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About JTEC

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  1. Thanks for sorting out the font, Stu Just to add a little bit to the earlier message. While the TEC shows the E and F stars routinely, except on nights of v poor seeing, my 6 inch f6 Astro Systems Newt, with excellent optics, can’t keep up. The nicest view of the Trap region with the TEC was with a binoviewer with x1.7 (actually giving about x1.5) GPC on board and x2 Powermate ahead of the prism, with a pair of 18mm Tak LEs. I don’t know what the final mag was because, presumably, it’ll vary with the spacing. I find the 18mm Tak LEs to be excellent bino eyepieces, btw. When I turned the C11 on Sirius a few nights ago there, to my surprise, was the ‘Pup’ - but it was almost immediately lost again in the flashing and flaring of the main star and I never got it back.
  2. You might be interested in this extract from a note I made in early January when I was evaluating the new Burgess Supermono that was reviewed recently by Bill Paolini. The scope was a TEC 140. ‘We had a rare clear night here in Surrey UK yesterday and I spent more time with the eyepiece (the Supermono) and a couple of others. Observing the Trapezium, nicely focused and centred in the TEC 140 at x98, the F and E stars pinged decisively into view. The most striking aspect was the relatively bright transmission rather than the precision of the view. Changing to a 9mm Tak Abbe ortho, x109, the view was better differentiated. The F and E stars were much more cleanly separated from C and A whereas, despite careful focusing, with the mono, their brightness tended to spill to reduce this separation. Perhaps in part a coating issue? Following on from this, the Tak gave very obviously clearer differentiation of magnitudes, with the F star, for example, in moments of good seeing, showing as a tiny pinprick of fainter light separated from C by clear dark space. The mono was slightly warmer in tone, to my eye. Even allowing for the difference in mag between the two eyepieces, I’d say that in this test the Tak proved to be the more refined performer, capable of showing finer distinctions spatially and in terms of contrast and brightness. That said, the mono is a very good performer on axis and is staying.’ (Sorry about the massive font ... which now won’t go away ... I copied the note over from an email - I’ll add some more comments in a separate posting if anyone is interested.) Font fixed - Stu
  3. Assisted by helpful advice from members of this forum, I purchased the 3.4 Vixen HR and the Tak TOE 4.0 mm (I’d sold some stuff so the purchases were guilt free ). Both, imv, are absolutely fantastic eyepieces! I even tried Barlowing the 3.4 on the Moon with a x2 Powermate just to see what happened. Seeing and, with the .24mm exit pupil, floaters, of course, came into it but in terms of performance, comfort and useability the eyepiece couldn’t be faulted. This was with the 980mm fl TEC 140. Last night I tried both of them in my 6in f6 Newt (which has excellent optics) giving about x270 and x230 - magnifications I’d rarely consider using with that scope. Same conclusion. Fantastic eyepieces! I’d go so far as to say that, with certain targets and applications, they’ve opened up for me a whole new way of observing.
  4. For visual, I have my C11 on an AZ EQ6 in alt-az mode, so no issues with clearance. It has the Baader visual back and the 2” Baader prism with the excellent Baader click lock mechanism including a 1.25 insert as required. This arrangement is very solid, trouble free and convenient for both mono and bino viewing. The issue of balance doesn't arise because the scope can be positioned on the mount as needed. I don’t really think of SCTs as wide-field scopes - my longest eyepiece is a 68 degree 24mm, so can’t comment on eyepiece choices. Certainly though, with the above arrangement, 2 inch accessories/eyepieces are no problem; in fact the 2 inch back and prism stay on there all the time.
  5. Apparently, the International Astronomical Union celebrates its centenary this year. I’ve just heard that one of the things they’re promoting to mark this is the Dark Skies for All initiative, details of which are to be found here: https://www.iau-100.org/dark-skies-for-all Apologies if this is old news to you. Such is the mindless damage being inflicted on heritage, natural beauty, human health and that of the wider ecology by artificial light at night, that I feel we should do all we can to give such initiatives our support. There are no upsides to light pollution. Everywhere it occurs, it signals irresponsibility and waste.
  6. As you say, Stu, they do help a lot to reduce the impact of floaters - presumably because the parts of the field that are being troubled by floaters in one eye have a good chance of being clear in the other, and when you perceive the bundle of data from both eyes the identity of each eye’s contribution is somehow dissolved into the mix. Which Barlows are you using up ahead? I’m planning to have a go with the x2 Powermate with the x1.7 in the prism behind. I’m not sure what the interaction will be, but it should give plenty of mag with the advantage of comfortable eyepieces. Perhaps by enabling the use of more accommodating eyepieces this would help with the issues with managing IPD, etc that others have highlighted.
  7. There is some further useful advice here https://agenaastro.com/choosing-astronomy-eyepieces-for-binoviewers.html#eyepieces and in Roland Christen’s comments - down the page - here http://www.darksights.com/Binoviewers.htm I do agree with the need to get IPD and, of course, independent focus for each eyepiece carefully adjusted. There seems to be a point for each where things snap into place. Because of the different ways we might engage with different eyepieces with varying eye lens sizes, eye relief, curvature, the IPD does seem to need checking for different pairs. I’m not really sure why this should be - think it’s probably as Stu says that generally with shorter fl eyepieces and higher mag it’s more exacting. I’ve successfully used 8mm TV Plössls and 9mm Tak orthos without any problem, in fact the Taks are a favourite pair for lunar/planetary. I do have the Baader MkV though and that is supposed to be bench tested for collimation at x3000. There is someone who’s name (apologies) I forget using one of these with a pair of Vixen HR 2.4s That said, note Roland Christen’s advice about getting a lot of the mag done ahead of the prism/viewer. I use the x1.7 GPC which reportedly actually gives about 1.4/5 like this. My most used eyepiece pairs are 11mm TV Plössls, 9 mm Taks orthos, 18mm Tak LEs and Edmund RKE 28mms. I can’t imagine ever moving away from binoviewing for lunar and planetary. You just see more. Nor would I be quick to dismiss it for brighter deep sky: M42 is incredible as are globs and brighter planetaries like M27.
  8. I usually prefer to view the Moon without filters, enjoying the brilliance at low power or depending on magnification to dim things sufficiently at high power. There’s also the feeling that some filters introduce cheap glass into the system and might degrade the image. I’ve tried quite a few over the years and have found the Baader Moon filter (not the neodymium) to be the best. It doesn’t, to my eye, result in obvious loss of detail or definition and it does improve comfort for extended observing.
  9. JTEC

    Vixen HR comfort

    Coincidentally, a couple of nights ago - when the clouds went away for a while - I had first light with the 3.4 Vixen HR I’ve just bought. First impressions: This is an outstanding eyepiece. With its generous eye lens and 10mm eye relief, it is, as Mike says, remarkably comfortable to use. I’ve never had a chance to use any of the legendary ZAOs or XOs. I’ve sought out eyepieces primarily for sharpness and rendition of detail, tried many, sold many, kept some ... and the result of that distillation process is that, for this sort of observing, I’ve ended up (for now) with most of the Tak orthos, a mono, some TV Plossls and a couple of Edmund RKEs. If I could keep only one range, it would be the Taks. I still think the Taks are very good, but if the HRs were available in longer focal lengths, I think the shorter Taks would be heading off into the sunset. Reportedly, the design of the Vixens can’t just be scaled to longer fls - I don’t know whether that’s true or not - so the Taks are safe. The Moon was the obvious target that night. I had the V HR on a TEC 140 with the Zeiss-Baader 1.25 prism. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect - habitually, I’ve tended not to push high mags very often, preferring aesthetically ‘enough mag’ and a crisper albeit smaller view. The V HR could change all that - it was a revelation. I agree with everything that Bill Paolini says about the these eyepieces in his expert review. The image quality in terms of sharpness, contrast and freedom from scatter are the best I’ve seen. The excellent build, attention to detail and refinement of the eyepiece make it a pleasure to use. In this brief first light, I sought to compare its performance with the closest thing I could find: my Tak 6mm ortho barlowed x2 with a TV Powermate. Scanning the terminator, I ended up focusing more on Aristarchus and the interesting region around it. The Vixen gave x288 and the barlowed Tak x327. You might be expecting me to say that the Tak was ‘blown away’ by the Vixen. That was not the case. The Tak stood up very well giving good sharpness, contrast and consequent detail. The scatter, I think, was a little greater than the Vixen’s which, effectively, had none. The Vixen had the edge in its capacity to render detail, for example in the crater’s stepped walls, but not by much. What it did have was a marvellously graded contrast, more refined, to my eye, and ‘photographic’ than was provided by the Tak, which though not short on sharpness showed a harder contrast that might have concealed detail within its brighter zones. Given the smaller eye lens of the Tak, the Vixen was the more comfortable to use. This was just an initial impression but it was nonetheless a conclusive one. This is not an eyepiece that needs to be revisited to be sure of its quality. Since I had the Powermate in the scope, I decided, against all good sense, to put the Vixen in there and see how things looked at x576 ! Well, it wasn’t at all bad. Not surprisingly, I had trouble with floaters with the resultant 0.24 mm exit pupil, so couldn’t imagine doing this very often ... but, and here’s the remarkable thing, the image was entirely useable. Yes it was softer, but the tonal qualities of the eyepiece were retained, giving contour and presence to isolated peaks and ranges and to subtler undulations in the basaltic plain. This eyepiece and the others in the range feel like real game-changers!
  10. JTEC

    New EP or just a Barlow?

    As long as the Barlow is of decent quality, I don’t think there’s any need these days to worry about damaging the image. As for introducing extra glass into the train, with modern coatings etc, that’s also, imv, no longer something to worry about. If it was, superb, multi-element eyepieces like the Ethos would also be problematic. Which they’re not ... apart from the price. I use a x2 2” Powermate - it has a supplied, rock solid 1.25 adapter, btw, so is equally useful for either fitting. In a rare gap in the more or less perpetual cloud we have ‘darn Sarf’ these days, I was experimenting with a 6mm Tak ortho, a newly acquired Vixen HR 3.4 (of which more anon) and a 10mm monocentric. I tried them all with the Powermate on a TEC140. If there was any image degradation over and above the difference you’d expect to see with an un-Barlowed equivalent focal length, I honestly couldn't see it. So, I think you might find a decent Barlow new or s/h a good choice - others are better placed to suggest which ones fall within your budget and deliver the quality. As a paid up member of the minimum glass brigade, I used to resist using Barlows out of concern over possible image degradation, but I’ve learned that with a halfway-decent, modern example there’s no need to - quite the opposite in fact: a good Barlow is a really useful thing to have.
  11. Bill Paolini’s review of different diagonals, including the silvered Baader is, imv, a must-read. After using the Baader Zeiss spec 2 inch and 1.25 inch prisms, I sold the Astro-Physics dielectric that I’d bought thinking it would be The Best. It clearly wasn’t in terms of contrast, transmission or scatter. It wasn’t bad, of course, just a shade behind the prisms. The smaller one works exceptionally well with a binoviewer. I’m a fussy observer and I’ve never seen any residual colour when using the prisms at any power. Oddly enough, I sometimes suspected it with the heavily coated dielectric. I couldn’t explain this but speculated that the accumulated depth of the numerous coatings was perhaps sufficient to make some unwanted contribution to the image. Whether or not that’s right, I’m quite clear that the B-Z prisms give superior results. That said, that BBHS mirror does look extremely interesting and I’d love to give one a go ... but there comes a point when the spending has to stop
  12. Mick, I’ll attempt a first reply to your question. I expect others will want to chip in and their ideas may be more helpful than mine. I’m a former educational adviser and have had experience of provision for children with special educational needs - I mention that only so you know that I have some basis from which to comment. Your grand nephew is really too young, in my opinion, to make the most of the opportunity you’re wanting to give him and in the way that you have in mind. If I’ve understood you correctly, you’re trying to provide him with a way to experience the night sky for himself - which in itself is fantastic. However, I would not be focusing on technological ways of doing this. The ‘imaging’ process you’re considering is far from fuss-free: the telescope and camera will have to be pointed, focused and kept on target as the object being observed moves across the sky. From the standpoint of your grand nephew, the experience will be essentially indirect and hands-off. Even if he is a very clever little 5 year old most of it will have to be done by someone else. I imagine that would cause him to lose interest quite quickly. I think I was 8 when my Dad first showed me Orion from our suburban backyard - that memory has stayed with me and the experience probably lit the fire under a passion for the stars that has been part of me ever since. Show him the sky, point out the Moon, a bright star or two, a prominent constellation even. Read books with him. Talk to him if you have the opportunity. But he is still very young, so don’t necessarily expect too much by way sustained concentration and interest. It might happen or it might not - but what you’re trying to give him is potentially a gift for life. Best Wishes and Good Luck!
  13. FWIW, I endorse 100% what Charic, Ron and Rudd have recommended!
  14. Xtreemchaos ... agree about the hair thing. As a general principle and regardless of system choices, hair loss is directly proportional to number of wires and cables used.
  15. Hi, you don’t say what sort of observing you need guiding for. Assuming it’s imaging, the Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2 is exceptionally good, though not cheap. I use it with my QSI CCD camera. The chip is big enough and sensitive enough that you’ll never be stuck for finding a guide star. It’s USB powered and fits like an eyepiece into whatever scope you opt for. It fits directly to the QSI but when I’ve used it separately from the camera, for example, imaging in a side by side rig with medium format camera lenses, it’s been very happy in a little ST80. You could get away with a lot smaller scope though - I’ve not used the WO one. Other contributors might have options to suggest that fit your budget better, but, if you’re able to stretch a bit, the Lodestar, imo, would be a top choice and cover pretty much any imaging plans you might develop in the future.

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