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Celestron 23mm Axiom LX versus Meade 24mm UWA

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I had been searching for an eyepiece to fill the gap between my 13mm Ethos and my 40mm Pentax XW. I considered both the Pentax 30mm XW and Nagler 22mm. However, both Meade and Celestron offer eyepieces with a comparable field of view to the Nagler costing significantly less than either the Pentax or Nagler. I decided to give both the Meade and the Celestron a try. I was able to pick up used but in excellent condition samples of both the Celestron 23mm Axiom LX and the Meade 24mm UWA. Below is a summary of my experience with the eyepieces.

Before getting into the review, let me briefly mention my level of experience. I consider myself very much an amateur. I have been actively engaged in astronomy for less than three years. I started with a Meade ETX125PE scope, got excited and quickly upgraded to a Celestron C9.25. I later picked up an AstroTech AT80ED. This review is based on observations with both the C9.25 and the AT80ED.

On to the eyepiece comparison. First a comment about the size of these eyepieces. They are BOTH huge. The Meade weights in at 29.5 oz (no surprise since this is close to Meade's stated weight). The surprise was the Celestron. It weights 31.3 oz! The officially stated weight is 16.9 oz. Really? On what planet does this thing weight 16.9 oz? Not ours. That said, the Celestron is slightly less wide, which makes its ergonomics slightly better than the Meade. Keep in mind that the ‘slightly less wide’ is relative. Both eyepieces are a handful.

In terms of visual testing, I tried both eyepieces using both my AT80ED and my C9.25. I first tried out both eyepieces during the daytime than again later that night. I looked at several start clusters (my favorite for testing these eyepieces being the Butterfly Cluster), the Ring and Dumbbell nebulas and Jupiter. Several nights later, I observed the crescent moon using both eyepieces. All of this observing was done from my fairly light polluted back yard in suburban San Diego.

Optically speaking, the eyepieces are very similar. They both held up well viewing in both the C9.25 (fairly forgiving) and the AT80ED (less forgiving). Day time viewing confirmed that both are quite sharp. The Celestron might be a hair sharper but this might have as much to do with individual variance than it does with the particular line of eyepiece. Both showed issues of chromatic aberration at the edges. This was slightly more problematic for the Celestron.

At night, both were surprisingly sharp but suffered from chromatic aberration, slightly more so with the Celestron. That said, the Celestron seemed to have slightly higher contrast. I could pick out faint stars in the clusters more easily with the Celestron than with the Meade. The Ring nebula jumped out with both eyepieces. It was ever so slightly easier to see the details of the Dumbbell nebula using the Celestron. That said, the differences were very minor. After a couple hours of observing, I could not easily declare one eyepiece as significantly optically better than the other.

The one area where there was a bit of a difference was with the moon. Both showed similar traits as before (sharp with chromatic aberration at the edge). However, the Meade showed significantly more ghosting (a reflected moon elsewhere in the eyepiece). There was slight ghosting with the Celestron as well but not nearly as significant as with the Meade. If the moon or other really bright targets are of great interest, the Celestron is probably a better choice.

Both eyepieces performed quite well optically speaking. If optics is your primary concern, these eyepieces are a real bargain. Alas, both prove ergonomically challenging. The size of these eyepieces is something to serious consider. Neither was much of an issue with the C9.25 on the CG5 mount. However, the AT80ED was a different issue. One of the advantages of a small refractor is portability. The AT80ED used for this comparison was mounted on a Vixen Porta Mount. I recently switched to a Vixen ED100sf refractor and my Vixen ED100sf/Porta Mount combination gets far more use than my C9.25. Unfortunately, the monstrous Celestron 23mm Axiom LX and Meade 24mm UWA eyepieces don’t balance particularly well on an alt azimuth mount.

In the final analysis, the size of these eyepieces proved to be a bit of an issue for me. I ultimately settled on the less spacious but less hefty 27mm Panoptic as the gap filler between my 13mm and 40mm eyepiece. I was willing to trade TFOV for size. That said, if the heft of the eyepiece is less of an issue for you, than I would have no problem recommending either the Celestron 23mm Axiom LX and Meade 24mm UWA eyepieces. The combination of optical performance and price make both of these eyepieces a real bargain.

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