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Mars viewings - and the winner is...

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Clearish skies this evening so decided to try a number of different eyepieces in my Binotron binoviewer with powerswitch and 18” dob.

2/5 - First up a pair of new Baader mk4 zooms. Couldn’t get comfortable with these. I must have a big nose as they just didn’t “fit”. FOV seemed smallest out of the group, found adjusting the various magnifications fiddly (would struggle on a really cold night with gloves on) plus long eye relief so felt like I was looking through a ships porthole. Unfortunately will be returning these.

3/5 - 32mm Televue plossl. Bought these a while ago for lunar views (very good for this) so perhaps not best suited to planets. Ok but nothing special. Medium magnification with the powerswitch was good but other two settings average.

4/5 - Denk 21mm, probably the sharpest view all evening (not sure if that was a lucky clear spell or the eyepieces themselves) but a little dimmer than the panoptics below. Could clearly see both poles (a small white dot on top and larger region on the bottom, both set at an angle) plus faint dark patches on the surface. Real wow moment. 

5/5 - Panoptic 24mm. Super comfortable like wearing your favourite pair of slippers, bright views, wide FOV and enjoyed views with all three magnifications. Have tried many different eyepiece combos over the years but keep coming back to these. Even better now I’ve filled in the undercuts with 5mm tape so really secure in the Binotron.

However, the winners on the night were my OVNI-B Night Vision goggles! Had a quick look up just before I packed the gear away scanning across the sky with a 642 filter and x1 magnification and stumbled across the Andromeda galaxy! Unbelievable. No averted gaze, just there waiting to be looked at - a shame the clouds rolled in before I could take a closer look in the dob. I’ll be back...

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Nice report. The Denks come highly recommended but I’ve never had the pleasure of trying them. The 32mm Celestron plossl is a great eyepiece for the money, but maybe a bit outclassed in this company. I still keep mine and use it quite often. And I agree with your comments on the Panoptic 24mm. Unless you need very long eye relief, I don’t think there’s a better all round eyepiece on the market. Superb for binoviewing too - even solar ha, they are as sharp as orthos, but much more immersive. 

And night vision goggles. That’s just cheating.

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Round 2 last night. Decided to give my new grab and go set up (a skywatcher mak127) a shot at the moon and Mars inbetween breaks in the cloud. Binotron and panoptics in place. Initial views good although nothing special. Let the scope cool after an hour and wow, Mars was crystal clear. Not sure if this was viewing conditions or the scope but so much more detail on show and a clear disk with sharp edges. Keen to try more magnification but didn’t have chance to test. Then turned to the moon. Nice views on all 3 powerswitch levels, although difficult to make out detail as nearly 3/4 full. However, popped in a Baader neodymium filter and holy smoke, completely different view. So much more detail visible and considerably brighter. Unfortunately clouds rolled in before I could repoint at Mars. Not sure if improvements were condition related or kit but very impressed with the little Mak and new filter. Bad noises coming from large Dob packed away in the garage...

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