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El Cheapo Planetary/Lunar Eyepiece Shootout

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#1 Frisky

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Posted 09 August 2020 - 03:32 AM

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!

 

Joe


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#2 Nippon

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Posted 09 August 2020 - 09:01 AM

I bought a Meade 12.4 supper Plossl to fill a gap for my f/12 Mewlon 180 and found it to be excellent. They are so inexpensive I have built a set of 5 now just using Amazon points as I gain points with other purchases. I find them to be as good as any Plossls I have owned and I compared the Meade super Plossl 15mm with my Edmund RKE 15mm and I can't see any difference.

Edited by Nippon, 09 August 2020 - 09:02 AM.

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#3 Frisky

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 03:08 AM

I'll tell you why I didn't buy the 12.4mm Super Plossl. I can barlow my 25mm HD-60 to 12.5mm and get better eye relief and a larger field of view. Plus, it's a super sharp eyepiece! However, the Super Plossls are nice in their own right. 

 

Joe



#4 Nippon

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 11:31 AM

I've sold some astro gear so I ordered a 12mm RKE. The RKEs are a set I'm building up even if there does not seem to be a difference in view between them and the Meades. I have a fondness for the RKEs. Although the RKEs don't seem to get slimed by eyelash goo like Plossls.


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#5 SeattleScott

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 01:11 PM

I have heard the 17mm Explorer Plossl is exceptionally sharp and best in the series, to the extent that people in the know seek it out. I had a couple that came with a purchase that I sold off without trying them out assuming they wouldn’t be good because they are cheap. Now I wish I would have given them a test run. I doubt they would have unseated my 17LVW but it would have been fun to see how close the performance is.

I have the Meade 25 HD-60 and it is also very good for the price. I hear the 6.5 is just as good. Every once in awhile you find some eyepieces that outperform their price level.

Scott
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#6 Rick Kapela

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 06:11 PM

I just bought the HD-60 6.5mm for those nights with great seeing.  With all the good reviews, I can't wait for it to come in.


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#7 Frisky

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Posted 12 August 2020 - 02:53 AM

I was out testing on the planets again. It was hard to pick a winner. I tested all kinds of eyepieces, including the 28mm RKE with two short barlows. They all do well, but there's something about the 17mm Explorer ll that stands out in my scope. Excellent sharpness and contrast. However, tonight, the 18mm BCO did about as well. I then did some deep space observing too. Here are five eyepieces that are standouts in my scope:

 

HD-60 25mm for low power. 

 

Russell 1.25" 19mm 70 degree Konig for medium low power.

 

Orion Explorer ll 17mm plossl, barlowed with extension tube as a planetary.

 

HD-60 6.5mm planetary.

 

Celestron 8X24mm zoom with Meade 2X #126 shorty barlow for planetary.

 

I have others I use regularly, but these are the standouts.

 

Joe


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#8 Peter Besenbruch

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Posted 13 August 2020 - 03:30 PM

...there's something about the 17mm Explorer ll that stands out in my scope. Excellent sharpness and contrast. However, tonight, the 18mm BCO did about as well.

I never had the pleasure of viewing with the old Explorer II, but I do like the BCO 32, 18, and 10mm. My one complaint is that they don't Barlow that well.


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#9 mwedel

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 02:35 AM

I was out looking at Saturn tonight with my Orion Apex 127. I started at 64x with a 24mm ES68, and went up from there, ending with an 8.8mm ES82 (175x), 6mm Meade Plossl (257x), and 5mm Meade MWA (308x). I had seen Titan and Rhea all the way up, but 257x was the first magnification at which I also saw Dione. It was tricky to hold in direct vision, I think because of variable seeing. 

 

After I'd had enough, I dropped in the 28mm RKE to hop back to Jupiter for one last look, and I was astonished to see all three moons at 55x. In fact, I had an easier time holding Rhea and Dione in direct vision in the 28mm RKE than I had in the other EPs. I noticed that the 28mm RKE had exceptional control of scattered light around the planet, which may have had something to do with it. 

 

I am primarily a deep-sky observer and although I enjoy casually checking in on the planets, I rarely set out to observe them seriously, which is why my eyepiece case is full of widefield EPs. But this session gave me a lot to think about. 


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#10 Frisky

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 09:37 AM

In my scope, the 28mm RKE gives 35X. I'll barlow it to 70X and try it tonight on Jupiter. In the past, I've barlowed it to around 100X for a fine view.

 

Joe



#11 Echolight

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 10:38 PM

I just said the heck with trying to assemble a line-up of short to medium focal length el cheapo eyepieces and got the Baader zoom to cover all the high power bases. Use it with my Ultima SV 2x barlow mainly and has worked out well so far.

 

Kinda wished I had picked up a 5.5 UWA when they were on sale though. But keep thinkin I'll get a SW ED80 that comes with a rumored to be decent 5mm.

 

But now that I've decided I need a couple of mid range wide angle 2 inch eyepieces for the C8 and C6R that I can use for open clusters here on the outer edge of the urban light dome, the choices seem far more perplexing.


Edited by Echolight, 24 August 2020 - 10:44 PM.


#12 Frisky

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Posted 24 August 2020 - 11:52 PM

You'll do well with that zoom and barlow, and I'm with you on the 5.5 Meade. It was $80 shipped last year! I passed, as I didn't think my scope could handle 5.5mm except in lunar observing. Heck, it would be perfect for Mars.

 

Joe




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