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10mm Eyepiece Shootout

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This morning (at 4:30 EDT) it was a beautiful night in NJ, so I set up my 6" (Meade SN6 F5) scope to use my new 10 MM Radian.

I wanted to do a comparison of how clear the Radian was so I took out 2 other eyepieces for a comparison.

So I did a shoot out between the 10 MM Radian, 9 MM Zhummel Planetary and 8.8 Meade 5K UWA. I know the magnification is different, but I only have these EP's and they are close enough in magnification that I can test them. I figured the F5 scope stresses lower quality EPs and that 9-10 MM is a nice size as it gives an AFOV of .6 (Zhummel) to .9 (Meade) with the Radian being in the middle and a magnification of 76 to 87 with the Zhummel in the middle.

So first I went to the moon. The waning moon was around 60 degrees high and the shadows were so long that several craters rose up from the dark. You could also see some Earth shine and the contrast between the sky and moon was superb.

This is NJ, so the seeing was probably a 5 with some high thin clouds but 95% clear. When I looked at the moon it was totally cloud free.

TV 10 MM Radian

Since I got the Radian yesterday it went in first. And the moon looked spectacular. The moon was framed entirely within the FOV. Craters were easy to look at and since I moved the moon to the edge, there was no noticeable pincushion. I then moved the view to look for astigmatism and there was none visible at the edge of the moon. There is a hint of warm color (noticeable when switching to the Meade) but it didn't really bother me. Looking at the craters on the terminator was an awesome sight. Eye relief was also excellent and I didn't have to use the pupil guide at all. I just pushed up the shroud and halfway was perfect for me. There was a lot of focus travel needed to get the Radian to focus. The Hyperions and Zhummels focus with much less travel, while the Meades need more and the Radian need even more than the Meade. Going from a Hyperion to Televue requires a lot of focuser movement. On the moon I would give the Radian an A-

Zhummel 9MM Planetary

The Zhummels are the lowest cost of the 3 EP's and there are differences in view. The biggest is that there a little softness around the craters. Copernicus valley showed more detail in the Meade and Radian. The FOV is also smaller as the EP is only 55* FOV. The edges are clear and there is no visible astigmatism at the edges. No pincushion or distracting brightness was visible. The color of the Zhummels is neutral, when switching from Radian to Zhummel color wasn't noticeable, but when switching to the Meade, you could see a difference. Eye relief was excellent and its comfort factor was also excellent, no blackouts at all. I would give the Zhummel a B.

Meade 5K 8.8MM UWA

I put in the Meade UWA last. I keep having a love/hate relationship with the EP. The most annoying thing about this EP is that the shroud makes it easy to breathe on it and fog it up. At the beginning it would fog up continuously. Lately I learned to turn my nose to the side and fogging hasn't been an issue. The Meade is also an 82* EP and has the largest FOV with the most magnification. The color is different and seems to me to be cool. I personally like cooler EPs so that is not an issue. There is some minor pincushion, the only way I noticed it was when taking out the Meade and putting in the Radian. Looking through a Meade by itself the pincushion is not noticeable. There was no astigmatism at all on the moon. The views were as clear as the Radians, sharp details, the craters that popped up after the terminator where well defined. The eye relief is very good, but the twist up cap I am not impressed with. Overall I have to give the Meade an A as it had the same view as the Radian with a cooler color and much larger FOV. If the twist up cap could be changed to a soft rubber, I would give it an A+.

Next I went to the double cluster (NGC 884).

10 MM Radian

The double cluster was well framed. A nice set of stars was visible and the sky was as dark as can be for a very light polluted location. Stars where sharp to edge. I gave it an A-.

Zhummel 9 MM Planetary

The double cluster barely fit in the FOV, but stars were clear and sharp to the edge. On the double cluster the limited FOV was a hindrance. I did notice the sky was brighter in the Zhummel compared to the other EPs. I give the view a B.

Meade 8.8 UWA

The double cluster is where the Meade shines. The stars are pinpoint and clear. The Meade darkens the sky considerably and since it has the largest FOV the cluster is well framed. I give it an A+.

I looked through various other objects that night and in the end I put away the Zhummel early as the other 2 eyepieces were winning easily.

So which one won? The scores were pretty much the same on most objects. The Zhummel would get a B to B+, the Radian went from an A- to an A and the Meade went from an A- to A+.

In Conclusion:

The Meade was better on every object I looked at. My only complaint is the hard twist up eye cup. It should be made different. The eyecup on the Radian is better.

The Zhummel was never bad, it was always good, never perfect but delivering good views, considering the price it is an excellent EP and I will not sell it.

The Radian was very good to Excellent on every object. My only complaint is the about of focuser travel needed. It seems excessive, especially since the Hyperions are still my number 1 used EP.

Do I like the Radian, yes and no. Would I recommend it, yes, at its current new price, No, I would recommend the Meade UWA.

So for the SN6 Comparison, the MEADE wins. Not only is it less expensive than the Radian, its views are better. In comparison the Zhummels were beaten, but as a Zhummel cost 1/4 the price of the Radian. The beating was not significant and if cost is a factor I have no reservation about recommending the Zhummels.


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