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De-cloaking a Celestron Axiom LX UWA eyepiece


F15Rules
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I bought a pair of Celestron Axiom LX 2" 82degree UWA eyepieces fairly recently, in 23mm and 31mm focal lengths, based on some very positive reviews from the US where they seem to be more commonly found.

I knew they were large, heavy eyepieces, but I suppose nothing could really prepare me for their actual size and heft!..

 

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The bigger 31mm weighs in at 1449 gms excluding top and bottom caps   (!!😱😂), and the 23mm at 926 gms.

Although my scopes' focuser can handle the full weight of these eps easily enough, they can affect the balance point of the tube in use, compared to my lighter Morpheus and Nagler T2 eyepieces.

I've read reports of big eps like this being "decloaked", ie stripped of their outer shell in order to reduce their weight, but until now I'd stayed clear of attempting it myself. 

Well, over the weekend, I decided to take the plunge and try it on the 23mm first. I had read that it was quite easy to do..

 - just remove the two small Celestron decals located on either side of the eyepiece outer shell..

 - this reveals a small Phillips cross headed screw on each side, these need to be removed to free up the shell from the main inner eyepiece body.

-  Having done the above, the outer shell should simply lift off when you hold the 2" bottom barrel.

I did all the above, and bingo, the outer bulbous shell lifted off easily..it really was very simple in reality, it's just a little nerve-racking to start interfering with a high quality eyepiece in case it is seriously damaged.

The process is completely reversible, apart from the fact that the two small metallic film Celestron decals do get scratched while being lifted off with a very small slot headed screwdriver. The inner body and outer shell of the eyepiece were left undamaged.

There is some factory applied grease on the inner black body when the shell is first removed, but this is easy to clean off without getting any near the optics.

Below are a couple of images showing the before and after pictures, and showing the outer shell next to the decloaked eyepiece.

The weight saving on the 23mm is significant, about a third of the eyepieces' weight is in the shell.

Using digital scales I measured the original weight as being 926gms and the decloaked weight at 649 gms..the decloaked weight is MUCH closer now to my Nagler 12mmT2 at 500 gms, and my Morpheus 9mm at about 330gms.  ( if I fit a 2" to 1.25" adapter (weighing around 100 gms each) permanently to the Nagler and the Morpheus, the difference is reduced again as the Axiom is a 2" barrel only, so doesn't need the adapter).

I will try the eyepiece out in it's decloaked format before deciding whether to do the same with the 31mm monster (which in it's original condition outweighs the Tele Vue 31mm behemoth by at least 300 gms or more!).

I quite like the decloaked "simplicity" look, although I also found the original state with the outer shell in place quite attractive too.

Thanks for reading😊.

Dave

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Edited by F15Rules
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46 minutes ago, jetstream said:

These are vg eyepieces, somewhat forgotten and under rated IMHO.

I agree..I've only used them a few times in short sessions so far, but on my FS128 they deliver wonderful spacewalk views with great contrast, and very sharp out to about 95%or better. 

I always loved using my dearly departed Vixen LVW 22mm, and I'm hoping the views through the Axiom 23mm will match or better the Vixen..🤞🤫😊

Dave

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Decloaking my mushroom top ES-82 30mm dropped the weight from 1369g to 973g, a 29% weight savings.  The process is not as reversible for it since the glue holding the stiff rubber eye cup wouldn't let go causing some damage while it was being pried up to access the helical screw.  I still have to tip my head sideways to get my eye up to the eye lens.

Below is a group shot of it on the far right with other ~30mm eyepieces.  I don't think I have any before pictures of it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I took the plunge yesterday afternoon and decloaked the Axiom 31mm!.

It's completely reversible including the Celestron round stickers this time, as I knew what I was doing and managed to prise the labels off intact.

I think the 31mm looks great decloaked too, and saves very significantly on weight. Also, by coincidence, the top cap from the 23mm in original cloaked state fits on the top of the decloaked 31mm!!

Very happy so far, and hope to try it tonight if it clears as per forecast. Fingers crossed!

 

Dave

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5 hours ago, F15Rules said:

Well, I took the plunge yesterday afternoon and decloaked the Axiom 31mm!.

It's completely reversible including the Celestron round stickers this time, as I knew what I was doing and managed to prise the labels off intact.

I think the 31mm looks great decloaked too, and saves very significantly on weight. Also, by coincidence, the top cap from the 23mm uncloaked fits on the top of the decloaked 31mm!!

Very happy so far, and hope to try it tonight if it clears as per forecast. Fingers crossed!

 

Dave

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Looks like you still have the translucent plastic on the "C" Logo cap on the 31mm.  You should peel that off so it looks better.

After all--now the eyepieces are sleek and shiny.  The logo on the cap should be too.

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1 hour ago, Don Pensack said:

Looks like you still have the translucent plastic on the "C" Logo cap on the 31mm.  You should peel that off so it looks better.

After all--now the eyepieces are sleek and shiny.  The logo on the cap should be too.

There you go Don..all done👍😊

Dave

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2 hours ago, jock1958 said:

Hey Dave they look more sleek and expensive now, one thing what’s the purpose of those bits if they only add weight & bulk? 
 

Maybe they could etch Celestron Axiom on the barrels like the Halloween Plossls 🤔

I guess they thought it made them more distinctive to put gargantuan eye cups on them?  It was an early 2010s thing to go overboard on eyepiece cladding.

For instance, the Celestron Ultima-LX had bulbous rubber grips that were oversized:

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They were the same optically as the Omegon Redline which I think are far more attractive and svelt:

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3 hours ago, jock1958 said:

Hey Dave they look more sleek and expensive now, one thing what’s the purpose of those bits if they only add weight & bulk? 
 

Maybe they could etch Celestron Axiom on the barrels like the Halloween Plossls 🤔

Hi Iain,

Truthfully, I'm not sure.. functionally, the main purpose of the outer shell seems to be to provide a rotating eyecup effect to allow for more comfortable eye positioning: in a way it's a bit of an illusion, as the outer shell moves up and down as you turn it, making the inner black barrel itself  (which you see now as the outer barrel when uncloaked) appear to rise and fall with the rotation. It does provide a platform to rest your cheek/face on. 

I was actually concerned about how I would be able to hold my viewing eye steady once this "platform" was removed, but in practice it hasn't so far (in admittedly only one short session) been an issue, even with the 31mm "megabeast" and its' quite long eye relief.

Cosmetically, the original, cloaked eyepiece is certainly eye catching, and, I think, quite attractive. But it does make an already large eyepiece look very bulky, and adds around a third in weight to the uncloaked central eyepiece unit.

Hope that makes sense?

The great thing is that the process can be reversed in literally a couple of minutes, and with almost zero cosmetic damage and zero build damage. Also, the decloaking makes for easier balancing of the scope as compared with my Nagler T2 and Morpheus eyepieces..adding a 2" to 1.25" adapter to these adds a bit more weight to them and again narrows the gap versus the Axioms.

Dave

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4 minutes ago, F15Rules said:

Hi Iain,

Truthfully, I'm not sure.. functionally, the main purpose of the outer shell seems to be to provide a rotating eyecup effect to allow for more comfortable eye positioning: in a way it's a bit of an illusion, as the outer shell moves up and down as you turn it, making the inner black barrel itself  (which you see now as the outer barrel when uncloaked) appear to rise and fall with the rotation. It does provide a platform to rest your cheek/face on. 

I was actually concerned about how I would be able to hold my viewing eye steady once this "platform" was removed, but in practice it hasn't so far (in admittedly only one short session) been an issue, even with the 31mm "mega east" and it's quite long eye relief.

Cosmetically, the original, cloaked eyepiece is certainly eye catching, and, I think, quite attractive. But it does make an already large eyepiece look very bulky, and adds around a third in weight to the uncloaked central eyepiece unit.

Hope that makes sense?

The great thing is that the process can be reversed in literally a couple of minutes, and with almost zero cosmetic damage and zero build damage.

Dave

Yeh I thought as much Dave same as my 5mm Vixen SLV, it’s a bit of clunky affair but does the job. Must admit I like eye cups as they help with my eye placement, I added them to those Halloween Plossls I bought off you and it does make a difference, cuts out the glare and kidney beaning. 

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4 minutes ago, jock1958 said:

Yeh I thought as much Dave same as my 5mm Vixen SLV, it’s a bit of clunky affair but does the job. Must admit I like eye cups as they help with my eye placement, I added them to those Halloween Plossls I bought off you and it does make a difference, cuts out the glare and kidney beaning. 

I'll see how this winter goes with no eye cups..the problem is, these Axioms have wide and flat tops, and so would need much wider eyecups than are readily available.

I did consider (Don, don't listen to this part!) cutting down the wide original eyecups from the cloaked units..the original 23mm cap fits fairly well on the 31mm uncloaked unit..perhaps I could cut the centre out leaving the edge rim as an eyecup 😱😁..

But clearly that would be fairly drastic, so I might try looking for something like a Pringles tube plastic cap to to work with..

Dave

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You might look into converting a collapsible rubber lens hood into an oversized volcano style eyecup by inverting it and putting the wide end around the eyepiece and look through the lens attachment end.  You might have to visit a well stocked brick & mortar camera store to try out various ones until finding one the fits well.

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15 hours ago, jock1958 said:

Maybe they could etch Celestron Axiom on the barrels like the Halloween Plossls 🤔

Regarding etching, the original outer casings do indeed have the detail you mentioned etched on them, and it looks very nice too.

Dave

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I just weighed the Axiom LX 31mm on my wife's electronic scales.

With all the parts including outer shell and both endcaps, it weighs in at 1483 grams (that's 1.483 kg or 3lbs 4 oz!).

Without the shell and endcaps it weighs 1082gms. So the decloaking has saved 401gms or 32.5% of the original weight.

That is a very worthwhile saving: although the 31mm still weighs over a kilo, it makes a worthwhile difference to the balance of the scope😊👍.

Dave

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18 hours ago, F15Rules said:

I'll see how this winter goes with no eye cups..the problem is, these Axioms have wide and flat tops, and so would need much wider eyecups than are readily available.

I did consider (Don, don't listen to this part!) cutting down the wide original eyecups from the cloaked units..the original 23mm cap fits fairly well on the 31mm uncloaked unit..perhaps I could cut the centre out leaving the edge rim as an eyecup 😱😁..

But clearly that would be fairly drastic, so I might try looking for something like a Pringles tube plastic cap to to work with..

Dave

 

18 hours ago, F15Rules said:

I'll see how this winter goes with no eye cups..the problem is, these Axioms have wide and flat tops, and so would need much wider eyecups than are readily available.

I did consider (Don, don't listen to this part!) cutting down the wide original eyecups from the cloaked units..the original 23mm cap fits fairly well on the 31mm uncloaked unit..perhaps I could cut the centre out leaving the edge rim as an eyecup 😱😁..

But clearly that would be fairly drastic, so I might try looking for something like a Pringles tube plastic cap to to work with..

Dave

Bought some cheapo rubber eyecups off eBay for my Halloween Plossls which do the job but can only be described as functional not pretty (they come in all sizes)
Also bought an eye guard extender on a whim from a fellow SGL’r, wasn’t quite sure which TV eyepiece to use it on 🤔 but tried it on my TV 31mm with rubber eyecup folded down and it solved my eye placement instantly, no more kidney beaning and stray light vastly reduced. 

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3 hours ago, F15Rules said:

I just weighed the Axiom LX 31mm on my wife's electronic scales.

With all the parts including outer shell and both endcaps, it weighs in at 1483 grams (that's 1.483 kg or 3lbs 4 oz!).

Without the shell and endcaps it weighs 1082gms. So the decloaking has saved 401gms or 32.5% of the original weight.

Interesting that the Axiom is heavier than the ES-82 version.  1483g vs 1369g and 1082g vs 973g.  The Axiom cloak is only 5g heavier, while the main eyepiece body is 109g heavier.  I wonder what accounts for the ~10% difference in weight?

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1 hour ago, Louis D said:

Interesting that the Axiom is heavier than the ES-82 version.  1483g vs 1369g and 1082g vs 973g.  The Axiom cloak is only 5g heavier, while the main eyepiece body is 109g heavier.  I wonder what accounts for the ~10% difference in weight?

I don't know, Louis:glasses12:..

I'm not familiar with the ES eyepiece construction..I've read that they are very similar to the Celestron in terms of performance, does that mean they have the same optical configuration?

I suppose if the Celestron had a different number of elements or different sized ones, that could explain it?

But I'm happy to have shed about 1/3 of the weight of my eyepiece..

Dave

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It was generally accepted on astro forums back in the early 2010s that the Celestron Axiom LX, original Meade 5000 UWA, and original Explore Scientific 82 series with the mushroom top were all the same optically and differed only in cloak style and claimed focal lengths.  Perhaps this wasn't actually the case?

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A simple difference in the size and shape of the housing could account for it.  The current ES 30mm has a conical machining that is absent from the 31mm de-cloaked Axiom.

That heavy shoulder of aluminum could very well be a contributor, as well as a heavier aluminum wall.

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  • 5 months later...
Posted (edited)

It's been a while since I mentioned the two Celestron Axiom LX 23mm and 31mm eyepieces discussed in this thread.

I've now owned this pair for 12 months and have used them both a good deal, especially in the winter season.

In short, and after using them in a variety of conditions in both my FS128 and Vixen SP102m scopes, I feel that these are just excellent eyepieces, delivering wonderful, sharp, contrasty and immersive views.

It may be useful to summarise the positives and negatives as I see them..(this is quite subjective IMHO)

Positives:

Excellent Optical quality - very sharp, great contrast and few aberrations. Sharp at F8 virtually to the edge of the field (not the sternest test, I know!)

"Spacewalk" ultrawide 82 deg fov..the views of objects such as M42, The Double Cluster in Perseus are just stunning

Build quality and durability

Comfortable in use once accustomed to them 

Great value for money, especially used (they were discontinued several years ago, but odd "new old stock" examples do come up for sale now and again).

Negatives

The sheer size and weight of these eps can come as a bit of a shock at first sight..however, if you have a robust focuser, with adjustable tension locking, they are not difficult to use..but they probably wouldn't balance well with some smaller refractors and dobs.

A good, robust 2" diagonal is a must.. - an Everbright 2" would be ideal, being machined from a single block of aluminium. Some cheaper 2" diagonals have thread on nosepieces and eyepiece holders that can undo themselves too easily when heavily loaded..I found this with some Skywatcher stock 2" units a few years ago. I have an excellent Astro Tech 2" diagonal which holds the eyepieces firmly, but care should always be taken when adjusting the diagonal with the eyepiece in situ..

I plan to keep both of these lovely eyepieces (the 31mm is currently on temporary loan to a friend for evaluation in his scopes😁)..the 23mm is a worthy replacement for my much missed LVW 22mm, (and Barlows well with my AP Barcon 2" barlow, and the 31mm excels for really immersive low power views of extended objects.

N.B. I have acquired a Baader T2 BBHS prism with 35mm of clear aperture, fitted with a 2" nosepiece and Baader T2- 2" Clicklock eyepiece holder. As the LX 23mm has a 34mm field stop, I can illuminate it fully with no vignetting, using this setup.

The 31mm has a 44mm field stop, but I don't notice significant edge darkening despite this..

Highly recommended.

Dave

 

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