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25x100 Monk Leviathan Review by David Gilbert Google Translate to:
Review by Neil Bone

20x and 40x Astronomy binoculars - complete with tripodThe 25x100 Monk Leviathan binoculars

Monk Leviathan 25 x 100 binocular review:
By David Gilburt.

These binoculars were purchased in 2007 direct from Monk Optics. I was looking for an instrument that would give me high quality views of star fields using both my eyes, instead of the more usual one-eyed view provided by a telescope. Having read the excellent review by Neil Bone, I had the impression that I had perhaps found what I wanted.

Philip Monk very kindly offered to bring the binoculars personally to my house so that I could try them out before committing myself to them. I thought that this was very considerate and gave me confidence even before seeing the instrument.

From the very start, these binoculars did not disappoint me. The mount, tripod and binocular are all made to a very high standard of workmanship. The binoculars are heavy because of all the glass optics which are housed within a strong metal casing, but not too heavy to lift on to the mount. The eyepieces slide snugly into their focusers and are aligned to an engraved red dot so that collimation is set correctly. The mount has large metal slow motion control knobs that make fine movements up/down or left/right a pleasure even in cold weather. It takes only minutes to set everything up and the binoculars are held rock-steady on the sturdy mount and tripod.

Eye relief is just right, especially since I need to wear glasses for astigmatism, I find that as my glasses just touch the20x and 40x Astronomy binoculars - complete with tripod eyepieces I can see the whole field of view. This also applies to the x40 eyepieces which I bought as well. Image quality is superb.

One night, I had an 80mm f/6 apochromatic refractor set up with a Televue 35mm Panoptic eyepiece at the same time as the Leviathan binoculars. Sky transparency was poor and light pollution was quite bad. This gave me the chance to do a side by side comparison of optics. I chose to observe an area within Cygnus near the bright star Sadr, where the star cluster M29 resides. The view through the refractor showed nice, pin-point stars but the sky background was not dark enough so that M29 was hardly apparent.

It all looked two-dimensional and flat as you would expect from a telescope. When I switched to the Leviathan binoculars, they presented me with a breathtaking view. Although the refractor was giving me a 5 degree field of view and the Leviathan binoculars deliver a 2.5 degree field of view at x25 magnification, altazimuth mountnevertheless the apparent field is still expansive and seems wider because two eyes are effectively observing through twin 100mm objectives. Stars looked three dimensional in space and gave the impression of looking out of the port-hole of a spaceship. I felt I could reach out and touch the stars. The sky background was much darker than through the refractor and took on a velvety black appearance. Also, star colours were much easier to perceive and M29 was very evident.

On a night earlier in the year I observed a gibbous moon with the Leviathan binoculars set up with their x40 eyepieces in place of the standard x25 pair of eyepieces. There was very little evidence of any chromatic aberration. The moon was bright and silvery and because of the excellent baffling of optics and the generously deep shielding at the front end, I could detect no signs of "ghosting" in the image. No reflections and spurious light gets in the way of the light path, which is therefore untroubled and pure. Lunar features were thrown into striking relief by the fine optics that deliver a high degree of contrast. Crater edges were thus sharply defined and many tiny craterlets could be seen inside several large craters.

On this particular night, there was an occultation of Saturn with the moon which I did not realise! I had left the20x and 40x Astronomy binoculars - complete with tripod equipment to go inside and make a cup of tea. When I returned to the lunar view some minutes later, I gasped as I saw Saturn emerging from behind the moon! At x40 magnification, the binoculars revealed with great clarity, the gap between the planet and its rings and I could even make out the Cassini division. I could also easily detect two of Saturn's moons which were visible in spite of the brightness of the moon. What a glorious sight it was to have the moon and Saturn and its own moons all in the same field of view. Much more lunar detail is seen at x40 than at x25, proving that there is no sign of "empty magnification" and further proving the very high quality of these optics.

Star fields are truly beautiful when seen through the x25 eyepieces. Stars appear sharp across most of the field only losing some sharpness close to the edge of the field, but the overall impression is one of a satisfying flat, even field. Stars can be focussed to pin-points of light.

Impressions from a dark observing site:

After a day of heavy rain, the sky cleared in the evening and resulted in one of those rare nights when sky transparency is superb and without the moon, visual limiting magnitude was close to 6.0 at the zenith. The Leviathans were put to the test in a dark, light pollution-free observing site. The famous double star cluster in Perseus was truly magnificent at x25. The two bright clusters were each filled with stars that seemed to 20x and 40x Astronomy binoculars - complete with tripodhave depth as though three dimensional, with some stars seeming to be in front of others!

Each cluster was scintillating and jewel-like and it was hard to take my eyes away from the binocular view as the image was so arrestingly beautiful. This was the best view I have ever had of this star cluster. I even had a queue of amateur astronomers lining up to take a peek at the view through such a big pair of binoculars as they were observing with only telescopes. A lot of very favourable comments were passed my way about how well these binoculars performed.

Next, I slewed to the Andromeda galaxy. The field of view was filled with its ghostly and wispy spiral arms with the central core shining brightly. The smaller companion galaxy, M110 was also easy to make out just above the main galaxy.

After this, I went over to the wild duck star cluster, M11 in Scutum. What a glorious sight! With averted vision, I could clearly see thousands of tiny pin-prick stars tightly bunched together making this object look similar to a fine globular cluster. In Sagittarius, the Lagoon nebula, M8 and the Trifid nebula both showed themselves off superbly. Contrast was excellent with bright stars shining from within glowing tenuous nebulosity set against a rich velvety black sky background.

In summary, I have been delighted with these binoculars at both x25 and x40 magnification. I find them eminently suited to astronomical use. Sweeping the Milky Way for rich star fields in which the giant field of view is filled with bright and dim stars gives one that "salt and pepper" effect that you don't notice with ordinary 10 x 50 binoculars. I can't wait to see the Great Orion nebula in the winter with these binoculars and I just know that the view will be awesome. Well done indeed to Monk Optics!


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