If you’re in the market for a new pair of binoculars for Astronomy, then chances are you have come across the Celestron SkyMaster 12×60’s. What will these binoculars provide, are they worth the cost, what are the pros and cons? That is what this buyers guide will help you to discover. Hopefully, by the end you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to whether or they are for you.
When it comes to Astronomy, binoculars can provide breathtaking views of the sky. They’re also more affordable, easier to use and do not require any complicated set up like you find with a Telescope.
If you have a limited budget, the majority of astronomers (including myself) will highly recommend that you opt for a good pair of binoculars rather than a cheap and poor-quality telescope for the same price. This is especially true as a beginner.
The major perks of binoculars is that you do not need to necessarily invest in a mount, tripod or interchangeable eyepieces. Plus, premium pairs, like these ones, can be purchased a lot more cheaply.
Let us know turn the SkyMaster 12×60 model so you can better understand what they are and what they will enable you to see.
Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 Review
Celestron’s SkyMaster 12×60 binoculars are a brilliant choice whether you are looking for a pair of binoculars for Astronomical or Terrestrial viewing.
Outside from the self-evident fact that telescopes (and even larger binoculars) normally will require a tripod, binoculars typically will show a clearer image as you can use both of your eyes at the very same time. The result is that you will see images in 3D (and not inverted like you tend to get with a telescope). By default, binoculars have a better light gathering ability than telescopes, and it has been calculated to be as much as 30% higher (with all other remaining things remaining constant).
The SkyMaster 12x60s have been designed with BAK-4 prisms and the Lens Optical Coatings are fully multi-coated, which exceptional for binoculars in this price bracket.
Binoculars with this specification, generally equate to a 4″ Aperture Telescope. However, due to their more limited magnification (12x), they will not be able to provide you with advanced detail views of galaxies, star clusters, or certain planets. Binoculars with this specification will give the best views for the Moon, open and larger star clusters and the biggest Nebulae (like the Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion Nebula). If you are looking for a pair of binoculars that can provide you with this kind of power, then check out the a pair of 20x80s.
As for some examples of what you will be able to see with them, my 12x60s have enabled me to observe the dark nebulae in Cygnus and the dust lane of M31. These are in fact very difficult to identify when using a cheaper and smaller telescope.
Onto the planets you will be able to observe the rings of Saturn, Jupiters Moons and Venuses phases.
Just like any pair of economically priced binoculars, there is the small chance that when you purchase them they are miscollimated. In other words, when you look through them a double image appears. One of the major benefits of purchasing Celestron binoculars is that this brand has stellar (no pun intended) customer service. With no questions asked your warranty will cover this and they will help you to rectify the problem.
Another thing to consider is that there will be some chromatic aberration when you try to observe the brightest stars, the moon and some of the planets. The good thing however is this does not ruin the viewing experience in any way.
The major benefit of the 12×60 SkyMasters is that they are a lot smaller and weigh a lot less than other models in the series. They weigh only 2.4 pounds which means you should be able to hold and observe with them for extended periods of time. You’ll likely not need to lean or worry about them shaking. This is unlike the higher powered and more expensive binoculars, (like the 20x80s) which will really need a Tripod/Mount. Nonetheless, if you did want to use the 12x60s on a Tripod then you can as they are fully Tripod Adaptable.
Its great that the Optics are fully multi-coated and the BAK4 glass which ensure sharp and crisp views (they are able to gather an impressive amount of light which means better contrast and resolution). Open clusters for example, look fantastic when observed through these binoculars. They can also be used in low light conditions with great effect.
The use of Porro Prism and 12x magnification BAK4 glass also enable you to use them to observe terrestrial objects (views of earth and the happenings around us). They are great for observing nature and due to their portability are great for taking hiking. If you are not quite sure what Porro Prisms are and why they are preferable, it is because the eyepieces are close together compared to the objective lenses which are further apart. This means that by using prisms, the binoculars can provide you with greater magnification without increasing the size of the binoculars and keeping the weight down.
The 17mm eye relief is another benefit which is particularly useful if you wear glasses. This will allow you to get a good field of view irrespective of whether you are wearing your glasses when viewing or not. It basically means you can use them with more space in between your eyes and the binocular eyepiece cups.
For most glasses, you would need around 15mm space to ensure the best comfort. However, the 12x60s come with up to 17mm giving you plenty of extra room.
The framework also comes in a rubber coating making them easier to handle and not drop, and also providing the added benefit of making them waterproof.
All in all, these are a fantastic entry-level pair of binoculars to the world of astronomy, and trump the cheaper telescopes due to their portability and ease of use.
Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binoculars
- Great Value – Under $80 and usually on discount on Amazon
- Light and Portable – Easy to Hold Steady & Fits in a Backpack
- Easy to Use – No Setup
- Fully Multi-Coated Optics
- Range of Additional Accessories
- Lifetime Warranty
- Small chance they can come miscollimated
- Neck strap considered narrow
If you are looking for my verdict, here it is: get yourself a pair of these binoculars. These are great binoculars, with great specification and a solid design for a very reasonable and respectable price. You can get them for under $80 on Amazon and they are usually on offer! The components used in these binoculars typically cost 3×4 the price when purchased from other brands and models so they’re a great investment.
If you are looking for a pair of Astronomical Binoculars, that you can also use interchangeably with land viewing, and you have a budget, the Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 Binoculars are going to be one of the best options for you.
I have a pair of SkyMaster 12x60s that I still use from time to time; they’re great when travelling because they are so light and you can take them with you in a backpack. If that’s not a reason to buy these then I don’t know what is!