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Star Party Eyepieces

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#1 DavidWasch

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 09:21 AM

I'm finally selling some of my old and unused eyepieces (anyone interested in a 25mm e-lux plossl?). But before I let all of them go, I want to be sure they are truly unneeded.

 

At public star parties, I notice many of the Naglers and premium ultra-wides go into hiding in favor of less precious glass. I'm considering hanging onto a slightly scratched 24mm Meade SWA and my 12.5mm Orion Lanthium for these events. Both eyepieces are easy to use, and I frankly think they give decent views through my f/5.3 12" dob.

 

Am I being a snob by keeping my Delos to myself? What eyepieces to you use at star parties?



#2 csrlice12

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 09:32 AM

I use my Delos and XWs.  The long eye relief and easy to find exit pupil are ideal for outreach.  At outreach, I usually go for low power objects, unless I'm viewing planets.


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#3 seasparky89

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 09:47 AM

I use my TeleVue Radians with the pupil guides attached.  Those guides make it easier for proper eye placement, and they protect the eye lens from eyelash contact.  The public (and I) like to use them.  Ditto for my 35 mm Panoptic.

 

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#4 russell23

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 09:52 AM

I'm finally selling some of my old and unused eyepieces (anyone interested in a 25mm e-lux plossl?). But before I let all of them go, I want to be sure they are truly unneeded.

 

At public star parties, I notice many of the Naglers and premium ultra-wides go into hiding in favor of less precious glass. I'm considering hanging onto a slightly scratched 24mm Meade SWA and my 12.5mm Orion Lanthium for these events. Both eyepieces are easy to use, and I frankly think they give decent views through my f/5.3 12" dob.

 

Am I being a snob by keeping my Delos to myself? What eyepieces to you use at star parties?

No.   People with no observing experience will make all manner of mistakes that could scratch/damage the glass and coatings on your eyepieces.  At a minimum you are much more likely to need to clean the eye lenses after outreach.   If you are not comfortable with that risk then it is better to have a lower cost set for star parties.  


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#5 petert913

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:02 AM

Simple Plossl or Erfle eyepieces with long eye relief are fine for outreach use.  As long as the person

can get an easy view with out "kidney bean" blackouts, they won't know a Nagler from a $25 Kellner.


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#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:16 AM

Simple Plossl or Erfle eyepieces with long eye relief are fine for outreach use.  As long as the person

can get an easy view with out "kidney bean" blackouts, they won't know a Nagler from a $25 Kellner.

 

In my scopes, a Kellner will provide poor views that only have a chance of being sharp in the very center of the field.

 

When I am doing outreach I use my good eyepieces, Naglers, Panoptics, Ethos's.  Why should I offer them something less than the best possible view? They have come out, made an effort.. 

 

As far as possible damage.. The public can't do anything I haven't done myself...  

 

Jon


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#7 jeff.bottman

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:23 AM

I think it's pretty silly and selfish to not use your best eyepieces at a star party.  Chances of real damage are very very small.  And the general public deserves the best views possible in my opinion.


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#8 MitchAlsup

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:44 AM

I use my very best EPs at star parties.

I love the "Oh Wow" sounds coming from the visitors.

 

The trick is to have a coat with as many pockets as you have EPs.

And never let the EP in the scope out of your sight.


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#9 kkrepps

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 11:44 AM

As far as possible damage.. The public can't do anything I haven't done myself...  

 

Jon

I usually have my worst accidents when alone. Such as the other night, didnt check the visual back tight, didnt clamp the eyepiece. A slight shift and oops...there goes the eyepiece in the snow drift. It was a generic gold line, so I just rubbed it in my armpit, and put it next to the woodstove to dry out. If I had guests, I'd break out the good stuff. 


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#10 havasman

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 11:47 AM

I use ES82 and ES68 eyepieces at outreach events because they can safely and easily be cleaned of all the contamination the public always leaves behind because they don't know what they're doing. They are not my best eyepieces. They are good enough by any measure. Likewise, I no longer take my refractor and have never taken the Starmaster. The XT10i often provides the best views on the field and is plenty good enough for my observing too.

 

The public has almost unlimited potential to damage your gear at an outreach event. A forum story from a day or so ago related a guest observer destroying a forum member's ES refractor focuser, a pretty difficult trick. Offering really very fine views via whatever gear you choose to use is, in many cases, the better alternative to not participating at all. I support your strategy. The public has no frame of reference for and does not care about the gear. They just want to see the pretty objects like on tv.


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#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 11:54 AM

The public has almost unlimited potential to damage your gear at an outreach event. A forum story from a day or so ago related a guest observer destroying a forum member's ES refractor focuser, a pretty difficult trick.

 

There was almost certainly something wrong with the focuser. I have owned and worked on numerous focusers, I have never seen one that could be racked out beyond the limit..

 

Maybe the public you deal with is different than mine but I have never seen any indication that I should be concerned about the safety of my equipment.

 

Jon


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#12 Scott99

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 11:54 AM

I've had good luck using my best ep's for outreach - long eye relief and a solid eyeguard/cup is the key.  Pentax XW's have a beefy rubber eyeguard and the eye lens is almost an inch away, I've run hundreds of people through over a couple hours with only a few extra grains of pollen or dust getting on the eye lens.   Same with my Zeiss spotting scope ep's, the eye lens is recessed and protected well in those too.

 

A lot of people have their own scopes and appreciate the chance to use some of these ep's in another scope too.  On the other the hand I've seen these stories of kids that walk up and jam their fingers into the eyepiece.  I guess I"m not letting wild kids near my scope!  maybe they instinctively know to stay away???  lol.gif lol.gif


Edited by Scott99, 20 March 2019 - 11:55 AM.

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#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 12:07 PM

I guess I"m not letting wild kids near my scope!  maybe they instinctively know to stay away???  :lol:

 

 

I wonder about that myself.. I guess it's possible.. :)

 

Goggles Jon.jpg
 
Jon

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#14 buddy ny

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 12:44 PM

Can't reconcile that look
To the Jon Isaac who's posts I read
Pretty funny tho

#15 alex_d

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 12:51 PM

 

I wonder about that myself.. I guess it's possible.. smile.gif

 

 
 
Jon

 

Lol nice!! Dang, wish i lived closer would love to attend one of your outreach parties and look through some of your sweet gear. As for me, i pretty much let whoever look through my stuff to, if something happens ill deal with it then.


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#16 BradFran

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:00 PM

I just use my TV Plössls (my best eyepieces). In fact, doing school star parties was the final straw in upgrading my focuser. The Coulter rack and pinion was a bit loose. No matter how much I tightened or lubed it, the looseness came quickly again. For me this wasn't a problem (other than the focus wasn't so fine), but when doing school star parties kids (and adults!) would routinely press their eye into the eyepiece loosing focus so baldy they coudn't find it again. When I rebuilt the Coulter a MoonLite 2" solved that problem. People still bump it, but it only gets a little out of focus and they can find it again with basic instruction.

 

I really cherish my Plössls, but I feel it's best to share a nice view. In over 20 years I haven't had an actual scratch, just a lot of grease, makeup, PB+Jelly, and things better left unidentified. The coatings seem robust enough to handle it.



#17 BradFran

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:02 PM

 

I wonder about that myself.. I guess it's possible.. smile.gif

 

 
 
Jon

 

You look like the Santa from the film Rare Exports! lol.gif

 

http://cinema.com/im...563_poster6.jpg

 

https://i.telegraph....ts_1777169b.jpg


Edited by BradFran, 20 March 2019 - 01:08 PM.


#18 russell23

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:10 PM

I think it's pretty silly and selfish to not use your best eyepieces at a star party.  Chances of real damage are very very small.  And the general public deserves the best views possible in my opinion.

The act of volunteering one's time to educate others at a public outreach event is by definition an unselfish act.  To classify that act as selfish because one might choose to hold back their best equipment out of concern over damage (or theft) is a silly argument. 

 

I do not recall damaging the lenses of any eyepiece while observing myself.   I have found that just about every time I have done outreach there is someone that manages to improperly use the equipment or get hands on the lenses because they don't know what to do with their hands.  Some of these people are so quick you don't have a chance to explain how to be careful before they have lunged in and smeared a lens or whatever.

 

My thoughts are that if I can easily afford to replace the eyepiece then it is fine to take it to outreach.   If replacing the eyepiece is a budget burden then I'm not taking it to outreach.  I'm not clear why people that come to public outreach "deserve" access to my best equipment that may be a financial burden to replace.  What exactly have they done that makes such access their "right"?

 

Besides, I thought you can get great views with low cost eyepieces such as paradigms?  People won't say "wow" looking at Saturn or the Moon through a low cost eyepiece? 


Edited by russell23, 20 March 2019 - 01:11 PM.

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#19 Starman1

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:26 PM

I find that 100° eyepieces give enough time for people to switch places at the eyepiece and still have the object be in view, in the dob.

I first tell people how to focus, and then how to move the scope, and about averted vision.  And I remind people we're not in a rush, so take their time to look.

I've had a beginner sit down and look at, say, M81 and say wow, and I've had other beginners not be particularly impressed with M42.

So you never know how a person will react.

I've had an occasional person stick their finger on the glass and ask if they look there.  If there's a fingerprint there when I clean the eyepiece later, it always cleans right off.

The worst is mascara--it's like cleaning crayon off the lens.  But no eyepiece has ever been damaged by another observer, though eyepieces do get fogged

from time to time by someone breathing directly on the lens.


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#20 havasman

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:41 PM

I had a kid @ 8 walk right through the XT10i and knock it over after I told him where to look. I still don't know what he was thinking. Luckily I'm still quick enough to have beaten the scope to the ground from the crouch I use to talk with kids. So then I'm laying there on the ground with the scope mostly in my hands and the kid's dad looks at me and tells the kid they have to go find a better scope. No OOPS, sorry or thanks.

 

An 18 year-old jabbed a food-sticky finger into the eye lens of an ES100 14mm for no particular reason. That ep was useless for the rest of the night.

 

The heavy surveyors tripod that carries the UniStar Deluxe and AT115EDT was never a match for the folks that walked into it at outreach events every time I took it out. So it doesn't go any more. It's bright yellow and it's never dark at local outreach events.

 

Having little kids head-butt the eye lens and having their moms leave mascara behind are just part of the deal. But guest observers have, in my experience, presented real destructive potential with fair regularity. Outreach is valuable to the wider community, rewarding and fun. Use what you want to when you do it. I recommend the experience. Having a middle aged woman of modest means burst into tears at the beauty of her first sight of Saturn makes it all worthwhile and is not a forgettable moment.


Edited by havasman, 20 March 2019 - 02:02 PM.

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#21 Jim4321

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:53 PM

I've finally gotten to the point where I'm willing to use my $200 H-a filter and $4k night vision eyepiece at public outreach.  I do take some precautions, tho'.  I make very sure the small set screws for eyepiece and diagonal are tight, and check them occasionally thru the evening.  I also wrap the NVD's lanyard around the stalks for both the RACI and the RDF, both so it can't fall far, and so it won't grow legs and walk off.  I also caution folks before they look that it will ruin their dark adaption.

 

But I'm usually working with a different audience in a way. To get to the observatory, which we share with the UNCA, they have to ride a shuttle bus up from the parking area.  When they board it, they're cautioned about touching / pulling on the eyepiece, and to be aware of the numerous tripod legs.  We're close to town with all the light pollution that implies, and I'm set up on a fairly light concrete patio, so visibility isn't usually an issue.

 

So far, so good....

 

Jim H.


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#22 DavidWasch

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 02:12 PM

Thank you for the rich variety of responses!

 

After reading through them, what I most come away with is the importance of making the event comfortable for the public. Someone new to scopes may not be able to tell if there's a bit of astigmatism in the eyepiece, but a wider apparent field of view is both practical and appreciated. Time spent de-cluttering the area around the scope is just as important as getting the collimation right.

 

In order to get to the 'wow-factor' I want participants to feel like a welcome guest. That means sharing in the best of what I have to offer, but also sharing it in a way that is comfortable for everyone (including me). It won't be a good time for anyone if I'm stressed out.

 

I particularly appreciate the advice to start with what I'm comfortable with, which is probably the least complicated setup I have. As learn how to work with people better, I'll be comfortable branching out and taking more risks.


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#23 Starman1

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 02:17 PM

One thing I've found with the dob is that little kids often cannot see through the eyepiece without standing on something.

Then they grab the focuser to hold on and the scope goes down.

 

So I got a chair that can be reversed and used as a stool WITH RAILINGS TO HOLD ONTO, which has proved amazingly valuable.

It's out of production, but it can be easily built.

See: http://www.loptics.c...aster/chair.htm

If you use it as a stool, put a couple strips of grip tape on the seat to keep it from being slippery.


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#24 BradFran

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 02:30 PM

I agree with Don. I have a two step ladder/seat that is just high enough for an adult to sit on and observe or a child to step up on, with a hand rail a bit higher than the eyepiece at 45 degrees. Most don't need it, but when a lot of kids or elderly are there, it becomes invaluable. I tell people that touching the scope will move it and take time away from viewing to find the object again. I don't make them feel bad if they touch the scope, just let them know it moves easily and not to be afraid of it. Every second person gets a quick burst from the red LED on the focuser with a "look in here and focus there" followed by "try not to touch the lens or move the scope."  Having something that is not the scope to grab onto helps a lot. I encourage everyone to try and focus even if they say it looks fine. I also tell people that the scope isn't fragile if you don't touch the lens or the mirror.

 

If I had an expensive refactor or an Ethos that I couldn't afford to replace, I might do things differently. But with a solid tube Dob and $100 eyepieces I don't feel too bad about anything. I wouldn't use a truss Dob without a light shroud at a public event. Kids are attracted to mirrors! If you have an SCT, buy a long dew shield for public outreach. It makes the SCT look cooler and protects your corrector.


Edited by BradFran, 20 March 2019 - 02:35 PM.


#25 whizbang

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 02:57 PM

I only use crap eyepieces that I don't care if someone removes and drops on the ground.


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