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spaceboy

What's your thoughts on best eyepieces for Ha solar observing.

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I have been surfing the net trying to find a common eyepieces chosen for solar observing in Hydrogen alpha.

Given that the choice of Ha solar scopes is pretty limited and the cost is often the deciding factor for most of us I figured there is a high chance that most either have a PST, Solar max 60, Lunt35, Lunt50 or Lunt 60. With that in mind I also thought there would have already been an established first choice eyepiece for use in the 5 most common Ha scopes. Similar to that of the TV Plossl eyepiece for Quark owners.

I understand that Daystar are the recommenders of Televue plossl eyepieces for use in their Quark which often makes life easier when the manufacturer has already done the leg work to establish the best eyepiece to use in their product but it's not like Coronado/ Meade or Lunt haven't gone to their own lengths to offer up eyepieces to use in their produces. That being the cemax http://www.meade.com/coronado-cemax-eyepiece-set-with-2x-barlow.html for Coronado/ Meade scopes which some forums suggest are re-coated Ha favourable Meade MA eyepieces http://www.telescopehouse.com/acatalog/Meade_5_Piece_MA_Eyepiece_Set.html and Lunt's offering  https://www.widescreen-centre.co.uk/Catalogue/Lunt%20Eyepieces.html striking a very similar resemblance to Flat field eyepieces http://agenaastro.com/bst-12mm-flat-field-eyepiece.html with the option of a zoom http://www.firstlightoptics.com/lunt-solar-accessories/lunt-125-zoom-eyepiece-72mm-215mm.html which is arguably the same eyepiece as http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orbinar-Zoom-7-2-21-5mm-Eyepiece-31-7mm/dp/B00G34WYH4/ref=sr_1_16?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1424542308&sr=1-16&keywords=seben+zoom  although again with a re-coating to Lunt's spec.

What I found surprising is that other than a few members on CN forum recommending Meade's MA eyepieces for use in the PST there wasn't really much else for other solar scopes. As far as I can tell from searching the internet Lunt scopes seem to favour Televue's Delos eyepiece http://www.telescopehouse.com/acatalog/TeleVue_Delos_.html but at £256+ per eyepieces my guess is that there really isn't going to be that many people out there who can afford a set of Delos to use in their solar scopes.

This had me wondering if anyone has tried the cheaper Meade MA, flat field or zoom clones in their solar scopes? as for all intense purposes they no doubt have all the same advantages in the other areas as the recommended CEMAX or Lunt offerings just minus the improved reflective coatings.

Also are there any members who have been able to do a shoot out between the Ha version of the eyepieces and their clone counterparts ? and what were the findings??

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I've in the past had a lunt 35 and I now own a lunt 60 mm. I've been through a number of fixed eyepieces and zooms to see which produces the best views. I've been through tv plossls, two fixed length vixen slv, seben zoom, lunt zoom and a pentax xf zoom.

My findings are the zoom is best cos with varying viewing conditions it saves you swapping eyepieces.

The tv plossls were sharp and contrasty matching I would say the vixens. The lunt zoom to my eyes anyway was just as good. The so called coating too match the etalon, didn't really add anything too the view.

My 2 top eyepieces are at no 2 is the seben zoom 8/24mm at £50 it really produces a surprisingly sharp view. ( much better than the lunt zoom)

At no 1 is the zoom I currently own, the pentax xf 6.5mm/24mm. From what I've seen so far the views are the best I've had. I chose this one also cos it provides me with a higher magnification. I also have a 5mm vixen slv which gives me 100x for those days with fantastic conditions.

All in all this is my own experience with my ageing eyes.

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I have been using everything on my Lunt 50 from 12mm bst ,9mm vixen lv,7mm tmbII ,6.4 mm Meade plossl down to a 4mm tmb II and have found reasonable results for all,I don't have a zoom but have thinking of getting a zoom or a 5/6 mm Pentax to bring some quality viewing to the scope(v.pleased with Lunt ls 50 btw)

I was also thinking of a 5mm bst so would be interested to here any thoughts on these.

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That's interesting if Lunt suggest Delos. I slightly prefer Radians to Delos, there seems to be a little less stray light with the Radians. I also like that the Radians are smaller and lighter, working quite well for grab and go setups. Could be there's better but I already had the Radians and find them good enough. They work well for white light as well.

The Cemax is a non-starter for me as they included a 25mm with the SolarMax 60, which is not a mag I tend to use so I did not find that very helpful, but maybe it's just me.

Edited by Luke

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I always loved the Hyperion Zoom until it seized up.

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Nick, in my PST I used to use an 11mm TV Plossl most of the time. Outside that a 12.5mm or 9mm BGO depending upon conditions.

I know the Seben zoom is highly rated in PSTs as they are ok at f10 but I never really tried this combo

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 I use the Baader MK111 zoom in the Lunt LS60 for ease of use really.

Dave

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My only Cemax eyepiece (12mm) stays in the Solarmax 40 for grab and run (forget grab n' go here!). It provides a nicely framed disc which I roam around on with my eye. Have tried almost all my other EPs, with varying degrees of success, but find the seeing rarely/never benign enough for the Nagler 3-6.

Always amazed at some of the close-ups our imaging Loungers produce, 'cos I just haven't been lucky(?) enough to achieve those stunning views.

But I'm working on it ...

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Thanks for your feedback on this guys.

I've in the past had a lunt 35 and I now own a lunt 60 mm. I've been through a number of fixed eyepieces and zooms to see which produces the best views. I've been through tv plossls, two fixed length vixen slv, seben zoom, lunt zoom and a pentax xf zoom.
My findings are the zoom is best cos with varying viewing conditions it saves you swapping eyepieces.
The tv plossls were sharp and contrasty matching I would say the vixens. The lunt zoom to my eyes anyway was just as good. The so called coating too match the etalon, didn't really add anything too the view.
My 2 top eyepieces are at no 2 is the seben zoom 8/24mm at £50 it really produces a surprisingly sharp view. ( much better than the lunt zoom)
At no 1 is the zoom I currently own, the pentax xf 6.5mm/24mm. From what I've seen so far the views are the best I've had. I chose this one also cos it provides me with a higher magnification. I also have a 5mm vixen slv which gives me 100x for those days with fantastic conditions.
All in all this is my own experience with my ageing eyes.

Thanks for that. There are a few eyepieces that you mention that I have given some thought to having. I do like the look of those Vixen SLV's although I'm not sure I could afford the 4 focal lengths I'd want at £109 each :(

Do you not find the views suffer from such a small 0.6mm exit pupil at x100 ?

I have been using everything on my Lunt 50 from 12mm bst ,9mm vixen lv,7mm tmbII ,6.4 mm Meade plossl down to a 4mm tmb II and have found reasonable results for all,I don't have a zoom but have thinking of getting a zoom or a 5/6 mm Pentax to bring some quality viewing to the scope(v.pleased with Lunt ls 50 btw)
I was also thinking of a 5mm bst so would be interested to here any thoughts on these.

How did you find the BST performed as I hear they are comparable to the views through the flat field eyepieces which appear to be the same design as Lunt's offering.

That's interesting if Lunt suggest Delos.

Sorry for any confusion Luke. I have seen mention on various forums that the Delos performs well in Lunt scopes not that Lunt themselves recommend them.

Nick, in my PST I used to use an 11mm TV Plossl most of the time. Outside that a 12.5mm or 9mm BGO depending upon conditions.

I know the Seben zoom is highly rated in PSTs as they are ok at f10 but I never really tried this combo

I currently use a Meade 8-24 zoom which seems to work reasonably well but I have had glimpses of issues in Ha which I don't seem to pick up on under the night sky. It's often been said that a fixed focal length will always out perform a zoom due to the internal workings of a zoom and I think for me this seems to be the case on the sun at least.

I have also used my ortho to some success but again for some reason I really seem to notice the tight FOV of the ortho in Ha. I assume this is due to the sweet spot often suffered by Ha scopes. This is what lead me to posting this thread as apparently for the PST at least the Meade MA eyepieces are said to be less effected by the sweet spot. My guess it's similar to some eyepieces showing less SA in refractors than others.

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The only 2 eyepieces I use in my Lunt 60 are the 9mm SLV and the Leica Vario zoom, I find these two are a step apart from the others I have tried and give noticeably better results. :smiley:

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I have used the 5mm slv only very briefly just too try it out and the view was perfectly fine. The conditions on that day were not good but the detail on the disk was good. So on days of very good seeing, I would imagine it would be worth it. I will update as soon as I get chance.

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I currently use a Meade 8-24 zoom which seems to work reasonably well but I have had glimpses of issues in Ha which I don't seem to pick up on under the night sky.

 I think I have now also established what the issues were that I was having from time to time in my zoom :iamwithstupid:

During moments of cloud cover the view obviously went black at the eyepiece but on this occasion I decided rather than take a breather I'd continued to hold over the eyepiece waiting for the clouds to pass. What I noticed was that every now and again I would catch a glimpse of my eye reflection in the top lens. This obviously wasn't as noticeable as being a reflection when lit with a view of the sun but more of a flat and washed out patch on the solar surface. The top lens in the zoom is a lot larger than in any of the other eyepieces I have tried so I always try my best to shield stray light at the eyepiece but running out between clouds I often keep to the bare essentials and use my hands as best as possible to shield the eyepiece. This clearly isn't enough and I will have to now consider other alternatives to blocking stray light. This would also explain why I only notice the problem in the day and not at night. :icon_redface:  

I did though while out today trying a couple simple eyepieces (simple as recommended by Lunt) that I have lying around. That being a SW 10mm & 25mm MA, Synta silver/black top plossl and some revelation eyepieces. I compared them all to my Meade 8-24 zoom which is my current Ha solar eyepiece and I think I have to agree the 8-24mm zooms flexibility and not too shabby views do make it a winner. The revelation eyepieces I feel were on a par with the zoom and in moments of good seeing I would say the plossl were actually showed slightly more contrast but I guess that's due to marginally brighter views over the zoom as there's less optical elements.

I would also go as far as saying the Revelation plossl are as good as my ortho in Ha and the larger 52° FOV in the plossl over the 40° ortho makes them the better choice out of the two. The only downside is just as the ortho have tight eye relief and a small top lens to squint through the zoom appears again to be the better choice overall.

Thanks again for everyone's comments. If anything I hope it has established which is a good choice of eyepieces for Ha solar observing and more importantly that making sure your covered at the eyepiece can make all the difference to the views.

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Just a quick update.

I know the zoom is more convenient and for the best part the views were all I could ask for but I just wasn't getting on with it during the day in the LS60. The problem with flat spots/ eye reflections was solvable with better blocking of stray light but the eye relief seemed to vary with focal length so eye position could be difficult, seeing me have to hover over the eyepiece at times. Again this is probably why I noticed "issues" in the views sometimes more than others.

I decided to put a wanted advert for a used BST explorer to see how that faired. I have to say I was sold on the views instantly and ended up buying the other 2 focal lengths I most used in the zoom. The views are easily as sharp and contrasted as my HD orthos at first glance although admittedly after a little while the ortho do give those subtler details more life, but then that comes as no surprise to me and is the reason I have them for planetary eyepieces. The screw up eye guard on the BST's saves me hovering over the lens trying to avoid black outs and the 60° FOV seems to give that bit more of a sweet spot . With shorter focal lengths there is more of the sun without suffering vignetting. There is a nice sized eye lens and plenty of eye relief with a solid but comfortable eye cup.

I guess Lunt went with the flat field eye pieces as they are said to offer similar views to the BST's ?? although I think the BST explorer/ starguiders give a better range of mags for the f/8.33 LS60 than the FF's. From the reviews I have come across the BST's are also said to have better build than the FF ep's although I think that may just be that the BST's are more cosmetically pleasing to the eye of some people with that dash of colour they have :rolleyes: Either way Lunt's version is said to have the same coatings as their etalons so I would think that would be the final factor to take in to consideration if choosing between Lunts FF offering and the BST's and not build quality alone. The coatings would have to be pretty special on the Lunt eyepieces to beat the BST's on cost and performance though.

I'm sure there will come a time when I miss the dial a mag of the zoom but for sheer comfort and quality of views the BST's win hands down for me.

Edited by spaceboy

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My only Cemax eyepiece (12mm) stays in the Solarmax 40 for grab and run (forget grab n' go here!). It provides a nicely framed disc which I roam around on with my eye. Have tried almost all my other EPs, with varying degrees of success, but find the seeing rarely/never benign enough for the Nagler 3-6.

Always amazed at some of the close-ups our imaging Loungers produce, 'cos I just haven't been lucky(?) enough to achieve those stunning views.

But I'm working on it ...

Hi Floater,

I see you have a SolarMax 40...and a Quark. How do you think they compare? I have a SM40 with BF10 (f10) and absolutely love it. 

Thoughts?

Marshall

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Just a word of warning.  The Baader Hyperion zoom will not come to focus in my Lunt 50mm.  There is insufficient in-focus.  I always fall back on my Baader 10mm EP in the same scope for full disc viewing.  That said, there is another thread solely devoted to the inadequate helical focuser of the Lunt 50 and it is clear individual experiences of the focuser differ.  Roll on the Moonlite.

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Hi Floater,

I see you have a SolarMax 40...and a Quark. How do you think they compare? I have a SM40 with BF10 (f10) and absolutely love it. 

Thoughts?

Marshall

Hi, Marshall. Wow, you picked up on an old thread there! And picked up on something I'm still trying to make up my mind about ...

In short, I think I prefer the SM40 - like yours, with the BF10.

I think the Quarks are very quirky pieces of kit: some owners report quite radically different results. Also, each unit seems to have a different 'optimal' setting. i.e. some have the wing shift tuned anti-clockwise and some clockwise. Mine seems to deliver best at three clicks anti-clockwise.

I had a frustrating journey to find a Quark that actually performed as it should and returned two units to the retailer - who, on testing, them, agreed that they were not up to scratch. I was refunded. I then bought one second-hand, with an assurance from the owner that it worked and a note from Astrograph testifying that it was on-band.

And, yes, it does work. But the jury is still out as far as I am concerned. The Quark can only deliver very close-up views in just about any scope, because of its inbuilt Barlow, and it doesn't seem to give such a bright view as the SM. Also, as you'll know, with the tuner on the SM I can easily bring proms and filaments in and out of view - 'swooping' through the chromosphere, if you like. I can't do that with the Quark.

However, I haven't sold on the Quark 'cos I think it only fair to 'play' with it a bit more. And that hasn't been possible with the so-called summer we have had in Scotland. (It has been recorded as the worst in 30 years!!) So I'm hanging on to the Quark for now but definitely leaning toward selling it on, perhaps to someone who hasn't been spoiled by the wonderful views the SM delivers ...

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss more, 'cos this thread is, as I wrote earlier, very old!

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My main H-alpha EP is the 7.5-22.5 William Optics zoom in the Coronado SolarMax-II 60mm, although the Pentax XW give slightly crisper views. Having a zoom is handy, as others have said. The 5mm Vixen SLV gets some use under very good seeing conditions for detail views. In the Quark-like Solar Spectrum set-up, I tend to use the 25mm Vixen Ortho most of all.

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Another vote for the Pentax XF zoom - it's superb in HA. As far as fixed EPs are concerned, I've found plossls to be better than more exotic and expensive wide view EPs - Delos just didn't work for me, though interesting that some posters here have had more success wi them.

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I have used Plössl EPs as well. They work nicely, I must say. I have also used a 12mm Nagler in the LS35, which was just fine, as did the Delos 8 and the Radian 14mm. I did consider the XF zoom, but its eye relief is much too short for me. The Lunt zoom (otherwise fine) went because the eye relief was borderline, the WO Zoom II has 18.5-19mm eye relief which is just fine.

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I have used Plössl EPs as well. They work nicely, I must say. I have also used a 12mm Nagler in the LS35, which was just fine, as did the Delos 8 and the Radian 14mm. I did consider the XF zoom, but its eye relief is much too short for me. The Lunt zoom (otherwise fine) went because the eye relief was borderline, the WO Zoom II has 18.5-19mm eye relief which is just fine.

Fair point - eye relief may be a problem for spectacle wearers.

One thing if anyone is interested in buying the XF zoom - shop around. Like the Leica zoom, the difference in price between most expensive and cheapest retailers is immense.

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Hi, i have the coronado pst and a simple planetery zoom the zoom is good but i would also like to have a normal eyepiece with relatieve hige/ medium mag to my collection.  Now the interesting question:  will a relatieve “ good “ eyepiece such as the ES 8.8 82 degree or the pentax XF 8.5 mm would  Really improve the fews then when i use the zoom at the same settings? ( i ASK this at another site but with strange answers so i think the people there “ dond know”.i also ASK this becource i beginning like the fews at 9mm to 7.2 mm setting  more and more becource The Sun is then “comforteble  big” but  ofthen the fews are blurry also in fairly good seeing i think, so i wonder if one of the eyepiece i suggest will improve the fews of the zoom setting?   thanks for the tip!!

Edited by andre2

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I use ES 82’ eyepieces with my Lunt 60. Seeing conditions dictate that the 14mm is usually the one of choice together with the 20mm for tuning the PT both purchased second hand from this forum.

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