Astronomy With Barska 15x70 Binoculars
On this page I review my pair of 15x70 Barska binoculars. They are my
mainstay binoculars for astronomical viewing. I'm always amazed by what I
can see with 70mm lenses.
If you want to know more, read on.
I purchased my Barska 15x70 binoculars as an impulse when I saw them advertised in a catalog. The price seemed pretty incredible at something like $60.
To be cautious, I checked out Barska on the web, and other than the fact that they made low priced binoculars, I didn't find anything terribly incriminating about them.
Troubles in Paradise
So -- I bit.
When I got the binoculars I couldn't wait to look through them. Like my old 7x50s, they made objects that are relatively nearby have a very pronounced 3-D look because of the wide lens spread.
They also gave crisp images. Well, almost. The right barrel gave super images, the left just wouldn't come to a crisp focus.
I went out at night a few times to test them on some of my favorite star objects. Again, if I closed my left eye I was presented with incredible high-populated star fields in crisp focus. When I looked through both eyes, the image wasn't as good, caused by the poor focus of the left barrel.
I set them aside, rather deflated. It was a major disappointment to have something that was almost great, but fell short. I lost interest.
A few times I got them out again to view a comet or two, and eventually
realized that they were poorly aligned. That really disappointed me. Then I
began to wonder, could the alignment be behind the focus problem?
Browsing the web, I ran across a review
site where another person had the same alignment issue. He gave some
instructions on how to fix the problem. Following his advice, I was able to get
the alignment straightened out.
Unfortunately, alignment did nothing to fix the problem of poor focus in the
Examining the Barska web site I discovered a contact number. Calling it I found that for a small fee, I could send the binoculars back and have them either fixed or replaced.
I sent them in, and a few weeks later received a new pair. I couldn't complain about that.
On the new pair, both barrels focused properly. That was the good news.
The bad news is that this pair was also poorly aligned. But now I knew the
solution to that problem. I went through the alignment procedure again, and now
I have a great pair of binoculars for astronomy. A couple of comets later I can
say I'm quite happy with the result. The ghostly comet 17P/Holmes was easily
The binoculars, for their size, are remarkably light. Even so, as I
discussed in my binocular tutorial,
the higher magnification of the Barskas (15x) makes them difficult to hand
hold. I have to lean my arms against something when stargazing to see
comfortably, and even that type of support makes viewing marginal.
I did make the simple L bracket for my tripod as shown in the
binocular tutorial, and that helps significantly. It isn't that useful,
however, when the object I want to watch is nearly straight up. I guess a lawn
chair would be the best solution for that dilemma.
A Better Solution
For some time I considered making a parallelogram mount for these
binoculars. Then I ran across these excellent Binocular Mirror Plans.
I followed the plans and ordered the recommended mirror and ended up with
the handy unit shown above.
I mount the base on my camera tripod, but sitting in on a table would
work well also.
In use, the comfortable viewing angle of the binoculars never changes.
To move in azimuth, rotate the base. To move in elevation, change the tilt
of the mirror.
This mount works especially well with higher magnification binoculars, but
also gives convenient access to high elevation objects with any binoculars.
You can get a fine commercial version of this mount at Sky Window.