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Posted by MARK PAJOR   02/15/2005 12:00AM

I am, by no means, an expert in astronomy. Like many young astronomers, I have learned by my mistakes, reading articles, reading reviews, digesting all the pros and cons, so I have decided that maybe I can help the young guns out there who are trying to find out the hard way like I did.

Diagonals: so many to choose from; flip mirrors, 1.25 diagonals, and the 2 inch, and even prisims. All of this can make your head spin. Then, as if that's not enough, you can factor in reflectivity; 88% 96% 98% 99%. Then you have to deal with with the wave data; 1/8th 1/10th 1/20th ... Will the list ever stop? Gee, no wonder i got lost buying, selling, and trading. Then you have everybody making them: TeleVue, Meade, Celestron, Orion, and that list goes on for ever as well.

Now, I've had some great scopes and not so great scopes. My mk-67 was awesome, my 9.25 is my love, and my "nobody knows" Orion/Vixen 102ED-fluorite and a burgess 102 f/6 so I will try to shed my views on the diagonals I have used.

The diagonal is the heart of the scope. Without it, the scope is just glass and tube. With it, the scope comes alive, ready to please. So, what diagonal? Like many, I started out with the stock "came with the scope" diagonal and I was happy. Bought some expensive eyepieces but they didn't look any better than the old cheap ones did at the time. Until one day, I decided maybe I need a new diagonal and got the TeleVue 1.25 starbrite, 1/8th wave with 96% reflectivity. WOW! Now my cheap eyepieces did look cheap and the more expensive ones looked better.

Then I thought that more wave/better reflectivity would be the key and I got a veronscope 1/20th wave with 98% reflectivity. Using the same eyepieces, the views did get better. I saw fainter stars, a little more color, and pinpoints were indeed pinpoints - but was it all worth hundreds of dollars? Yeah i guess so but I do wish I was taught more about the diagonal from the get go, so here are my own thoughts: Any higher quailty diagonal will out gun a stock one and the TV Everbrite, is just such an animal. The Williams Optics 2" ia another good choice. And, yes, the Veronscope very high dollar value is well worth it.

I hope helps all newbies.