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Eyepieces for outreach?

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#26 GeneT


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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:05 PM

For use in an undriven Dob, both field of view and off-axis correction are of primary importance because most of the time, an inexperienced observer will not be looking on-axis, the object will have drifted away from the center of the field

Regarding outreach, this is an important point. People will be viewing for a minute or two, followed by a different person. The object may be at the edge of the field of view a good part of the time for many of the people. You can't keep the object centered when someone else is at the eyepiece, and people who show up at outreach events most often do not know how to nudge the telescope. Tracking is a great asset for doing outreach. Having a Tom O platform for my telescope keeps the objects centered and is a big plus.

#27 GeneT


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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:11 PM

Thanks, everyone! (And thanks, Jon, for the welcome.) Good points about generous eye relief and parfocality being musts. (And as an eyeglass wearer myself, I'll appreciate not having to whip my glasses on and off all evening as I move between the zero-power finder and the eyepiece.)

Time to go look at some manufacturers' and retailers' websites to see what's out there, I guess. There's so much variety in eyepiece design these days, it makes choosing tough! But who can complain about being spoiled for choice? :)

A little dated, but maybe this will interest you.

I am substituting my Radians for Delos eyepieces as they come available.

#28 GeneT


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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:31 PM

I want to present the best view to the public, even at some manageable risk of damage to the eyepieces.

Please do not take this wrong--I will give you the shirt off my back, as long as you take care of it. :grin: My astronomy club does a lot of outreach. When I retired, and had more time for participating in club events, I took my best eyepieces for outreach. I had children show up holding cotton candy, men with hands covered in grease, and women with eyelids drenched in eye shadow. Kids would grab the telescope when losing balance, to keep from falling. I learned how to keep one hand on the telescope, a 12.5 inch truss dob, while maneuvering people to the eyepiece. I learned to tell them to put their eye about half an inch from the eyepiece, then slowly move toward the lens until they could see the object. I already had their hand resting on the focusing knob. When they had the object in view, I told them to slowly turn the knob until the object came into focus. Most people quickly got the hand of that move. However, when I returned home, I was constantly fighting to get the crud off my eyepieces. Finally, I decided to buy some less expensive eyepieces for outreach. I bought some of these: http://www.astronomi...0J0N9290/Page/1

These are not the best eyepieces, but I found they served my outreach purposes quite well. There were times I would put in my Naglers and Radians, but when the crowds were 7 or 8 deep and there was a lot of activity ranging from kids running around, to people walking their dogs (one time a guy was walking his dog and the leash tipped over my telescope) I could return home with my eyepiece problems limited to the less expensive ones that I primarily used for outreach. When our club members gather for an outing, I share and use my good stuff. We like to do A B comparisons using each other's eyepieces.

#29 J_D_Metzger


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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:14 PM

My outreach setup is an Alt-AZ goto mount (iOptron MiniTower), small SCT (C6), and a Baader 8-24mm zoom. I arrived at this configuration after several years of mostly public star parties and some paid star parties (our club gets the proceeds).

The setup is easy to transport, easy and quick to set up (mount has built-in GPS), and the zoom eyepiece stays in the diagonal for the whole night. I do have a 32mm Plossl standing by in case I need a wider field of view, but seldom use it.

#30 sg6



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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:02 PM

It must depend on the number of eyepieces you are considering and the overall budget.

I have the equivalent of the Astro-Tech Paradigms and they are pretty good and about twice the cost of a reasonable plossl. So if $60 a piece was acceptable then 2 of those may be an option, say the 8mm and 25mm.

The eye relief on plossls drops off too fast for public viewing.

Another set I have is the WO SWANS, only 3 in the set but a reasonable spread of focal lengths.

I suppose a zoom is a good option in this instance.

#31 csrlice12



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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:50 PM

I had a lady pull an eyepiece out of the diagonal on my 4" MCT (even though both thumb screws where tightened down). When I said no, no, no you don't need to touch it, she promptly dropped it on the sidewalk and walked away. Fortunately it was just a cheap plossl.


Could be worse, could have been a 31mm Nagler on a refractor on a light weight mount, now, not only is the Nagler damaged, but the objective lens of the telescope probably just popped out and rolled down the street as the scope went all top heavy. :roflmao:

Now we wanna know, whose this happened to?

#32 delgado39


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Posted 24 August 2012 - 10:49 AM

I find a Ethos 13mm for my 10" mirror gives real nice views for first timers.  The FOV is big enough so objects don't float away too fast!, eye relief is comfortable, and many folks say WOW to the 100 degree view.  Generally, folks are pretty respectful around the equipment so I don't often have to clean the eyepiece.  I like to leave the impression that this hobby is fun and adventurous in looking at the stars at night.  Although many of us know weather plays a big part in the equation of viewing.

#33 EdZ


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Posted 25 August 2012 - 07:41 PM

In an ongoing thread, Chascar and I had set up for an outreach event last night. It was damp packing up, so I left my eyepieces in the trays. I took note of what eyepieces I used with each scope.

On my AT111 F=777
24mm Meade SWA, 18mm Tak LE
12mm Astrotech Paradigm and 7mm BO/TMB Planetary

For my WO 80mm SDII F=500
20mm Meade SWA, 10mm Radian, 5mm BO/TMB Planetary


#34 gcs111


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Posted 27 August 2012 - 02:30 AM

I use a 8.8mm Meade UWA series 5000....it has the adjustable twist up eye guard...this keeps the public's eyelashes off the top lens surface. I use it with a 10" f-4-5 dob so it gives about 130x. Also it's not an expensive eyepiece so I save my Naglers which have less eye relief and are more expensive.

#35 Scott in NC

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:44 AM

My best eyepieces are a set of Naglers. When I share my scopes with people, I want them to get the best possible views so I use my best.

Call me crazy, but I'm with Jon on this one. Most of my best EPs also have relatively long eye relief (type 4 Naglers, Vixen LVWs), and it just so happens that these are the easiest for non-astronomers to view through. So when doing outreach I don't tend to use anything different from what I use when I'm observing alone in my own backyard.

#36 amicus sidera

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 07:45 PM

In years long past I've taken my best equipment out, but in the last couple of decades I've had too many instances of individuals maltreating my oculars and telescopes when set up for public viewing - usually not with malice aforethought, but the effects are the same. I'm not made of money, and hence I'm not willing to put out my best equipment to suffer the whims of what amounts to an ignorant audience; what the public does get to view through with me is functional and optically good, just not premium stuff.

If they don't care for the views, well... it was worth what they paid for the experience. :lol: If New Jerseyan were allowed on this forum, I could put it much more directly... :grin:

#37 and75


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Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:54 PM

I generally use these four cheap but good eyepieces, I bought them especially for outreach events. All of them have long eye relief, big lenses. So this is my set:
The 6mm planetary (I think the focal length is closer to 5mm)viewing planets, Moon,
12,5 mm Soligor ED, not the best one (and not the worst) I looked through, but it's good to observe the Galilean moons, while one can see the main 2 belts of Jupiter. Great when the seeing is bad,
18mm Baader widefield and the 32mm GSO plossl for m31, Pleiades, Perseus cluster, etc etc...

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#38 Keith



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Posted 05 November 2012 - 05:54 AM

I frequently use my "ubercheaps" which I keep in the case of my 8" meade "R" tube, these are a 40mm E-Lux 2", 20mm "celestron" (which is an SMA with an unusually wide 60+deg field), 15mm superview and 10mm "SMAgler" (which is the plastic SMA with the field stop bored out to a 70+deg field).

Since the scope is f10 with a coma free field, these actually give a pretty good view, and I am not risking expensive eyepieces. Other than the superview, they are all 3 element, which happens to let the light through pretty well and I still get plenty of ooh's and ahh's, and I NEVER put up a subpar view. The 10mm I rarely use, and prefer to barlow so people have a bigger lens to look through.

That being said, the MAIN reason those cheap eyepieces live in that case, is there is NO chance of me being without a useable set of eyepieces if I leave a case at home.

My "outreach" kit is an orion waist case with a 35mm ES70, 20mm and 15mm meade QX70's, 25mm E-lux plossl, and 3 barlows, 2"ED, 3xED and 2x"shorty". My thinking was to be able to mix and match and still have a decent sized lens and ER (the 15 is not LER, but it is still easy for most to look through).

I used to do outreach with scopes as fast as f4, but for a period of time a 10"f5 was my main scope, mainly because it lived in my vehicle and I could be up and viewing in 5 minutes time as I was frequently a late arrival. I am not sure anyone really cares, but I will share some "tricks" I figured out, which enabled me to get a reasonably wide field with decent edge performance.

The most obvious is the barlow trick, but of course that limits the FOV, not as much of a concern at f5. This is where the 2" ED barlow (GSO) came in handy.

Another trick is GSO specific, but may work in similar designs like the QX. I discovered that the lens element of the shorty barlow, when threaded into the 15mm Superview like a filter, happened to perfectly match for a well corrected 10mm widefield, I called it the poor man's pentax. With the 10" it gave the ideal 2mm exit pupil and 125x, perfect for globulars, ring nebula, and other bright clusters and nebula, and even decent on jupiter and saturn. It had a wide enough field for a good view, and I did not have to worry about getting crud on any premiums. Trying this trick on other eyepieces may vary, as the 2" barlow can be threaded the same way, some designs it works, others it sucks, but the 1.25 on the 15mm WORKS.

Another bonus I stumbled on, was that the cheap 1RPD/BW-Optik/OWL 30mm 80deg eyepiece, which can be picked up used for $50 or so, happened to work well in the original paracorr in the middle position (I may have posted that on that thread in eyepieces several years ago). I was shocked, since I was still expecting astigmatism. The same trick did NOT work in the 30mm Widescan III, so it just happened to be a lucky combo with the 1rpd, an eyepiece I could care less about having to clean peanut butter or mascara off the lens.

I have also used series 5000 SWA's which I got on closeout, which give a view close to the panoptic, and the twist up eyeguards lessen the eyelash or eyelid smears.

For high powers, the burgess/TMB planetary series (now TMB planetary II) worked like a poor man's radian, and handled f5 nicely with long enough eye relief and twist up eyecups to make it harder for them to get at the glass, though NOTHING will stop the kid with the "you mean I look HERE?" finger.

#39 izar187



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Posted 05 November 2012 - 12:10 PM

I'm with others in that for outreach a well corrected field, no matter what the size, and long eye relief for glasses, those are key with a non tracking scope. I usually settle on a couple magnifications for the chosen scope, to keep my eyepiece futzing to a minimum.

#40 edwincjones


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Posted 05 November 2012 - 04:45 PM

I use a Leica zoom 22-7.3mm for max mag and centering of DSO


#41 Wade J

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 10:59 PM

I generally use Televue Plossls (25-20-15-11mm), and TMB Planetaries (6 and 5mm). I also use a 17mm Hyperion,and a 32mm GSO Superview ( I have both of these eyepieces loaned out to our club for outreach). All of these eyepieces are good performers in most any scope and they are a reasonably priced.

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