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By Jamie Carter published 17 April 22
They are a specialist purchase, but these low magnification constellation binoculars can give you a uniquely involving a view of the night sky using an optical design invented by Galileo Galilei in the 17th century.
When you were a kid did you ever wish you had x-ray vision? Well, you're not going to get that from the Vixen SG 2.1x42 binoculars, but what this pocket-sized product does is instantly extend the power and reach of your own eyesight.
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They offer just 2.1x magnification, which is a paltry figure when compared to almost any other pair of binoculars. So why do we love the Vixen SG 2.1x42 so much? For stargazing. Hold them up to your eyes and you'll instantly be treated to the view of the night sky that you have never seen before.
Ever had that ‘wow!’ moment when under a properly dark sky full of stars? The Vixen SG 2.1x42 gives you a similar moment under any kind of night sky simply by allowing you to instantly see deeper into it without losing context.
They’re called constellation binoculars because you're not going to get an amazing close-up of the Moon, the Andromeda Galaxy or the Pleiades star cluster. Instead, you'll get to know the night sky simply by being more immersed within it. They may be a specialist purchase, but the Vixen SG 2.1x42 are also among the best wide-angle constellation binoculars money can buy.
Magnification: 2.1x Objective diameter: 42mm Field of view at 1000m: 437.5 metres Closest focusing distance: 2 metres/6.5 feet Eye relief: 8.4mm/0.33” Weight: 410g/14.5oz Dimensions: 1.8x5x0.7-inch/46x128x54mm
You might hear the Vixen SG 2.1x42 being given the monikers ‘constellation’ or ‘super-wide’ binoculars. That's because they offer a mere 2.1x magnification. However, they come with the same 42mm objective lenses that you find on many stargazing-centric binoculars, essentially because that's the size of lens that can let enough light in when it’s dark. The Vixen SG 2.1x42 binoculars give you a field of view that stretches to a whopping 25°.
Although they may be small, the Vixen SG 2.1x42 are not particularly light. In fact, their 410g/14.5oz weight is rather alarming at first. It's down to a metallic chassis and bridge, which is of excellent quality.
Japanese-made, the Vixen SG 2.1x42 comes with an equally impressive soft carry case, which has a belt loop on its back. They also ship with a handy neck strap, which unlike on most binoculars, attaches to one eyelet on the side of one barrel. After all, with binoculars this small there’s really no need for a proper heavy duty neck strap.
The Vixen SG 2.1x42 is all about giving you an astounding wide-angle view of the night sky. That makes them very different to your average astronomy-centric binoculars, almost all of which are dedicated to giving you a better close-up view of objects like star clusters, galaxies, nebulae and the Moon.
You won’t get any of that from the Vixen SG 2.1x42. Instead what you get is an instant extension to your eyes’ limiting magnitude, instantly allowing you to see faint stars that your eyes would otherwise not see.
That’s no different to any pair of binoculars, but when you get that extra ability within a wide angle view of the night sky it’s more affecting. Essentially what you get is a better perspective on the night sky and its constellations.
The image of the night sky produced by the Vixen SG 2.1x42 is always bright. It’s thus hugely helpful when you're trying to pick out the various constellations in the night sky, something you should do if you want to truly get to know our cosmic neighbourhood.
However, there is one drawback. Blur. The Galilean design employed by the Vixen SG 2.1x42 does create a very obvious blur around the edge of the image. It's something you just have to learn to live with when using this particular style of binoculars, though it can be quite distracting.
What the Vixen SG 2.1x42 does well is to remove that other very common distraction caused by most binoculars, and that's wobble. If you regularly get annoyed by wiggly-looking stars when using binoculars then you're going to love the Vixen SG 2.1x42. What they lack in magnification they make up for in stabilisation, not because they have a complicated electronic system to compensate, but precisely because of that lack of magnification. Put simply, the movement of your wobbly arms isn’t magnified much at all by the Vixen SG 2.1x42.
The Vixen SG 2.1x42 is all about immersion and not magnification. You would never use them for birdwatching and nor would you want to take them on a safari, but used as a second pair of specialist binoculars for stargazing they impress. Yes, the magnification is lacking, but that's how they’re able – in conjunction with some excellent glass within a superb all-round build – to create an addictive wide-angle view of the night sky.
If you've always preferred naked-eye stargazing to the close-up views offered by telescopes and binoculars then the Vixen SG 2.1x42 can take you to the next level by supercharging your night vision while retaining and extending your wide-eyed view of the night sky.
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Jamie has been writing about all aspects of technology for over 14 years, producing content for sites like TechRadar, T3, Forbes, Mashable, MSN, South China Morning Post, and BBC Wildlife, BBC Focus and BBC Sky At Night magazines.
As the editor for www.WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com, he has a wealth of enthusiasm and expertise for all things astrophotography, from capturing the Perseid Meteor Shower, lunar eclipses and ring of fire eclipses, photographing the moon and blood moon and more.
He also brings a great deal of knowledge on action cameras, 360 cameras, AI cameras, camera backpacks, telescopes, gimbals, tripods and all manner of photography equipment.
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