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Why new up and coming amateur and professional astronomers around the world should endeavour to get familiar with the all American Vernonscope Brandon Orthoscopic eyepieces, (handmade in the U.S.A).


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Dear Cloudy Nights,

My name is James Howes and I have the privilege of living in the Greenwich Borough not far from the Royal Observatory in London, UK. I have a lifelong interest in astronomy, and over the years have had the honour of owning many scopes ranging from the Sky-watcher, Meade, Celestron, progressing to the Vernon Scope and TMB/APM.

 

Images below of my TMB/APM 130 /f9.25 super planetary and TMB 80 /f7.5 on my Sky-watcher EQ8 mount/tripod

 

 

 

 

Article by: James Howes with contribution from Ted Harrison.  1st March 2018

 

Why new up and coming amateur and professional astronomers around the world, should endeavour to get familiar with the all American Vernonscope Brandon Orthoscopic eyepieces, (handmade in the U.S.A).

I have felt compelled and driven to write a small article about the all American Vernonscope Brandon Orthoscopic eyepieces. This is simply because I fell in love with these oculars over a good number of years, and I have come to the sad realization from a present day UK perspective, that so little seems to be known about them on a world scale - certainly in light of new up and coming professional and amateur astronomers alike.  

So, my intention in this short article is to attempt to address this with the help of a friend I will introduce shortly. As a perpetual student and lecturer of fine art, I am filled with an ever present desire to learn, always with a strong sense of curiosity and need to look at the world around me. My approach to astronomy is quite simple. I set up a telescope, point and look and on a good clear night the sky will always reveal something new which I have never seen before or I will look at the moon and unpick new details. Essentially the night sky keeps me coming back for more.

My own experience of these connoisseur Vernonscope Brandon planetary oculars is nothing less than exquisite. Through my eyes they display a non-compromising performance that boasts sharp contrasting images of the night sky and planetary observations. I continue to have the privileged opportunity to engage with a number of apochromatic telescopes from the 80/7.5, 100 f8, 130 /f9.25  super planetary and the 152 /f8. These world class oculars mated to these telescopes have in my opinion presented unforgettable experiences.

My TMB/APM 130 /f9.25 super planetary and TMB 80 /f7.5 on my Sky-watcher EQ8 mount boasting both my world famous legendary Star Diagonals, by Vernonscope & Company (Classed by many, as the finest Star Diagonal in the world,) housing my 24mm and 48mm Brandon oculars. (Refer to plates: 1 to 5)

 

Plate 1.

 

Plate 2.

 

Plate 3.

 

Plate 4.

 

Plate 5.

 

The Vernonscope Brandon orthoscopic eyepieces are suited to telescope designs that offer focal ratios of F/7 and beyond.  The quality of the views through these oculars does not in my humble opinion, get any better than this. The images are breath taking – cool, tack-sharp and highly contrasting tones right to the edge of the field of view displaying textbook images.  From an artist’s perspective, I’m a stickler for visual detail and my expectation is nothing less than wanting perfection. These oculars do not disappoint. I have tried other well-known eyepiece brands but for me none have come up to the Vernonscope Brandon performance.

Many of you out there, and rightly so, will want to hear about the oculars specifications, and just that little bit more. As such I have chosen to ask a very good friend of mine from `Harrison Telescopes Ltd’ based in the UK to help me out. Let me very briefly introduce my good friend:

Ted Harrison has a long standing experience in the field of using astronomical instruments amounting to 30 years plus.  His experience has further extended in the field of telescope engineering in repairing some of the most advanced computerised and complex optical systems and has this ever critical eye for recognizing optical perfection.

Ted Harrison:

The Vernonscope Brandon Orthoscopic eyepieces are excellent planetary eyepieces. They produce an ultra-sharp image and dark backgrounds by using a very high contrast design, allowing impressive resolution of double stars. Low narrow angle scattering and single coating results in dark backgrounds and very sharp resolution. Brandon’s are chosen by Questar for their legendary telescopes made in Pennsylvania. Brandon’s are made in the USA to a superb level of quality that makes them highly desirable for serious observers.

Brandon's design uses a pair of cemented achromatic elements in an air spaced configuration and is considered one of the sharpest designs ever made. They give incredibly sharp views of the moon and planets with very low scatter. 

I have used them for many years in various telescopes and have never been disappointed in their performance.


Specifications:

·         Four element designs give a flat, beautifully corrected 50° field of view.

·         Optical elements are exactingly ground and hard-coated with magnesium fluoride.

·         Precision metal parts are black-anodized for antireflection and machined to standard 1 1/4" diameter.

·         Parfocal mechanical designs - no need to refocus when changing eyepieces.
Comfortable exit pupil distance for observing ease.

·         Threaded at the base to accept all 1 1/4" Vernonscope Mounted Glass Filters.

 

I would now like to add a little background history reflecting my own understanding of the origins of these ocular marvels, and yes it is quite the pedigree.

Chester Brandon (to his close friends known as Chet) was one of America’s greatest optical designers. Chester Brandon believed he could improve the Zeiss Abbe Orthoscopic lens design, essentially the most expensive eyepieces on the face of the earth. In 1947 Chester Brandon arguably did just that!  I’m sure there will be people out there who may scoff at this, but Brandon’s, intention were quite clear.  He saw there was an opportunity for improvement to the Zeiss Abbe design and he did just that, hence the birth of the all American Brandon ocular design.

In 1947 Chester Brandon brought the best possible ocular design to the US market accompanied with a social conscience in terms of making his oculars affordable in contrast with other ocular makers (I believe this still stands true today in contrast to other very high end oculars that are available to all.)  The 16 and 32mm Brandon orthoscopic planetary eyepieces ‘emerged across the US first in the very late 40s early 50s. Then later would follow the 24, 12, 8, 6 Brandon oculars and the very rare 4mm. (Refer to plates: 6 to 9)

 

Plate 6.

 

Plate 7.

 

Plate 8.

 

Plate 9.

 

Images of some of the early original Brandon oculars that came on to the US market in the late 40s early 50s.

In addition to the Brandon oculars, Chester Brandon would bring to the market a range of astronomical telescopes and spotting scopes. In addition, Chet would also bring to the U.S market, astronomical Brandon objective lenses in cells, ranging from a 3”, 4” and 6” (advertised in sky and telescopes in December 1947, accompanied with the introduction of the 16 and 32mm Brandon orthoscopic planetary eyepieces). (Refer to plates: 10 to 13)

http://www.cloudynights.com/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=441259

Plate 10.

 

Plate 11.

 

Astronomical Brandon 4” objective f15 Len in cell by `Brandon Scientific Development`.

 

Plate 12.

 

A rare classic Brandon 70 – 22 spotting Scope Binocular from 1952 `Brandon Scientific Development`.

 

Plate13.

 

By 1963 Mr Don Yeier, President of Vernonscope, who was based in Candor NY would seize the opportunity to purchase the Brandon ocular design from Chester Brandon, along with all the eyepiece machine tooling.  From this point on up until 2013, Don Yeier would over the period of 50 years continue to bring to the U.S market the pinnacle of ocular performance design accompanied with modest world market demands as well. The Brandon ocular design had firmly and irreversibly found its place in the psyche of American and many worldwide astronomers both amateur and professional. (Refer to plates: 14 to 21)

 

Plate14.

 

Set of vintage 1965 flat top Vernonscope & Company Brandon oculars.

 

Plate15.

 

Plate16.

 

Set of rare vintage 1970s standard Vernonscope & Company Brandon brass oculars accompanied with Dakin Barlow

 

Plate17.

 

Plate18.

 

Plate19.

 

A one-of–a-kind Prototype sample Field set that never went into production

 

Plate 20.

 

Plate 21.

 

Rare 50th anniversary Vernonscope & Company Brandon ocular sets (Refer to plates: 22 to 24)

 

Plate 22.

 

A set of anodized-Gold Brandon oculars commemorating Vernonscope & Company`s 50th anniversary

 

Plate 23.

 

A one-of–a-kind set of custom Brandon oculars inclusive of the 48mm commemorating Vernonscope & Company’s 50th anniversary

 

Plate  24.

 

Today the U.S. military continue to make regular orders of the Vernonscope Brandon ocular. The U.S. Navy has a history of making orders for the Vernonscope Brandon oculars.  Then there is NASA who has made their request for these oculars (it is my understanding they were used on different space missions. It`s also been suggested that some of the Vernonscope Brandon Ocular are still floating around earth’s orbit – no joke!)  We then have the much loved and world renowned `Questar` who Vernonscope have proudly made the Questar Brandon ocular since 1971 to accompany their telescopes.

Finally, the Brandon oculars to this day continue to make their presence strongly known across the U.S, and in minority cases across the world as well.  Don had in the past stressed that he did not invest extensively in promotional advertisement of the Brandon oculars on the global stage, it is my understanding he believed the Brandon ocular performance and public opinion would do all the talking and the rest is history. Today all Chester Brandon oculars since 2013 are now proudly made by Liz Mansfield, who is the current President and owner of Vernonscope LLC based in Raleigh, North Carolina.  

 

(Refer to plates: 25 to 31)

 

Plate 25.

 

Set of standard Brandon oculars in a walnut case by Vernonscope LLC

 

Plate 26.

 

Plate 27.

 

Set of flat top Brandon oculars in a walnut case by Vernonscope & Company

Plate 28.

 

Plate 29.

 

A pair of Brandon 48mm oculars in a bespoke walnut case by Vernonscope & Company

Plate 30.

 

The Brandon 48mm ocular in a bespoke walnut case by Vernonscope LLC

 

Plate 31.

 

Set of flat top Brandon oculars in an Birchwood case by Vernonscope LLC

 

Liz continues to maintain and rigorously test the non-compromising performance of these exquisite oculars which continue to be handmade and assembled. ‘Since 1991 the Brandon lenses have been made on the latest optical generating equipment and highly polished to avoid cosmetic defects’. These oculars are further made, with additional complementary Vernonscope products such as the world famous Dakin Barlow, along with many other products, as seen below and proudly in my collection (Refer to plates: 32 to 36)

 

Plate 32.

 

The 2.4X Vernonscope Dakin Barlow by Vernonscope & Company

 

Plate 33.

 

 

Plate 34.

 

The world famous legendary Star Diagonal, by Vernonscope & Company

(Classed by many, as the finest Star Diagonal in the world).

 

Plate 35.

 

The 2” Amici prism by Vernonscope & Company

 

Plate 36.

 

Vernonscope & Company Binoviewers, (embodying Zeiss Jena optics and Schott glass prisms).

 

I’m guessing by now you will have come to the realization that I am irrevocably a devout lover of the Brandon orthoscopic eyepieces’ and I should further add that this also includes all the complementary Vernonscope products. Today I’m  now the proud owner and collector of the all American Vernonscope Brandon orthoscopic eyepieces, boasting all-known Brandon metal designs and additions, accompanied with many of the Vernonscope accessories which I have collected throughout the ensuing years (all images in this article reference some aspects of my collection). This collection spans a history as far back as the late 40s right up to the present day and is accompanied with a signed declaration made out by the former president of Vernonscope, Mr Don Yeier in 2013. This declaration declares that this collection of Brandon oculars and the historical development of Vernonscope products as a whole is the largest in the world, period.

The full Vernonscope collection (Refer to plates: 37 to 64)

 

Plate 37.

 

Plate 38.

 

Plate39.

 

Plate 40.

 

Plate 41.

 

Plate 42.

 

Plate 43.

 

Plate 44.

 

Plate 45.

 

Plate 46.

 

Plate 47.

 

Plate 48.

 

Plate 49.

 

Vernonscope & Company’s, legendary 2” wide angle ocular, fondly known as the; ‘The magnificent beast`.

 

Plate 50.

 

Plate 51.

 

Plate 52.

 

Plate 53.

 

Plate 54.

 

Plate 55.

 

The 80s version of the Vernonscope & Company Brandon Master Birder. Spotting scope.

Plate 56.

 

Plate 57.

 

The Modern Vernonscope LLC Brandon Master Birder (boasting the Starlight instruments feather touch focuser).

Plate 58.

 

Plate 59.

 

The Legendary Vernonscope & Company 94mm F/7 Brandon apochromatic refractor

 

Plate 60.

 

Plate 61.

 

Plate 62.

 

Plate 63.

 

Archive Vernonscope box; retaining orginal signed declarations.

 

Plate 64.

 

Orignal hand writen letter by Chester Brandon (ocular designer) to Don Yeier discussing modification to the barrell of 16mm brandon ocular.

 

On a final note, I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this article.  I’d like to think my personal account of these wonderful oculars (and with the help of Ted Harrison’s contribution) presents persuasive reasoning as to why both amateur and professional U.S and astronomers around the world should get familiar with these all American Vernonscope Brandon orthoscopic oculars.

At some point in the future it would be great to attend a ‘star party’ and be able to share the experience of these oculars with those of you who love these optical marvels as much as I do.

 

Finally, I wish clear skies and happy viewing to all.

 

Article by: James Howes BA (Hons), MA, PGCE, with contribution from, Ted Harrison F.R.A.S (Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society), and historical facts endorsed by the legendary former owner and President of Vernonscope: Mr Don.V. Yeier.

 

Below is a Copy of an email extract from my friend across the pond in 2018, Mr Don.V. Yeier. Don gives his final judgment to the realization of this completed article which started as an idea in 2016.

 

“After reading your exquisite article in full, all I can say is WOW! What an amazing feat!!

  There are times that I wish I was still assembling the Brandon`s, however, I'm now 79 and Liz Mansfield is doing an excellent job of maintaining Chet Brandon's reputation (as well as mine - just to take a bit of credit...) My sincere thanks for doing such a magnificent undertaking!

'best as always, Don V. Yeier”  (Sent to me via email at 6:17pm on 28/2/2018)

 


  • Scott Beith, Don H, george tatsis and 8 others like this


35 Comments

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Astrojensen
Apr 01 2018 11:27 AM

That has got to be the longest title of a CN article ever. grin.gif

 

But the collection is super amazing! shocked.gif  Fantastic! 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

    • REC, ShaulaB and Augustus like this

that is the problem with the all American Vernonscope Brandon Orthoscopic eyepieces new up and coming amateur and professional astronomers around the world endeavour to get familiar with the all American Vernonscope Brandon. 

     By the time you set up the telescope and get familiar, its time for a nap!  ..gramps.gif

Wow, quite the collection (and history to go with it).

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HARRISON SCOPES
Apr 01 2018 12:21 PM

Well done James, an excellent article and superb collection I have had the privilege of seeing many times,

Amazing collection. Congrats. I love my one 32mm.

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Richard O'Neill
Apr 01 2018 12:50 PM

Alternate title: A Brandon Love Story flowerred.gif

    • HARRISON SCOPES, Astrojensen and Tyson M like this
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SandyHouTex
Apr 01 2018 01:29 PM

Unbelievable.  A certifiably museum collection of Brandon history.

Thank you for the great article and pics.   

Brilliant article 

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rogeriomagellan
Apr 01 2018 05:41 PM

Speechless. Great pictures. That Vernonscope 94mm f/7 apo refractor is really nice looking. 

Thank you for this wonderful article James. I love my Brandon Binoviewer and sets of eyepieces, and hope that I will have the opportunity to visit and see your collection at a future star party.
Excellent history and a beautiful collection. Timely for me as well, as I just picked up a set of the brass Brandon’s and was curious about the age.

My understanding from Don was that the brass Brandon sets were made in 1970 and the later set made in the 80's.  I would say if you have been lucky enough to obtain the brass Dakin Barlow then please hang on to it.  I believe there was only around 50 of these made by Don and his father in their workshop in Candor.  In any case, the fact you've been able to obtain these brass Brandon's is a wonderful thing.  They are incredibly rare and I hope you really enjoy using them as much as I enjoy using mine.

Photo
ratnamaravind
Apr 02 2018 12:54 PM

Worthy collection.

Well done James, an excellent article and superb collection I have had the privilege of seeing many times,

Ed Harrison of Harrison Telescopes UK (Ted to his friends) was responsible for my professional set-up which has been a long term project.  This has only recently come to a conclusion early this year with the purchase of the Sky-watcher EQ8 which works brilliantly.  As such it has enabled me to now better utilize my Brandon's and many of the Vernonscope products.  A huge thanks to Ted and Harrison Telescopes Ltd UK. You've helped bring my dream to a realisation......you're an absolute star (forgive the pun!)

If anyone out there is fortunate enough to have the EQ8 mount accompanied with the pier tripod, but like me not fortunate enough to have an observatory - you may be interested in the following.  I was looking to get a dolly for the pier tripod to counteract this problem to some extent. I further recognized I had no place to hold accessories (namely some of my Vernonscope wooden case`s and loose accessories.)  Brian of Astroparts based in the UK was recommended to help me resolve this problem by basically making a full circular wrap-around storage tray secured around the central pier of the EQ8.  If anyone finds themselves in this situation, please contact Brian as I know he has a limited number left.  

My understanding from Don was that the brass Brandon sets were made in 1970 and the later set made in the 80's.  I would say if you have been lucky enough to obtain the brass Dakin Barlow then please hang on to it.  I believe there was only around 50 of these made by Don and his father in their workshop in Candor.  In any case, the fact you've been able to obtain these brass Brandon's is a wonderful thing.  They are incredibly rare and I hope you really enjoy using them as much as I enjoy using mine.

The brass set I have does have the Dakin Barlow plus the 5 eyepieces and the red caps.  

The brass set I have does have the Dakin Barlow plus the 5 eyepieces and the red caps.  

Aside from the fact you have a wonderful set of oculars, you also have a great investment. I would strongly advise you hold onto them, i discovered a while ago that a set of these Brandon brass oculars with the Barlow sold for $2500. I m sure these brass ocular sets will in time just keeping going up in value. Don said in a piece of promotional advertisement for this ocular set, that  he and others regarded them as the  best in the world. I would have to say he really wasn’t kidding, they truly are, absolutely exquisite.

Actually, they are arriving tomorrow. The foam in the case degraded and has stuck to the barrels.  Luckily, the caps were kept on and the glass looks good.  A very gentle cleaning and the foam should come off fairly easy.  I'm just going to take it slow and easy.  For a tad over $600, I felt it was worth trying to save them given their rarity. 

Just a thought that could make your life easier. If you contact Liz at Vernonscope LLC, she can strip the oculars down inclusive of lens`s and give them a full clean. Also, I`m sure she can have the foam in the case replaced. 

James. I’ll know the condition tonight and see how bad it really is. Sending them to Liz is a great idea and may be what’s required. At a minimum, I’ll try to get some new foam from her for the wood case.

The brass Brandon's arrived safely.  The box is pretty much toast. The eyepieces, however cleaned up beautifully.  The optics were spotless. Tha Dakin Barlow needs a little more on the finish with a high quality brass cleaner, but again the optics are crystal clear.  Turned out to be an excellent deal for what I paid.  

The brass Brandon's arrived safely.  The box is pretty much toast. The eyepieces, however cleaned up beautifully.  The optics were spotless. Tha Dakin Barlow needs a little more on the finish with a high quality brass cleaner, but again the optics are crystal clear.  Turned out to be an excellent deal for what I paid.  

 

Fantastic! Liz can provide new cases.

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PeriodicTrends
Apr 05 2018 06:15 AM
This article rocks! How fun!

I used to see Don at the Winter Star Parties in the FL Keys every year. I loved to horse trade with Don and I really miss seeing him there.

 

Neal



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