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Hey Everyone,

I am getting very frustrated with my current viewing of the skies and especially jupiter!

I have been on the forum for a few weeks and have taken various peoples advice regarding Eyepieces and barlows and i am just not getting the results that i am hoping for so i am now very confused and dont know if i have the right equipment or even doing it right so i am just going to list everything in a nutshell and hope that someone cares enough to help me out! (if thats you then thanks in advance)

I got a 2nd hand Celestron Astromaster 114 for christmas and it didn't come with any EP's apart from the 10mm which i used for viewing the moon for a bit and it was fine but a little to much magnification to fit in the EP (this is at 100x) so after posting a topic regarding the matter i was advised to go for either the Vixen NPL 15mm or the BST ED 15mm which i chose the 15mm BST ED!

My 1st clear night out with the BST i was very impressed, the moon was amazing in the EP and the general view of the sky and stars was very detailed and i could see a lot more stars than with the stock 10mm

I used this for a few weeks and now that the moon is too low i decided to take a look at jupiter, which again looks good through the BST but its not very large, so i switched to the stock 10mm and its was bigger and a bit more detailed.

I then borrowed a friends cheap 2x barlow which i found gave too much mag on the 10mm (200x) but with the 15mm BST it was ok just a little blurry which i put down to the cheap barlow and possibly the atmosphere as jupiter was pretty low at the time!

After posting again RE barlow choice i got recommended the Baader Classic Q 2.25x barlow so i purchased that and i have tried it again tonight, now the barlow has a removable lens which gives 1.3x as well which i cant use with the BST as the EP needs 13mm or more clearance which the BST doesn't (and some others meade etc) so i can only use the 2.25x

Using this with the 15mm gives nearly exactly the same result as the cheap circa £10 barlow and doesn't make the image that much larger just almost the same just a little blurry, now if i take the 1.3x lens off and attach it to the stock 10mm i get a much better result i can see all the moons clear and the 2 bands on jupiter quite clear as well.

To summarise i will try and bullet point the performance!

15mm BST standard - excellent details/contrast just a bit too far out (66x)

15mm BST + 2.25x Barlow - 95% clear image just a little blurry without the bands on jupiter but a good size (150x)

10mm Stock - good details poor contrast can just to say make out bands on jupiter (100x)

10mm Stock + 2.25x barlow - useless total blur (225x)

10mm stock + 1.3x lens - pretty much ideal size is good and detail is clear can see bands well but not perfect (130x)

My frustration is that i have spent nearly £100 on EP + Barlow and it turns out my best views are from the EP i already had i understand that the atmosphere and my telescope have viewing limitations but is it worth me spending any more money on decent EP or is my scope just a cheap nasty thing and this is the best i am going to get?

My initial thought it that seen as the best performance seems to be from the 130x mag is this the limit of my scope and should i just buy a decent 8mm EP to get around this mag (125x) or is there anything else i can try?

I am very new to this but so far my experience has been very mixed and i really want to enjoy my time out there and i just want to get the correct kit but if i need a better scope i can look at something else as i would rather start as i mean to go on!

Scope specs are

FL - 1000mm

App - 114mm

speed - f/9

max mag (celestron website) - 269x

Sorry for the long post but i really dont know what else to do and i dont want to keep spending money and been unhappy with the results!

Thanks :)

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I'm finding it quite frustrating too. I have 2 eps (10 and 25) and a 2x barlow and have tried every combination I can, and the 10 on it's own has given me the clearer view but not able to see what I'd like to. Have looked at new eps but being a newbie, I have no idea what to look for!

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Thanks Vikki, this is the same boat i was in a few weeks ago, but like i said after spending the money i dont seem to be any further forward, after a lot of research i can probably say you will be better off with better quality EP's but which ones i dont know, seen as you have a better quality scope than me maybe your results will be better! :)

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Well you have to remember that Jupiter even in a scope able to push high magnification isnt ever that big. The theortical mag of any scope, but especially a low cost reflector, is always going to be optimistic in my experience. Some scopes can buck this if their optics are particularly good.

The astromaster has to be my least favourite scope I have used and that was the 130 version. Just horrid was my opinion. To my mind there are two things working against you....

Number one is the scope is small anD relatively cheap. A bigger scope or at least better optics would go someway to giving yo a btter view but the other thing is ........

Number two....eyepieces will always be the final limiting factor on any scope. I would have suggested a differen eyepiece selection and optedfor three eyepieces.....probably a 5mm, 15mm and a 32mm possibly with an ortho for the higher powers and a good Plossl for the 32mm and skip the Barlow. Personally I dislike abarlows and find they often compromise the image. Three eyepieces like that could probably be had for around £150. The Baader BCOs , assuming they are as good as some say ( i havent tried one myself) might well fit the bill.

I think the Astromaster 114 is a bird jones design with an inbuilt barlow in the bottom of the focuser. That wont be helping either especially with an additional barlow added.

Fundamentally thogh I think the scope is likley to be the biggest problem here.

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I think this is all about expectations. You are not going to see the glorious coloured images that you see in the magazines and both the scopes of Vikki and bodoo will not give great detail on Jupiter except with really dark skies and good seeing conditions. As for spending a lot of money, I'm afraid that astronomy can be quite an expensive hobby and £100 is not much in the general run of things. Borrow 'Turn Left at Orion' from the library and that may give you a better idea of what you can expect to see. And although most of the Star Parties have finished now it would be worthwhile visiting and contacting a local astronomy society for more advice.

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I have the Astromaster 114 also. It's great for the moon, however I also invested in a Celestron 9.25SCT for the planets...works like a duck and I love the tracking...especially for imaging.

Cheers

Roger

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Thanks for both the replies!

I am under no illusions that my scope is of any great quality and i dont expect to see anything like the quality in the publications but my frustration was that the performance from the 15mm + £10 barlow and the 15mm with £50 barlow was the same and this is why i thought spending the money was possibly unjustified!

After reading what astro_baby has put the optics of my scope seem to make sense as this would account for the poor performance with both the barlow's, my gut feeling was that a barlow would degrade the quality but was tempted by the additional magnification ranges available and people said that a decent barlow should be fine, but sadly this seems to not be a valid option as with any barlow it would seem that the magnification is just too much,

"I would have suggested a different eyepiece selection and optedfor three eyepieces.....probably a 5mm, 15mm and a 32mm" - Thanks for this advice astro_baby, would you not think that the 5mm would provide too much mag at 200x or do you think the barlow is to blame?, i have been advised that unless the skies were extremely dark and clear any mag over 160x would probably be useless?

I am attending my local astronemers club for the 1st time next friday as this is the 1st meeting since i got into the hobby so hopefully they will be more advice there as i know some of the members are pretty serious into AP and travel the world hunting and lecturing!

I think i will return to my gut feeling and bin the barlow and buy an 8mm BST ED and see how that performs or should i go for the more traditional plossl design do people think?

I am on a limited but not tiny budget but i would rather spend £150 one then £100 twice if you see what i mean - I will have to keep the scope for a while as to not offend the family member who bought it for me but i was looking at something like the skywatcher 150p if i had to upgrade is this something to look at?

Thanks for everyone who commented :)

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I am getting very frustrated with my current viewing of the skies and especially jupiter!....Sorry for the long post but i really dont know what else to do and i dont want to keep spending money and been unhappy with the results!

There's never a need to apologise, Bod and I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. Astronomy can often be a frustrating and trying pursuit but patience and perserverance can and will have magical effects.

We can make a number of general observations regarding Jupiter and 'ideal' range of EPs with Barlow. Let's have a quick look at Jupiter:

Jupiter

The first is that on viewing planets seeing conditions override problems with LP and assuming collimation is spot on, you'll also find that on average, Jupiter doesn't really need much more than about 135x to 160x.

My 4" frac can easily make out the north and south equatorial belts, great red spot, the equatorial band and the north and south polar regions. If you stick with him, gradually, after 15 minutes or so, Jupiter reveals even more subtler markings especially in the north and south temperate belts and larger markings in the north and south tropical zones. The entire image in the eyepiece is really no bigger than a largish pea in the palm of your hand.

Just to add more food for thought, try to view Jupiter as close to the zenith as possible and bear in mind that as a general rule of thumb the brightness of an object will decline as you up the magnification. If I up the mag twofold, say, I'm reducing the image brightness by a factor of four. If I keep on doing this eventually details just disappear. On the other hand, increasing the mag does make detail more apparent, so, as you can appreciate, we're now at a trade-off: will increasing magnification gain more detail even though I'm making the object fainter?

I've found that playing around with this trade-off - dependent on the evening's seeing does make a difference. Even as little as 1mm increase or decrease in the mag - about 10% to 15% difference of magnification - can be quite surprising. You'll probably find that on a decent night your sweet spot is around 140x to 160x on viewing Jupiter and you will probably only be able to push 200x plus on the most excellent and rarest of nights.

You've got a decent 4.5" telescope, something far better than the tiny Galilean telescope I saw last week in Florence, reaching out across the universe some 675,000,000 kilometers and I'm sure - on another better evening - you will be able to see those delicate reddish-brown belts, a darker, greyer hue to the Polar regions, and so on. You'll be able to trace the movement of the Jovian moons and observe their play of shadows over Jupiter in times of transit or of their eclipses by Jupiter's own shadow. From time to time, if you want to enhance that colour of the giant maybe a light blue filter will work nicely, or a Wratten 11 or 12.

If you can, try to sit with Jupiter for a peaceful twenty or thirty minutes or so on your next observation session and I'm certain they'll be moments of great clarity and seeing. Until the terrible weather hit Spain at the end of February, I was following Jupiter almost every night since late July 2012 and you do notice that with practice more and more detail can be tweaked from the planet. Stay with it my friend and as the weeks go by you will notice quite a difference.

Some Ideas on your EPs

The first suggestion before you spend another penny on astronomy is to get some serious hours under your belt and see what kind of things your like looking at, the general conditions of your skies, your telescope potential and so on and from here you'll get a better idea of what is needed.

Many astronomers - myself included - follow quite a predictable path when it comes to buying EPs and to a lesser extent Barlows. For whatever the reason, sound or not, many of us start out buying new and cheap stuff but soon arrives a day when we want to upgrade but now we find ourselves in a situation where we have one quality EP and a case full of relatively cheap EPs that on the secondhand market are pretty worthless. The same can be said of a Barlow.

So, I'd say that if it is possible try to save up for either i) a better telescope with more aperture (8" would be sweet) or if planets and moon and swift setting up were your thing perhaps a decent 4" frac like the Tal 100rs and ii) or premium eyepieces and a premium barlow (something I wish I had done since the beginning). Buyiing premium is never a waste of money, especially if you buy used. These EPs might become 'lifers', so you never have to upgrade again or you can always re-sell them without losing much - if any - money, especially if you buy them already secondhand. Premium eyepieces, then, simply hold their value more than cheaper ones.

As a general working guide for barlow use, take the aperture of your telescope (117mm) and half it: 58.5. So, more or less, you want to get a decent EP which provides about 60x to 90x magnification. The 60x to 90x will be your workhorse EP, a medium power which can be barlowed into a decent highish power EP. For your second EP, I'd usually suggest that one divides the original, non-barlowed magnification by 1.4 or 1.3. This will be the moderate-power EP. So, for example, from our proverbial 90x EP, you are now looking for another which covers somethng like 60x to 70x.

In your own case, you seem to have the grounds reasonably covered. The 15mm BST giving 66x and 133x and the 10mm is giving a 100x and 200x (you really won't get much use out of 200x, especially on Jupiter!). If you wanted, you could always look for a secondhand EP which gives around 90x to 180x, but that would be a little plan for the future. You 25mm stock EP will be your low power star-hopping EP and balowed will give you about 80x.

Anyway, with just two EPs and a Barlow, you'll appreciate that we've got these kind of ranges covered:

  • Midish-power to highish-power: either 75x and 150x; or 80x and 160x; or 90x and 180x.
  • 1.4 Low-midish power to high-midish power: either 50x and 100x, 55x and 110x, 60x and 120x.
  • 1.3 Low-midish power to high-midish power: either 55x and 110x, 60x and 120x, 65x and 130x

As you can see, we now have a rather bewildering range of numbers (don't even want to start on field of view or exit pupil!), so as you can appreciate you need to practice a little to see what kind of thing you like looking at, what might be your own telescope's 'sweet-spot' and what kind of seeing conditions are general permitted in your viewing area and make some educated guesses, better still, try to get to an astro club to check out other astronomers' gear.

Personally, as a working field guide, I've found useful and most used magnifications around:

  • 50x - 55x for Solar observations and star-hopping
  • 40x to 55x for many open clusters
  • 80x to 150x for many nebulae, globulars and galaxies (these can sometimes be pushed just a tad more but not really to any greater aesthetic affect apart from globs which are sometimes more forgiving at higher mags but won't be resolved in your 4.5" telescope).
  • 130x to 160x for Jupiter
  • 130x to 200x for Saturn
  • 110x to 200x for Lunar work.

I hope these figures and sums give you some kind of working guide to get your head around.

Final point, make sure you realise just what it is possible to see with your kind of telescope. To do this, I'd strongly suggest you check out sketches by astronomers who have used a similar aperture to your own. This will give an idea of what you may be able to see.

Best of luck, Bod.

Edited by Qualia
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Thanks Qualia for that very detailed reply its much appreciated!

After reading all the points covered i am happy to stick with the BST 15mm it gives excellent results in its native 66x state and the moon and all the stars i have looked at so far have been very crisp and detailed!

I think i may have given people the wrong impression of what i am expecting to see when i look at jupiter i am aware that its only ever going to be a very small target as you would expect with it been millions of miles away, its just my initial 30mins to an hours viewing with the new barlow was worse than with the stock 10mm which again after reading the replies kind of links back to my scopes capabilities.

Admittedly tonight was a clear night but there was patches of cloud and it was early on around 9:30pm so maybe not the best time to look but i am excited to get out there and with the weather been so bad recently you have to get it some hours when you can!

touching on your comments about magnification sweet spots the BST works brilliant at 66x as i have previously said and i am under no illusions that the 25mm at 40x would be excellent as well for larger patches of sky but my aim at the moment is just finding that good viewing point for Planets which maybe at the 130x mark so a good quality 7mm or 8mm EP would be best perhaps.

Another thing that is possibly effecting the viewing is that the BST is a heavy EP and coupled with the metal barlow is a little OTT for the focuser which again i am not convinced is brilliant as i only seem to have a very small window of in/out focus and with the barlow the image stability is pretty bad even a tiny knock can send it wobbling which again the EQ1 mount doesn't help with. I guess the total length of the focuser and EP + Barlow is around 8" so it sticks out a lot relative to the size of the scope!

I dont mind buying a £100 EP if thats what i need at the end of the day its a valuable bit of kit and i have been into home audio for years and have spent hundreds of pounds just on cables so this is something i expect and budget for in my full time hobby!

I guess my biggest worry is that i am buying the correct EP to fit my scope and by that i mean best in quality and compatibility the BST range is newish as far as i can work out so i am not sure that many people have experience with them to make full comments but i appreciate everyones help none the less.

My very initial plan after my very 1st post on SGL was to buy the BST ED Range in 25mm (40x) 15mm (66x) and the 8mm (125x) with what you have said Qualia i think i should have stuck to this plan!

I think that i will revert back to this initial plan and for now remove the barlow from the equipment list and then spend some hours getting to know the scope and the stars/planets and then maybe in a few months buy a new telescope all together, at least i will have a good starting collection of EP for it

Once again i would like to thank everyone who has commented as i really appreciate everyones time in replying :)

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Only on rare occasions will you beable to use x225 through most scopes from the U.K.

I use my baader 2.25 in conjunction with my 17mm hyperion giving me x159, AR barlow x177.

Have you checked your collimation? If your scope is slightly out this will be magnified with higher mags.

Last night the seeing conditions were not that good. Saturn at x136 at 01.00am was a mess from my location

in the north east. So seeing conditions will vary from night to night. There is nothing wrong with your EP.

The BST is highly regarded by sgl users. The baader barlow is a very good one. I have one.

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The BST Explorer/Starguider range is a good choice and good value for money, if you stick with these you will not go wrong. However, I agree with others, especially Mel (Astro-Baby) that the scope leaves a little to be desired. However, stick with it and tease out the detail you require, you can always upgrade later - most of us do, all par for the course.

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Thanks for the replies guys, i love the BST at 15mm so i an happy to stick with the range.

I havent checked the collimation specifically just aligned it with polaris so i guess with it been 2nd user this might be worth checking. I will take a look around for a guide to do it

I think it was your advice i took initially rwilkey ref the BST range and i am very happy with it. I think i will have to accept that the telescope is what it is so for now i will just go for the 3 x BST EP's in 25mm, 15mm and 8mm

I will try and get out to a darker clearer spot in the meantime to try the scope in better conditions and go from there

Thanks for all the advice guys i really appreciate it

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Most have said what needs to be said. I think you are finding the limits of the scope rather than the limits of the eyepieces. The BST range punch well above their price point and the barlow you have chosen is a good quality one. Although the views in the scope you have may compare to the supplied 10mm eyepiece now, if and when you upgrade your scope you will start to see the difference in the quality items you have purchased.

You can pick up significant upgrades to the scope you have second hand for very good prices. A reflector around 150mm or 200mm would really show you huge performance increases and would set you back around £200 or less on the second hand market.

The Explorer 150p I use for my grab and go now was my first scope and it really performs well on everything. It's a shame SkyWatcher dont sell the Explorer 150p on the AZ4 the way I use it as it's the perfect set up for starters as a main scope or for more experienced astronomers as a capable grab and go. I couldnt recommend this set up highly enough and I suspect it will be me grab and go set up for many years to come while my main scope will inevitably change.

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I would back up what Astro-Baby says, the scope is most likely the liming factor. If it is a Bird-Jones then theoretically good but they need a decent barlow in the focuser and these cost money so what is in there is pretty poor. I also suspect that the mirror is a spherical and that will not help image quality either.

If you go for a 150 then I would suggest the 150PL over the standard 150P. The extra focal length will I suspect be of use to you.

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This is an interesting topic and exemplifies how frustrating as well as occasionally so rewarding this hobby can be.

My comments would be that seeing is very significant. My posts over the last week or so show that. It can vary so much almost from hour to hour and be so awful at time that you think your scope's bust.

Also an eyepiece is for life. When you upgrade your scope you can still use the eyepieces. My experience with eps is that you do get what you pay and I've just bought a few of the best that I can afford and transferred them as I upgraded my scope.

Stick with it bod00 and you will be rewarded In the end with nights of transcendental beauty!

Kerry

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Thanks for the replies, i am going to start to look at some scopes and maybe try and save up some money in a few months, i think i will keep the barlow for when i do upgrade and then just stick with the BST EP's without barlow for my current setup as ronin and astro baby say there is probably a limit to the magnification of the scope focuser and the general opinion is that my current scope isnt up to the job at hand!

If i am honest as soon as i received the 1st BST ep i thought straight away there was a huge difference between to quality of the EP and the telescope i.e. the EP felt like a well made high end product which i find is the oposite in the telescope.

As i have mentioned previous i think the EQ1 mount is very wobbly and the focuser doesn't fill me with confidence when i am using it. I would like to budget around £300 for a new scope and mount that will work well with the 8mm, 15mm and 25mm BST's i will have by the time i upgrade!

Once again i would like to thank all readers and posters for their help and advice!

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Thanks Stargazing i am not sure on how a dob works over a EQ as i have just got my head around the EQ really :shocked: although i think they look the business! when the time comes i am sure i will be inundated with advice on the right scope to go for, but if anyone can point me in a decent 2nd user website other than eBay i would appreciate it.

Also another quick one, i have just watched a few youtube vids on collimation, can i just ask do you always need to use the laser Ep or is it just easier, i know its more money but it seems worth it because this coma effect that is mentioned could be part of what i am seeing when the Barlow is in use

Thanks :)

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Also another quick one, i have just watched a few youtube vids on collimation, can i just ask do you always need to use the laser Ep or is it just easier, i know its more money but it seems worth it because this coma effect that is mentioned could be part of what i am seeing when the Barlow is in use

Thanks :)

I took other people's advice on here and checked the collimation of my scope using the 35mm camera film canister method (instructions came with the telescope also). If you need further guidance then head to Astro_Baby's guide - http://www.astro-baby.com/collimation/astro%20babys%20collimation%20guide.htm.

You could spend a fortune on laser collimator... but a quick check with an old film cannister hopefully costs you nothing!

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Thanks Stargazing i am not sure on how a dob works over a EQ as i have just got my head around the EQ really :shocked: although i think they look the business! when the time comes i am sure i will be inundated with advice on the right scope to go for, but if anyone can point me in a decent 2nd user website other than eBay i would appreciate it.

No problem on this one. Once you get over , i believe, 50 posts (mod please jump in if its wrong) the Classifieds section of this board opens up! you can post wanted ads or view other board members classifieds. All sales are between you and the member, the forum has no cut and no responsibility for the transaction.

Another site with the same rules that is used alot by all is UK Astro Buy & Sell, or ABS as it's commonly known. This is run by a board member as well and is used far and wide in the UK and European astro community.

http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/

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I have a flexi tube 130p and happy with the views of Jupiter it gives me, but..... A friend lent me a eyepiece over the easter weekend which was of a far better quality than those supplied with my scope, and i have to say that the views were far far better, I now need to upgrade my eyepieces after using my mates.

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No problem on this one. Once you get over , i believe, 50 posts (mod please jump in if its wrong) the Classifieds section of this board opens up! you can post wanted ads or view other board members classifieds. All sales are between you and the member, the forum has no cut and no responsibility for the transaction.

Another site with the same rules that is used alot by all is UK Astro Buy & Sell, or ABS as it's commonly known. This is run by a board member as well and is used far and wide in the UK and European astro community.

http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/

Thanks for the link i spent a lot of time trawling through the ads on there, seems to be a lot of great kit for sale!!

I have contacted FLO re returning the Barlow so we will see what happens and if not i will put it for sale!

I am going to try and have a go at the collimation sometime this week as i think it will be worth doing as after watching a few vids i think mine might be out even if its just a little bit!

I am also going to hopefully purchase the 8mm BST this week if i can find out whats happened to the sky's the limits stock!!

Just a quick note - i have been reading some other posts and they say that looking at things over a building and having the scope on decking does cause problems with the image quality, i do both of these as my garden only really has decking and the clearest view of Jupiter is over the house across the road?

Thanks again everyone hopefully clear skies soon!

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Update on FLO is that he is more than happy to return the Barlow all i have to do is send it back so once again their reputation for service is justified. I have also ordered the 8mm BST ED so hopefully this will give me the performance i am looking for and once again Alan @ STL was more than helpful

Thanks and hopefully clear skies soon :)

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