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Baader Hyperion 15mm and 8mm Oculars

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As many of you may already know, I am not a fan of high-end eyepieces. I find that the supposed bang you get is not worth the exorbitant prices these oculars are selling for. Some may say they will not be content with “good enough,” and go for the gusto. I on the other hand, would rather get bang for the buck, and as cheaply as possible.

My standard eyepiece for years was an Edmund Scientific war-surplus 2” Erfle, stopped down to 1 ¼” (for the focuser I had at the time). I was perfectly happy with that EP for years (despite trying countless Naglers, Vixens, Meades and others) until I decided to expand my horizons with a 2” focuser, hence the purchase of my Orion Q-70 set.

The Q-70’s worked fine in my 16” f/6.4, but when I purchased my first-ever commercial scope, the 16” Meade LightBridge, the Q-70’s didn’t fare so well at the edges in that fast f/4.5 focal ratio. That was fine with me. The Q-70 70 degree fields are pretty bad at the edges, but the sweet spot in the middle is all I care about. The rest is just eye candy, and not needed for 95 percent of what I view.

My goal is to expand my focal length range with the shorter (20 mm and down) EP’s, but with 2” barrels and wider fields of view. I don’t want to mess with a bunch of adapters in the dark. I already have an 18mm Bertele which is a nice ocular, but the eye lens is a bit narrow and it’s 1 ¼”. I also have 12.5mm and 6mm Orthos which though contrasty and sharp, are like looking through soda straws, besides being 1 ¼”.

As I pondered which way to go, I was able to try a 17mm Ethos and a 20mm Nagler type 5. I already got in enough trouble with my opinions of the Ethos so I won’t go into that. However, I will say that they have relatively well-corrected views to the edge. “Relative” is the word, as the views are way too wide for my fast scope. While they may correct eyepiece aberrations to the edge, they also emphasize how bad the coma is in such a short scope. Despite pinpoint stars, they all have comet tails out beyond a certain point. 82 degrees or more is just too wide for my scope without adding another expensive doodad into the mix, a coma corrector. Besides the extra exorbitant cost, a coma corrector would add another two or three elements into the light chain plus two more optical surfaces exposed to the air. A good 70 degree field is all I need, and it doesn’t exaggerate the natural aberrations found in a fast scope.

The Baader Hyperion eyepieces came to mind after I saw them for the first time at Scope City in Las Vegas. The prices were certainly right, but the question was, would they cut it?

I had an opportunity to borrow a Hyperion from a friend. I discovered that I couldn’t use the 2” barrel straight into the focuser because the travel in my LightBridge Crayford wouldn’t go out far enough. It came back to the fact that I’d have to mess with an adapter in the dark. In this case, I stuck in my 1 ¼” adapter because at the time, I didn’t realize I already had a 35mm extension tube that came with the LightBridge. More on that later. I was quite happy with Hyperion’s performance except for the adapter problem.

After several months of research, I came to the conclusion that in the shorter focal lengths, there were almost no EP’s with 2” barrels except for the Hyperions and others of that particular (modular) design. I couldn’t resist the temptation, bought the 15mm and 8mm units, and opted to use the (newly discovered) 35mm extension. I have to take the extension out to get my Q-70’s to focus, but I can live with that compromise. Also, the 35mm extension allows me to use my 2” filters without messing with the modular Barlow on the Hyperions.

Adding a 2” filter to a Hyperion means unscrewing the Barlow end and screwing in the filter, then attaching the Barlow back to the other end of the filter. Doing so changes the focal length slightly (shortens it, thus increasing magnification) because there is more distance between the Barlow and the field lens of the basic eyepiece. I have 1 ¼” filters, which would fit onto the field end of the Hyperion Barlow, thus not affecting the focal length, but that adds even more odd stuff into the mix. I just don’t want to be fumbling around with different sized filters, adapters, and whatever in the dark.

The price is right for a mid-range EP, and I went into this knowing these oculars are not going to be flat to the edge of the field. That being said, the first thing I noticed was how well they were made. When you hold one of these, you know you’re holding an eyepiece. They have a bit of heft to them but not enough to be an expensive counterweight.

Each EP comes with a pseudo-leather carrying case, which was the first thing I pulled out and stuffed in another box. Totally useless. I tried struggling with them in the dark and it is much simpler to just put the caps on the lenses and drop them in the boxes. They store better in a square container anyway. Speaking of the caps, each comes with three. A small one for the field lens, and two different-sized large ones for the eye lens depending on whether you use the rubber eye shield or not. In the case of the 15mm, the larger of the two eye-lens caps was missing so I had to take the rubber guard off of it and use the smaller cap. I am going to get hold of a larger cap so I can put the rubber guard back on.

I held each up to the light and looked at the coatings and as far as I could tell, they were flawless. They had a slight purple tint to them and there were no blobs, missing places, or streaks.

I was surprised how small the field lenses were on each. The 15mm is a bit larger, but the 8mm is quite small and the 3mm field lens (that I looked at in the store) almost looks like a pinhole. However, when you look through the eye lens, you see a nice wide field. Turns out the 1 ¼” Barlow setup added to each EP (hence the “modular” designation), also acts as a field stop.

Upon first light, I was stuck looking at Jupiter because of sky conditions. I started with the 15mm and the first thing I noticed was the generous view. At 68 degrees, it gave me plenty of room to use the old “manual” clock drive (my hand). I didn’t have to nudge it much compared to the 18mm Bertele, and with the wide eye lens, I didn’t have to poke my eye too close to see the full field. However, as with the 17mm Ethos, I noticed a wonky eye cone. You have to set your eye just right to get the full field and it is a bit on the sensitive side. That is the one drawback to the 15mm where with the 8mm, the eye cone was much more comfortable. Once I got used to it though, I was going strong.

Jupiter was the best I’ve seen it in years. I don’t know if it was a combination of the crummy hazy sky or the eyepiece itself, but wow! I saw the great red spot for the first time in years, and the multiple banding in both atmospheres gave me the impression I was looking at a marble. One of the moons transited too, and it was sharp as a tack. When I switched to the 8mm, things got a big fuzzier but still showed more detail than I usually see. Also, with the 68 degree field, the 8mm gave me a lot more time to view before having to nudge. The magnification is 229X which is getting up there on an average night, yet I was able to look comfortably and the contrast was excellent.

The field of view in the 15mm is much more distorted at the edges than the 8mm. I did a test on Jupiter and saw that as I approached the 90 percent area at the edge of the field, the shadow transit disappeared and all I saw was a white, slightly banded blob. However, with the 8mm in the same place, I lost a bit of focus but could still see the transit shadow. Also, with both eyepieces, I noticed an orange color fringe on the outer limb of the planet the closer I got to the edge of the field.

For first light, I was quite happy with both eyepieces.

A week later, 21 November, I had a Horsehead night and was able to really put the oculars through their paces in a deep sky setting. Despite a sliver of moon getting in the way, I was able to find several obscure galaxies before the moon set.

Throughout the night, I switched between my Q-70 26mm and the Hyperion 15mm the most. I used the 8mm on occasion when I wanted close up.

First thing I did was the bright star test with the 15mm and found the field dropped off radically at about the 85 to 90 percent area. The sweet spot in the middle was really good though. As a comparison, I also tried a 17mm Axiom LX and a 24mm Meade UWA. Both of those EP’s have 82 degree fields and as I mentioned earlier, despite the relatively corrected-to-the-edge fields, I noticed the mirror’s coma was much more pronounced and the comet tails were hard to ignore. With the Hyperion, that was not an issue.

The money shot for me was the center view or the “sweet spot,” as I call it, which with both the 15mm and 8mm was excellent for a good 70 percent of the field. I used the Q-70 26mm to find an object, switched to first the 15mm and then the 8mm Hyperions. In each case, the view usually improved. The closer magnification of the 15mm tended to suss out more detail in the contrasty view than the Q-70, most of the time. Sometimes, the 8mm was a bit too much magnification, but it really shined on NGC-891. With the Q-70 26mm, I could not see the dark lane bisecting the bulge. When I switched to the 15mm, I could just see the hint of that dark lane. With the 8mm, I saw the dark lane even with direct vision. Just to make sure it wasn’t my imagination, I had several other people confirm it.

When I put the scope on galaxy cluster AGC-426, by far the best view was with the 15mm unit. When I tried the 17mm Celestron Axiom, though the field was wider, I couldn’t take my eyes off the glaring coma. In fact, the sweet spot where the stars were focused was only about 40 percent of the middle. However, with the 15mm Hyperion, the sweet spot was much wider, given that the overall field was narrower.

Since the eyepieces are modular, I wanted to try the 15mm without the 1 ¼” Barlow piece, essentially making it a 22mm focal length. Wrong move. When I took the Barlow attachment off, the EP wouldn’t focus with the 35mm extension. I removed the extension, but the EP still wouldn’t focus because my Crayford wouldn’t go out far enough. One would think you could just slide the EP out a bit and clamp it down to refocus. Wrong. These eyepieces have one of those stupid “safety” grooves in the 2” barrel. There is no room to draw it out and clamp it down without throwing the whole EP crooked in the focuser. It is set for one depth, and one depth only. I have never had or never will have a scope where I have to look up into the eyepiece, so these safety grooves are not just an annoyance, but add extra slop into the already iffy fit of some of these 2” focusers.

In the end, I couldn’t quite reach focus with the Barlow off. What I could see though looked pretty bad. It was total fishbowl, much worse than the Q-70’s. If I could have brought it to focus, maybe that would have minimized the effect, but I was never able to find out because of the safety groove.

All in all, I love these eyepieces. Are they high end? No. Are they worth the money? Absolutely. When you pick one up, you know you are holding something solid. The coatings and machine work are flawless, and the views in the 70 percent sweet spot are contrasty and sharp. You don’t need to break the bank to get a decent eyepiece. The Hyperions fit the bill very well.

  • txmnjim, sandstoney, Glenilacqua and 1 other like this


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