This Celestron 8 x 56mm SkyMaster DX has a wide 5.8° field and a very bright 7mm exit pupil. These virtues make it ideal for serious wide field astronomical viewing. You can sweep the star clouds of Sagittarius, search out the Great Galaxy M31 in Andromeda and the Pinwheel Galaxy M33 in Triangulum, and revel in globular clusters like M13 and M22. The SkyMaster DX uses high light transmission BaK-4 prisms and fully multicoated optics for bright images of faint deep space objects, particularly from a truly dark sky observing site. While it offers quite nice astronomical viewing on its own, it also makes a good wide-field observing complement to the narrower field of a telescope.
The optical performance is surprisingly good, particularly in view of its large aperture and very sensible price. The optics are fully multicoated on all air-to-glass surfaces for high light transmission. The field of view is respectably flat. Astigmatism, distortion, and chromatic aberration at the edges of the field are well controlled. This makes for clean and expansive views of open clusters like the Beehive and the Wild Duck, with point-like stars to the edges of the field, as well as fascinating sights like the Double Cluster in Perseus.
At 38 ounces, the SkyMaster DX is rather heavy. We recommend using it on a camera tripod for the sharpest images, as few people will have the wrist strength needed to hold it steady for extended hand-held use. A 1/4”-20 thread mounting hole for an optional photo tripod adapter (#1185) is built into the SkyMaster’s center hinge, hidden under the removable Celestron logo.
The body is armored in black rubber for a comfortable grip and added protection against unexpected bumps and thumps. Because it is O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged to be waterproof and internally fogproof, there’s no need to worry about putting the binocular down in dew-soaked grass or letting dew bead up on it during an evening’s observing session. The large ribbed rubber focusing wheel is easy to adjust, even when wearing gloves. P>Eye relief is specified at a very long 18mm. Unlike many binoculars, whose actual eye relief typically measures less than that specified, the SkyMaster DX truly has a full 18mm of usable eye relief. It’s a refreshing change from the overly optimistic figures quoted by many manufacturers. Rubber-rimmed twist-up eyecups shield the unaided eye from stray light when up, and cushion eyeglass lenses when down.
One and a third turns of the large focus knob moves from a not-so-close 25’ near focus out to the far reaches of the Universe. With a 25’ close focus, this center-focusing Z-body SkyMaster DX is obviously not designed for close-in nature study. That said, its very bright images and good resolution will do a creditable job of revealing small details from what would normally be considered an excessively distant vantage point. It is a good choice for long distance terrestrial viewing under low light conditions. The 8 x 56mm is excellent for revealing underwing field markings of raptors in flight, for observing deer feeding in distant meadows early in the morning, or any other twilight birding or nature study activity where close focus is not required – but bright images are essential. Nesting eagles or ducks across a lake at dusk are prime candidates for this big binocular.
As a first serious astronomical observing tool, as a long distance nature study instrument, or as a highly useful companion to take into the field with your telescope at night, the Celestron 8 x 56mm SkyMaster DX is a very worthwhile balance of performance versus price. The SkyMaster DX comes with a wide and comfortable woven neck strap, a soft vinyl case, an eyepiece rainguard, and objective lens covers.