse  to the west of our large back garden. I have high hopes that it will become a cosy nesting place for some small bird come the spring.

The exceptional optical quality of the Leica has allowed me to observe all manner of bird; robins, finches, tits, wrens, tree-creepers, carrion crows, jackdaws, chaffinches, wood pigeons, collar doves and blackbirds, to name but a few, in glorious detail. I have also learned to recognise their distinctive voices, which helps me to pin down more elusive visitors that hide away in the bushes and hedgerows near my home. To date, my most thrilling sighting is a greater spotted woodpecker that keeps a keen eye on the fat ball feeder outside of my office. Having enjoyed all manner of small birds flitting to and fro for most of the time, I was overjoyed  to observe one helping itself to a nutritious snack one afternoon in early October. Compared with all the other birds that usually come to visit, this handsome woodpecker, with its black and speckled white plumage and crimson red flank, seemed positively enormous in comparison. Indeed, I thought at one stage that it was going to tear down the fat ball feeder owing to its relatively large size, but all was well. In addition, my Leica was able to make out a small red nape on the bird which revealed to me its male sex. Isn’t that funny; unlike the fairer human sex, male birds are created to be more colourful in general than their female counterparts. Then again, I know some blokes who love nothing more than to dress up in garish, migraine-inducing colours, so maybe the distinction is not as well founded as I had thought lol.

Since then, I have identified another great spotted woodpecker in the large trees on Kippen Road, adjacent to the sports field in the village. They’re such timid creatures though, standing motionless for many minutes high in the canopy, and if it senses a threat, will quickly move to the opposite side of a tree trunk in order to hide. Beautiful birds!

Last year, I reported that a small squadron of magpies had taken up overnight residence in the rowan tree in my back garden. After a couple of months, they moved on., But this year, a couple of magpies have once again come to sleep in the same tree. Lots of folk have taken a disliking to these birds but I have found them to be charming and intelligent. Like Roman legionaries preparing for an overnight camp, I have observed them arriving at dusk, and carefully making their way to the centre of the tree, so protecting themselves from predators. And they’re up and away before dawn!

A pair of magpies resting overnight in the rowan tree.

Culcreuch Pond, about half a mile walk from my home, and featured in the image above, remains a favourite haunt of mine to observe ducks and mute swans that thrive in the small artificial waters immediately in front of the 12th century castle, that up to recently served as a popular hotel and retreat before it was shut down in January of this year, just before the China virus arrived. The beautiful, variegated hues of autumn trees flanking the shores of the pond makes for wonderful glassing opportunities and I’m always on the lookout for the odd grey heron hiding in the reedy shallows, and even a cormorant that took up residence there during the winter months of 2019. Hopefully, I will see one again this year, but so far with no luck.

The bird hide at Wigtown Bay.

On a recent October family vacation to a favourite farmhouse holiday cottage on the outskirts of Wigtown, on the Solway Firth, in Southwest Scotland, I was amazed to discover that the town had a little ‘harbour,’ which we had not visited before simply because we always took a different route down to the salt march. Though we’ve been no less than five times over the years, we had no idea that a tower hide had been constructed, dedicated to twitchers and other wildlife enthusiasts, which overlooks a pretty stretch of salt marsh, and which serves as a home to all manner of gull and wading bird.  Alas, we only ‘discovered’ the hide on the final morning of our vacation. Thankfully, it was a bright and sunny spell and we were able to share some wonderful views of these creatures before making our way home. It’s amazing what lies right under your nose if you’re not looking for it! Needless to say, this will become a favourite spot for birdwatching on our next trip.

The view from the bird hide.

Extended Walks

At weekends and during our family vacations, I like to take off on longer 4-5 mile walks, exploring forests and hills. There are extensive forested regions near Newton Stewart, Wigtonshire, which provides great days out for families and groups of ramblers, with extensive forest trails to explore, either on foot or on mountain bikes. The feather weight of the Leica Trinovid 8 x 32 binocular allows me to carry it effortlessly through miles of difficult terrain. I am attracted to the riot of life that abide in forests. Fallen trees are a favourite glassing target in good light, where I can explore the vibrant colours of lichens, mosses and fungi that thrive on their rain-soaked surfaces. I have no compelling reason to glass in these places other than the aesthetic appeal of seeing the wondrous complexities of the creation, to activate the visual, auditory and olfactory senses as you wade through mud and decaying autumn leaves underfoot. The exceptionally robust build of the Trinovid lowers my anxiety levels, as I negotiate through bramble bushes and especially dense thickets of vegetation. This is an instrument that will easily negotiate knocks and bumps and still come up smelling of roses.

Interesting forest terrain near Newton Stewart, Wigtonshire.

On our journey home from Wigtown, we hooked up some old friends who live in a charming bungalow overlooking Tinto Hill near the village of Thankerton, Lanarkshire. Tinto soars just over 700m above the surrounding valley and makes for a good hill walk in the Spring and Summer months. But on this occasion, we decided to visit an old Roman fort dating to the Antonine Period in the mid-second century AD. Not much of the fort remains, save an old ditch that one can still walk around. There is also a bath house somewhere near the fort but we never got to see it that afternoon The fort overlooks the valley below, with Tinto imposingly rising to meet the sky on the far side.

Looking down on the valley from the Roman fort outside Thankerton, Lanarkshire, with Tinto Hill in the background.

A striking colonnade of trees leads the way up from the valley floor to the fort and is especially beautiful on a sunny afternoon, when the rich colours of autumn leaves dazzle the eye. One would be forgiven for thinking that the Romans created this too but such trees don’t live that long!

A visually striking colonnade of trees lead the way to the Roman fort.

The Romans had an active presence in Scotland during the High Empire but never attempted a full-scale invasion. The Scots love to pride themselves in claiming that the ancient Celts inhabiting these lands were too fearsome or intimidating for the Roman legions, but having studied Roman history at degree level, I understand that the likely truth is that they decided that it was just not economically viable to completely Romanise the northern part of Britannia. But try telling that to the Scots!

The ditch of the Roman Fort near Thankerton.

There is something really appealing about glassing a valley from a raised vantage. In my mind’s eye, I imagined the lonely vigils of a Roman auxiliary patrolling the turf ramparts of this ancient fort, looking down on the fields below and wondering if some raiding party would attack. What thoughts would have coursed through his mind?

Glassing in wide open terrain like this confers advantages to higher power binoculars. In this capacity, I hope to acquire another smaller Trinovid, the BCA 10 x 25, or a Zeiss Terra ED 10 x 25 in the near future, to enable me to explore this kind of terrain in greater detail.

Things Done Well

The 8 x 32 Trinovid was made for the great outdoors. I have used it in sub-zero temperatures, during the wee small hours of the morning observing the night sky. Even after an hour or so in such conditions, focusing remains silky smooth and precise, and the outer lenses remain fog free. When the instrument is taken in from the cold, some condensation does form on the ocular and objective lenses but disperses very quickly owing to the effective hydrophobic coatings applied to the exterior lens surfaces.

I have also tested the binocular in regard to its water proofing. Sound crazy? Perhaps! I filled a basin full of freshwater to a depth of about 8 inches and submerged the instrument in it, leaving it there for 15 minutes. I observed no air bubbles throughout the duration of that 15 minute episode, and after taking it out of the water and drying it at room temperature, I was delighted to see that it performed as good as it ever has. This little Trinovid is actually water proof to a depth of 4 metres, so my testing in this regard was rather modest. I suspect that many binoculars of lesser quality than this Trinovid are not really waterproof since they are not hermetically sealed. That’s just a hunch but I know of no one who is willing to sacrifice their binocular to the water gods, for fear that they might receive a nasty surprise!

The firmness of the eye cups on the Trinovid are marvellously engineered; certainly among the best in the industry. They offer several settings to accommodate virtually anyone’s taste, and once set in place, they remain firmly in place with absolutely no wiggle room. With lesser quality binoculars, you’re always wondering when and if the eyecups will fail, but with these, you can be 100 per cent confident that they will work flawlessly again and again and again.

Most economically priced binoculars possess eye cups that can’t be removed. In contrast, the Leica Trinovid eye cups can be pulled off to get at trapped grit, sand and other air-borne debris that accumulates under the cups with repeated use. This enables you to thoroughly clean both the ocular lenses and their supporting structures before popping the cups back on again. And when the day comes when the cups finally give up owing to wear and tear, I can call the folks at Leica who will send out replacement caps! Now that’s what I call service!

Unlike cheaper branded binoculars, the Leica Trinovid eye cups can be removed safely to clean the ocular lenses and their supporting structures.

Exploring the Heavens

The Leica Trinovid  8 x 32 has become my constant companion under the stars. In the last few months, I’ve greatly reduced my telescopic observations in favour of binocular  surveys. Indeed, I have elected to learn the night sky completely anew using this binocular, choosing a patch of sky within a constellation, and carefully studying each binocular field that I chance upon. I have ‘discovered’ many new asterisms, star clusters and nebulae in this way using the 7.1 degree field of this binocular. The project will likely preoccupy me for years to come, but I derive great joy from it. After spending many decades peering through all manner of telescopes, it is so refreshing to re-learn the constellations using this fantastic binocular. Call it a new lease of life!

I’m very much looking forward to observing the great planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which reaches its climax just a few days before Christmas 2020. The Lord created the heavens to reveal His great power and glory. But He also gave us the starry heaven for signs & seasons. I understand this up-and-coming conjunction to be a possible sign that Yeshua foretold his disciples about the times concerning the closing of human history. Indeed, many of the other signs He prophesied have manifested before our very eyes; apostasy & the purging of the Church, a marked escalation in human wickedness which leads to lawlessness, false prophets, pestilences, wars and rumours of wars etc. What is more, the heavens similarly proclaimed the first coming of our Lord two thousand years ago with the Star of Bethlehem, that could well have been another planetary conjunction, a few of which occurred in the year spanning 2 to 3 BC. Like the fading of Betelgeuse last year, I believe the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction could well represent an unmistakable message from our Creator – that He will be returning soon for His Bride.

 

Even so, come Lord Yeshua!

 

 

Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy, as well as several hundred magazine articles over the past 25 years. If you like his work, why not consider making a small personal donation, or purchasing one of his books. Thanks for reading!

 

De Fideli.

 

A Filtration Chemist Weighs in On Masks.

“I was trained as a chemist. A large part of my professional career was working in various parts of the filtration industry. I developed a line of mixed esters of cellulose membrane filters. Millipore type filters, that were used to sterilize flu vaccines for Merck Sharp and Dohme as well as other medical products companies. I developed respiratory protection products for Wilson Safety Products used in the mining industry. I worked for Baxter developing medical / IV filters. I have patents on three IV filters I invented. Baxter sold more than 5 million of one of those every year for most of a decade. I know a little bit about filters. 

Surgical  masks were not designed as filters and were not intended to be used as filters. Surgical masks were designed to be used by surgeons standing face down over an operating table holding a patient with an open wound. The surgeon wearing the mask would be able to talk to others in the room without discharging spittle droplets into the patient’s wound. Spittle droplets are large and can cause infection. 

I witnessed a test of surgical masks. Small plaster particles were generated in a room. They were visible as a white dust in the air. A man was properly fitted with a surgical mask and spent a short time in the room. When he came out the mask was removed. A camera was focused on the man’s face. The entire area that had been covered by the mask was coated by the white dust. The camera showed that his nostrils and his mouth had been penetrated by the white dust. The dust particles were measured and found to be around 40 micrometers in diameter. The particles that penetrated the mask were the same diameter. 

Covid-19 virus molecules are about 0.1 micrometers in diameter. That is 400 times smaller than the plaster particles that penetrated the mask. 

Surgical masks will not prevent the wearer from inhaling or exhaling viruses or bacteria. They provide absolutely no protection for either the wearer or anyone nearby. They create a very dangerous false sense of security for everyone. They also force the wearer to re-breath carbon dioxide which will over time reduce the wearers blood oxygen level. That can become very dangerous especially for older people.

This farce is being promoted by sleazy politicians who believe that if they can convince people that they are protecting them or creating a safe environment for them by pushing this mask farce those people will re-elect them. 

All politicians pushing this dangerous mask farce should be voted out of office as soon as possible.”

Source: https://www.zerohedge.com/political/strangely-unscientific-masking-america#comment_stream

 

Couldn’t agree more!

Don’t be an ignorant Masktard!

Sincerely,

 

Neil English PhD.

 

De Fideli

Earth Story.

Here by accident? Not on your nelly!

An Essay Originally Published in Salvo Magazine Volume 51

 

For this is what the Lord says—

he who created the heavens,

 he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth,

 he founded it; he did not create it to be empty,

 but formed it to be inhabited— he says:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other.

                                                                                                               Isaiah 45:18

Just a few short decades ago, the Earth was considered to be an ordinary planet, orbiting an ordinary star, lost in a vast galaxy of other stars, amid myriad other galaxies populating the Cosmos. Mindless processes produced the first living organisms, we were told, which slowly evolved over the eons to produce creatures like us1. This secular myth was accepted hook line and sinker by the uneducated masses after its promotion by God-denying ‘high priests’, including the late Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, and mindlessly parroted by a generation of science journalists unwilling to dig any deeper. Yet, with the exponential rise of human knowledge, this worldview is being radically over-turned by an avalanche of new science which paints an entirely different picture of our world: one in which its exceptional properties for supporting a long-lived biosphere for the express benefit of humanity in particular, is coming to the fore; where life itself ‘terraformed’ the Earth under Divine instruction.

An Anomalous Solar System

Many lines of evidence show that the Earth is old; 4.543 billion years with an uncertainty of just one per cent. But the circumstances under which our planetary system was shaped were very unusual. Formed from the gravitational collapse of a vast cloud of gas and dust, the proto-solar system condensed into a relatively thin disk with the neonatal Sun at its center. The inventory of elements endowed to the solar system might have turned out to be much like any other were it not for the presence of at least two relatively close-by supernova events2 which helped eject it from a nursery of other stars, but which also enriched the primordial solar system with relatively large quantities of heat-generating radioactive elements such as aluminum 26, thorium and uranium3. The aluminum 26, with its short half-life of 730,000 years, provided enough thermal energy to remove excess levels of volatiles including water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide which would have scuppered the future emergence of living creatures on our world. In contrast, the very dense and long-lived radioactive elements like uranium and thorium sank to the center of the primordial earth, where their prodigious heat has kept the planet in a geologically active state over billions of years.

The Moon-forming event, which is thought to have occurred about 100 million years after the neonatal Earth formed4, in a highly improbable, oblique collision with a Mars-sized object, helped remove still more volatiles from the primordial Earth, allowing it to eventually form relatively shallow oceans where the continental land-masses could eventually emerge from the sea floor.  The debris from this cataclysmic event formed a relatively large Moon in close proximity to the Earth, helping to stabilize its orbital inclination and over time, to slow down the rotation rate of our planet from just 5 hours shortly after the Moon’s formation, to its present leisurely rotation period of 24 hours.

For the first few hundred million years after its formation, the Earth would have looked black and golden from the vantage of outer space, from the vast amounts of solidified magna cooling on its surface as well as the prodigious levels of volcanic activity spewing out hot lava from the planet’s interior. Frequent collision events with smaller space debris like asteroids would also have exacerbated these hellish conditions, but eventually the prodigious levels of water vapor outgassed from its interior would have transformed our lava dominated planet into a blue water world still devoid of continental landmasses.4  But just as soon as the Earth cooled down enough to enable liquid water to flow on its surface, life appeared.

Life Terraforms the Planet

The standard evolutionary story is that life began as simple organisms and gradually progressed to more complex forms with the slow march of time, but the best scientific evidence now suggests that this life was already complex and biochemically sophisticated. This is based on isotopic evidence5,6 from the analysis of ratios of carbon and sulfur isotopes in sedimentary rocks laid down over 3.5 billion years ago. Since these biochemical processes have an absolute requirement for highly complex protein enzymes to have been present, it completely eludes an evolutionary explanation. Then why did our Creator choose to begin Earth’s life story with microbes? The answer has less to do with evolution than it has with chemical sophistication. The simple answer is that microbes are, by some considerable margin, the hardiest creatures ever to have lived on our planet.

Microbes are the die-hards of the living world, being capable of surviving in very hot and cold temperatures, high and low pH environments, and can even thrive in a cocktail of toxic chemicals and radioactive environments. Once the planet cooled enough to allow the first microbes to survive, they were set to work removing a plethora of poisonous substances from the primordial Earth. In these early times, the Earth’s surface would have had large amounts of so-called vital poisons, substances that are required in small amounts for more complex life to thrive, but in higher concentrations, can prove lethal; substances like iron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, arsenic, boron, selenium and iodine, to name but a few. In their soluble forms such vital poisons would have stunted any new life forms coming on the scene but in chemically transforming these elements7 into insoluble ores and minerals, microbes not only  removed such vital poisons from the Earth’s water environments but also formed large deposits of the valuable minerals that are now mined for their use in high technology devices. This also makes sense from a creation point of view, as more complex organisms are far more sensitive to these toxins than microbes are. One other benefit that life brought to the Earth is that it greatly enriched the planet’s mineral and gemstone tally. According to Dr. Robert Hazen, a world-leading mineralogist, Earth has the greatest diversity of mineral species of any body in the Solar System.4 Over 4,600 mineral species have been identified on Earth. In contrast, Mars probably has about 500 and Venus about 1,000 at the most. What’s more, Hazen discovered that life processes formed about two-thirds of Earth’s mineral species4.

Recent oxygen isotope evidence shows that ongoing plate tectonic activity produced nearly all the continental landmasses by about 2.5 billion years ago.8 The fact that just 29 per cent of the planet’s surface area is covered by dry land appears to be highly fine-tuned. Greater land surface areas would induce too little precipitation in the interior of those ancient continents, preventing life from gaining a hold in these places. On the other hand, land areas significantly less than 29 per cent would not be able to re-cycle enough valuable nutrients between the land, the sea and the atmosphere to maintain a healthy biosphere.

The earliest lifeforms extracted energy from these minerals without the need for molecular oxygen, but the introduction of photosynthetic microbes radically transformed the early biosphere, paving the way for the introduction of advanced lifeforms. One way to get a handle on how early oxygenic photosynthesis occurred on Earth is to study so-called Banded Iron Formations (BIFs)comprised of iron rich clays containing magnetite and hematite. The early oceans had high concentrations of soluble iron, but when it reacts with oxygen, it forms an insoluble rust-like substance that serves as iron ore today. Such studies reveal that BIFs were first laid down about 3.0 billion years ago, continuing up to about 1.8 billion years ago.9 This coincides with the microfossil record of life, which shows that oxygen-dependent complex cellular life (the so-called Eukaryotes) made its first appearance around 2 billion years ago.10The rise in atmospheric oxygen also created the ozone layer, which protected future life on land from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

The emergence of oxygen-generating photosynthesis had other effects that are not immediately obvious. When the Sun was born, it was about 30 per cent less luminous than it is today, but as it aged, its luminosity increased with the result that the amount of thermal energy received by the planet also increased. Photosynthetic organisms removed great amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and generating oxygen which reacted rapidly with another greenhouse gas, methane. In so doing, photosynthetic organisms served to counteract the tendency of the aging Sun to overheat the planet.11 The remains of these and other unicellular creatures settled to the bottom of the oceans where they  formed vast sediments that were compressed over time to produce natural gas and oil reserves so important to human civilization today.

After a long cooling phase coinciding with the formation of the supercontinent, Rhodinia4, signs of the first large(macroscopic) multicellular lifeforms appeared about 600 million years ago in an event known to palaeontologists as the Avalon Explosion, where scientists have uncovered the first evidence of simple animal lifeforms. It is unclear however whether these bizarre creatures were animals or plants but what is clear is that in the space of a short 10-million- year period starting around 541 million years ago, 80 per cent of all existing animal forms appeared in the fossil record, with no credible evolutionary antecedents. Paleontologists studying the so-called Cambrian Explosion have found no transitional forms in layers immediately pre-dating this period in Earth history. Moreover, the land was being prepared for the arrival of vascular plants by fungi who began breaking down rocks into soil as early as about 1000 million years ago12.  It is difficult to conceive how any blind process like Darwinian evolution could produce such stunning biological complexity and diversity in such a short space of time without any foresight.

In recent times, a greater appreciation of the interplay between life and plate tectonics has been appreciated. Without plate tectonics, our planet wouldn’t have a climate stable enough to support life over billions of years of time. That’s because plate tectonics takes center stage as a planetary thermostat in a process called the “carbonate-silicate” cycle.13 Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in rainwater to form carbonic acid, which dissolves silicate rocks. The by-products of this erosion, or “weathering,” are conveyed to the oceans where they are ingested by organisms—such as tiny planktonic foraminifera—and incorporated into limestone (calcium carbonate) shells. When those creatures die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean and pile up as sediments, creating new raw materials used by humanity. The introduction of life on planet Earth also increases the amount of water subducted into the mantle, where it functions as a kind of lubricant, facilitating motions between plates. It also lowers the melting point in the mantle, which leads to more volcanism and therefore more continent building. So, without life speeding up the weathering at the surface as well as the sedimentation rate on the sea floor, the fraction of the surface covered by continents would be far smaller.

Plate tectonics has other, hitherto unforeseen consequences for the maintenance of the Earth’s strong magnetic field.  By accelerating the transfer of heat to the surface, plate tectonics induces convection in the liquid iron outer core of our planet. What’s more, it’s the dynamic outer core that generates our planet’s magnetic field, which protects Earth’s atmosphere and oceans from excessive erosion and dessication from the solar wind as well as all surface life from dangerous cosmic rays.

The fossil record attests to several mass extinction events that occurred over the long history of our planet.14 Research has shown that these devastating events are followed by equally spectacular mass speciation events, uncannily similar to the scenarios described in Psalm 104. According to Christian astronomer, Dr. Hugh Ross, these events proved crucial for maximizing both the quantity and longevity of Earth’s life.15 By ensuring that the right quantities and kinds of life are present at the right times, our Creator employed these organisms to remove the just-right quantities of greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere so as to compensate for the Sun’s increasing brightness. According to Ross, one would expect God to intervene periodically to remove life no longer appropriate for compensating for a brightening Sun and then replace it with life that is more efficient at doing so. Finally, in the last few hundred million years, vast deposits of coal and oil were produced from the remains of plant life that flourished on land during the Carboniferous and Permian (360 to 250 million years ago) periods, which was necessary for the launch of the industrial revolution.

Jewel Planet

Seen in the light of these new scientific discoveries, it is apparent that the Earth is a highly fine-tuned planet that has sustained a very stable environment over 4 billion years for the flourishing of life. And that same life transformed our world beyond recognition to make it ideal for humans to thrive in. This consensus is now being expressed by other scientists, who have noted Earth’s amazing properties. Influential books like Donald Brownlee and Peter Ward’s Rare Earth16: why complex life is are in the Universe, David Waltham’s Lucky Planet17, John Gribbin’s Alone in the Universe18 as well as Privileged Planet19by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Far from being a humdrum planet orbiting an ordinary star, the Earth was designed by a mind vastly more advanced than our own. And I give God all the glory!

 

Dr. Neil English is the author of several books in amateur & professional astronomy. His latest historical work, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, is published by Springer-Nature. You can support his ongoing work by making a small personal donation or by purchasing one of his books. Thanks for reading!

 

References

  1. Sagan, C. Cosmos, MacDonald Futura Publishers, London, 1981.
  2. Eric Gaidos et al., “26Al and the Formation of the Solar System from a Molecular Cloud Contaminated by Wolf-Rayet Winds,” Astrophysical Journal 696 (May 10, 2009): 1854–63.
  3. Ross, H., Elemental Evidence of Earth’s Divine Design; https://reasons.org/explore/publications/nrtb-e-zine/read/nrtb-e-zine/2010/03/01/elemental-evidence-of-earth-s-divine-design
  4. Hazen, R. The Story of Earth, Penguin, 2012.
  5. Allen P. Nutman et al., “≥3700 Ma Pre-Metamorphic Dolomite Formed by Microbial Mediation in the Isua Supracrustal Belt (W. Greenland): Simple Evidence for Early Life?” Precambrian Research 183, no. 4 (December 15, 2010): 725–37.
  6. Yanan Shen et al, “Isotopic Evidence for Microbial Sulphate Reduction in the Early Archaean Era,” Nature 410 (March 1, 2001): 77–81.
  7. Gadd, G.M., Metals, minerals and microbes: geomicrobiology and bioremediation https://mic.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/micro/10.1099/mic.0.037143-0;jsessionid=CfnAVoIxE-Nxln81QM-D2S0N.x-sgm-live-02
  8. N. Bindeman et al., “Rapid Emergence of Subaerial Landmasses and Onset of Modern Hydrologic Cycle 2.5 Billion Years Ago,” Nature 557 (May 23, 2018): 545–48, https://doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0131-1.
  9. James, H.L. (1983). Distribution of banded iron-formation in space and time. Developments in Precambrian Geology, 6, 471–490.
  10. Simonetta Gribaldo et al., “The Origin of Eukaryotes and Their Relationship with the Archaea: Are We at a Phylogenomic Impasse?” Nature Reviews Microbiology 8 (2010): 743–52.
  11. Ross, H. Improbable Planet, Baker Books, 2016.
  12. https://theconversation.com/complex-life-may-only-exist-because-of-millions-of-years-of-groundwork-by-ancient-fungi-117526
  13. Walker, J.C.G., Hays, P.B., & Kasting, J.F. A negative feedback mechanism for the long-term stabilization of Earth’s surface temperature. Journal of Geophysical Research 86, 9776-9782 (1981).
  14. Melott & Bambach, “Do Periodicities in Extinction—With Possible Astronomical Connections—Survive a Revision of the Geological Timescale?” Astrophysical Journal 773 (August 10, 2013).
  15. Ross, H. Mass Extinction Periodicity Design; https://www.reasons.org/explore/publications/nrtb-e-zine/read/nrtb-e-zine/2013/12/01/mass-extinction-periodicity-design
  16. Brownlee, D. & Ward, P., Rare Earth, Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, Springer, 2000
  17. Waltham, D., Lucky Planet, Icon Books, 2015
  18. J., Alone in the Universe; Why our Planet is Unique, John Wiley, 2011.
  19. Gonzalez, G. & Richards, J, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery, Regnery Publishing, 2004.

                                                                                                                       

De Fideli.

Why the American People Must Re-Elect Donald Trump.

 

New Stuff Added Daily: Click the Links for More Info.

 

As a non-American who cares deeply for the continued prosperity of the American people, I have carefully followed, on the side-lines as it were, the campaigns of both Trump-Pence(Republican) and Biden-Harris(Democrats). In this blog, I wish to articulate, as succinctly as possible, why the US electorate should strive to re-instate Donald Trump- even if you personally don’t like him –  and his running mate, Vice-President, Mike Pence. The stakes are simply too high to contemplate a Democrat take-over.

  1. Donald Trump is no politician, and that’s a good thing. Though he’s deeply flawed as an individual(aren’t we all though?), I’ve always thought of him as a breath of fresh air. The mainstream press, both here and in the US, has expressed a visceral hatred for him because he shoots from the hip and speaks his mind in a non-PC voice. Trump is a businessman, you’ll remember, and prior to the advent of the CCP virus, the American economy was the strongest and most prosperous it has ever been! There is no reason to believe that he will not restore the prosperity of the US economy if re-elected.
  2. Fear of the CCP virus has wreaked havoc in nearly all countries on Earth and having such a large population, the number of US deaths associated with COVID-1984 appears to be levelling out and actually turning a corner now, and what we’re now witnessing is more a ‘casedemic’ than a pandemic. We need to remember that most of the ~229,000 deaths are attributed to co-morbidity factors and only a tiny minority of the deaths can actually be attributed to the viral infection alone. If these insane, 100 per cent politically motivated lockdowns persist they are likely to kill far more people from depression, bankruptcy, anxiety, drug overdose, suicide and loneliness than any virus. Changing a regime in the middle of a pandemic is very unwise. The Trump administration is working flat-out to produce a vaccine to protect its citizens, though the majority have no compelling reasons to rush out and get it, and Mr. Trump has personally vouched to allow the most ill patients to receive the same treatment as he did and for free. His administration is already making great progress – way ahead of the major European powers like the UK, France and Germany – by delivering new and effective therapeutics to treat the condition, cutting fatalities by as much as 90 per cent, rather than imposing stupid lockdowns that only make matters worse. Indeed, this election will serve as a referendum on the lockdowns; vote Democrat if you wish them to continue, and Republican if you want to see their end.
  3. The completely untrustworthy mainstream press – which should be completely ignored – never reports on the many achievements of the Trump administration. Take a look at this link as of November 2019  for just some of the administration’s economic successes. But from a Christian perspective, here’s another thirty that one should consider.
  4. Team Trump puts America first. They are nationalists; a sovereign nation wanting to do business with other sovereign nations. Trump’s policies have thwarted the globalists who wish to impose their Draconian, socialist, ‘one size fits all’ policies on everyone. Trump also demanded that other nations in NATO pay more, and that’s only fair. The Democratic party, in contrast, has strong leanings to the political left, socialism and Red China. To gain a glimpse of how this could play out, take a long, hard look at what has happened in Venezuela.
  5. The mainstream media has suppressed the mental health status of Joe Biden. As a guy who has lived with and seen the devastating effects of cognitive decline in the elderly, it is very clear that Mr. Biden, sadly, is suffering from dementia. You have to wonder why Biden doesn’t do many rallies and doesn’t take questions(except for really searching ones about what flavour ice cream he likes but nothing about Biden’s dodgy son, Hunter) from the press. I mean, if that were not the case, why don’t we see mass crowds at Democrat rallies?  And you also have to wonder why Barack Obama has now started campaigning for him. In contrast, Trump is aggressively attacked by a corrupt mainstream press.  If elected to the office of President, Biden will be an unmitigated disaster, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, whose morally reprehensible track record in office leaves a lot to be desired, will be calling the shots and sanctioning the murder of countless other unborn human beings. Vote Biden get Harris(far left and its minions).
  6. The Biden-Harris administration will push the United states into a state of terminal economic decline with their radical socialist agenda, which only makes people equally poor and miserable, as history so clearly shows. And they will implement the Equality Act, which will wrench your religious freedoms from you. Biden wants more lockdowns to push more and more people into abject poverty and despair. He’s also obsessed with using those ridiculous face diapers which are next to useless in containing the virus, and actually will prove to cause more harm than good when the truth finally(and it will) comes out. The largely pseudoscientific actions taken by many western governments on COVID-19 are likely to be overturned in the days and weeks ahead. To my mind, like a good soap opera, they’re making things up as they go along.
  7. The Democratic party is not the party of your fathers and forefathers. It has  completely jettisoned Judeo-Christian values. The Democrats has either sided with or have remained silent in condemning deeply immoral movements like Antifa and Black Lives Matter(BLM), an openly Marxist organisation, wishing to dismantle the nuclear family and impose the fatally flawed critical race theory (which was summarily rejected by the secular British Government) in the public and private sector. The Trump administration has set in place orders to reverse the crippling effects of this racially charged theory in the American workforce, as well as stalling the attempts of radical, ‘woke’ educational revisionists who wish to re-write the history of the United States, and brainwash the next generation of Americans to be functional Marxists. Folk are at last beginning to see through these dangerous movements. For example, the good people of Chicago have only recently rejected BLM’s demands to defund their police department.
  8. All the social media platforms – which ought to remain completely neutral – like Twitter and Facebook – have been ‘caught with their pants down’ trying to suppress the campaign of the Trump Administration or hide negative press about their opposition. These are intolerable interventions that will almost certainly backfire. If you’re only watching mainstream news on TV, chances are good that you’re being deceived. Remember the huge lead Hilary Clinton purportedly had in the 2016 election? And then what happened? Trump won the election. The same game is almost certainly being played out in the 2020 election. Prestigious science journals – yes you heard right, science journals! – such as Nature, have also sided with team Biden. Yep, these now disgraced platforms have jumped into bed with the GREAT GLOBAL RESET  and thus can’t be trusted. Indeed such nefarious dealings are more at home in China or North Korea than in any democracy. What to do? Never again assume Twitter, Google and Facebook are neutral platforms. They are clearly politically and ideologically biased. What’s more, the inspiring 27-year-old conservative intellectual, Charlie Kirk, was also shut down on Twitter by the powers that be. What a wicked thing to do! They don’t want the youth of America to hear his story, his views – just because it doesn’t fit with the left’s malevolent narrative. They won’t debate these people either – he’d eat ’em for breakfast anyway. No, their tactic is to cancel, to muzzle, to mask. The creeps at Wikipedia have also been busy spreading lies. Thankfully, the CEOs of these companies are now being prosecuted.
  9. If Biden is elected to office his administration will pack the Supreme Court with ultra-liberal(read immoral) judges who will make it all but impossible for anyone who holds to Judeo-Christian values to receive proper justice. The Trump Administration’s success in appointing the exemplary, virtuous conservative jurist and mother of school age children(which the Democrats have scorned with disdain and unanimously voted against her),  Amy Coney Barrett, will prevent the Supreme Court from turning into a kangaroo court. Shame on you Democrats!
  10. It has not gone unnoticed that nearly all of the states where the rioting, looting and out-and-out anarchy has occurred are/were in blue states, that is, run by Democratic governors. They have bowed to the demands of anarchists to defund the police, but later return seeking alms from the Trump administration. How pathetic is that?  California’s governor, Gavin Newsom(shouldn’t it be Gruesome or maybe the Grinch?), in particular, has singularly displayed himself to be a megalomaniacal despot. Any sane voter could not countenance having someone like that running the fifth largest economy in the world any longer. And have you heard what another Democrat  governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been doing in New York?
  11. I’ve noticed the demographic of the anti-Trump brigade. They tend to be younger, politically ‘woke’ individuals, loud and angry. They are often indoctrinated by leftist professors and propagandists, LGBTQP-agenda-pushing, abortion supporters and climate change alarmists. who’s anti-human policies will enslave and push modern civilization back into the stone age. An eclectic mix don’t you think? Says a lot really! 
  12. The Republican party clearly represents the values of common sense and law and order, of ordinary Americans who just want things to return to normal,  are pro-life, want the continuation of the Republic & the Constitution, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, lower taxes, cheap energy, and conservative ways of life(remember the good ole days of 2019?), in contrast to the freedom robbing policies of the left-leaning, monolithic, big-brother-government-orientated and reckless Democrats.
  13. Try to avoid postal voting if you can. I hear there’s lots of trickery going on there. I would take the polls used by the mainstream media with a big pinch of salt. Please support independent media platforms so that they can continue to report the truth. Senior citizens, don’t be afraid of the China virus or the demonic masktards wanting to intimidate you out of voting! Have you seen what these brainwashed idiots are doing to your kids? What else do you expect in that evil state? Your country needs you more than ever before! I continue to pray for the American people in these dark times. Though the whole world is stacked against him, I urge you to set aside petty concerns and political squabbles and get behind your President and his Administration. 
  14. If you were one of the many people who voted early by mail and now wish to vote in person, check out this link to see how you can execute those changes.

In a world turned upside down, Team Trump is by far the sanest choice!

God bless the United States!

Sincerely,

 

Neil English

 

De Fideli.

Product Review: Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25 Pocket Binocular.

The Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25: a noble gesture from a market-leading optics firm.

October 1 2019

Preamble;

Review A

Review B

 Review C(verified purchaser):

Although I read glowing reports for these pocket Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 light carry binoculars, my previous 4 month ownership of the Swaro CL 8X25 pockets had tempered my expectations. However, I found these small glassing gems to perform optically and ergonomically within 95% of the venerable and well built CL’s (at 1\3 the price)! They, just as the CL, have handling and comfort limitations compared to compact or full size binoculars. But for quick trip non-intrusive viewing, ease of portability and very accurate powered views, these little pockets are hard to beat. Overall, they possess very nice ergonomics, have natural color presentation, crystalline resolution that is real sharp and bright, with very good contrast views. Their FOV (field of view), whose sweet spot extends to within 10% of their wide 357ft limit, has a comfortable and stereoptic DOF (depth of field) . Hinge tensions are perfect, and the focuser is fast, going from close focus (mine’s about 5ft) CW to infinity in just 1.25 turns. Eye cup adjustments lock fully in (for eye glass wearers) and fully out (non-eye glass wearers). My vision is 20\15 and with the very comfortable eye cups fully extended and resting on my brow, I can align the small EP (exit pupil=3.1) with my pupils, gaining a full unobstructed sigh picture! With its ED glass, CA (chromatic aberrations) is well controlled and I find day light\low light viewing to be bright, natural and enjoyable! Diopter is set on the front dial (for the right barrel) and has enough resistance to stay put. Made in Japan for Zeiss, they offer a lot of features and performance at a great value point. These will make great travel companions and will be back-ups for my full sized field excursion instruments!

Review D(verified purchaser):

I also read about these on an astronomy forum, where I got the “use” info below, but not the specs.
Buy these now. A best buy. Here’s why:
1. Zeiss is a world class optics company. So is Swarovski.
Compare this Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 to the world-class Swarovski 8×25 at $819 on Amazon (list price is even higher). This will show you
a) specs are same: field of view (6.8˚),
brightness (14.1 vs 14.2),
weight (11 vs 12 oz),
eye relief (16 vs 17mm), and
size in inches
b) specs favor Swaro: water resistant to 4 meters (vs 1 meter for Zeiss)
c) specs favor Zeiss: close focus 6.2ft (vs 14.2 for Swaro),
operating temperature -20 to 144˚ (vs -13 to 131 for Swaro)
d) use favors Swaro: view is said to be more comfortable to look at, ergonomically
focus has lighter touch, for those who like that
e) use favors Zeiss: view is more crisp, contrasty (Swaro view is said to be softer, more milky)
focus has firmer touch, for those who like that
f) price favors Zeiss: $293 (vs $819 for Swaro)2. Compare them to other Zeiss binos from the SAME series – Zeiss Terra ED.
– 8×25, 10×25 are made in Japan
– 8×25, 10×25 are getting great reviews, for small binos
– all larger Terra ED models are made in China
– all larger models are getting panned for poor optics and build quality
I think everybody is well aware that China optics and build quality are inferior (so far) to those from the US, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Austria, etc.So this 8×25 model is unusual. Superior optics and build are normal for Zeiss, except for their Chinese built Terra ED line.
Luckily, the 8×25 model is made in Japan with Zeiss design. This results in typical world class Zeiss quality.What is hard to understand is how Zeiss makes a $293 optic that arguably outperforms an $819 Swarovski.For bino newbies looking at 10×25, remember: the 10×25 will have a smaller exit pupil, so your views may black out more. Also, a 10x is way harder to hold steady and actually see than an 8x. So, even though you think you want 10x, you probably really want 8×25. With the 8×25, you’ll actually see and enjoy the view more.………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

What you get:

The Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25 pocket binocular kit.

The Zeiss Terra pocket arrived double-boxed. After opening the outer packaging, the binocular kit was housed inside a very nicely presented box with a very fetching design which folds open to reveal the contents. Unlike other products I’ve received in the past, the Zeiss box has depicted on the inside, a colourful alpine scene with majestic mountain peaks soaring high above a beautiful river valley. Perhaps the team at Zeiss intended the user to explore such landscapes? Whatever the reasoning behind it, it was certainly a pleasant touch.

With Zeiss, even the packaging is premium.

Unlike customers who bought the Zeiss pocket binocular when it was first launched just a few years ago, I was relieved to see that the instrument was housed inside a small clamshell case with a magnetic latch carrying the blue & white Zeiss logo.The box also contained a lanyard, operating instructions and a lens cleaning cloth. I was surprised that the binocular itself came neither with eyepiece or objective lens caps, but I suppose they are not really necessary, as the case very effectively protects the instrument from dust and moisture.

The box has the serial number on the side, which is needed to register the product on the Zeiss sports optics website.  On another side of the box, the detailed specifications of both the 8 x 25 and 10 x 25 models are presented; another nice touch.

The binocular was housed inside the clamshell and was pristine, with no dust on the lenses, or gunk on the interior of the barrels. From the moment I prized the neatly folded instrument from its case, I was impressed. The frame is composed of a fibre-glass like polymer, with a fetching black, grey and blue livery. The sides of the binocular have a rubberised exterior making it easy to grip well while in use. The double-hinges were rigid and hold their positions solidly once the correct inter-pupillary distance is chosen for your eyes. The optics are hermetically sealed, nitrogen purged and had immaculately finished anti-reflection coatings on both the ocular and objective lenses. They are also treated with a Zeiss’ proprietary hydrophobic coating that encourages any moisture and grime that gathers on the lenses to fall off, rather than accumulating on the surfaces. The instrument is guaranteed to operate flawlessly over a very impressive temperature range: -20C to +63C, so covering almost any environment it is likely to find itself in.

The binocular is water resistant, but to what degree remained a bit of a mystery owing to the rather odd way in which Zeiss chose to present it: 100mbar.

You what mate?

Thankfully, some physics knowledge helps to clarify the reference to water pressure.

P = Rho x g x h, where P is the water pressure, Rho is the density of water, g is the acceleration due to gravity and h is the depth in metres. Rearranging to find h gives;

h = P/ (g x Rho) = 10^4/ (10 x 10^3) = 1m

Knowledge is power lol!

So, not as waterproof as a Swarovski pocket binocular(I think it’s 4m) but adequate for most purposes.

Fully folded down, the Zeiss Terra pocket is about 70mm wide and 110mm long. The oversized barrels make the Zeiss a wee bit taller when placed on its side in comparison to a classic pocket instrument, like my lovely little Opticron Aspheric LE;

The Zeiss Terra Pocket(right) is a little wider and taller than the more conventional Opticron Aspheric(left).

The Terra weighs in at 310g, so about 40 grams lighter than the Swarovski-made counterpart. Lighter isn’t necessarily better however, as some individuals find holding such light glasses problematical. But once unfolded, the significantly wider barrels more than make up for its low mass, as I shall explain more fully a little later in the review.

The eyecups look a bit suspect, but once you begin rotating them, they work really well. They have no indents but do have ample friction. There are only two positions; fully retracted or fully extended. You know you’ve reached either situation by hearing their clicking into place. They are very solid and hold their positions superbly. Eye relief is 16mm and I was able to enjoy the full field with eye glasses on or without. Placing your eye on the eyecups is very comfortable, with their soft, rubberised overcoat and the large field lenses makes for very easy centring of your eye sockets along the line of sight of the optical train.

The dioptre(+/- 3) setting lies at the other end of the bridge(near the objectives), which initially presented some problems for me, as it is rather stiff and difficult to get going, but once you’re done you’re done! The focusing wheel is centrally located and is reassuringly large and easy to grip, even with gloves on. It moves very well, with the perfect amount of tension. Motions run smoothly, with little in the way of play or backlash when rotated either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The focuser requires one and a half full rotations to go from one end of its focus travel to another.

The Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25 has a large, centrally placed focuser. The right-eye dioptre ring is located at the other end of the instrument, near the objective lenses.

The objective lenses are very deeply recessed, more so than on many other pocket binoculars I’ve used. This affords the 25mm objective lenses greater protection against aeolian-borne dust and also serves as a first-line defence against glare. Cool!

As the other reviewers showcased earlier, the Zeiss Terra pocket binoculars are manufactured in Japan, with the larger models originating in China under Zeiss supervision. You can see that quite clearly by examining the under belly of the instrument:

The underside of the binocular reveals its country of manufacture: Japan.

That said, and contrary to what the other reviewers have asserted, I don’t fully subscribe to the notion that all Chinese-made binoculars are inferior to those produced in Europe or Japan, as I shall elaborate on later.

All in all, it’s pretty obvious that a great deal of sound engineering was put into these pint-sized field glasses.

Handling: The Zeiss pocket is supremely comfortable to use, the slightly larger frame fitting comfortably in my hands. Indeed, with its wide field of view and thicker barrels, it feels like you’re peering through a larger instrument. The big eye lenses make it easy to get the right eye placement with none of the blackouts I’ve experienced on a number of other pocket binoculars. Its light weight means that you can carry it round your neck for hours on end with no neck strain. Its easy to get both hands resting on the central bridge, using my little finger to engage with the focus wheel.

Optical Assessment:

Straight out of its case, the Zeiss Terra impressed. Looking at some tree trunks just beyond my back garden fence reaveled a wealth of high contrast detail. I was immediately taken aback with the expansive field of view; not only was it wide, but the image remained tack sharp across nearly all of the field. Images snapped to a very sharp focus and I experienced no trouble focusing from just a few yards away all the way out to some trees located hundreds of yards away. Glare suppression looked excellent, even when pointed at some backlit scenes strongly bathed in sunlight. It was immediately clear to me that I was looking through a very high quality optical instrument.

As I stated in earlier blogs, I don’t really consider the inclusion of low dispersion (ED) glass as necessary in a small binocular like this, but it’s a nice feature when presented as part of a larger, properly designed system. After all, and as several other reviewers pointed out, the Zeiss seemed quite comparable to arguably the most sought-after pocket binocular on the market; the venerable Swarovski CL pocket binocular. But what is not widely communicated is that the latter achieves all its optical excellence without using ED glass. That should send a powerful message to the gayponaut propagandists. No, its all about using great glass, great coatings and solid mechanical engineering. Alas, I was not able to compare this pocket binocular with the Swarovski, but the fact that the little Zeiss was often mentioned in the same company as it speaks volumes about its optical quality.

Further daylight tests showed that off-axis aberrations were very well controlled. Even at the edge of the field pin cushion distortion and field curvature were minimal. Looking straight up at a denuded tree branch against an overcast sky showed no colour fringing on axis but as the image was moved off axis, some slight secondary spectrum was noted. Overall, I was very impressed at the Zeiss’ optical quality; it really does exactly what it says on the tin!

A niggly moment: While the little Zeiss pocket binocular fits perfectly inside its small, clamshell case without the supplied neck strap attached, I found that the addition of the strap made it very difficult to get a snug fit. Wrapping the neck strap around the central bridge simply didn’t allow the case to close properly(the magnetic latch never stuck), but after several attempts experimenting with different approaches, I finally hit on a way to get the binocular with its strap on to fit the case. The trick involves wrapping the strap tightly around the ocular lenses.The latch sticks.  Problem solved!

More discriminating optical tests:

Flare & Glare assessment:

Even if the glass used in binoculars were mined from the asteroid belt, it counts for nothing if it can’t control light leaks. My initial daylight tests showed that glare and internal reflections were very well controlled in the little Zeiss binocular, but they can’t tell the whole story. So, I set up my iphone torch at its brightest setting in my living room and examined the focused images through  the Zeiss Terra, comparing its results with my Opticron Aspheric(a nice little performer) as well as my control binocular; the Barr & Stroud 8 x 42 Savannah, which has excellent control of stray light.

The results were very interesting. The Zeiss faired better than the Opticron, but not by much. However, it was not as good as the Savannah, which exhibits exceptional control of internal reflections even though it collects far more light than any pocket binocular.

Further testing of the binoculars on a bright street light revealed some additional information. Internal reflections were well suppressed in both the Zeiss and Opticron binoculars, but the Zeiss showed more prominent diffraction spikes. The Savannah control binocular, in comparison, proved superior to both pocket binoculars. It shows very little flaring and internal reflections and much better control of diffraction spikes.

And therein lies an instructive lesson. The Barr & Stroud Savannah 8 x 42 is fabricated in China yet shows exceptional control of glare and internal reflections. So, it’s not so much where a binocular is built that counts so much as how it is constructed.

An exceptional, Chinese-made binocular; the Barr & Stroud 8 x 42 Savannah wide angle 143m@1000m.

It is all the more remarkable, since the Savannah can be purchased for half the price of the diminutive Zeiss!

All in all, these tests showed that the Zeiss binocular is very well protected against stray light, glare and internal reflections and this goes a long way to explaining why the views through it are so compelling.

Collimation and Field of View Tests:

I checked the collimation of the barrels on the Zeiss by placing the instrument on a tall fence and aiming at a rooftop, checking that both the horizontal and vertical fields correlated with each other. They matched up very well.

Field of view is best assessed by turning the binocular on the stars. Accordingly, I aimed the Zeiss Terra at the two stars at the end of the handle of the Ploughshare, now low in the northern sky. The Zeiss was able to image both Mizar and Alkaid in the same field with a little bit to spare. These stars are separated by an angular distance of 6 degrees 40′ (or 6.66 degrees). This result was consistent with the specifications on the inside of the box; 6.8 angular degrees.

Further Observations:

Comparing the Opticron Aspheric to the Zeiss Terra in daylight, showed that both instruments were about equally matched in terms of sharpness( the aspherical oculars on the Opticron certainly help in this regard), but I could discern that the image was that little bit brighter in the Zeiss. Better coatings in the Zeiss binocular throughout the optical train give it the edge in this regard. Field of view was also much more expansive in the Zeiss( the Opticron has a true field of 5.2 degrees in comparison). Colours were also that little bit more vivid in the Zeiss pocket binocular, caused perhaps by its better contrast and superior control of chromatic aberration.

Close focus is very good. I measured the Zeiss Terra to have a minimum close focus distance of 1.4 metres, so this should be a great little instrument for use as a long distance microscope, to spy out insects, fungi, flowers, rocks and the endlessly fascinating complexities of tree trunks.

The eye lenses on the Zeiss Terra pocket binocular measure 18mm in diameter, the same as the Swarovski CL pocket. But they are still small in comparison to a larger format binocular like my 8 x 42.

But while the field of view is quite immersive in the Zeiss Terra, it lacks the majesty factor of a larger binocular, such as my Barr & Stroud 8 x 42 Savannah, with its whopping 8.2 degree true field and better eye relief. Larger binoculars are simply easier to engage with your eye sockets and are thus more comfortable to use than any pocket binocular on the market.

Performance under low light conditions easily show the limitations of the small objectives on the Zeiss Terra. At dusk, the 8 x 42 was vastly superior to the Zeiss, showing much brighter images, as expected. So, as good as the Zeiss pocket binocular is, it can’t defy the laws of physics.

A Walk by the River Bank

River Endrick, near my home.

One of the best reasons to own and use a pocket binocular, is that it encourages you to go outside and explore the landscape. They’re so light weight and handy that anyone can carry one. Sometimes I use the Opticron and at other times I like using the Zeiss. Their sharp, high-contrast optics deliver wonderful images of the Creation. For me, nature is life affirming; a profound source of revelation and illumination. Like a great Cathedral, it fills me with awe and wonder. The sound of the wind whistling through the trees, the babbling brook and the noisy chirps of small tree birds form part of a symphony paying homage to the One who fashioned it all. For some, the Darwinian, materialist lie has dulled or even extinguished the sense of wonder that is innately endowed to every child. Dead to the world, believing themselves to be highly evolved animals, they pose no meaningful questions and can give no meaningful answers to life’s biggest conundrums. As you think, so you are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

For me, being able to explore the wet and wild places with tiny optical aids is a source of unending joy. On sunny afternoons or early in the morning, I sometimes take myself off for a walk along the banks of the River Endrick which meanders its way through the beautiful valley in which I live. Stretches of shallow, fast-flowing water predominate but are also complemented by deeper pool and riffle sequences; favourite haunts of  Brown Trout, Perch and other course fish. Lanky Herons frequent these waters in search of fresh prey.  Bracken flourishes all along the river, and my pocket binocular allows me to study their shape and form in great detail. As summer gives way to autumn, their bright lorne hues transform into various shades of brown and tan. Spiders weave elaborate but deadly webs of silk with their spinnerets that sparkle and glisten in the morning sunlight, creating a wondrous decoration that I can experience up-close and personal with my long range microscope.

Towering trees soar into a blue sky by the banks of the Endrick.

Many species of tree grace the banks of the river; Ash, Silver Birch, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut and even the odd Oak. Thriving from frequent rain showers, their trunks are covered in lichens, moss and algae that reveal a wealth of intricate structure and a riot of colour that changes in accordance with the varying altitude of the Sun as it wheels across the sky. I especially delight in observing the colour of autumn leaves in bright sunlight, the ruby reds of anthocyanins and the yellow-orange hues of carotenoids. Every now and then, I watch as the fast-flowing water, dappling in weak autumn sunshine, ferries off fallen leaves, their destinies unknown. My pocket binocular shows me that every tree trunk is unique. Each tells its own story, visual scars of its past life.

On some stretches of the river bank, I can still find some late-flowering wild plants that delight the eyes with colour in unexpected ways. And as autumn continues its march towards winter, the thick brambles begin to yield their succulent fruit. What could me more pleasing and more natural than to feast on their nutritious berries?

An expected riot of autumn flowers observed along the river bank.

At some places along the river bank, there are expansive rocky stretches. And yet every stone you un-turn reveals even more of God’s Creation. A scurrying earwig, a wondrously armoured wood louse or a frolicking spider.The pocket binocular brings everything into stunning clarity. And though at first glance, each stone looks more or less the same, my little pocket spyglass shows that they too are all unique. Every crevice, every colourful grain is one of a kind.

A rocky stretch along the river bank.

This tiny corner of the world is ripe for exploration, with every day that passes presenting new adventures, new wonders to delight the eye. But so is yours!

Bird Watching with the Zeiss Terra Pocket Binocular:

Can good pocket binoculars be suitable for birdwatching?

Lots of birding websites don’t recommend using pocket binoculars for bird watching, citing their small fields of view and reduced comfort compared with larger binoculars as the most common reasons. Having used these small binoculars for a while now, I must say  that I respectfully disagree. The Opticron Aspheric has served as a good birding binocular for me, especially for quick looks at birds that visit our back garden table and the crows that nest in the conifer trees in the common ground beyond our back yard fence. Recently, a group of five magpies have taken up residence in the Rowan tree in our back yard. Each evening as darkness falls, they hunker down in the tree and don’t seem to be fazed by us turning on an outside light or noisy disturbances when it’s time to put the garbage out. During the day though, they are often seen chackering away at each other loudly(magpies don’t actually sing) as if to resolve some dispute among themselves. Further afield, there is a small pond just a few hundred yards away in the grounds of Culcreuch Castle, which attract quite a few varieties of water bird; swans, duck, water hens, heron and even the odd cormorant. Once I learned to use them properly, small binoculars like these have never presented much in the way of a problem for me.  And since the Zeiss Terra pockets have a nice wide field of 6.8 degrees, they have proven to be better suited than the Opticron in this regard because you can better track the motions of birds with a wider true field.

On the Zeiss Sports Optics website, under ‘usage’, they seem to be saying that the Terra pockets are less suitable for birding, but I wonder if this is merely a clever ploy to get folk to buy into their larger(and more expensive) models. If so, they’re lost on me. With their excellent optics and generous field of view right to the edge, they can and do serve as good birding glasses. Of course, you can only form your own opinions by actual field experience but you may discover that the little Terra is all you really need! Seen in this light, acquiring a Zeiss Terra pocket binocular can actually serve as a cost-saving measure that stops you haemorrhaging your hard-earned cash on ever bigger and more expensive models.

How About Astronomy?

A small binocular like this is not the best for exploring the night sky since its small objective lenses cannot gather enough light to really wow the observer. However, the Terra’s excellent performance both at the centre of the field and extending nearly all the way to the edges, as well as its wonderful contrast make star gazing a pleasant experience. Out here in the sticks, the sky is quite dark and rewarding, even when observed with such a small instrument. Its field of view is large enough to enjoy some of the showpieces of the sky like the Pleiades, the Hyades, and larger asterisms such as Melotte 20 in Perseus, which can be taken in with its generous field of view. Stars remain very tightly focused and pin sharp across the field. Later in the season, I look forward to exploring the winter constellation of Orion the Hunter, to seek out its magnificent nebula in his Sword Handle, as well as the many delightful clusters of stars that are framed within its borders.

On another autumnal evening, I was able to pick up the three Messier open clusters in Auriga, M34, the Messier galaxies, M81 and M82, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster in Perseus, wide double stars like Mizar & Alcor and the Coathanger asterism in Vulpecula. Running the binocular through Cygnus and Cassiopeia will also reward dark-adapted eyes with innumerable faint stars, like fairy dust on black velvet. One delightful little project involves exploring the lovely colours of bright stars such as blue-white Vega and Sirius, creamy white Capella, brilliant white Rigel, orange Arcturus and fiery red Betelgeuse and Aldebaran.

Following the phases of the Moon can also be a rewarding and worthwhile pursuit, as the Terra’s above average glare and internal reflection control will ensure that you get nice crisp, contrasty images. Lunar eclipses can also be enjoyed. You might also like to try your hand at observing the beautiful light shows presented by clouds passing near the Moon on blustery evenings. The excellent contrast of the Terra will also allow you to see stars around the Moon which can be very arresting to observe. Capturing the bright Moon as it rises over man-made buildings will also delight the eye. Above all else, don’t let its small aperture deter you from exploring God’s wonderful creation, which fills the Universe with hope and light.

Final thoughts:

Terra: for exploring the Earth and beyond.

The Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25 pocket binocular is a fine, high-quality optical instrument that is easy to use and transport. If taken care of, it will give you years of enjoyment where ever you wish to take it. As I said from the outset of this blog, I believe Zeiss did something very noble in bringing this little binocular to market at the price point they set. To be honest, and as others have quipped, they could well have stuck a ‘Victory’ label on it and no one would be any the wiser. Optically, Zeiss engineers have cut no corners to deliver an ergonomic, durable and optically sound instrument that will delight anyone who looks through it. I suspect that the Zeiss Terra pocket might be one of their best-selling products. It is even available on finance and buy-now-pay later schemes here in the UK, although I would strongly advise would-be buyers to save up and pay the price in full rather than incurring more debt, where you ultimately pay more. The Zeiss is expensive as small binoculars go, but I feel that it’s worth every penny, as for me at least, it has already given me countless hours of wonderful experiences. In the world of high-quality pocket binoculars, the Terra certainly stands out in a crowd. Highly recommended!

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Neil English is the author of a large medley of essays(650pages), Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, which showcases the extraordinary lives of amateur and professional astronomers over four centuries of time.

Post Scriptum:

1. The Zeiss Terra has a two year warranty, which is enacted once you register the product on the Zeiss website. Cross-checking is thorough, requiring the serial number, and the name & address of the place of purchase. After checking these details, you receive a confirmatory email from the Zeiss Sports Optics team, welcoming you to the world of Zeiss.

2. The little foldable Zeiss Terra is very suitable for those adults with unusually small inter pupillary distances (closely spaced eyes) and children.

3. The overall light transmission of the Zeiss Terra ED is 88 per cent. Source here. This is exactly the same as the Swarovski CL Pocket(non-ED just in case Pepperidge farm forgets, ken ) binocular. Source here. Zeiss Victory Pocket binocular light transmission is 91%. Source here.

4. The family of magpies came back to the Rowan tree in my garden, as they always do, just before sunset. Here is a picture of four ( I think!) individuals settled in the tree branches at 20.09pm local time on the evening of October 6 2019.

Wee magpies hunkering down for the night in my Rowan tree.

5. After a week of abysmal weather, with endless cloud and rain, I finally managed to test the little Zeiss Terra pocket binocular on a very bright gibbous Moon at 10:25 pm local time on the evening of October 10 2019, when it was within an hour of meridian passage. At the centre of the field, it delivered a beautiful, clean and razor sharp image with no false colour. The background sky was good and dark with little in the way of diffused light. Internal reflections were pretty much non-existent with the Moon in the centre of the field. Only when it was placed just outside the field did I detect some minor flaring. Moving the Moon to the edge of the field threw up some slight lateral colour, bluish at its southern edge, and green-yellow at its northern edge. These results were entirely consistent with my flashlight testing. This will be a useful Moon-gazing glass!

6. May 11 2020: This afternoon I received a phone call from the Zeiss team clarifying that the Terra pocket binoculars have indeed moved production to China, but they also reassured me that the quality of the product is identical to the original Japanese-made instrument, as is the packaging, accessories and two-year warranty. Not all employees were aware of this until recently and this was the root source of the recent confusion.

7. October 25 2020: Optics Trade has done a new video review of the Zeiss Terra ED  8 x 25 pocket glass. The reader will note that the model featured in the video is also manufactured in Japan. Link here.

 

 

Bible Review: The KJVER.

The only way to keep sane in a world gone mad.

Make no mistake about it, we live in very dark and perilous times. The secular world, of course, can offer no coherent answers to our problems. Believing humans to be nothing more than evolved animals, their inept ‘woke’ officials are just too preoccupied corralling hard working people into pseudoscientific, oppressive lockdowns, decimating livelihoods and whole economies. The corrupt mainstream media peddle fear and promote the ideologies of creepy elites who finance their aberrant narratives. Liquor and cannabis stores, casinos and abortion clinics across the United States, once the greatest Christian country on Earth, remained open for business, of course, but churches and synagogues were either shut completely or restricted to just a few tens of people. You can shout from the top of your voice in a riot, but are prohibited to sing in church. Brainwashed by clueless ‘masktards’ into wearing useless face diapers which offer no credible protection against a virus that only poses a danger to a very small minority of individuals who are old or have some underlying health issue, swathes of once sensible, intelligent citizens of our nations have turned into intimidated imbeciles or snitching Nazis in all but name – take your pick.

Meanwhile, the ongoing push to enforce the politics and ideologies of the far left on our societies continues apace. Organisations like Black Lives Matter, run by trained Marxists and sexual deviants are feverishly dismantling Judeo-Christian values and the sacredness of the nuclear family. They care nothing for black lives, of course, or any other lives for that matter. Their goal is the complete dismantling of western society, profaning everything decent and civilised in their wake. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church too, has turned his back on historic Christianity, quoting mostly himself, to embrace the new Eco-Marxism, placing the pagan gods of the nations on an equal footing with the true God, which is idolatry. Francis is a pantheist and one of the leading architects of the Great Reset! I sometimes wonder if Pope Francis has ever read the words of Genesis, where God promised mankind that the world will go on until the day He decides to end it?

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:28

No, clearly not! He ‘d rather hug a tree than feed his flock!

Brown-nosing with elite socialists and fear mongering environmentalists, who worship the creation rather than the Creator, and using the new religion of ‘climate change’ to impose their radical, unscientific, Draconian, and unworkable polices, is it any wonder that the faithful are leaving the Roman See in record numbers? Yep, God has left the Vatican and the so-called ‘descendant’ of St. Peter has donned the robes of the Biblical False Prophet.

Our societies are sex obsessed. No longer do people promote themselves primarily in terms of their worldly achievements; it’s their sexuality that counts most! They define themselves in terms of their homosexuality, bisexuality or pansexuality(does that mean they’d get up on just about anything?). Or how about transsexuality? Normal, heterosexual people, in contrast, have no platform any more. We are the silent (or silenced) vast majority. And you daren’t say the obvious: that every child gets the best start in a stable, loving family, with a mother and a father at the helm. No, that is now deemed hate speech.  How about polyamory? Yep, it’s already happening in Massachusetts City. And what about paedophilia? No, surely not paedophilia! Well, canvass the boys at Netflix to explain this?

Legal bestiality is sure to come next! Approved of by the good citizens of planet Earth.

And there, in a nutshell, is what St. Paul prophesied in Chapter 1 of the Book of Romans.

We’ve well and truly arrived!

Woke social media networks have become nothing more than cesspits of immorality, patrolled by hate-filled cowards hiding behind keyboards. Free speech and common sense are being silenced and those that dare speak out are ‘cancelled’ or fired from their jobs. In short, the Bible expresses this new spirit of lawlessness that is now alive and well in our societies most succinctly:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Of course, I’ve not mentioned the proliferation of false teachers that have infiltrated the Church, the push for cashless societies, the ‘strong delusion’ God has clearly placed on the unbelieving world, a marked increase in persecutions of the saints, wars and rumours of war, pestilences, famines, earthquakes, wild fires and a string of other natural disasters. All these signs are before our eyes, just like Jesus said they would( see Luke 21, Mark 13, Matthew 24 & Revelation 13).

Without a shadow of a doubt;  the Biblical End Times are upon us.

For sure, we cannot know with certainty what time it is on God’s cosmic count-down clock; it could be months, years or even a decade or two, but all Bible believing Christians can clearly see that day is rapidly approaching and indeed, Christ Himself implored us to keep watch and to occupy the time until He comes in flaming vengeance against all the sons and daughters of disobedience.

With world events worsening by the week, it pays to stick closely to the time-honoured truths of the Bible. Reading Scripture is like watching the news headlines as prophecy after prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. There are many versions of the Bible available in the English language but the King James Version is still loved and adored by millions of Christians around the world. The reasons pertain to its majestic prose, unchanged wording, as well as its literal accuracy. And while there are a few modernised versions that stick quite closely to the King James Version(KJV), some readers feel that none of them capture Biblical doctrine quite the same way.

That said, many Christians are turned off by the KJV because it uses archaic words that are no longer spoken in everyday English. And while many of these words can be negotiated, it can make for a difficult read in many places. But what if you had a Bible that uses the original KJV text but only updates those archaic words that make for a smoother read? Enter the King James Version Easy Read or KJVER.

First published by Whitaker House back in 2001, the KJVER has a number of neat features not seen in other English translations. For one thing, both the Old and New Testaments have red lettering! To see what I mean, take a look at this section of Leviticus shown below:

Words spoken by God in the Old Testament of the KJVER are printed in red.

The KJVER updates the text but it does so with a very light touch. This is achieved by replacing words like ‘thee’,  ‘thou,’  and ‘ye’ with ‘you.’  But unlike all other versions where ‘you’ can be  singular or a plural, the KJVER places a small superscripted ‘p’  where the ‘you’ refers to the plural case.  And rather than totally removing all of the archaic words, a great many are maintained but a modern equivalent is listed at the end of the sentence to help the reader more fully understand the text. This greatly helps both in public and private, devotional reading. An illustration will help:

The text of the KJVER only lightly updates the original KJV and offers modern equivalents to old words that are no longer used in everyday parlance.

The reader will also note that the KJVER gives the Hebrew words for God whenever He is mentioned in the Old Testament. In this capacity, it actually enhances the original KJV. Italicised words are also preserved in the KJVER and represent the words that were added by the original committee who compiled the Authorised version. In all about 800 of the most redundant, archaic words are replaced by their modern equivalents. For example instead of saying ” cleave to” in the KJV, the KJVER replaces with “cling to.” As a result, the reader will hardly notice these changes as they read through the text.

As a result of these very modest changes, the KJVER is much closer to the KJV than the NKJV or MEV(both of which are also based on the Textus Receptus). Does it work? I would have to say yes, although I would have personally kept the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ in because they are not a hindrance to understanding Scripture and many readers will quickly come to terms with them. Who is the KJVER for? Those that love the language and cadence of the KJV but have difficulty understanding archaic language. It will make an excellent study text for folks who want to eventually use the KJV as their main Bible.

In summary then, the KJVER should be in the library of anyone who likes Bibles which are based on the Majority(Byzantine) Text. One reading through of this Bible will allow you to more fully engage with the KJV and enjoy it without prompts or footnotes.

In the end though, I urge the faithful, who are not appointed to the wrath to come, to keep holding the Bible as their gold standard, especially in these days when our societies are plunging ever more into depravity and insanity, as we enter the tribulation period. Like the Bible reminds us:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 3:16 KJVER

Thanks for reading!

 

De Fideli.

 

The Opticron Aspheric LE WP 8 x 25 Redux.

The Opticron Aspheric LE WP 8 x 25 pocket binocular and its accessories.

A work commenced October 2 2020

Anyone who has been following my blogs will be aware that I’ve used and discussed many pocket binoculars from every price class. I find them to be charming and useful in equal measure. But after two years of speculation and accumulation, I’ve returned to one model that will remain in my stable; enter the Opticron Aspheric LE WP 8 x 25.

In all, I’ve had experience with no less than three of these units; the older model, used by my wife, which is neither waterproof or fog proof, and two of the updated models which are weather proof. I gave one unit away to my next door neighbour as a gift when I finally acquired the Leica Trinovid BCA 8 x 20. But in a series of recent optical shootouts between my wife’s Opticron and the little Trinovid, I discovered that while the Leica had the edge in terms of optical performance over the latter, it displayed significantly less veiling glare than the Leica! That came as quite a shock to me and the experience weighed heavy on my mind.

Then I acquired a large Leica Trinovid HD 8 x 32, which threw up another issue; this superlative(but expensive) binocular has the best optics I had personally experienced and also displayed exceptional control of veiling glare. Furthermore, because of its small size and light weight, I could use it for all kinds of activities; for casual viewing during my long walks, for birding and even for sweeping the night skies. These circumstances meant that I was no longer using the little 8 x 20 like I had used it in the past and, as I absolutely hate hoarding instruments, I decided to part with it and settle for the much more economical Opticron; the third one.

As I described in a previous blog, the Opticron Aspheric is a really well made pocket binocular, with solid mechanics and very good optics. Furthermore, its larger exit pupil compared with the  8 x 20 makes it much easier to line up with my eyes and its long eye relief(16mm as opposed to just 14mm for the Leica 8 x 20) makes for very comfortable viewing. The field of view of the Opticron is small though – just 5.2 angular degrees( 91m@1000m) but its aspherical ocular lenses ensure great edge-to-edge sharpness that is far more aesthetically pleasing than having a larger field where the sharpness drops off rapidly as one goes off axis. The Opticron produces beautiful vignettes of the creation, just like the smaller than average field of view offered up by my Leica Trinovid HD 8x 32 (at 7 angular degrees). You see, I have personally come to value pristine edge-to-edge performance over chasing ever larger fields of view.

I acquired the Opticron Aspheric LE WP 8x 25 from the Birder’s Store for the princely sum of £95 – reduced from its usual price of ~ £120 – which I think represents exceptional value for money. I wondered why such a nice instrument was going for such a low price. Sadly, I learned that the models had been discontinued as of July 2020. So if you’re looking for a real bargain in pocket binoculars, now would be a good time to acquire one before they’re all gone!

I intend to use the Opticron pocket glass for birdwatching from my kitchen window, sporting events, the occasional trip to the theatre(if they ever open again) and, you know, ‘domestic tomfoolery.’ For all serious excursions though, the larger 8 x 32 will remain my most used, general purpose binocular.

Two classically styled, general purpose binoculars.

 

Thanks for reading!

De Fideli.

Product Review: Viking Optical Ventura 10 x 25 Compact Binocular.

 

The Viking Optical Ventura 10 x 25 Compact Binocular.

A work begun September 25 2020

 

Product: Viking Optical Ventura 10 x 25

Weight: 305g

Chassis: Polycarbonate

Coatings: Fully multi-coated, dielectric and phase coated prisms

Field of view: 6.5 angular degrees(114m @1000m)

Eye Relief: 13mm

Eye cups: Twist up

Close focus: 4m

Tripod compatible: Yes

Waterproof: Yes

Nitrogen Purged: Yes; 1 metre for 5 mins.

Warranty: 10 years

Dimensions: 11 x 11.5 cm

Supplied Accessories: Carry case, neck strap, lens caps

Retail Price: £120-145 UK

 

Viking Optical is a UK-based company that has recently brought a good range of their own branded binoculars to market. In past blogs, I have favourably reviewed two of their models, the Viking Kestrel ED 8 x 42 and Merlin ED 8 x 32, which offer excellent value for money, with their very good optics and mechanics. Having developed rather a soft-spot for pocket binoculars in general, I was curious to find out how their smaller glasses would fare, and so I ordered up Viking’s Ventura 10 x 25 for evaluation. What follows is arguably the first review of this model I have seen on the internet.

The Ventura pocket binocular arrived in perfect nick, double-boxed and containing all the promised accessories, which included the 10 x 25 binocular, a soft neoprene pouch, ocular and objective lens caps and a high quality neck strap. First impressions were very good. The instrument felt nice and solid in my hands, with a tough, texturized rubber armouring which is beautifully finished. The metal focuser moved smoothly, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, with no discernible backlash. The twist-up eye cups are of high quality and slide upwards rather than clicking into place. Both cups are overlaid with soft rubber making viewing through them quite comfortable. The right eye dioptre, located just under the ocular lens proved to be very rigid –  a bit too rigid for my liking to be completely honest  – and my first impressions of the optical performance showed that it delivered nice, sharp, bright images, with a large field of view.

The Viking Optical Ventura 10x 25 showing the fully multi-coated ocular lenses.

Tests for light leaks, internal reflections etc

Setting my iphone torch at its brightest setting, I directed the little Ventura binocular into the intensely bright light beam and examined the images generated. I was relieved to get a very good result – there was a few, minor internal reflections and a modest diffraction spike, but overall the image was very clean and free from diffusion, indicative of the use of high-quality glass components. Overall, it was a notch down from my superlative Leica Trinovid  8 x 32 in this regard, but I was very happy with the result, especially given its moderate price tag. Testing on a bright sodium street light after dark showed very little in the way of internal reflections. This will be a good binocular for observing lit-up scenes in towns, cities or habours, as well as for Moon gazing.

The objective lenses have good anti-reflection coatings but are not very deeply recessed.

Impressions in the bright daylight conditions

I was quite surprised by the size of the field of view on this instrument, especially given its 10x magnification. 6.5 degrees is very wide and indeed, it is larger than the 6.3 degree field offered up by the 8x model. My previous experiences with binoculars delivering impressively wide fields taught me to be cautious about expecting excellent edge-to-edge field performance from a mid-priced model like this. And my tests confirmed by suspicions. Though the binocular has quite a large sweet spot, the image softens noticeably as one moves beyond about 60 per cent of the way from the centre. Indeed the outer 15 per cent or so was very blurred indeed. And while I could correct for much of this edge of field blurring by refocusing, it left the centre of the field out of focus. Testing under the stars showed that it displays quite strong coma, and a touch of barrel distortion near the field stop, with bright stars like Vega transforming from tiny pinpoints in the centre of the field into prominent ‘seagulls’ at the edge. Depth of field too is noticeably shallower than in a high quality 8 x 25 binocular I used as a control in side by side tests. The image is very sharp and bright provided one stays within the sweet spot, so potential buyers should bear this in mind. The binocular displays excellent control of chromatic aberration even though it does not have extra low dispersion glass elements.

The underside of the binocular.

The most annoying result I found with this binocular was its very strong veiling glare. Observing in the open air, under a bright, overcast sky manifested this very strongly indeed. It also shows up when one observes the tops of trees or a hill under a bright background sky. This can be somewhat ameliorated by shading with an outstretched hand but I still couldn’t eliminate all of it. The images were much better if I observed under the shade of a tree or under a roof where the bright overhead sky is blocked off. The effect is also not seen while observing under the shade of forest trees.

Strong veiling glare like this results from the objectives not been deeply recessed enough from the end of the barrel but also from ineffective buffering of reflected light off  the lens edges or the space between the lenses. Compared to an Opticron Aspheric LE 8 x 25, which has objectives that are about as deeply recessed as the Viking Ventura, the latter proved to have much stronger veiling glare. This is a problem Viking should look to improve in the future.

The ergonomics of the Ventura binocular are excellent as pocket glasses go. Its long barrels and short central bridge allows one to wrap one’s fingers around the instrument to achieve a very steady viewing posture. Remarkably, the focus wheel requires nearly three full revolutions to go from one focus extreme to the other! It’s quoted close focus of 4 metres is a gross over estimate though, at least on the unit I tested. I measured the 10 x 25 Ventura’s close focus to be more like 2.5 metres.

As stated earlier, the binocular comes with an exceptionally high quality neck strap which is well padded, and, owing to its quick-release clips, can be easily removed. Ditto the soft neoprene case that fits the instrument snugly, even with the strap attached.

The exceptional quality neck strap that accompanies the Viking Ventura 10 x 25.

Conclusions

I have mixed feelings about this binocular. While its mechanical and ergonomic virtues are clearly in evidence, I felt it under-achieved optically. This is especially the case since I have tested similarly priced instruments with better optical performance than the Ventura pocket glass. The designers could have sacrificed some field size for better field correction and this would not have been missed on a binocular this small. 6.5 degrees is relatively enormous for a 10 x 25 glass anyway. The instrument could also benefit from supressing veiling glare more strongly. Personally, I could live with the inferior edge of field performance if the veiling glare issue were better addressed, since its centre of field performance is quite excellent. Together though, these defects represent a deal breaker for me. I do hope that the 8 x 25  Ventura shows less issues than the 10x!

The Viking Optical Ventura 10 x 25 comes with a snugly fitting soft neoprene pouch for easy storage and transport.

 

Neil English hopes to review many more binoculars in the future in order to build a decent portfolio for a forthcoming book. Thanks for reading.

 

 

De Fideli.

Battle o’ the Specula: the Martian Opposition of 2020!

Octavius(laevo) et Duodecim.

A work begun September 18 2020.

As I have explained in previous blogs, I am a Newtonian convert, after spending more than a decade promoting small aperture and way over priced refractors. It was in January 2015 that I finally set out on a journey of transformation that gradually convinced me that for serious amateur astronomy, where high resolution targets were concerned, Newtonian reflectors offered much greater bang for buck. Indeed, a humble SkyWatcher 8″ f/6 Dobsonian costing less than £300 completely out-performed state of the art refractors costing £1500 and upwards I had used in the 5 and 6-inch aperture range. After I had convinced myself of the truth of this revelation, I began to communicate my ideas in a series of observation reports, much to the chagrin of the “refractor nuts” who I believed(and still believe) had deluded themselves for years and decades. Furthermore, I stated that one of the principal reasons for the popularity of refractors in the amateur community pertained to their lack of maintenance, as well as their rapid acclimation owing to their small apertures. Furthermore, I attributed the decline of the Newtonian reflector, at least in part, to an unwillingness of amateurs to learn how to properly collimate and acclimate their telescopes. Blinded by the instant gratification of small, unobstructed apertures, they foolishly forsake the feral but oh so sweet charms of a well-tuned Newtonian. Had they learned how to adequately set up their Newts, they would not have joined the rat race, as I once did, to buy ever larger and unwieldy instruments that unnecessarily drain amateurs of resources. To my mind, as an observer who chooses horses for courses, refractors are beginner telescopes that really lack the aperture needed to see the creation in all its detail…. warts an’ all.

Over a period of time, I embarked on a number of projects that first improved the performance of the 8-inch(Octavius) and my smaller ‘grab ‘n’ go’ instrument; a 5.1 inch(a.k.a. Plotina) f/5 reflector, which included buying in higher quality optical flats and treating the mirrors to the highest quality coatings money could buy(but still very economical in the scheme of things) as well as learning the art of precise collimation and acclimation. I also studied the problem of tube currents and how insulating the tubes greatly reduced these problems. These telescopes gave me a great deal of pleasure in pursuing the entire panoply of astronomical targets, and in my specialist area of double star observing, their fine, sharp and colour-pure images were nothing short of revelatory! And once I began exploring the long and rich history of the Newtonian reflector in the hands of highly skilled observers, I discovered that my sentiments toward these wonderful telescopes were shared by many of them. You can explore a lot of these stories in my large historical work, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy. Failing that, take a long, hard look at the hundreds (thousands?) of testimonies about Newtonian reflectors in this ongoing blog.

In the summer of 2017, I added an even larger Newtonian telescope to my arsenal, a Revelation-branded 12″ f/5 Newtonian reflector (Duodecim). The instrument was outfitted with a GSO primary and secondary mirror. My star testing of the instrument showed that the optics were very good indeed, especially when one considers the very modest price I paid for it second hand( ~£400 as I recall) and I enjoyed many evenings of double star and deep sky observing with it. I did not elect to upgrade the 70mm secondary of this telescope unlike my smaller instruments, but only to treat both mirrors to the same state-of-the art coatings I had also applied to my other reflectors.

Despite owning this large 12 inch instrument for over three years now, I have never subjected it to serious testing on planets. This was not due to any lack of enthusiasm on my part, but simply reflected the fact that visually interesting worlds like Jupiter, Saturn and Mars were not favourably placed at my observing location to warrant any serious study of them. They were simply too low in my local skies and obstructed by trees to give the telescope a fair chance of showing off its powers. But all that changed in the autumn of 2020, when the planet Mars presented itself as a bright, morning object, rising to very decent altitudes in my sky to finally enable me to assess its performance in this regard.

So, in this blog, I wish to offer my opinions on how well it performs on the Red Planet in comparison to my smaller, but optically excellent, 8-inch reflector. The results were a long time in coming, that’s for sure, but I now have reached a very clear and unambiguous conclusion. To find out the details, read on.

Octavius (left) and Duodecim(right) looking southeast-ward at Mars.

Beginning my observations at the end of the first week in September, by God’s grace I was treated to a long spell of settled weather, which still persists to this day (September 18). I usually began my observations starting at around 23:45 UT and ended them about an hour later at 00:45 UT(add an hour for BST) by which time the planet had attained a very decent height above my south-eastern horizon but still someway from its highest altitude when it culminates in the south.

Both instruments are mounted on simple, non-motorised, lazy-Suzan Dob mounts and were fully acclimated and precisely collimated prior to making any planetary observation. The reader will also note that I do not employ any active cooling(electric fans) on either instrument, in keeping with my desire to preserve my style of observing, which is ostensibly low-tech, and in keeping with the methods employed by my astronomical forebears.

Optimal Magnifications Employed

I employed a good but very simple Orion 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece coupled to Barlow lenses on both instruments. The Plossl is a superb planetary ocular, owing to its technological refinement over more than a century, its small number of glass elements, and though eye relief is tight, it is considerably improved by adding a Barlow lens, which makes the viewing more comfortable and immersive!. In my testing, conducted over several nights, I gravitated toward an optimal power of 192x for the 8″ f/6 instrument and 244x on the 12″ f/5 instrument. These powers were obtained by coupling the 10mm Plossl to a 1.6x Barlow in both instruments. The reader will note however that by employing a 2x Barlow with the same eyepiece, I was also able to get very satisfactory results with the higher powers it delivered(240x and 310x for the 8- and 12-inch, respectively). A common mistake made by novice observers is to try to coax very high powers on planets to obtain a greater disk enlargement but I have found by experimentation that finer details are often gleaned by backing down the power a bit so that image sharpness is optimised over apparent disk size.

As well as observing the planets as presented by the Plossl and Barlow combination, I also studied the contrast enhancing effects of several colour filters, which included simple, inexpensive Wrattens, but also a number of interference-based filters marketed by Baader Planetarium and Tele Vue. In the next section, I will outline the results I obtained.

Results: The telescopes were set up next to each other and experienced nights of good seeing (Antoniadi II or less) as well as average seeing( Ant III) during  the wee hours of the morning. The image in the 8-inch was very bright, but the 12-inch presented intensely bright images with its attendant  diffraction spikes. That said, after a few minutes, one’s eye adjusts and more details pop out of the image. Both telescopes showed impressive levels of detail; a small south polar ice cap, a more extensive northern ice cap, very distinctly resolved darker areas and limb mist. At a glance, the 12-inch reflector showed more detail regardless of whether the conditions were above average or just average. A feature merely hinted at in the 8-inch was unambiguously discerned in the larger, 12-inch instrument. The 8 inch reflector showed less atmospheric turbulence than the 12-inch but the increase in turbulence was less than I had anticipated. I concluded that the 12-inch could be used productively as a powerful planetary telescope, which came as a great relief to me.

A variety of filters were employed to assess their contrast enhancing effects. An orange Wratten #21 proved especially good for bringing out surface details and proved equally good on both instruments. A Baader green long pass filter also proved very effective, especially in the 12-inch, showing up surface details complementary to green. The Tele Vue Bandmate Planetary filter was also excellent in both telescopes. For enhancing atmospheric phenomena, a blue Wratten # 38 A really enhanced morning limb mist. For a minimalist effect though, I tried the Baader single polarising filter, which did an excellent job increasing contrast and reducing telescopic glare without imparting any colour shift. I intend to use the single polariser in routine work on this planet as it approaches its mid-October opposition and beyond.

To get an idea of the kind of detail I could discern through the 12-inch, have a look at some sketches shown here and here, made by experienced UK-based observers employing 12-inch reflecting telescopes during the current Martian apparition.

Conclusions: Some UK-based observers in the modern era have claimed that a 12-inch is too large to use productively as a planetary instrument but I must respectfully disagree with that conclusion. Under the conditions in which I routinely observe the 12-inch proved the superior instrument. So aperture wins, though the 8-inch reflector is much easier to use because it has very smooth motions in both azimuth and altitude axes. My 12-inch Dob base moves far less smoothly but the results convinced me that I should improve its azimuth bearings or acquire a better quality base for the telescope. Such a modification will go some way to increasing both the efficacy and enjoyability of this large instrument. Suffice it to say that I am very much looking forward to observing Jupiter and Saturn at higher altitudes with my 12-inch over the coming years, God willing.

 

 

Neil English is the author of several books in amateur and professional astronomy. He is currently writing a book on how to improve the performance of budget Newtonian reflectors of various sizes, which is due out in 2021. Thanks for reading.

 

 

De Fideli.