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Eclectic Eyepiece Neurosis

Posted by Ronald Abraham   02/05/2008 00:00:AM

I must avoid owning a Nagler 31 at all cost - even if I can afford one. Yes - I would like to try a monocentric TMB, but I am not brave enough. Should I trade my 14" LX200 and another $1000 for a NP127? UH - nope; there is something fundamentaly wrong with paying more for less. Who wants lobster when hamburger steak and ketchup fills the tank for less?

I have an eclectic bunch of eyepieces that defies appreciation of those who seek order and discipline in managing their walk in amateur astronomy. Rather than selling everything, adding newly earned greenbacks, and ordering a bunch of Naglers and Radians, I decided to fill my garage with the Edsels and Studebakers of the eyepiece world.

First of all was my predilection for the old University Optics Widescans from the 1980s. I accidentally destroyed my 20mm trying to clean it, but the 13mm is just great! It is smaller than a Meade 26mm Plossl but has a field bigger than AL Nagler's first 13mm namesake. Unfortunately there is no eye relief so you end up wearing this jewel like a contact lens. I missed the 20mm so much I bought a newer Wide Scan 3 20 mm model on Amart for about $125. Barry Gooley is the guy who introduced these fine Kokusai Koki/Magellan eyepieces, but costs got so high he called it quits a few years ago. I recently picked up a 30mm Wide Scan 2 and it is quite impressive - much better than those private branded Chinese generic clones that just can't come close to duplicate its performance. It falls short of Nagler's flat field in a fast instrument, but put it in an SCT and you'll be impressed in every other way.

Then I got wind of another oddball eyepiece - a 30mm 85* Zeiss Super Erfle. This is the one that has a 3/8" thick offset rectangular plate between the barrel and the body as well as having it's own diopiter/focuser and strange bulbous eyeguard. Yea - it beats the Wide Scan 2 handily. It is better than the 31 Nag in contrast, APOV, and comfort in use, but the Nag can stand 2 stops faster focal ratios.

So why don't I sell the Zeiss and the Wide Scan and pick up a 31 Nag? What - are you crazy? Thats like asking me to sell my MK70 40mm Konig to get a TMB 40mm Paragon, W/O Swan 40, or throw in both of my Meade SWA 40mm 70* units and pick up a 41 Panoptic. In fact - what do I need with the 40s when I have wider 30s? I could sell my three 40s and put the money back into a used Nag 31! No - then I would have too many 30s.

I acknowledge my oddballity. That is why I won't trade my old Nag 9 and 16 and 2 Ben Franklin portraits for the newer smaller units. The views are great, and - once again -there is something wrong with paying more for smaller unless gas mileage is improved substantially and you are poor.

I always wanted a TAL 24 ultra wide angle eyepiece. Most reviews rate it very highly and describe it's APOV as being over 90*. I now own one and have only experienced one eyepiece with a wider APOV - the new TV Ethos. Honestly - I find that 13 is a number better saved for Fridays than eyepieces. Although it has been Uncle Al's magic number, I typically exclude focal lengths between 10 and 15 from my viewing sessions.

My Nagler 4.8? Keep away your hands or lose them. It is my favorite contact lens. I use it and a 2.8 Klee Barlow to get over 2000X with my 14" LX200; I can actually see the disks of stars with giant tidal forces causing them to appear as boiling dim blobs of light - often with black holes in the middle. Try it - you'll like it.

Why do I have both a Televue 55mm Plossl and an Antares 52mm Erfle? I keep the Televue because its the lowest usable power I can get with my SCTs; I keep the Antares because if someone likes my TV Plossl I can always say "this Antares 52 is almost as good; you want to buy it?" As you might expect, the 3 40mm 70* eyepieces I have show a larger true field than both the TV plossl and the Antares Erfle. Perhaps I have a neurotic compulsion towards over redundancy. [Is that a second generation oxymoron?]

My wahzoo is erupting in a hail of seldom used Orthos, the usual drawer full of Meade, Orion, and Celestron 26mm Plossls and singles of other focal lengths that are used mostly for keeping dust and moths out of my OTAs.

I have a "Hybrid Ultrawide 26" Rini eyepiece that makes a speed limit sign across the street look like an ellipse at the end of a long dark tunnel. There are cheapo Mead MA eyepieces that have genuine glass lenses. I have a 4mm, 6mm, and 9mm Burgess/TMB eyepieces - poor man's Radians - which I like - but use only for lunar and planetary viewing which represents the least of my night sky interests. I am hesitant to sell the stuff I don't use.

When it comes right down to it, If I go into the field with five eypieces, I spend all night missing those I did not bring. If I bring the entire collection, I use the Zeiss and the three Naglers and forget the rest.

Like a lot of guys, I figure if I sell it, it will be gone and then if I need it, I'll be out of luck. You might want to know what kind of person needs to own 36 eyepieces; the fact is that I forgot to mention that I have a set of nine (9) ED eyepies ranging from 3.2 to 25 mm. They are the same as Orions Epic line - that is to say unremarkable.

Oh darn - I forgot to mention my Speers WALER collection: 5-8mm, 7.4mm, 10mm, 14mm, and 18mm,: I just KNEW I was missing something. There is simply no other eyepiece in the world that can compare with the 5 -8 variable model; Although it is advertised as having an 82* field, drift method measuring reveals the 5mm setting to be about 89* whie the 8mm setting is about 81*. Yes I like the 4.8 and 9mm Nags I own, but having this one eyepiece alone which when fully extended is longer than my - uh - number two screwdriver makes me wonder if I should consider - uh - NO: I won't sell the Nags.

Your only question regarding this in depth review should be: What kind of person (be nice)would own 50 eyepieces?

Think of the twelve days of Christmas: It would be the same kind of person who would... ...own twelve pretty telescopes, eleven assorted diagonals, ten differnt carry cases, nine red led flashlights, eight heavy tripods, seven German Eq mounts, six pairs of mounting rings, five spare Autostar controllers, four rolling fixtures, three ccd cams, two hours monthly, and a dark site 80 miles away.