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Astro Essentials Plossls?

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#1 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 02:12 PM

Does anyone know who the original equipment manufacturer of Astro Essentials is? Are they sold under other brand names for instance? I recently acquired this 17mm ‘Super’ Plossl. It was relatively inexpensive at £20 Sterling (about 25 USD). There are a range of focal lengths from 7.5mm to 56mm. There is no 25mm but a 26mm and also a 12.5mm. As far as I can tell they are normal 50º FOV symmetrical Plossl types.

 

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These Astro Essentials eyepieces are quite different to Sky-Watcher, Orion and similar sets of budget Plossls distributed under several other names by a variety of retailers. Most of these Plossls were very probably manufactured by Barsta.

 

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Other popular Plossl sets are Meade (Ningbo Sunny) and GSO. The Astro Essentials don’t seem to resemble either of those though. They do have smooth chromed-brass drawtube barrels very much like Meade. Overall, the eyepiece is quite well made with a decent build quality for the cost. Although I should imagine they are at their best in scopes of f/6 or slower. The coatings seem on par with Barsta and GSO, unlike the simpler blue coatings on some of the Solomark branded equivalents. The focal plane is different to my 17mm ‘Celestron’ Plossl as are the barrel dimensions, which is indicative of a different OEM. I’m just curious.


Edited by Shorty Barlow, 17 July 2019 - 02:13 PM.


#2 sg6

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 03:18 PM

Cannot help but Astro Essential items are sold via FLO (First Light Optics) in the UK and owing to the nature of the items I had presumed they were a small (maybe local) machine shop or outfit making small scale astro items for FLO. Things like a dovetail. However the other day I did see an Astro Essential reducer, = optics not just mechanics. Now you ask about plossl's. More optics.

 

Used to be Astro Engineering and the name is I suppose similar but as best I think no relation.

 

Could they be a FLO own brand eyepiece? Own brand equipment ? Just not FLO but AE in effect. Maintain a slight seperation.

Several manufacturers of plossls as in just about all of them make one.

Maybe search out LongPerng and compare.

 

Just looked and not Long Perng, they have just 1 plossl line and different external.

 

Have Barsta disappeared ?

All I have had for the last few months is a Sunbo site but just a page I cannot read. No redirection or anything.


Edited by sg6, 17 July 2019 - 03:43 PM.


#3 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 06:30 PM

Cannot help but Astro Essential items are sold via FLO (First Light Optics) in the UK and owing to the nature of the items I had presumed they were a small (maybe local) machine shop or outfit making small scale astro items for FLO. Things like a dovetail. However the other day I did see an Astro Essential reducer, = optics not just mechanics. Now you ask about plossl's. More optics.

 

Used to be Astro Engineering and the name is I suppose similar but as best I think no relation.

 

Could they be a FLO own brand eyepiece? Own brand equipment ? Just not FLO but AE in effect. Maintain a slight seperation.

Several manufacturers of plossls as in just about all of them make one.

Maybe search out LongPerng and compare.

 

Just looked and not Long Perng, they have just 1 plossl line and different external.

 

Have Barsta disappeared ?

All I have had for the last few months is a Sunbo site but just a page I cannot read. No redirection or anything.

Yeah, I got it from FLO. I wanted to compare it to the Sky-Watcher 17mm I have.

 

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All of these Plossls pictured above and below are Barsta. The two below are a bino pair and now sport Williams Optics drawtube barrels. They are both 17mm. The left one is a 'Sky-Watcher' and the one on the right is from an old Celestron kit.

 

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I doubt the Astro Essentials are locally made at the prices they are. Chinese factories knock these things out in large amounts for various brands.

 

The Barsta site disappearance is still a bit of a mystery. BST eyepieces are still being sold though. Whether they're still being manufactured is another thing entirely. 

 

It will be interesting to see if the Astro Essentials Plossls are eventually marketed as Orion, Celestron or Sky-Watcher.  



#4 Shorty Barlow

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 12:28 PM

The plan was to view a rising twilight Jupiter with my ED72 Evostar, wait for Saturn to rise a bit as it got darker, then some rich field observing, and finally the rising Moon. I particularly wished to view the Petavius crater. This entailed starting off with an Omegon 1.25” Amici diagonal and a 5x Revelation (GSO) Barlow, then switching to a 2” Baader diagonal for larger rich field 2” eyepieces, finally swapping back to the Omegon for the Moon. The plan worked, more or less.

 

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I set the Portal II/APP-TL130 to its maximum height as usual and slid the cute little ED72 into the dovetail. I couldn’t see Jupiter but the sky was a rich blue and I knew it would appear. Often just popping out as if by magic.

 

I was ready at 21:00 British Summer Time with an 18mm Astro Hutech orthoscopic and a Baader Neodymium filter. I’d rotated the diagonal/Barlow downwards so I could observe seated. Seeing seemed a decent Antoniadi II with slightly below average transparency. At around 21:40 I could see Jupiter with the naked eye and then at about 117x with the ortho’/Barlow combination. Equatorial detail was good and eventually I could see Io and Ganymede.

 

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I switched to the Astro Essentials 17mm Plossl, first with the Baader Neodymium then a Baader Blue 470nm Bandpass. The Plossl gave me a bit more FOV than the AH ortho’ but displayed no vignetting at all.

 

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Apart from the fact that the Abbe orthoscopic showed a tiny bit more contrast, there was very little difference between the two eyepieces. Definition, colour separation, brightness and overall clarity were easily comparable. I could discern no aberrations in the Plossl, although it was actually being used in a Barlow. Admittedly the build quality of the Astro Hutech is slightly superior, and it isn’t really a fair comparison, but I thought the Astro Essentials Plossl was well worth 20 quid.

 

I observed a rising Saturn for a bit with both eyepieces, now with a Lumicon #11 Yellow-Green filter. Again, there was little difference between them. I could see faint surface detail and the Cassini Division with both eyepieces. Before the rich field session I turned back to Jupiter (still with the #11) which was now past transit and rapidly heading for obscurity behind my house chimney. Callisto was now also easily visible. The best image of Jupiter that night just before it disappeared behind my house was with the Astro Essentials Plossl at 123.5x.

 

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After the rich field session I turned to the rising Moon with two more eyepieces; a 15mm Vixen NPL and a 12.5mm Kokusai orthoscopic for 140x and 168x respectively. I was also now using a variable polarising filter. Naturally I started off with the 18mm AH rapidly followed by the 17mm AE Plossl. I was especially interested in observing the famous Rimae Petavius. Around a couple of days after a Full Moon the terminator highlights the rille really dramatically. I wasn’t disappointed and the Mare Crisium and its ‘wrinkle ridge’ were also quite spectacular. I raised the magnification to 140x then ended on 168x (60x x 2.8”). Due to the conditions though I’d say that the sharpest defined images were with the 18mm ortho’ and the 17mm Plossl.

 

 

Lunar map image by Moon Atlas


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