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Comet King?

Started by yahganlang, 08/25/2005 04:33PM
Posted 08/25/2005 04:33PM Opening Post
Hi. I just purchased a 20 year old pair of 20x80 Comet King binoculars, and want to know more about them- there is essentially nothing on the WWW, and only a small handful of references here.

Apparently they were made for University Optics- does anyone know for how long they were manufactured? The views are just incredible with these, with crisp pinpoint stars over better than 90% of the field (things get fuzzy only on the very edges between my eyes, and I wonder whether that has more to do with the prisms than with the lenses). I had been thinking of reselling but not now.

Anyone have any good info on this brand? Thanks.

Jess Tauber
Posted 08/25/2005 05:21PM | Edited 08/25/2005 05:23PM #1
I thumbed through my old S&T collection...

Appears the Comet King was introduced in early 1976 and was apparently gone from the UO line by 1979 if not sooner (no mention of them in my '79 issues; my collection includes no issues from '77 or '78). According to the UO ad, the Comet King was waterproof and cost a healthy chunk o' change -- a whopping $795, back then. The photo in the ad was quite small and unclear, leaving little or no impression as to the Comet King's looks & construction. No mention of BK7 or BaK4, so I might assume BK7. In this application -- high-power large-aperture binoculars with moderate-field eyepieces -- BK7 might be the better choice, so long as the prisms aren't undersized. (I'm guessing they're not undersized.) The edge-of-field aberration you're seeing is likely either eyepiece astigmatism or field curvature (overwhelming the astigmatism). If field curvature is dominant, you should be able to obtain a "best focus" for both the center field and the edge (i.e. two different focus positions).

I'm guessing they're unit-body ("Bausch & Lomb" or "American" style -- one-piece objective barrels and prism housings). I'm also guessing they utilize individual eyepiece focus (not a center-focus knob & bridge).

Based on both the fact that they were advertised as waterproof and the fact that their price was very high, they may very well be "military-spec."

Can you locate a manufacturer code? -- Check around the front end of the center hinge, on either side of the tripod-socket cap. You should see a "B" or "J-B" with 3 or 4 numbers to its right. The code may also be located on the hinge itself.

They sound excellent. Congrats!
Posted 09/01/2005 06:43PM #2
Another pair of these went by on e**y today, and I was going to get that pair for my brother ($60 shipped!), but my computer screwed up. Damme!

But at least the sky cleared up brilliantly after the storm (from Katrina?) passed by last night- water everywhere here in New Jersey but not a cloud left in the sky. Found a quiet unlit spot a couple of miles away and just spent the hours looking through the Milky Way, star cluster, etc. Orion came up before dawn. At home that whole part of the sky is blocked by woods, so it was an eye-opener.

M31 was much brighter than usual, and I was able to see some other galaxies (not the normal case) overhead, though still rather dimly, mostly with averted vision.

The double cluster was fantastic- as nice as in my 8-inch reflector. Cygnus was almost over the mountains in the West before everything cleared up- it probably would have been nice.

This pair of binoculars is so nice that, if it weren't so damned heavy, I'd hang em from my hat! So I'm building a parallelogram mount for them- got me a nice tripod that extends to over seven feet, heavy duty construction.

I was really looking forward to the other pair- when visiting my brother we could have used them as counterweights against each other on the p-mount.

As dawn loomed I went home- but rather than call it a *day* I grabbed my ancient Tasco 60mm to watch Mars until it too sailed over the treetops into obscurity. Some of the local neighbors wondered what I could be looking at in the now blue sky and were amazed at being able to see the planet at all- totally invisible without the scope.

All in all a great night. I'm just sorry that its likely provider has also caused so much heartache along the Gulf.

Jess Tauber