Tonight, I was back out with my 120mm achro, comparing low cost eyepieces on the moon and planets. Here’s the lineup:
Meade HD-60 6.5mm set in 1.25” extension tube
Meade 15mm Super Plossl inside a 1.25” extension tube and that set in a 2.2X barlow
Orion Explorer ll 17mm plossl inside the 1.25” tube and set in the 2.2X barlow
BCO 18mm inside the tube and barlow
By using a barlow and a short extension tube, I was able to boost magnification into the planetary league for all eyepieces. The first target was the Cassini Division. All of the eyepieces show it well nearly every time out. Not tonight! Seeing was so poor, the HD-60, at 6.5mm, didn’t show it. It was blurred out. I tried the Meade Super Plossl, often my best eyepiece on Saturn, and no go. The division was blurred out. Next was the Explorer ll 17mm. I could see the Cassini Division! Not a great view, but it was there. Last to go was the 18mm BCO. It was almost identical in view to the HD-60. No division shown. Next up were the two main belts on Jupiter. I couldn’t choose a winner. All looked lousy and then a clear moment would show the belts well. I called it a draw and went to the moon. I found a pair of connected craters along theTerminator. They resembled spectacles. I chose the bridge between them for a target. The BCO gave me a brilliant image, while the others were dull! I wondered what was going on and looked up to see light clouds had moved in while I was viewing with the other eyepieces. After they cleared, I redid the test and all eyepieces were excellent. I gave the win to the HD-60, as I enjoyed the view best with it. I regret not getting out the Celestron zoom and 2X barlow. As I’ve mentioned before, the barlow cleans up the edges and turns the zoom into a nice planetary eyepiece! I think it would have won tonight’s contest, had I used it, as I could have dialed in the best magnification. So, there you have it. My cheapest eyepiece, the Explorer ll, excelled under tough conditions. If it beats out the BCO on Mars, that BCO is going bye bye!