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Eyepiece Mold?

Eyepieces Equipment Classic
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#1 kas20amc02

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:06 PM

Hello everyone.

 

I recently acquired some new-to-me reticle eyepieces, that look to be about 30 years old.  When they arrived, I looked at them and there is obvious mold all over the glass.  The mold maybe covers 10-20% of the surface. The spots are 2-4 mm in size.  I can see the reticle despite this and I think I could still use use them to track planets with my finderscope when I use high power on my Dob. (This is the only reason I bought them).  BUT I do not want it to contaminate my other EPs or finderscope and would prefer to throw it away if that is a risk.  They are currently in "quarantine," well away from the expensive glass.  

 

My question is can I still use them?  Will I contaminate my finderscope and/or other EPs?

 

Thanks,

Karl

 

 

 



#2 MartinPond

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:20 PM

As far as contamination:

There are spores everywhere. Whether mold grows is a matter

   of humidity only.   An ordinary cleaning will handle that..

 

Using Windex or other ammonia-based cleaner will

   help loosen mold biofilm.. Hard to say if the coating is etched, though.

 

I use a solution with Bon-Ami sometimes, very gently.

I have cleaned up a lot of mold.



#3 Starman1

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:31 PM

1) mold will spread to other eyepieces and to more of the glass in the eyepiece if left untreated.

2) You should dismantle the eyepiece and clean everything internal in pure acetone.

Clean the outsides first to see if it is only external.  If it is, great.

But if you see it inside after cleaning the outer surfaces, dismantling is in order.

Left in place, it will etch and roughen the lens surfaces.


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#4 jefffed

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:32 PM

There's a step by step discussion about it here      https://petapixel.co...ve-fungus-lens/

It's for camera lenses but the procedure is just about the same. I have not tried it yet but I do plan to. If you google fungus removal from lenses there's a lot of info available.


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#5 pretyro

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:37 PM

  Once you've disassembled the eyepiece, perhaps you could try sonicating the parts in a bath with, say, ammonia or a mild detergent.  I do know that sonication (at a sufficient energy and duration) can disrupt cells and spores, but I don't know if the lens coatings will be disrupted as well. 


Edited by pretyro, 09 September 2021 - 08:46 PM.


#6 kas20amc02

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:38 PM

GROAN!!!  

 

Thanks for the advice.  I will see if I can find some acetone to clean them with.  



#7 CrazyPanda

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 09:12 PM

You've gotten some good answers about dealing with the fungus, but I would also recommend taking the time to keep your eyepieces clean and do periodic inspections of them to catch fungus problems early. The cleaner you keep the eyepieces, the less chance there will be of developing fungus.


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#8 kas20amc02

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 09:52 PM

That is good advice.  

 

I always take my OTAs and EPs out of the case after observing and let them dry out in my office overnight.  Then I put them away.  These used EPs were treated a little rougher I think.

 

 

~Karl


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#9 pretyro

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 11:34 PM

  btw, what is with eyepieces and fungus anyway?  Note, I am new to this.  I only got 3 eyepieces -- so far fungus-free.

 

  Ordinarily fungus just doesn't grow on a clean glass surface.  It needs a carbon source (ie typically a carbohydrate or fat to supply carbon and energy), a nitrogen source (unless it can fix nitrogen from the air), oxygen (unless it is an anaerobe), water, and, of course, various elements (ie phosphate, iron, magnesium, etc).  I can understand getting fungus on the proximal side of the glass that brushes against the eye (doing so would smear the glass with various nutrients).  But any glass surfaces internal to the lens?  Are the coatings themselves comprised of a bevy of nutrients?  Surely the coatings can be made to be less hospitable to fungus (outside of doping the coatings with BHT).



#10 MartinPond

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 12:15 AM

It is nutrients that condense from the surroundings

  that feed the fungus,  or those released from coatings+glass

  when acidified water precipitates (like, with CO2 in it).

   Undried glass that has been sweating.  I have seen it eat deep pits into 

    flint glass in telephotos from cold closets.  Fungus was the 

    least of the problems.  

 

Methanol, weak ammonia soln, isopropyl alcohol, or acetone,

   3% hydrogen peroxide, or 10ppm chlorine...they will all kill fungus. 

    Don't panic due to misinformation.  It does not magically make its

    own infections or invade other glass by shear force of will:

     it is a follower of opportunity.   That is all.

 

Cleaning is enough, and avoiding precipitation/humidity  is how to prevent fungus.

Fungus is where damp is, and it is not where dryness is.

 

BHT prevents oil from becoming gummy and rancid.....it is not

    used in the domain  of microbes. Benzoic acid (or cranberry juice)

     is used against  fungus and bacteria. 

    Neither of them should be put over your coatings...it defeats the purpose.

 

    Cleanliness, pureness and dryness...that's it.


Edited by MartinPond, 10 September 2021 - 12:21 AM.


#11 MartinPond

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 12:26 AM

That is good advice.  

 

I always take my OTAs and EPs out of the case after observing and let them dry out in my office overnight.  Then I put them away.  These used EPs were treated a little rougher I think.

 

 

~Karl

Sensible.

I put eyepieces in a plastic bag when going from colder to warmer,

   as in just before:

----going from air conditioned rooms to humid outdoor summer air

----going from cold outdoor observing to warmed house air in fall or winter

It only takes 10-15minutes for the optics to warm up above the dew point.



#12 pretyro

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 01:57 PM

It is nutrients that condense from the surroundings

  that feed the fungus,  or those released from coatings+glass

  when acidified water precipitates (like, with CO2 in it).

   Undried glass that has been sweating.  I have seen it eat deep pits into 

    flint glass in telephotos from cold closets.  Fungus was the 

    least of the problems.  

 

Methanol, weak ammonia soln, isopropyl alcohol, or acetone,

   3% hydrogen peroxide, or 10ppm chlorine...they will all kill fungus. 

    Don't panic due to misinformation.  It does not magically make its

    own infections or invade other glass by shear force of will:

     it is a follower of opportunity.   That is all.

 

Cleaning is enough, and avoiding precipitation/humidity  is how to prevent fungus.

Fungus is where damp is, and it is not where dryness is.

 

BHT prevents oil from becoming gummy and rancid.....it is not

    used in the domain  of microbes. Benzoic acid (or cranberry juice)

     is used against  fungus and bacteria. 

    Neither of them should be put over your coatings...it defeats the purpose.

 

    Cleanliness, pureness and dryness...that's it.

     Agreed, keeping things dry and clean is key.  And, yes, BHA would not be a good choice.  On the other hand, ethylmercurithiosalicylate has been found to be effective (of course, containing Hg, it has other issues).   

     It is interesting that moldy optics has been a concern for some time (J.S. Turner, E.I. McLennan, J.S. Rogers, & E. Matthaei.  University of Melbourne. “Tropic-Proofing of Optical Instruments by a Fungicide”,  Nature 158 (Oct. 5, 1946) 469-473. 

" It is remarkable that the problem of the deterioration of optical instruments by fungi has remained so long without thorough investigation. Until 1939 very few people seem to have realized that fungi can grow actively on or over the internal optics of binoculars, cameras, etc., exposed to warm and humid conditions. The trouble became acute, however, in Australia when military units went into action in New Guinea.")

 

   And there do not seem to be any preventative measures to date besides "keep it clean and dry".

 

     I did not mean to suggest that the user slather anti fungals over the lens (and its coatings) but I would have thought the presence of anti fungals in the coating compounds (or hardware) had been considered.

 
 



#13 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 02:44 PM

I never heard of optical fungus until I started reading about it here.  I have a set of old eyepieces and a pair of Celestron binoculars I put away dirty without desiccant some 30 years ago and recently pulled them out and cleaned them, and saw no signs of fungus.  I don't think its as prevalent where I live in the Pacific Northwest.  It's pretty dry in the summer.  It can get humid in the winter but its cold then and the furnaces keep indoor humidity down.  Mold only seems to grow here when there is a continuous water source, like a leaky pipe.  But every time I read about some fungus ridden eyepiece or telescope, I get paranoid and go and put fresh desiccant packs in all my eyepiece cases.  



#14 CrazyPanda

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Posted 10 September 2021 - 02:46 PM

Seems the key is to keep the optics stored in an environment with less than 70% relative humidity, and if possible, allow for airflow.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC3864060/

 

The challenge with storing in cases is that you constantly have to check any desiccant packs that are in there, and they will quickly saturate unless you take them out of the case and store them in an air-tight bag prior to observing.

 

I also wonder if lens caps that fit tightly over rubber eyeguards can actually trap moisture in that air pocket and render desiccant packs in the case, less effective.

 

I know the Explore Scientific cover creates a really snug seal. I can imagine a situation whereby some condensation forms on the cap from use in the field, and then you put it on the eyepiece, and now you have significant humidity trapped in there.

 

Ideally, an eyepiece cap should have ventillation holes protected by a HEPA filter. Most field lens caps have ridges that allow for an air gap, but eye lens caps affixed over rubber eyeguards can create a seal.


Edited by CrazyPanda, 10 September 2021 - 02:51 PM.

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#15 MartinPond

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 12:44 PM

Just for context:

   Most people will never experience mold on their optics.

   It takes special circumstances.

   

  Still, the circumstances can occur by accident...

 

   For example, If I have an open sealed carry-box of eyepieces out in the winter cold,

    and I bring it into the house, then close the box a few minutes later, and open it

   days after that.....the result could be disasterous.  The condensation of indoor air starts

   right away, and then the sweat gets sealed in.  The lid should have been sealed

   outdoors, before the EPs were brought in...and the lid left closed for an hour.

 

  Similarly, if I take my box of EPs out of an air-conditioned house into a summer

   Carolina night, the sweating starts, unlesss I allow time for accomodation.

 

  If I lived in Key West or Malayasia, I'd have a low-powered box heater on all the time.

  It only takes 10-25 watts.

 

  "In action, watch the timing" ---Lao Tzu

  "In condensation, watch the temp and the dewpoint" -- some cinematic guy 


Edited by MartinPond, 11 September 2021 - 12:48 PM.


#16 kas20amc02

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 01:58 PM

I am glad to see this topic generated some interest.  

 

After cleaning the outside of the EPs with 100% acetone using q-tips, I realized there was also mold on the inside.  Double groan.  Although I had no experience doing so, I took apart the EP, which actually just necessitated unscrewing a few components and cleaned the inside with acetone.  At one point, I thought I had scrubbed the reticle off (despite being gentle), but this proved unfounded!  The acetone left streak marks on the glass, which I then wiped off with an unused cleaning cloth from my Cometron binoculars.  This left quite a bit of fuzz on it (I thought it was a lint free cloth-I guess you get what you pay for). I blew the fuzz off with a suction bulb. Finally, I cleaned the outside of the eyepiece with 70% isopropyl alcohol, removing quite a bit of grime.

 

The 25 mm made it though surgery in good shape.  The 12.5 mm, unfortunately, got scratched up some, maybe by the "dust free cloth."  My guess it that it will serviceable, if not beautiful.  I just need to center the crosshairs on a planet to manually track it at high power and do not care about the quality of the view.  I do not think either EP had many/any coatings on the glass as neither had the green shimmering look.  

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My lessons learned....Prevention is better than cure.  Don't put things away wet.  I do something different than Martin Pond, even though we live in similar climates.  I bring all of my stuff into the house, regardless of the season, and give it ~24 hours to acclimate uncapped, before stowing it away the next day.  This includes my OTAs, filters and EPs.  My small gear box has desiccant packages but I agree with others that an EP covered by caps then placed in a bolt and THEN placed in a cardboard box, makes it hard to get the water out. 

 

I have always read that cleaning your equipment is a bad idea.  I have only had to clean one EP ever before now (my used BZ as it never had an eye guard) although I do occasionally blow the dust off equipment with a suction bulb.  I am going to stick with cleaning equipment infrequently going forward.  If I ever get an expensive optic really dirty, it is going back to the factory!

 

My last thought is that the mold or bacteria, whatever it was, is a ubiquitous organism.  Prokaryotes can live anywhere, even in nuclear reactors (Deinococcus radiodurans), and I have no doubt that given the wrong/right conditions they can live on glass as a substrate.  My guess is as long as your other equipment is clean, they would not easily move to a telescope from the EP.  On the other hand, had this equipment not been sanitized, I would have tossed it and started over! 

 

~Karl

 

ps: Pictures attached  

 

 

pps: Televue's advice on cleaning EPs: https://televue.com/...n=Advice&id=103


Edited by kas20amc02, 12 September 2021 - 02:05 PM.


#17 kas20amc02

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 02:00 PM

25 mm with "bad stuff" on the glass.  Looks like a bacterial colony to me from my days in a research lab.  Spots are somewhat hard to see on this image but more obvious in real life.

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  • 20210911_235514.jpg

Edited by kas20amc02, 12 September 2021 - 02:00 PM.


#18 kas20amc02

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 02:01 PM

12.5 mm with grime

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#19 kas20amc02

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 02:02 PM

Cleaned and ready for reassembly.  The bolts were also watched with soap and water.

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#20 kas20amc02

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Posted 12 September 2021 - 02:03 PM

The final product.  Scratches on the 12.5 mm are not visible from this angle.  

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Edited by kas20amc02, 12 September 2021 - 02:04 PM.

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#21 jeffmac

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Posted 13 September 2021 - 07:59 PM

Seems the key is to keep the optics stored in an environment with less than 70% relative humidity, and if possible, allow for airflow.
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC3864060/
 
The challenge with storing in cases is that you constantly have to check any desiccant packs that are in there, and they will quickly saturate unless you take them out of the case and store them in an air-tight bag prior to observing.
 
I also wonder if lens caps that fit tightly over rubber eyeguards can actually trap moisture in that air pocket and render desiccant packs in the case, less effective.
 
I know the Explore Scientific cover creates a really snug seal. I can imagine a situation whereby some condensation forms on the cap from use in the field, and then you put it on the eyepiece, and now you have significant humidity trapped in there.
 
Ideally, an eyepiece cap should have ventillation holes protected by a HEPA filter. Most field lens caps have ridges that allow for an air gap, but eye lens caps affixed over rubber eyeguards can create a seal.


This is one reason I'm not sold on eyepiece bolt cases. I have used them....they look so nice! But I don't think they are very practical. Cover to keep the dust out but not air tight. Let some air circulate around everything.
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