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Best Planetary EPs for My Scope?

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#1 scoke

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:09 PM

Greetings. Hope this is the correct forum. If not, please move. 

 

I recently purchased an 8-inch Skywatcher Dob, which will be used primarily for outreach purposes in my community. I'm interested in opinions on the best EP/barlow setup for planetary viewing, based on the specs of this scope. 

 

Here's the exact product: https://www.bhphotov..._dobsonian.html

 

I also picked up two Tele Vue Plossl eyepieces (32mm and 11 mm). I don't yet have a barlow. 

 

Thoughts? Should I pick up a barlow for best planetary viewing, or will the two eyepieces provide enough mileage with this scope? 

 

Thanks in advance for helping a beginner. 



#2 DLuders

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:42 PM

Magnification = (Focal Length of Telescope) / (Focal Length of Eyepiece), so

 

With the 32mm eyepiece, Magnification = (1200mm) / (32mm) = 37.5x 

With the 11mm eyepiece, Magnification = (1200mm) / (11mm) = 109x

 

There is a "Rule of Thumb" whereby the maximum useful magnification of a telescope is 30x-50x the diameter of the primary objective (measured in inches).  So,

 

For average Seeing Conditions, 30 x 8 = 240x Magnification

For better-than-average Seeing Conditions, 40 x 8 = 320x  Magnification

For rare, perfect Seeing Conditions, 50 x 8 = 400x Magnification

 

A 2x or 3x Barlow Lens will allow the 11mm eyepiece to provide high-magnification views of the planets.  

 

2 x 109 = 218x  (good for average Seeing Conditions)

3 x 109 = 327x  (good for better-than-average Seeing Conditions)  smile.gif   


Edited by DLuders, 14 January 2020 - 08:45 PM.


#3 scoke

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:52 PM

Sounds like I’m definitely in the market for a Barlow!



#4 Luca Brasi

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:23 PM

The best views of Jupiter through my XT8 came from an early 2000's 7mm Nagler.  You can find them used for around $130.

 

But since you are doing outreach your 11mm Plossl will be good for most nights, since you won't always have perfect atmosphere when you need it.  

 

Saturn and Uranus look great under very high magnification...  but again, stability is an issue.

 

If money wasn't an issue I would get a 12mm Delos and a 2x barlow.  Not only are the Delos some of the sharpest and most comfortable eyepieces that I've used, but they work well with glasses!



#5 ShaulaB

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:24 PM

I use a 24mm to 8mm zoom eyepiece a lot while doing outreach. Celestron and Orion brands are what I use. You can quickly dial in what magnification looks best considering the object and the sky conditions. The Moon can be framed nicely. Yes, you can use a Barlow with a zoom.

 

I do about 100 hours of outreach every year, and have done outreach since 1987

 

I have a much more expensive Baader Mark IV Zoom, but I keep that for personal viewing.


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#6 JohnBear

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 10:34 PM

DLuders explains the barlow-magnification considerations perfectly. Basically, the two eyepieces you have are excellent choices for this scope. Adding a good 2X barlow proovides most of the magnification needed for 90+% of your visual observing. 

 

The 8-inch Skywatcher Dob is also an excellent telescope to get started with. it should serve you well for years, if not decades, and using a Dob to start out with visual astronomy is a great educational experience. I think it is probably the fastest way to get practical experience and a well grounded understanding of amateur astronomy. I have the collapsible 8" Skywatcher (along with the Onesky I started with) as my primary telescope, and I find it amazing how much I learn, as well as enjoy, using it. 

 

Back to eyepieces: You have chosen great eyepieces to start with. However, there are many different types of eyepieces out there, and you should learn and understand their differences, constraints, and benefits.  Your Tele Vues are Plossls with excellent quality lenses. However, the Plossl ocular design has two constraining features (relative to other ocular designs) that you should be aware of: "field of view" and "eye relief". 

 

Plossls generically have a 50 degree apparent field of view (AFOV) and fairly short Eye relief.  Due to these two constrains, I very seldom use a Plossl eyepiece.  For comfortable and enjoyable observing I really want at least a 62 degree AFOV and a minimum of 12mm of eye relief. You may want to do some experimenting by testing (looking thru) a variety of other eyepieces to determine what features and parameters work best for you before making additional or significant purchases. 

 

I personally "lucked out" when I got started by buying an inexpensive (under $30 on ebay) set of 3 Svbony 62 degree (AFOV) aspheric eyepieces that also have great eye relief (as well as surprisingly good optical quality overall). When I compared them to the medium grade Plossls that come with new telescopes, I was blown away by the differences that AFOV and eye relief made with otherwise very similar optical performance (contrast and sharpness across the filed of view, etc.). The Svbony 23mm eyepiece is now the primary "finder" eyepiece that I usually start my observing sessions with.

 

My 10mm Svbony eyepieces have now become a "minimum standard" for comparing more expensive eyepieces in the 9-13mm range. If I cannot see a significant viewing improvement over the 10mm Svbony, I don't want that eyepiece. The Svbonys are also the eyepieces that I prefer to use instead of regular Plossls (of course I also don't have Tele Vue Plossls).

 

You may want to consider getting a couple of these "cheap' eye pieces as a tool for comparison and to understand what AFOV and eye relief means to you personally.  Also use star parties as an opportunity to get some experience looking thru the wide variety of oculars that are available for a wide variety of telescopes. You will also find that "expensive" eyepieces tend to be quite heavy (lots of expensive glass in them) and weight also can to be consideration for certain types of telescopes and mounts.

 

The bottom line is - Do some eyepiece experiments and testing to discover what features you really want (or don't want) before making a big purchase. Not all telescope need the "very best" optics. You just need the right optics that work best for you and your telescope. That is your next step. Have fun discovering what that is.

 

BTW; the "Good Eyepieces" for my 8" Dob are four Orion Stratus 66* wide fields; For my smaller telescopes I have a couple ES 62* and a set of 66* "Enhance clones". I also have a couple 8-24 Zoom eye pieces that are a lot of "fun" to use - despite a relatively narrow FOV.  


Edited by JohnBear, 14 January 2020 - 10:47 PM.


#7 vtornado

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 11:09 PM

Hello and welcome to CN.

 

People here rave about the 8 and 11 mm plossl for planetary eyepieces so you have chosen well.

 

Planets really test your scope, because they are viewed under high power and have fine, low contrast detail.

 

In general if you have an f/6 scope a good place to start looking at planets is with a 6mm eyepiece.

eyepiece_focal_length / f_ratio = exit_pupil.   Which you can read about here.  I like to view planets at about 1 mm exit pupil.

For your scope that is 200x.

If the night has good seeing I would think you could to to a 5mm.

Planetary viewing requires magnification to see small details, but also requires a bright image.

If you magnify too much fine detail is to dim to see.

 

You could get a 2x barlow for your 11 and have a 5.5, which is a nice mag.

 

I have several barlows gso and meade.  I don't see them degrade the image.  Many people here

rave about the televue barlow, so if you have deep pockets think about one of those.

 

As Shaula says, sometimes a zoom is the best eyepiece for planets.   The reason being is that

seeing conditions can change in an instant.  With the zoom, if seeing clears up you can zoom in

without fumbling for eyepieces.

 

Besides the eyepiece for best planetary viewing do the following

 

Read up on collimation.  This is essential for high power viewing.  You have to do a good job.  Average is not acceptable.

 

Take your scope out well before you view.  A warm mirror will lead to a boundry layer forming on the mirror (like a mirrage).

Also thermals rise up on the tube.

 

Do not view over house tops, roads etc.  These soak up heat in the day and release it at night, making the air wavy.

A baseball or soccer field is ideal.  If you live near the ocean it is good to view over that too.

 

In planetary viewing "Seeing" is everything.   Think of looking into a swimming pool.  Calm day you can see the bottom clearly.  Lots of kids

jumping and splashing, you can't see into the pool.  That is what seeing is. Stable,  "smooth" air.

In my area the best days to view planets are the hot hazy days of summer.  The moisture in the air makes it more stable.

Planets are not effected much by haze.

 

One other thing is to consider a wide field eyepiece.  It might not be as sharp as your televue plossl, but you

will have to bump your scope less to track.  It is a trade off.



#8 SeattleScott

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 01:34 AM

Finally, yes, that last part. Don’t get a barlow for your 11 Plossl. You are wanting to do planetary viewing for outreach with a manual Dob. There is only one practical solution-wide angle eyepiece.

Think about it. There are going to be people lined up to view Saturn and what not through your scope. Do you want a 50 deg eyepiece that you have to stop and nudge it in between each person viewing, or do you want an 82 AFOV eyepiece that you can let a couple people view through before nudging it again? The 6mm Expanse or clone would be an affordable option to get a wider view with less nudging. Ideally a Meade 5.5mm 82 AFOV would really take the cake.

Now if it is just you viewing, barlowing your 11mm Plossl is fine. But for outreach, with a manual scope, you really want something wider. Besides the TV plossls are known to vignette in some barlows so your viewing angle could be less than 50. Likely not an issue for the 11mm but not sure.

Believe me, I am not a hyperwide planetary observer myself. My best planetary eyepieces have 42 and 52 AFOV. But that’s plenty when I am using my equatorial mount because nothing will drift out of view. So I get the merits of simple glass and I like how TV plossls perform on planets. But they just aren’t practical for your specific situation.

Scott
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#9 scoke

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:09 AM

Your Tele Vues are Plossls with excellent quality lenses. However, the Plossl ocular design has two constraining features (relative to other ocular designs) that you should be aware of: "field of view" and "eye relief". 

Actually, the 32 has 22mm of eye relief, while the 11 has 20mm of eye relief (the 11 is a DeLite series EP by Tele Vue, which has the longer eye relief). I'm an eyeglass wearer, so this is important to me. 



#10 scoke

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:12 AM

Read up on collimation.  This is essential for high power viewing.  You have to do a good job.  Average is not acceptable.

Honestly, collimation is giving me fits, though I am admittedly very new to the process. Aligning the secondary mirror has felt impossible, even with a laser tool. I've spent a few hours Googling opinions. One forum post tells you to manipulate the center screw, while another warns to NOT TOUCH IT EVER. Lol. I'll get there, but you can expect some collimation questions sooner than later.



#11 MalVeauX

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:33 AM

Heya,

 

I'd get a decent zoom eyepiece in the 7~21mm flavor. Especially for use with multiple people. This way there's no changing of the eyepiece and if someone moves it or loses the subject in the eyepiece, you can zoom it out instantly, re-center the subject, zoom back in, without changing eyepieces. Nothing to drop on the ground. Nothing to lose shuffling in pockets or bags.

 

A 7-21 would give you a 57x magnification on the wide end which is easy to locating a subject to focus on, like a planet. The 7mm side gives you 171x magnification which is plenty to see the details of the major planets and differentiate them. 100x is a good spot to be just for general viewing, with average to poor seeing. And honestly 200x is probably the limit for average seeing conditions before you need really excellent seeing conditions to truly benefit higher magnifications, so I wouldn't get anything that pushes your scope beyond 200x since you will much less likely be able to actually benefit from it.

 

So I would look at the Lunt 7~21 or Orion 7~21 zoom eyepieces.

 

I do the same thing with a 200mm F6 newtonian, with kids, and the 7~21 handles it great. Quick wide view to locate the planet, quick zoom in to the limit of the seeing, no trading eyepieces, nothing to lose or drop. It just lives in the scope and does everything we need. So recommending this from experience, granted, not for everyone, but it's a pretty bullet proof way to go in my opinion.

 

48925140427_9f47616424_c.jpg

 

49318660998_824e5dd79f_c.jpg

 

Very best,


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#12 scoke

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:49 AM

Do you use that barlowed? 



#13 MalVeauX

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:08 AM

Do you use that barlowed? 

No, there's no point in barlowing it. 7mm produces 171x maximum magnification on a 1200mm focal length, which is plenty for planets. To 2x barlow it would produce a 3.5mm effective focal length producing 342x magnification which is not useful because the seeing wouldn't even support that 99.9% of the time, plus the dimming of the stretched image. Visually I don't go past around 200x typically as it's rare to have seeing steady enough for that, let alone lasting long enough to even swap to something to go high on magnification, but having something that can comfortably hit the 100~200x range is great, and really 170ishx to 200x is not a big difference for the massive convenience of a zoom. Just my opinion though! Also, the 7mm end of the zoom in the 8" F6 newt still has a > 1mm exit pupil, so its bright and contrasty.

 

Very best,


Edited by MalVeauX, 15 January 2020 - 09:09 AM.


#14 SeattleScott

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:17 AM

Actually, the 32 has 22mm of eye relief, while the 11 has 20mm of eye relief (the 11 is a DeLite series EP by Tele Vue, which has the longer eye relief). I'm an eyeglass wearer, so this is important to me.

Well that changes things a bit. You referred to the 11 as a Plossl earlier. A Delite at least has 62 AFOV and is very good on planets, so barlowing it is a reasonable solution. At least it makes more sense than getting a 6mm Expanse at 66 AFOV.

Scott

#15 JoshUrban

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:39 AM

Honestly, collimation is giving me fits, though I am admittedly very new to the process. Aligning the secondary mirror has felt impossible, even with a laser tool. I've spent a few hours Googling opinions. One forum post tells you to manipulate the center screw, while another warns to NOT TOUCH IT EVER. Lol. I'll get there, but you can expect some collimation questions sooner than later.

Ah, for this very reason you'll want to get a barlow!  Anyone got a good link for barlowed laser collimation?  I use it all the time.  (You put the straight laser in the barlow, and if the primary mirror has a center dot, that dot casts a shadow on the way back.  This, in turn, is seen on a target you put on the inside of the focuser.  It sounds complicated, but it's SO not, and super easy to get accurate results quickly.  Plus, no fancy gear needed, regardless of the stuff available.)  

 

  For planetary use, I generally like orthos, BUT not for outreach, as their field of view is too narrow.  A nice 9 or 12mm widefield would be ideal here.  I saw a 9mm Type 1 nagler go for under $120 on the classifieds just a few days ago!  Ya might want a cheaper alternative so when the greasy fingered little munchkin grabs it you won't have a heart attack, but, still, $110 for a widefield is pretty darn good!

 

  For your own personal planetary use, keep an eye out for the University Optics 9mm Ortho.  It comes up used once in a while, and is a favorite of mine.


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#16 scoke

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:43 AM

I did say Plossl earlier. My bad. 
 

Here’s the exact product: https://www.bhphotov..._Eyepiece_1.25_



#17 N3p

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:11 AM

Greetings. Hope this is the correct forum. If not, please move. 

 

I recently purchased an 8-inch Skywatcher Dob, which will be used primarily for outreach purposes in my community. I'm interested in opinions on the best EP/barlow setup for planetary viewing, based on the specs of this scope. 

 

Here's the exact product: https://www.bhphotov..._dobsonian.html

 

I also picked up two Tele Vue Plossl eyepieces (32mm and 11 mm). I don't yet have a barlow. 

 

Thoughts? Should I pick up a barlow for best planetary viewing, or will the two eyepieces provide enough mileage with this scope? 

 

Thanks in advance for helping a beginner. 

Me I prefer to use individual eyepieces instead of planning a strategy around barlows (I don't wear specs). Most of the time, adding the barlow will induce an additional operation. I keep a 2x barlow in my case of eyepiece for the moon but I don't take it out often.

 

A 6mm  is about as good as it gets most of the time with my 1000mm FL telescope, 166x and 1.2mm exit pupil. I get not too much floaters at all and the views are very high definition.

 

In my location here Quebec and with  the type of telescope I have, a fast F5. (200x1000 newt) usually the highest magnifications I will ever use is 212x with a 4.7mm.  Occasionally I will install a 7mm inside the 2x barlow to get 286x. But I don't like the exit pupil too much with a 8" Newtonian at such power.

 

Some people claim they go up to 300x to 400x with a 8" You have to test it by yourself to see if you like very narrow exit pupils and if the views are sharp and clean enough for you.



#18 quercuslobata

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:54 PM

I don't have a lot of experience (but most of my experience is with a 8" Dob), so take this with a grain of salt...

 

Most nights ~7mm is about as short of an eyepiece as I can use. I use a 14mm ES 82 and a 2x Barlow.

 

Something like a 15mm 66° eyepiece might be a good, and economical, choice with a little more TFOV than the Plossl. With a Barlow this would give you 32, 15, 11, 7.5, and 5.5, which seems like it about covers it. 


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#19 vtornado

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 01:29 PM

Ooops, I did not read your post carefully enough in my reply of post #7

 

The plossls that you have, and I raved about, may be best for YOU.

 

However, if this eyepiece is for public outreach, then a widefield eyepiece will be better than a plossl.

The reason being is that the planet will remain in the eyepiece longer.

So maybe more folks will have a look before the scope has to be bumped. Or if it does get knocked accidentally

it will be easier to get the planet back into view.

Widef ields also have much more eye relief so glasses wearers may not have to remove their glasses.

 

Now that being said,  An 82mm 6.5 eyepiece might be ideal, but …

This will be an expensive eyepiece, and kids love to look into your scope

after eating popcorn and cotton candy, and put their fingers on the eyepiece and say look mommy …,

And maybe mommy has makeup that gets smeared on the eye lens too, maybe daddy too???

 

I have an expanse 6mm 66 degree eyepiece,  much more affordable.  However … it does have a tendency to

kidney bean if you eye is not at the right place.  It may not be good for casual observers.

 

Two 60 degree low cost eyepieces are the TMB clones.  (There are QC issues with these.  make sure you

can return it if you get a dud.)  And Paradadim dual ED.  I have several and QC is better.

Both have more eye relief, and a wider field of view than a plossl.  I don't have kidney bean with these.



#20 scoke

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 07:06 PM

So, is this zoom overkill?

 

https://www.bhphotov...4_mm_click.html

 

Or am I better off with a cheaper alternative, such as a Celestron?



#21 vtornado

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:18 PM

Is the price in your risk comfort zone for a public event?

Baader eye relief (16 - 19)   better than a plossl  and better than the celestron.

Baader field of view at high power?  (68 - 48)  better than a plossl and better then the celestron

 

I have the celestron.  In the 8-16 range it is fine, works about as well as a fixed length mid grade plossl.  (field of view 60 - 50)

In the 16-24 range, the field of view is not as wide as the equivalent plossl. (50 - 40)

Eye relief is 15 - 18 so better than a plossl.

 

I know the Baader will give your observers a better experience.  It is up to you if you want to spend the extra.

$160.00

 

Zooms are nice because you only need one eyepiece.

You can zoom out to find things, then zoom in to show them.



#22 scoke

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:09 AM

Does anyone have experience with the Hyperion barlow? B&H has a combo deal on it and the zoom. Is it easily used with other eyepieces, as well? 

 

https://www.bhphotov...click_stop.html



#23 Tony Flanders

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 02:27 PM

So, is this zoom overkill?

 

https://www.bhphotov...4_mm_click.html

 

Or am I better off with a cheaper alternative, such as a Celestron?

I own both. The Baader is slightly better in every regard except for size and price -- field of view, sharpness, mechanical quality. But the Celestron zoom is also a fine eyepiece. Both provide excellent value for the money.



#24 Eddgie

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 11:04 AM

Like ShaulaB, I recommend a good zoom. Heck, I recommend even cheap zooms.

 

It is my opinion that the forum greatly overstates the performance difference at the center of the field that different eyepieces give.  The forums make is sound like if only you change the eyepiece to a "Planetary" eyepiece, you will suddenly be able to see all this amazing detail that was not possible to see before.  

 

In practice, I would temper your expectations by saying that at the center of the field, most good quality eyepieces are diffraction limited in your scope and even a less expensive zoom will provide good views, though for planets, it is important to keep the object closer to the center of the field.

 

The unique benefit of the zoom is that it allows you to fine tube your power for your conditions but since seeing does change and can go from so-so to very good and back in a brief period of time, the zoom allows you to exploit small periods of good seeing by raising power and you can do this in far less time than it would take to swap eyepieces.

 

The only thing better than a zoom is two zooms and a binoviewer.  Now you are going to do some serious planetary observing!

 

BV with TV.jpg

 

(I use binoviewers for all of my solar system viewing, and also for double stars.  The difference binocular summation makes is quite remarkable. If solar, lunar, or planetary observing is high on your list, I recommend you put together a roadmap to get you to a binoviewer as quickly as possible. No expensive "Planetary" eyepiece will give as much benefit as even a cheap binoviewer and a pair of decent Plossls.)


Edited by Eddgie, 17 January 2020 - 11:08 AM.


#25 chazcheese

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Posted 18 January 2020 - 10:57 PM

T'm in agreement with SeattleScott's statement "  There are going to be people lined up to view Saturn and what not through your scope. Do you want a 50 deg eyepiece that you have to stop and nudge it in between each person viewing, or do you want an 82 AFOV eyepiece that you can let a couple people view through before nudging it again?"

I've found that if you don't have tracking (like my 10" Dob) it's best to stick to things that look best with lower power, wide field of view. This way it'll take less nudging as people file thru, also you have more time so that you can give an explanation of what they're looking at. This time of year in a 8" Dob things like the double cluster, M13, and M31 draw the most attention.

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