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The Meade Electronic Eyepiece Can be Useful

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#1 JimK

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 12:38 AM

Even a low sensitivity CMOS detector of 320 x 240 pixels forming only black and white images can work on bright objects in the sky.

Tonight the sky was clear for a bit, with the almost full Luna out, and a very bright Mars just teasing me. Temperature was 22 F with a 4-6 mph light breeze. So for an hour I chilled with a ZenithStar 80mm refractor (ZS80), a Meade #902 electronic eyepiece (EEP), and a DVD player. I also used either a 0.5x Antares 1.25-in focal reducer (FR) or an old Televue 2.5x barlow, but no diagonal.

Initially I had a small amount of frustration in lining up on Luna, focusing, and adjusting the EEP contrast, but finally got it right. The FR allowed Luna to just fill the screen, with an estimated magnification of 40x. At this size it was easy to manually track Luna, enjoying the prominent crater rays and central peak of Tycho, among other things.

The ZS80 was then aimed at Mars - but the tiny dot, with perhaps a hint of an inner dark area, wasn't enough. So out came the FR, in went an extension to allow for focus, and my frustration returned in trying to center Mars, focus, and adjust contrast. A quick trip to Luna allowed me to fix these issues and I was able to display a better dot for Mars on the DVD player at 80x. I was getting cold and could see some thin clouds moving in from the north, but the sky seemed steady and Luna very crisp to my eye. So I got out a barlow.

Now with a magnification of about 200x, I went directly to Luna and got everything set up, but I still could not find Mars in the smaller ZS80 field of view. My red dot finder was in the house (and I was outside), so I replaced the EEP with a 26mm plossl, centered Mars in the view, then put back the EEP. Now Mars was a decent size on the screen, with inner dark markings and the north polar cap both readily visible. Of course this was a black & white only image, and somewhat fuzzy because I was using a very high power for this aperture, but it was wonderful nevertheless.

Before ending the evening's adventure I went back to Luna and traversed its perimeter at this magnification, scanning various mountains and craters (such as the elongated Schiller).

Soooo... this inexpensive EEP was a lot of fun tonight, and a curious neighbor joined me in my driveway for a few moments and also enjoyed the views. If I was warmer I might have studied Luna a bit more, but it was only a quick sojourn and I learned techniques. For showing off Luna or a bright planet (such as Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn), the EEP works just fine and is a low-cost way to try out this type of observing, as it is a different experience.

#2 o1d_dude

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 01:25 AM

Thanks for the report on the Meade #902.

I'd asked about it a few weeks ago when I saw it on sale. Planned on using it as you described.

Right now I'm stuck between the Meade #902 and a Philips SPC-900nc. Probably ought to try one of each.

#3 Douglas

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 02:00 PM

The Meade #902 is also a great EP for solar work with a PST. You can also plug video glasses in to them which is cool for solar viewing since it will help block out sunlight which is tough to do with a monitor in the sun.

I saw a friends image of Mars using the Meade #902 and it was impressive, clearly showed the surface markings.

For $39 I would buy one and toss it in the EP box but would also get the Philips SPC-900nc for planetary work since it has high resolution and color. But for accurate color imaging they recommend an IR block filter.

- Doug

#4 o1d_dude

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 02:15 PM

Thanks for the advice, Doug.

#5 jgraham

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 12:02 PM

I have both the Meade #902 and the Phillips SPC900NC and they're two different animals. The #902 is just a simple little b&w video camera and is very easy to use while the SPC900NC needs a computer. Both are effective at what they do. The SPC kinda surprised my the first night I used it. I was testing it out taking images of the crescent moon when I noticed a star near the Earthlit side of the moon, so I used it to watch and record an occultation. Pretty neat.


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