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A new planetary eyepiece


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Hi everyone,

I think I am going to buy a 5mm eyepiece rather than a 2X Barlow, because it seems to be possible to get a reasonbale one a lot cheaper than a good Barlow will cost.

I have been doing some research, and have come up with the following possibilities:

Celestron X-Cel 5mm

Vixen NPL 5mm

SkyWatcher LER 5mm

TAL 2X Barlow (Yes it's a Barlow, but it's very cheap!)

My question is - are there any that I should avoid, and are there any more cheap ones that you can recommend? Would I be better off going for the TAL Barlow (or any other cheap Barlow you know of) besed on optical quality?

I am using a 10" scope, and I currently have experience with the standard Sky-Watcher Plossl EPs, and the 10mm gives me very nice views of Jupiter's details. I am looking for similar image quality, just with higher magnification for planetary and lunar use - I want to avoid ones with poor image quality like the plague.

I have also found some tempting links on eBay:

1.25" 5mm 60 Degree Explorer Dual ED Eyepiece on eBay (end time 03-Dec-10 16:54:11 GMT)

Skywatcher 5mm LET (LER) Eyepiece on eBay (end time 19-Nov-10 13:23:10 GMT)

1.25" 5mm 58 Degree TMB designed Planetary eyepiece on eBay (end time 29-Nov-10 19:21:46 GMT)

Which should I get?

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I think the explorers and the planetaries both have strong followings and represent great value for money.

The skywatcher doesnt get as good reviews, so unless you need the huge eye relief it offers I would go for either of the other two.

(I recently got an explorer and planetary in a slightly longer focal length so I could compare them - it's been cloudy since I got them so my comparison so far only goes as far as openiong the boxes..the planetaries have a twist up AND a fold down eye guard - some would see that as an advantage...that's the extent of my comparison so far!!)

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Thanks. I currently have a 10mm which gives me 180X, and the views are very sharp with this. 240X may give softer views, but I want to get closer to the details I see in the 10mm.

I have a 10" F/4.8 Orion Optics newtonian and, to be honest, I've seldom found going above 200x worth it on Jupiter. Trouble is as you get "closer" the details become indistict so it's a pleasure to drop back to a lower magnification again.

Saturn is a different matter and that planet seems to "take power" better than Jupiter. So even if you don't use it a lot on Jupiter, you will use it on Saturn, when it's favorably presented again :)

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I have a 10" F/4.8 Orion Optics newtonian and, to be honest, I've seldom found going above 200x worth it on Jupiter.

That's an opinion that I've seen many utter in these parts (the Benelux) as well, and people often blame it on the seeing.

But to be honest, my personal experience is that with a good 10" scope, Jupiter takes 330x-350x from time to time (rarely, yes, but enough times to make it really worthwhile) as long as it's over 30° even in these parts, and then reveals a lot more details than at 200x.

A lot that other users blamed on the seeing turned out to be collimation and first and foremost improper cooling (something which a couple of baffles, a fan and half an hour of patience can fix).

Someone said the exact same thing about Jupiter before he got his 18" Obsession. The Obsession didn't change his opinion. But a new fan and new collimation tools (and collimation knowledge) did, and he now sometimes uses (as do I) more than 500x on Jupiter, despite our legendary bad seeing (I confess that at those magnifications, you do have to wait for at least a minute before you get those two seconds of good seeing that make it worth your while, but that's the kick we do it for, innit?)

Back to the subject, my vote is on the TMB Planetary as well (even though personally I prefer other eyepieces and eyepieces/barlow combinations, but they're not at that price).

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