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What eyepiece/filter set would you recommend?

Started by rrasmussen, 08/01/2010 07:32PM
Posted 08/01/2010 07:32PM Opening Post

I'm new to these forums and trying to get back into astronomy. I used to read about it constantly as a kid and had a little Astroscan telescope. I always wanted more telescope though and I just purchased an Orion SkyQuest XT10i a couple days ago. I would like to find a good starter eyepiece and filter set.

The ones I've seen range from about $120 to $230 for a 1.25" set. I've only looked at the ones below, but I'm not limiting myself to them.

On the $230 side was the Meade Series 4000 set:

On the lower end of the price range was this Celestron set and Zhumell set:

Actually I was also wondering if it's worth getting additional 1.25" eyepieces or if I should focus on 2" ones. Is it better to have some in both sizes?

Posted 08/01/2010 10:47PM #1
Hi Roger,

Welcome back! The 10" dob will be a huge improvement over your previous telescope.

I would not buy any of the eyepiece kits. The 4mm and 6mm plossls are almost unusable because you have to get your eye so close to the eyepiece (the "eye relief" is too small). In the Meade kit, they have both a 32mm and 40mm plossl, and these are too similar to each other and a waste. The moon filter you really don't need, just use a higher magnification and that will darken the moon enough. The color filters I haven't used before. I'd recommend posting on the solar system forum and finding out which color filters are really useful and which are a waste of money.

If you might like to look at nebula (deep sky objects), then a narrow band nebula filter like a UHC (ultra high contrast) is really good. The broad band light pollution filters are generally not useful, which is too bad because light pollution is a big problem.

Plossl eyepieces are not a bad way to start. One possible line up is 32mm, 20mm, and 15mm (doesn't have to be exactly these sizes), plus a 2x barlow. Barlowing a 32mm plossl has issues with a too long of an eye relief, but you can barlow the 20mm and the 15mm to effectively give you 10mm and 7.5mm. (Barlows double the magnification which is the same as dividing the focal length by 2).

So, 32mm 20mm, 15mm, 2x barlow, (32, 20, 15, 10, 7.5mm effective sizes) + UHC filter is my recommendation.

Posted 08/01/2010 11:40PM #2
I have the Orion XT10i and started with the Meade 4000 Series set plus the Orion 10mm and 25mm Plossl eyepieces that came with the scope.

This was enough to really get a taste for what the hobby offers without making a large investment. Over time I found that most of my observing was done with the 9.7 12.4, 15, and 25mm eyepieces, usually in combination with the barlow for higher magnification since I prefer a little more eye relief. I also tried the color filters a few times, but I found them distracting and quickly put them away and have not touched them now for more than a year.

I was lucky that my Orion came with a 25mm plossl since the jump from 15mm to 32mm in the Meade set is so large. I thought that the Orion Plossls were a little bit sharper and had better contrast than the Meade, but the difference was marginal. Overall this set-up gave me good views of planets and the messier objects which I focused on as a beginner. Overall I was very satisfied with my purchase.

However, I have recently stepped up to using Televue eyepieces and Powermates. These provide a richer contrast and better sharpness. The Televue glass gave me my first real experience of having objects snap into focus, whereas before I found myself tweaking the focus looking for that last bit of detail. I also experimented with the Powermate and Meade Plossls and discovered a big improvement in image quality over the #126 barlow that came with the set.

Considering that the set comes with six eyepieces, but that you may only really use three or four of them and you have a large gap from 15 to 32mm, and a mediocre barlow, I would recommend on passing on the set and purchase a few eyepieces and a better barlow in the focal lengths you will most likely use. Eyepieces with a 60+ field of view or more will especially be helpful for higher magnification since you have to track objects by hand across the sky.

Televue Radians are on sale this summer. There are many other 60+ eyepieces that fall into this group for less if the budget is tight, and there are always the Astromart classifieds. The focal lengths mentioned by Dave look good to me.

I do not profess to be an expert on different eyepieces since I have have only used the one set and my Televues. What I did learn with my experience is that it is better to spend you $$ on a few quality eyepieces and a good barlow rather than your $$ on glass and filters that may not get used.

I gave my set to my 9 year old son to use with a 6" Orion dob I picked up used a year ago. They perform much better in that scope considering that it is an f/8 rather than an f/4.7.
Posted 08/02/2010 06:45AM #3

Hello and welcome to Astromart... Eyepieces, everyone has their own opinion as to what is best. But so far I think everyone is in agreement that individual eyepieces are better than a kit.

The XT-10 is a good scope, I have a 10 inch F/5 Dob as well as quite a few others. My thinking about eyepiece for a 10 inch F/5;

- One 2 inch widefield in 30mm range. This provides a widefield view ideal for hunting down faint fuzzies as well as just giving those big, bright views views. The 34mm Meade SWA for $99 at OPT is bargin. These are close outs and most are gone.

- Something around 16-20mm, the 16mm fits between the ~30mm and a 9mm

- A good 9mmm eyepiece, the TMB Planetary eyepieces are affordable and quite nice in an F/5 scope.

- A 7mm again the TMB Planetary is a reasonable choice, they have nice eye relief, and a comfortable 60 degree AFoV.

- A 2x barlow. I like the standard Celestron/Orion shorty. The front unscrews and can be screwed onto the front of an eyepiece to provide a 1.5x magnification.

One can always spend more, Naglers are very nice in a fast Newtonian, add a Paracorr to correct the coma and suddenly the views are sharp to the edge. But that is a large investment and unnecessary.

I suggest buying used on Astromart. Except for the 34mm which is a bargain already, you can save quite a bit of money with second hand eyepieces.


Posted 09/03/2010 04:27AM #4
Hi all,

Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions, it really helped. Since I have astigmatism and wear eyeglasses, eye relief was important. I also decided it made sense to get the best quality up front instead of getting average quality now and trading up later. So with that in mind I decided on Televue Radians for my mid to high power eyepieces. A lot of online shops like OPT had them on sale, plus Televue had a buy one, get one free deal, so getting some new Radian eyepieces seemed too good to pass up. I took some of the focal length recommendations here and decided on the 6, 10 and 14mm focal lengths and threw in a 2.5x Powermate on sale too. Even though my scope comes with a 10mm Plossl, I've been told the quality of the eyepieces Orion includes are just average, so I'm actually eager to compare the views between the 10mm stock plossl and my new 10mm Radian.

With the buy one/get one deal it came out to about $145 per eyepiece, not too bad for a Televue!

Now its time to lust after a 31mm Nagler.