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Advice on planetary/lunar EP for newbie


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Hi everyone,

Slowly getting my first set of kit together. Purchased a SW 250PX FlexTube Auto last week and an AE Colli-Mate to get it up and running. I'm also looking to fashion some sort of home made shroud for it when it arrives as I think shelling out over 50 quid for the AstroZap one is ridiculous when that money could be spent on a decent EP.

I understand that the SW comes with a couple of bog standard EPs. A 25mm which is supposed to be passable and a 10mm which pretty poor. Although every fibre in my body wants to rush in and blow a fortune on EPs I know that the sensible thing to do is take it slowly.

I have a few things on the long term wishlist such as a decent 32mm Plossl for DSO work but I intend to build my EP collection via second hand purchases. Given that I'm based in London my back garden viewing is pretty much limited to lunar/planetary work and I know that the boxed SW 10mm really isn't up to much. Rather than be disappointed with my scope purchase I really want to get one decent planetary/lunar EP right off the bat that will blow me away.

I've specifically bought an auto tracking dob mount so that I can use narrow FOV EPs such as orthos without having to continually nudge the scope and my dilemma is whether to stump up the cash right now for a BGO 6mm which will stay in my collection forever, or just get a TMB Planetary II 6mm clone for half the price.

I know EPs are a very personal thing but I would appreciate any advice on this. Will the better quality of the BGO in my F4.7 scope:

(a) even be noticeable to my novice untrained eye

and

(:) justify the uncomfortably short eye relief and additional cost?

As always, many thanks in advance...

Stu

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I have bought one of the Astro Engineering Shrouds from Astroboot for £10. They are for the 10" Meade Lightbridge but i'm hoping with some creative scissor work and a bit of velcro, i can make it work. I too scoffed at spending £60 on an Astrozap shroud.

The TMB is nothing to be sniffed at but the BGO could be an eyepiece for life, or it could be an eyepiece for one night only. I would personally buy a cheap secondhand Ortho first and make sure you like the Ortho design. It's the best example of a Marmite eyepiece.....you either love em or hate em, vary rarely anything in between. For every person that doesn't mind the restricted field, pin hole glass and tight eyerelief, there will be another who would much rather have a comfortable design even at the expense of ultimate performance.

Edited by russ
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I had exactly the same idea about the AE Lightbridge shroud. Let me know how you get on. I've read a few pieces on here about making shrouds out of neoprene so might explore that avenue as well.

Good advice on the ortho. No point having an EP (no matter how good) that you find uncomfortable to use. I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't be able to stop blinking if my eyelashes are touching the lens. If that's the case it'll pretty much rule out anything with an eye relief <10mm...and all the high mag orthos and plossls with it.

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Hi Stu, in an f4.7 scope the ortho will definately be the better option. As you say you have a driven dob so the narrow fov not really an issue. I have recently compared the 5 and 6mm TMB Planetarys with the Baader Genuine Orthos. The orthos are considerably sharper. I think the edge performance with the TMB would suffer at f4.7

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Hi Damo,

Just sent you a message via AstroBuySell about the 5mm TMB Planetary you are selling. I guess you don't rate it much if you are selling it...

I may well give the BGO 6mm a go. It gets a really good write up in the Cloudy Nights 6mm showdown (6mm Lunar/Planetary Eyepiece Comparison - Review). Was surprised at how much better it did compared to the 6mm Radian which I thought was supposed to be the bees knees when it comes to planetary work. Hopefully I can find a BGO supplier who'll take it back if I really can't get on with the eye relief.

At the end of the day I'm going to be spending most my time in the back garden learning the Moon and hopefully getting a look at Saturn...so I want the best image possible. If the eye relief is bad then another option I suppose is to get a BGO 12.5mm and a x2 barlow. More expense though for a decent barlow and it seems to defeat the whole object of minimising the amount of glass to get the sharpest views.

Stu

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Stu,

Would you like to try my Antares 7mm HD Ortho, a clone of the BGO but without the Phantom coatings. Just try out the ortho, see how you get on. If its for you, just return me my 7mm and order the BGO.

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I am in the ortho-haters camp, at least in the case of short focal lengths. I do not mind the small FOV, just the horrible eye relief. Some people rate the Vixen NLV series as better and cheaper than the Radians, with the same eye relief as Radians, but smaller FOV, but better colour rendition and clarity. I am considering checking them out. I had two of the older LVs which were fine, but the Radians had the edge over them.

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Michael,

Yep. I have a funny feeling that 10mm is going to be about my minimum comfortable eye relief. I yanked out an eyelash this morning and measured it (yeah, I know, very slow day in the office). Came in at 8mm long which means that I'm going to be blinking a lot with the 6mm ortho. Still, got to give it a try...you never know.

Spent nearly 700 quid on the rig so far (660 on the scope, 30 on the collimator). Have given myself a top whack budget of a grand. Just enough then to get a second hand Nagler 3-6mm zoom then!?!? :)

Stu

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Hi Damo,

Just sent you a message via AstroBuySell about the 5mm TMB Planetary you are selling. I guess you don't rate it much if you are selling it...

I may well give the BGO 6mm a go. It gets a really good write up in the Cloudy Nights 6mm showdown (6mm Lunar/Planetary Eyepiece Comparison - Review). Was surprised at how much better it did compared to the 6mm Radian which I thought was supposed to be the bees knees when it comes to planetary work. Hopefully I can find a BGO supplier who'll take it back if I really can't get on with the eye relief.

At the end of the day I'm going to be spending most my time in the back garden learning the Moon and hopefully getting a look at Saturn...so I want the best image possible. If the eye relief is bad then another option I suppose is to get a BGO 12.5mm and a x2 barlow. More expense though for a decent barlow and it seems to defeat the whole object of minimising the amount of glass to get the sharpest views.

Stu

It's not that the 5mm was bad, its just that it didn't come close to the ortho for sharpness and contrast in my opinion. In saying that though, i used to have an original Burgess TMB and from memory it was sharper than these newer offerings. It's a great idea to try out the 7mm first and see how you get on though. I have a sneaking suspicion when you see Saturn through it you will be hooked.

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It's a great idea to try out the 7mm first and see how you get on though. I have a sneaking suspicion when you see Saturn through it you will be hooked.

Yes. I will definitely try the ortho route first and see how the ER works out.

Can't wait to get a look at Saturn. The last time I looked through a scope was back in 2002 when I was backpacking through South America. Took advantage of a tour up to one of the big observatories (can't remember which) high in the Chilean Andes. As well as showing us around the facility (the main scope was astonishing in its precision engineering) they laid on a few amateur scopes outside for the group to look through. One of the scopes was pointing at a gas giant (can't remember if it was Jupiter or Saturn) and the view just blew me away. I was like a total kid.

I'm not expecting the view from not so sunny Harrow to be anywhere near as good but I just want to experience that rush of excitement again. For some reason there's something very special about the photons actually hitting the back of your eye as opposed to looking at a Hubble image (wonderful as they are) on the interweb.

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Yes. I will definitely try the ortho route first and see how the ER works out.

Can't wait to get a look at Saturn. The last time I looked through a scope was back in 2002 when I was backpacking through South America. Took advantage of a tour up to one of the big observatories (can't remember which) high in the Chilean Andes. As well as showing us around the facility (the main scope was astonishing in its precision engineering) they laid on a few amateur scopes outside for the group to look through. One of the scopes was pointing at a gas giant (can't remember if it was Jupiter or Saturn) and the view just blew me away. I was like a total kid.

I'm not expecting the view from not so sunny Harrow to be anywhere near as good but I just want to experience that rush of excitement again. For some reason there's something very special about the photons actually hitting the back of your eye as opposed to looking at a Hubble image (wonderful as they are) on the interweb.

Agreed. I remember what first got me interested in astronomy. It was Andromeda through a set of cheap binoculars. When i researched it i was gobsmacked to learn that the photon's that were hitting my eyeball left there origins 2,500,000 years previous. :)

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It's worth trying an ortho or two and see how you get on. I've stuck mostly to ultra wide angle eyepieces up to now (Naglers and Ethe) but I've recently got 3 of the Baader Genuine Ortho's and a University "volcano top" ortho and I find I'm gradually getting the hang of using them. For the investment, their optical performance is superb, if you can deal with the tight eye relief, narrow field of view and tiny eye lenses of course.

I find I need to be in the right "mood" for orthos if I'm honest.

My scopes are all undriven and on alt-azimuth mounts.

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It's worth trying an ortho or two and see how you get on. I've stuck mostly to ultra wide angle eyepieces up to now (Naglers and Ethe) but I've recently got 3 of the Baader Genuine Ortho's and a University "volcano top" ortho and I find I'm gradually getting the hang of using them. For the investment, their optical performance is superb, if you can deal with the tight eye relief, narrow field of view and tiny eye lenses of course.

I find I need to be in the right "mood" for orthos if I'm honest.

My scopes are all undriven and on alt-azimuth mounts.

Russ has very kindly agreed to lend me one so will give it a couple of weeks use (weather permitting) and see how I got on.

I do keep getting drawn back to the reviews of the Nagler 3-6mm zoom though. Initially most of my work will be lunar and I love the idea of being able to tease the absolute maximum amount of magnification out of my scope that the seeing will allow. The Nagler would give me x200-x400 which I'm led to believe would be ideal for lunar observations from the UK.

Wish there was more going on in the office day. I've already spent at least 10 grand in my head already and the figure just keeps rising.

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The Nagler 3-6mm zoom is a very good eyepiece ( I've owned a couple of them :) ) and it's does not seem so expensive if you think that it's replacing 3-4 fixed focal length eyepieces and good ones at that. It also has the benefit of 10mm of eye relief which is a lot more than an ortho or plossl of those focal lengths would give. As you say it gives you the flexibility to find out just what the observing conditions will allow at a given time. I assume you know it's a 50 degree FoV rather than the other Nagler designs 82 degrees ?.

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The Nagler 3-6mm zoom is a very good eyepiece ( I've owned a couple of them :) ) and it's does not seem so expensive if you think that it's replacing 3-4 fixed focal length eyepieces and good ones at that. It also has the benefit of 10mm of eye relief which is a lot more than an ortho or plossl of those focal lengths would give. As you say it gives you the flexibility to find out just what the observing conditions will allow at a given time. I assume you know it's a 50 degree FoV rather than the other Nagler designs 82 degrees ?.

Yep. I've got no problem with the 50deg FOV. I purchased an Auto mount with the new dob to cope with just such EPs.

Don't have enough posts at the moment to see the SGL second hand pages. If anyone has a spare moment can they take a look please and see if, by some small chance, there's one for sale?

Thanks very much

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Telescope House (and other Tele Vue dealers) were running a 20% off deal for a few months but, unfortunately, that's finished now. You might want to bear that in mind in agreeing a price if you are offerered a used one.

Now you can save a princely 1.99% (really !) on the 3-6 zoom at TH:

TeleVue 3-6mm Nagler Zoom Eyepiece 1.25"

Edited by John
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Just in case anyone is interested....................

John

Telescope House May Bank Holiday 2011 Offer!

Telescope House are pleased to bring you our May bank holiday discount offer! Again we give our registered customers a full week of exclusive discounts before we announce the promotion to the public.

Simply enter the code 2001 in the coupon box in your shopping cart

And S

ave 10% on everything at Telescope House

Couponoffer only applies to in stock, new items, ordered up to Tuesday 31st May 2011

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Sure is.

Still spitting I missed out on the 20% off deal though. Out of interest, how often do sales offering significant amounts (i.e. >15%) off kit come around? Are they regular sort of things or once in a blue moon?

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The 20% deal was a real rarity I'm afraid and was run by Tele Vue worldwide to mark something or other (too much stock in the warehouse perhaps :) )

The Telescope House 10% deals come up reasonably frequently, often co-inciding with shows like Astrofest in London.

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Indeed. Whilst not 20%, 12% is certainly better than 2%. Brings the price of the Nagler Zoom down to roughly the same as it sells for across the pond. May well make a purchase. I'm sure if I prefer the orthos then the Nagler will fetch a decent price on the 2nd hand market.

Edited by ScoobyStoo
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I made the mistake of buying a 4mm Plossl EP early on with a view to looking at Saturn. Getting my eye to find the image was a nightmare. Tiny little hole in the top and virtually non-existent eye relief! That was before I joined SGL. I expect I shall sell it later. I've learnt that eye relief is very important. A wide angle of view would be nice too but of lesser importance.

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