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My first Review! The 3.9mm StarSplitter.

Posted by Mike Jones   04/08/2006 12:00AM

My first Review!  The 3.9mm StarSplitter.
I have been an Astronomer for about 30 years on and off. I got back into it about 8 years ago after about a 10 year absence. One of the things that got me back into astronomy was the advancements that have been made in the last 10 years. It is not just Televue, Meade and Celestron in the game anymore. Dozens of optical super geniuses are hard at work bringing up equipment from (A)PO refractors to (Z)ambuto Mirrors and everything in between.

In this setting I have been reborn as an astronomer.....

One of my latest acquisitions has been a Siebert StarSplitter Series 3.9mm eyepiece. Just after the series was released I thought about the gaps in my eyepieces collection. I wanted a powerful eyepiece that I could use on my 6" dob but mainly in my 80mm APO that would give me my highest power view without having to resort to using a barlow. I started out asking about the 2.9mm SS but was told I should not overdo it for best results. Even the 3.9mm was 166x. I was told by the Mr. Siebert I could get away with that.

I received my eyepiece and after removing it from the bolt case I felt it looked like a nice piece of machining. It had a polished Aluminum finish and clean looking filter threads on the bottom. I tried all my filters to make sure they fit and they fit fine. The coating looked very good-a kind of dark purple tint. The inside was very hard to see which I would say is a good thing. Very dark porous surface. So far the attention to detail was very good. It was time to take it out to test.

Mars? It rarely looks very sharp to me so I did not look at it for this test.

Saturn - I waited for the right night when the seeing was decent and setup. I slowly worked my way up in power and the seeing was taking it well until I tried to barlow my Orion 12.3mm ED-2 at x2. The results where not too good. It was hard enough staying over the image with all the blackening out, but it might have been worth it if the view had been sharper. But it was somewhat of a disappointment and I was only at 105x. At this rate it seemed it would be over before it started. But I have my old trusty backup.. I pulled out my old Meade 3000 9.5mm and gave that a try with an Orion x2 barlow. I breathed a sigh of relief. The sharpness returned. Never was too keen on the Epic eyepieces anyway. Now I was at 136x with the Meade and x2 barlow and I was seeing wonderful detail in the 80mm APO. I even believe I can see the Cassini division popping in and out. This combination was one of my most powerful setups for the 80 APO before getting the 3.9mm. I really felt that this might be the best I would see Saturn on this night but was ready to go for it. As I started taking out the barlowed Meade I slipped in the 3.9mm Starsplitter. I wondered what I would have to give up. The Meade was a pinhole to look through and had a limited FOV but it had always dished up a great view. The 3.9mm Star Splitter had a much larger eye lens which was comfortable to look through and the FOV was much wider. So how would it compare? All I can say is that with the New Star Splitter I could definitely see the Cassini much better then before. It was not only larger but indeed sharper. It was without a doubt one of the finest views of Saturn I have ever enjoyed through this scope. It was also nice not having to use a barlow to get this power as well.

I was determined to stay up late enough to get a look a Jupiter. I stayed up as late as I could but unfortunately Jupiter never made it very high in the sky. I decided to give it a look anyway. WOW, not bad for being so low. The bands were very easy to see and the moons were relatively sharp. Not a definitive test of the 3.9mm but a night that showed this eyepiece's overall promise on the evening of Feb 26th 2006.

After the evening mentioned above I have had other nights to give this eyepieces a good shakedown. I don't have the most expensive eyepieces in my collection but one thing I am very sure of is that the 3.9mm is by far the best eyepiece I now have. It is sharp, contrasty and it is easy to use. It is also very light. I have even lent it to a few friends who showed curiosity and have more expensive collections of eyepieces. One person who borrowed it told me he did what "he" though was a tough comparison with his Brandon 8mm eyepiece and a Televue x2 barlow in his TV NP-127 refractor. He said the SS was very close and may have even edged out his eyepiece and TV barlow combination on some of the double stars he was splitting.

Ultimately I am going to get 2 more in the Star Splitter Series. Since the 3.9mm gives 166x. I will next get the 4.9mm for a magnification of 132x and finally a 6.4mm for 101x which will replace my Epic 12.3 and x2 barlow combination. I like the in-between sizes in the SS series since I can get the exact magnification I need.

Author. Mike Jones