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Posts Made By: Joe Conway

May 14, 2006 02:45 PM Forum: Beginning Astronomy?

Celestron 9.25 eyepiece suggestions and eyeglasses

Posted By Joe Conway

I am building up a new system. I am a beginner and this is my first scope. I have a 9.25 SCT with XLT coatings. I wear glasses with astigmatism. I don’t have my mount yet but am leaning toward the CGE. I have used my scope on my friends G-11 for one night of observing and I could lean toward a G-11 as well. Opinions on this are welcome, but not my reason for posting.

I am trying to build up some eyepieces for my first use of this scope. I am patient and am taking my time with this process. I’m sure you all know that at an average price of $200 to $300 plus, this is important to get as right as possible. I’ll be buying a Barlow and am leaning toward the Powerviewer 2” 2X, but not important just yet.

I am hoping in this thread to limit the answers from those that have and use this scope. Believe me, I have read months of reviews and most if not all forums, but they are always tied to scope and mount or scope vs. scope or the threads start out on the topic and then quickly move from SCT to refractor and turn into a mess. So please, 9.25 folks only here please.

I can use either 1 ¼ or 2-inch eps. So for those with glasses, what high power, mid power and low power eps do you prefer? What extreme power ep have you used with this scope on perfect viewing nights for planetary or other objects? What is your favorite ep? I just purchased a Pentax XL 14mm and hope this gets me in the ballpark for mid. I have some other standard eps, but am looking toward wide field, good eye relief (aren’t you all). I realize it is difficult to buy eyepieces without trying them in some way or another with my scope for my conditions. I am just trying to get a mean sample of what current users are happy with. Without a mount, it is hard to go to a star party and borrow others eps.

So thank you in advance for this. I can honestly tell you I haven’t found a thread that is truly 9.25 ota specific that stays on topic. The posters usually have other scopes and start working them in the topic. Joe C

June 21, 2006 08:10 AM Forum: Eyepieces

Edmunds RKE 28mm

Posted By Joe Conway

Having asked many questions for 4 months and spending countless hours researching eps, finders, etc., I finally spent my first night actually viewing with my 9.25 XLT SCT. The seeing was the best we've had in a long time.

Spent some time looking at Jupiter and various clusters and more. Ok, I did the many ep change out including my friends box and found one eyepiece that seemed to fit this scope almost perfectly, an RKE 28mm. I didn't expect this inexpensive eyepiece would actually give the views it did. I'd take it out, put in low, mid, high, ultrawide, etc. and then put it back in. I put it in my friends 8 inch dob and loved it there. I did try the 15mm RKE and it wasn't as spectacular. The 28mm seemed to just fit perfectly.

So many are correct here and elsewhere. You don't need the top dollar stuff to get good viewing in some scopes.

So I decided to get the whole set of RKE's. Edmunds website didn't have them that I could find. It wasn't until I was looking at some flyers I had at work that I realized that has taken this over from Edmunds. No, this isn't a sales pitch, I just want to thank Ivan Gastaldo for pointing out to me that slow scopes can get away with simple eps and try this route first before deciding on high dollar ones. Thanks Ivan

ps, my friend Jason Lane wrote in this forum a few threads down about his viewing experience with my Pentax 14mm XL. I didn't find the Pentax as spectacular in my scope as the RKE. So I have decided to sell Jason the Pentax for $9 million dollars. What do you think Jason? I'll give you a really good rating!!!!

June 26, 2006 06:47 PM Forum: Beginning Astronomy?

Star Magnitude

Posted By Joe Conway

How do you folks determine the visual magnitude for any given night while viewing? I see from time to time someone saying that the viewing was a magnitude 6.3 or whatever and am curious how you can determine this to whole numbers or even decimal places.

June 29, 2006 08:46 AM Forum: Eyepieces

Vacuum cleaning of lenses and eps

Posted By Joe Conway


I work in a clean room. I also clean optics everyday. Tired of cleaning optics after 20 years. I purposely never tell anyone how to clean optics.

But, I can suggest (2) items that are a must have for cleaning eps.

1) A microscope
2) A vacuum

The microscope to see what you're doing, up close and personal. I would never clean an ep or lens without a microscope.

The vacuum is used to suck off the chunks, especially around the edge of the barrel. For a home user I would suggest a cheap car vacuum. Then I would adapt it down to a 3/8" diameter of surgical tubing, "thick wall". Long enough to work with easily and long enough to keep the noisy vacuum away for such delicate work. I like serenity and to become one with the ep. In the working end of the surgical tube you put in a small piece of Teflon tubing, thick wall and with a tapered end that you can either grind tapered or file tapered to a reasonable point. You may have to adapt down to so a size that fits your need, almost to a needle point or about 1/16 or 1/8 inch or so.

Also, the vacuum with your many adapters is what's used if you want to disassemble an ep and lift out the various lenses. You put the ep on a nice, flat clean surface and then vacuum the lens up and out with whatever adapter that fits the lens. Then while holding the vacuum tube and lens over a nice clean soft particle free towel, you pinch the surgical tubing to release the lens. This way you don't have to turn the ep over and bang out the lenses avoiding what I've read here where folks get the lenses out of order.

I only use air when I'm done cleaning an individual lens. Never shake a duster can and never put the nozzle closer than lets say 6 inches or so. You're just blowing off any left over fuzz from your rag or cue tip. Don't use the full force of the can. Just a soft blowing amount of air. Hey, you just cleaned the lens; you don't have to blast it, just soft air.

Never blow down into a stack of loose lenses in an ep with your duster can. All you'll do is blow contaminants between the loose lenses or worse, flip them over losing the proper order. Put a cleaned lens in and when all is tightened, then you can blow off the outer surfaces if need be, but never close, never. You'll just get duster gas specs on the surface if you get too close.

The vacuum is used to put your lenses back in the ep. You pick up a lens and position it in the barrel. You then pinch the surgical tube to release it. This way you never touch it with your hands. Speaking of which, get a bag of finger cots, non-powder type ( I hate cleaning eps so much that I'm considering wearing finger cots while viewing. With your microscope you can see the skin cells and such that build up from just one handling. We really are a "flaky" sort of animal. I use a microscope every day, hate them too.

One thing though, when vacuuming your lens surfaces, you don't have to touch the surface. The Teflon is for you shaky types. Always keep a fresh clean tube for lifting lenses in and out. If you don't, you'll just be frustrated each time you put a lens in and then look at it in the microscope and see some contaminant on the center of it.

So, I hope this helps you folks toward a better viewing experience. My eps are all pristine, always.

The actual rag types and cleaners I'll leave out of this. This is where the end users can really screw things up. Only experience here can keep you from using the wrong solvent in the wrong place.

However, I use spectral grade acetone, reagent grade ethanol and on very rare occasions, isopropyl. Don't price this stuff out unless you want to pay $100 to $300 a gallon. I've found that ethanol actually works best to remove skin oils and fleck and whatever, but it attacks most flat black paints unless they're epoxies. Isopropyl has a tendency to whiten or gray flat blacks. In the optics industry there is an in house joke. You can't clean optics, you can only move the contaminants around on the surface.

Good luck, Joe Conway

July 14, 2006 06:36 PM Forum: Eyepieces

Low power EP for F10 scope

Posted By Joe Conway

I need a low power ep. Something above 28mm, maybe between 30-40. This should fill in my gap. I've been reading allot and one of my friends has a Siebert low power. He loves it but even he mentions the ghost issue on bright objects. So help me out here on some suggestions. I'm leaning Pentax XW, but have heard the Ultimas are good and would like to get a right fit here. I've done good so far at not having to sell after trying. I didn't like any of the Meade 5000 UW's. Most seemed to need proper head alignment with my glasses. I really want to go wow and this will probably be my most expensive piece, but hope not. Thanks folks, Joe Conway

July 21, 2006 07:56 AM Forum: Meade

Meade warranty work follow-up

Posted By Joe Conway

Some of you asked me to follow-up on my experience with Meade and their warranty work on my field test scope.

Short history, the scope is a 10" SCT, 2010 fork drive and when doing a false star collimation we noticed severe astigmatism. No one at work ever noticed this in the past, or cared actually. Scope is about 20years old but has a lifetime warranty (jealous?)

Ok, contacted Meade the other day for the RMA status. This is what my voice mail returned call from Meade said:

Replaced all optics with new optics with UHTC coatings, corrector, secondary and primary.
Replaced all screws that showed signs of rust or corrosion
Tested the electronic drives for both axis (this part caught me by surprise because I didn't ask them to check this).

So ok, my co-worker says I'm being too forgiving here. After all, they did screw-up on the optics when it was built and there is no way the optics would have changed over time. This said, I still appreciate my not having to go to war with them. They were nice from the beginning to the end and even returned calls. Everyone I spoke with, either in person or on the phone was pleasant and followed through. Quite frankly, I'm not used to this. My experience lately with any company usually turns into a horror story, so this was a good thing.

One last thing and we'll see if they actually follow up on this. I asked them to make me up a label and box for my 14mm 4000 UW ep. I realize this is a shot in the dark, but my ep is new and came without a box from the dealer who lost it. We'll see if they'll do this favor for me and put it in the box with the scope. Please, don't call them and ask them to do this for you, cause they won't and I'll be lucky if they'll do it for me. But Meade, if you're reading here, PLEEEEEEEEEEEZ.

So my hats off to Meade and the nice folks there. Now let's hope that UPS doesn't squish it, but it only needs to be driven a short distance from the factory. So there you have it. Joe Conway

PS> I get to compare Meade service with Celestron next. We tested my new 9.25XLT SCT with our Zygo Interferometer the other day and it has pretty bad astigmatism. So along with all of the cosmetic issues, this ones going back to the factory. So I'll follow-up on how they treat me on this.

July 21, 2006 06:46 PM Forum: Eyepieces

Axiom 50mm

Posted By Joe Conway

Anyone use the Celestron 50mm Axiom in a F/10 SCT? I know, shut up with you wanting a low power ep, will ya.

Any hoot, my telescope dealer also a serious viewer said he can't imagine getting anything else but this ep for the 9.25 SCT at this focal length. He said he looked through this ep in his friends 9.25 and was amazed. Would like some other comments.

July 26, 2006 07:18 PM Forum: Celestron

9.25 SCT problems

Posted By Joe Conway

Bought my very first scope. The highly acclaimed Celestron 9.25 XLT OTA. When I first took it out of the box, the first thing I noticed was a one inch diameter scrape on the back casting that was covered up with paint. Oh well, no biggey. So used the scope about 3 or 4 times to get used to it. My friend says never look into the big end of the scope. Well, I looked into the big end of the scope and saw about 8 or so paint brush blobs to cover up the mistakes. Oh well, no biggey. I also saw grease all over the flat black paint inside the baffle tube. Oh well, no biggey.

So the other night I take my bad-arse scope out and match it against my friends small Mak. In his Jupiter was sharp and lots of detail. I looked in mine, pretty good collimation and Jupiter looked like thud. He looks in my scope and says, what's up with that?

So figuring the collimation was almost perfect, I decided to have the scope tested on an optics bench with a Zygo Interferometer by a highly qualified optician. It wasn't pretty. The astigmatism shown on the wavefront measurement was way out of spec. This was a biggey.

So the dealer has made an offer to take it back, having seen the wavefront analysis. He is really afraid to do this though because he knows in days I will know if this next one is bad also.

So I will keep you folks up to date on whether there may be a new trend in bad mirrors or whether it's a fluke, but I am hearing some issues may be happening, but not from everyone.

I'll get back to you. Joe

August 25, 2006 01:12 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

2" Dielectric Refractor Diagonal

Posted By Joe Conway

Looked at the reviews and such and couldn't find much on diagonals. I'm looking to buy a 2" Dielectric Refractor Diagonal. I've narrowed my choice to either Williams Optic or Stellarvue.

Please tell me the pros, cons, quality, etc. of these two choices. I looked at the AP and TV offerings and couldn't see any reason to go the extra $100. Couldn't understand why AP doesn't come with 1 1/4" adapter and you have to measure the depth so you don't hit the mirror? TV looks nice but the build looks similar to the Stellarvue.

So you folks decide for me please. Joe C

September 1, 2006 06:17 PM Forum: Off Topic Discussions

What did Toto die of?

Posted By Joe Conway

What did the dog "Toto" die of? You know, the Wizard of Oz. I'm curious since I've heard rumors and want to know what others know. I actually saw in the movie what may have been it's last chewie toy before it kacked. You all saw it, now as Spock said "V" shaped fingers to the forehead, "remember".

The clue is what ended up on its tongue?