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The Small and the Large with a 150PDS


PeterC65
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I bought the Explorer 150PDS in May, so it hasn’t had many outings yet. Mainly I bought it to try out a Newtonian, and because it’s the widest aperture scope I can get on my mount, but tonight’s session makes me think it is a very good all-rounder telescope.

The main aim of the session was to compare the Explore Scientific and Baader Classic Ortho eyepieces for observing the planets (the small), and to try out the new Baader Hyperion Aspheric 36mm eyepiece for wide angle (the large).

I started the mount from park and the alignment was good enough throughout the session. I carried out PAEs on a few targets and this gradually improved the alignment.

There were some light and moving clouds that came across during the first hour of the session, but I managed to observe in the gaps and the clouds did not get in the way.

Since I last used it, I’ve bought and modified a Geoptik Nadira observing chair. It worked well with the Explorer 150. I set the seat position one down from the top and that height was good for the whole session with targets ranging from 30° to 75°. The chair is more comfortable than the kick stool I use with the refractor and Mak because it has a back rest and footrest and a higher sitting position. It is harder to move around but very stable. The downside is that I had to stand up and bend down to reach the eyepiece case.

The Baader Hyperion Aspheric 36mm eyepiece in combination with the Explorer 150 is a great widefield scope. Better than my refractor because of the much larger aperture. Targets are much brighter, and the field of view is almost the same. The eyepiece gives a very nice view, filling the eyes field of view, with a big eye lens and good eye relief. It is a very immersive and easy to use eyepiece. Stars in the outer 25% are stretched into short tangential lines but this is only really noticeable with brighter stars and in the outer 10%.

Jupiter

This was bright and obvious and unimpeded by cloud. Three moons were visible close to the planet forming an L shape, these turned out to be Callisto, Europa and Amalthea. Ganymede was also visible further out. I could see the North and South Equatorial Cloud Bands but no more detail.

The ES82 6.7mm and the BCO 6mm gave very similar views. The BCO 6mm gave a slightly crisper image, suggesting that it performs better in the faster scope than the ES82. With both eyepieces I could make out the diffraction spikes (actually broad bands) from the secondary spider.

As ever, the best view was with the Binoviewer and x2.25 Barlow Lens. The Skymax 127 / Binoviewer / x2.25 Barlow combination provides a better view of Jupiter though.

Saturn

The planet was setting into some trees, so I observed it next using the Binoviewer and x2.25 Barlow. I could see Titan, but the other moons were not obvious and there was no detail visible in the planet or the rings.

I tried the ES82 6.7mm with the x2.25 Barlow Lens and the planet looked smaller than it did with the Binoviewer and x2.25 Barlow Lens which seemed odd. Again, the Skymax 127 / Binoviewer / x2.25 Barlow combination provides a better view.

A meteor passed through the field of view while I was observing which was a nice treat.

M2

A star cluster near to Saturn. It was just a bright fuzzy blob with the ES82 8.8mm with none of the individual stars visible. With the ES82 4.7mm M2 was bigger but showed no more detail.

M15

Another star cluster near to Saturn and the same result, just a bright fuzzy blob with the ES82 8.8mm with none of the individual stars visible.

M33

Hard to find until I had done a PAE on the nearby M31. With the ES68 24mm it appeared as a faint fuzzy blob. As a target it was uninteresting through an eyepiece with none of the detail that is possible to observe with EEVA.

NGC869 / NGC884

The Double Cluster looked amazing with the ES68 24mm which nicely frames both clusters. A great target. The field of view with the BHA 36mm is a bit too big and the detail of the star clusters is lost.

M31 / M32 / M110

With the ES68 24mm I could see the bright centre of the galaxy with some indication of its elliptical shape. I could see M110 but M32 was not obvious.

Switching to the BHA 36mm was a revelation. Easily the best view I’ve had of M31 through an eyepiece. The bright centre seemed more extended and the shape clearer. Still no detail and the EEVA view is much better, but I could make out M110 and M32 (once I checked where it should be) plus a bright star on the edge of the field of view. This was a really nice widefield view.

M45

With the ES68 24mm it fills the field of view. I could see some glow around the brightest stars, better with the Skyglow filter than with the UHC filter. With the BHA 36mm the star cluster was well framed and a great widefield target.

Kemble’s Cascade

I used a central star, SAO012969, as the GOTO target. This is a lovely target, nicely fitting into the field of view of the BHA 36mm. I could see the small star cluster at one end and the line of stars leading to it, each varying in brightness.

Hyades

I used a Hyadum III, SAO093955, as the GOTO target. The BHA 36mm frames some of the star but the field of view is too small to take in all of them (this is a 5° wide target). A nice view with Aldebaran at the edge and the stars around Hyadum III though. It is hard to get the perspective of a star cluster with Hyades as they are well dispersed.

NGC6992

I could not make out the East Veil Nebula, even with the UHC filter, but by now the eyepieces were getting coated by condensation and I was getting tired and cold.

Mars

Observed at the end of the session so that it had risen higher in the sky and was not occluded by cloud. The eyepieces were getting covered by condensation by this point. The planet appeared as a bright disc with no detail visible. Again, the BCO 6mm was perhaps a little crisper than the ES82 6.7mm.

 

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I use the 130pds for visual.  I think the PDS line get dodged almost because they 'are for imaging'.  I've taken precisely 3 images with mine because it's always got an eyepiece in it lol.

I struggle to see much more than bands on Jupiter with my 130pds. I use an 8mm BST and x2 Barlow so between 80 and 160 power roughly.  The view is very pleasing and crisp (when seeing supports it) but I think it's a lack of contrast.  I'm going to floc my tube over the next couple weeks (I hope) which should help, but I need to try out my polarising filter also.

I think we may suffer with a similar issue though: the wide field views are just too good!  The planets are good (also had a mak127 and agree it's better for planets) but the widefield is just delicious.

I look forward to you next report when M42 is up and about.  It'll blow your mind with your scope!

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