A PASSION for astronomy and the night sky led Keith Williams to open the biggest binocular and telescope store in the southern hemisphere.
The business development manager opened BinoCentral on Winton Road in Joondalup last month to fill a gap in the market and offer quality products and advice.
Mr Williams, who hails from the UK, said he was “blown away” by the Australian night sky but disappointed in the limited range of telescopic products on offer.
“I arrived in Perth 24 years ago and was blown away by the fantastic night sky,” he said.
“I was disappointed with the products on sale from retail outlets, they were poor quality and the lack of knowledge from the staff about the telescopes and binoculars was incredible, so I made it my aim to have staff that had a passion and knew what they were talking about.”
Having previously run a retail business selling binoculars and telescopes for more than two decades, the Banksia Grove resident was approached to open the store and vowed to make it “bigger and better” and the “largest store in the southern hemisphere”.
BinoCentral sells binoculars from Bushnell, Saxon, Vanguard, Leica, Steiner, Zeiss and Kowa, while telescopes include Saxon, Celestron, Skywatcher, Orion and Meade.
Mr Williams said staff were all keen astronomers and able to help customers whether they were beginners or experts.
“All our telescopes come with free lessons, every Thursday evening we hold information nights and if there is no clouds, we hold free viewing nights on a Thursday so you can try before you buy,” he said.
“We also run lessons on astronomy here at the store in the evenings, plus we run an astronomy club that meets once a month, in the future we will also be holding an astronomy festival here in Joondalup.”
Since getting into astronomy, Mr Williams said binoculars and telescopes had improved with glass technology, giving brighter and clearer images.
“Even the lower-price binoculars are giving very clear images but at the other end, the Leica; Steiner; Kowa and Zeiss, are still at the top end for bird watching, nature and hunting, with amazing clarity due to the high quality glass and coatings on all surfaces,” he said.
“Telescopes have improved amazingly over the past 10 years, with quality control at its highest, it’s very rare that you get a problem with the optics, so much so that we offer a five-year warranty on all telescopes.
“Also technically the telescopes are now in a new era, with WiFi to your iPad or notebook, the telescope will automatically find objects in the sky and track them for you, making astrophotography possible to the beginner.”