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Posts Made By: Tom Masterson

January 31, 2004 10:20 AM Forum: Binoviewers

I bino, therefore I AM - another first light!

Posted By Tom Masterson

Gee, did the the sky decide to clear last night for ALL of us newbies!!???

I, F I N A L L Y got to see with BOTH eyes last night and I thought my head would explode! I hovered over the moon for a while and was amazed at the details visible. I thought at first I was having some problems merging because many of the craters seemed double. After a few seconds I realized many of the craters ARE double, or atleast have a similar mate close by!

Then there was Saturn - I almost wet myself - I was stunned by the colors now visible on the globe. Saturn in mono-eye has always been cream colored with grey markings, but the brownish yellows, browns, bluish greys mixed with cream were now easy to see in the planet's ball. Encke's division was now much more obvious and made a fine line extending farther around the rings than I've ever seen before. The difference in brightness between the A and B rings were easily visible as they are in mono, but the COLOR difference was a new experience. The other amazing thing about this observation, is this was all seen in average seeing! The slow boiling of the image didn't bother me so much. I was much more relaxed and able to catch those (less) fleeting glimpses of detail.

After about an hour, the curtains closed as the clouds came back. I however, was kicking back wanting a ciggarette, exhausted yet satisfied - "was it good for you too dear?"

I was VERY pleased with the performance if my unit. Image brighness was great with no color difference between left and right eyepieces. There was only a small amount of vignetting in the 32s and NO stray glare noticed regardless of where the object was in or out of the field. Sharpness was OUTSTANDING! I can't wait to get a 1.3x corrector and a shorter pair of eyepieces. More, MORE, M O R E!!!

I spent a few minutes viewing with my small refractor - Brandon 94, and the image brightness there was excellent too. Phew!!! great throughput Zeiss!!!

One of the best parts of this experience is I was able to put this package together from Astromart sales for a VERY reasonable cost. Made doubling my pleasure, doubling my fun possible without too much guilt!

Now, if only I could get a clear weekend day, to view the Sun in h-alpha with 2 eyes....

FYI - my set-up:
A Meade 140 barlow element screwed into the nose of my binoviewer, used a couple of plossls - 32mm to start, moving back and forth to 25mm plossls as seeing permitted. My obervations were mostly though my "antique" AstroPhysics 6" f/8 refractor. Assuming 3x for the barlow in the nose, powers were 115Xish and 150Xish. My binoviewer is a Zeiss conversion unit, with diopter eyepiece holders.

Tom M

February 14, 2004 10:40 AM Forum: Binoviewers

Antares 14mm W70 first light report

Posted By Tom Masterson

I recently purchased a pair of Antares 14mm W70 eyepieces from ScopeStuff (two thumbs up for the company by the way).

I took them for a spin in my f/7 and f/8 refractors and Zeiss binoviewer with a Meade APO barlow element screwed into the nosepiece for 3X power (I don't own a OCS yet).

The eyepieces are MUCH smaller than I imagined. Looking at the photos I thought they'd be fairly big and bulky. Yes the 14s are the smallest of the bunch but I didn't realize how compact they were. In the photo are my 25mm and 32mm plossls and a standard filter. Fit and finish is very good - they are nice looking eyepieces.

With the eyecup rolled down the eyerelief is good enough for me to see the edge of the field with my glasses on. However, it is tight enough I need to get close enough where I occasionally hear a "click" as my eyeglasses touch the eyelens - no biggie, but something I don't want to happen so I back off a tiny bit. There were nearly parfocal with my plossls. I REALLY like this size apparent field. Eyeplacement is unforgiving and I didn't experience blackout problems - better than my plossls.

Like many others have stated, they are sharp over about 60% of the field. Basically, as sharp as my plossls over the same 52 degree field where sharpness then starts to fade. Near the edges astigmatism shows as stars elongate, the long axis of which can be rotated by 90 degrees by refocusing. I DO NOT find the amount of distortion objectional. Stars are still small enough accross the field that when one is looking naturally toward the center - of even a cluster of stars - the whole field looks quite pleasing. Compared to my old Widescans the stars a slightly sharper from the 60% mark outward. Keep in mind my widescans - in mono mode - are (were?) my favorite low and medium power eyepieces. Sharpness in the center of the field is VERY good. Saturn looked GREAT in both my 94mm f/7 Brandon, and my 6" AP refractors with the W70s. Performance wise, they remind me of the UO Konigs. Maybe they are a similar design?

Like others have reported the coatings could be better. It appears the backside of the eyelens is plano (but coated) and this is where the noticable green reflection seems to come from when looking at the eyepieces in bright light. There is some ghosting on Saturn and bright stars, but again, not enough to bother "me" or to interfere with the image.


I REALLY! like this eyepiece. Each time I swopped back and forth with my plossls I silently said wow because the image and field looked great. Now, when I judge a product I do so with the value for $$$ in mind. For these eyepieces I consider them a steal, one hell-of-a-bargain. While I can't vouch for their performance in a fast dob, in a refractor they work very well and for the price can't be beat. For someone on a budget, looking for affordable bino-eyepieces, these are a must have.

Tom M

March 2, 2004 04:45 PM Forum: Binoviewers

The League of Extraordinary Magnifications

Posted By Tom Masterson

Had a beautifuly clear night on Sunday and decided to cruise the Moon. This is the first lunar run for my new 14mm W70 eyepieces and I was pretty pumped.

I used the 6" refractor, and a 2X Meade 140 barlow screwed into the bino-nosepiece for about 3X+. I started with my 25mm plossls and kept the drive turned off. I moved ahead of the Moon and let it drift into the field. WOW! I slipped in the W70s and moved ahead again. WOWWOWWOW!!!! Watching the lunar surface drift by, was like having my face pressed to the porthole of a spaceship. Copernicus was AMAZING! The debris field, jumbled terrain and splashes of small craterlets surrounding the big crater was AWESOMELY 3D! I was amazed at how many tiny craterlets string out and surround the crater. Its so much easier to see what the impact of a large body does to the Moons crust when using two eyes. Even the central peaks and terraced crater walls were amazing in their detail. Again, I was struck by the number of "paired" craters there were on the surface. It is easy to see that some of these impacts happened in groups. I was also amazed at the number of small rills now visible compared to the mono-mode of normal viewing.

In the end what knocked me out of the chair, and inspired the thread's title was dicovering I was viewing at over 450X and the views were still sharp. But why??? I can't explain... In the past I've rarely viewed at much over 280X, and even then I prefered a lower power for a sharper view. With the binoviewer, seeing seems much less an issue. Maybe being relaxed, using both eyes helps me look through the turbulence. Who know, and frankly, WHO CARES, it WORKS!

As for the W70s - I tried them mono-mode and they were sharp in about the center 50degrees @ f/8, which was somewhat larger than the moon's diameter. When ued with my Meade 2x barlow - sharp to the edge. Anyway, the views were NICE! I'm so spoiled now.

Tom M

April 21, 2004 08:45 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood....

Posted By Tom Masterson

Solar neighborhood that is!
Got to leave work early today because of a Dr's appointment. Weeeell, with the sun calling to me I decided NOT to return for the last hour or so (don't tell the boss). Instead I fired up the ol' camera and snapped a bunch of shots. Still transfering them for proccessing but here's few I spent a few minutes messing with. Both taken with my AstroVid 2000 and stacked in Registax, then tweeked in Photoshop. The second on is a crop of the first. Darn scan bars messed up the larger image but I'm VERY happy with the details. AR 569 has some flaring and a prominence bending down toward the umbra. Light bridges are barely visible and could be seen in white light.

Here's the first:

April 26, 2004 09:44 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

Flame prominence

Posted By Tom Masterson

Here's a shot from the 21st. Amazing flame-like prominence with considerable detail visible in the prominence visually. I was able to capture some in the image.

Tom M

April 26, 2004 09:48 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

More stunning prominences.

Posted By Tom Masterson

Here's some amazing prominences. The data on my compter says I shot this on 4/22. Coronado SMn .6a filter w/90mm ERF. AstroVid 2000 video camera. Avi proccessed with Registax and then tweeked in Photoshop. Incredible fine detail seen visually. WOW! does this Sun ever quit!!!??? Does it know its supposed to be settling down for solar minimum????

Tom M

May 5, 2004 06:59 AM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

Transit of Venus - eastern US viewing?

Posted By Tom Masterson

Ok, all you east-coasters... Here I am, on the faaaaaar north-western corner of the US. My plans for travel to Europe for the transit fell through due to a unbreakable work schedule. I'm considering grabbing a flight to:???? on the eastcoast for atleast a sunrise view. Of course I've never been anywhere on the east coast except Daytona Beach Florida, so I don't know where to go. Any ideas? Anyone doing anything for the transit locally (in the east).

Plan "A": A friend and I are considering hoping a flight the night/day before, catching sunsire at the airport(?) watching and heading home. Silly? Any airports with good horizions to the east?

Plan "B": Hop a flight, rent a car/van, drive to coast, sleep in van, set-up for sunrise, observe, fly home (not in the van).

Plan "C": Same as plan "A" or "B" and add a day or two sightseeing.

Plan "D": Stay home, cry in my beer while watching the transit on the internet/news, more crying, more beer to fuel the tears, kick telescope after having too many beers, miss, fall and break arm.... you get the idea.

Clear and wanting a transit filled sky.
Tom M

PS - Huuuuummmm, Daytona Beach.... Would anyone consider a h-alpha equipped scope a chick magnet???? Too geeky??? yeah, probably too geeky. DARN!

June 9, 2004 09:39 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

White-light transit shots, Long Island NY

Posted By Tom Masterson

Flew from Washington State to New York and set-up on the east-coast of Long Island. Clouds blocked sunrise but we were able to view through suckerholes catching snapshots of Venus every few minutes. Never saw the whole disk of the Sun at any given time. Of course, the clouds evaporated leaving blue skies within 15 minutes of the transit's end!

Tekn through a University Optics 80mm finder outfitted with a Intes Herschel wedge. 32mm plossl, Meade 2x APO barlow. Minolta Dimage 7hi camera handheld up to the eyepiece.


December 19, 2004 11:09 PM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

A beautiful Sun today!

Posted By Tom Masterson

Well, the rainclouds finally parted long enough for some viewing today and what a Sun! Nice filaments and incredible prominences. I grabbed my laptop, PST and Meade LPI, headed out into the back yard and snapped some shots. I had to keep moving the tripod to keep the sun in a small gap in the trees.

Attached is a composite image of 3 shots manually stacked and processed in Registax. I then combined, in Photoshop, the stacked disk image with one exposed for porminences. Up to this point I've had little luck with the LPI but I think I stumbled apon the trick today - ignore the instructions! Unfortunately I was using my alt-az mount and the sun moved too rapidly in the field for Registax to track and stack a group of images, so there's more noise in the image than I'd like.

The view visually was incredible! The best sun I've seen in a couple months. Uhhh... ok, so its just about the ONLY sun I've seen in a while! Darned Pacific NorthWet weather!


May 2, 2005 09:17 AM Forum: Coronado-Lunt-DayStar Solar Filters

Amazing Prom on Saturday!

Posted By Tom Masterson

WOW! That flame prominence on Saturday was incredible.

Here's a shot taken with a Meade LPI


Tom Masterson 8O