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Celestron 2" 19mm Axiom Eyepiece

Posted by david elosser   05/15/2005 12:00AM

Review: Celestron 19mm 2" Axiom Eyepiece (cat# 93362)

When you read the descriptions about the Celestron 19mm 2" Axiom ep, you get the impression you are getting a top quality eyepiece for under $200.00. Could this really be the case? When I received my 19mm Axiom from Anacortes on Saturday May 14th, the skies stayed clear in the early evening just long enough to find out. I already owned a 19mm Panoptic (1.25"), a premium Televue made ep, so the Celestron had tough competition. Targets: a 6-day old moon, just after sunset, Saturn, and Jupiter.

The Celestron 2" 19mm is, of course a much heavier ep than the Panoptic. The Axiom tipped my cheap scale at 13.5 oz, the Panoptic at just over 7 oz. But wait! If you are using a 2" diagonal, you need to use a 1.25" adapter with the Pan. This combination put the Pan's weight at only one ounce less than the Axiom. The eyepieces give me 30x in my Stellarvue SV85S apo refractor.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I used a polarizer on the moon to help me out with contrast in the early evening. The Axiom gave me a bright, sharp and detailed image of the 6 day old Moon, and I could easily see the dark side's outline against the sky. The edge of the fov is not sharp, but there is enough tack sharpness in the field to keep the moon in perfect focus for several minutes in my unguided Unistar Deluxe mount. The Pan does have edge-to-edge sharpness, but the wider fov of the Axiom makes this about a tie. I could easily get the entire moon in the fov of either ep and get limb-to-limb sharpness. There is enough eye relief in the Axiom to allow me to use my glasses, although the fov is restricted a bit. Considering that it was the out-of-focus portion that was not visible, I did not feel like I was missing anything, the entire Moon was still visible. I could not see any difference in the sharpness when I used glasses, but I have a slight touch of astigmatism and the Panoptic gave better correction for this, and thus a slightly sharper image when not using glasses. If you are not using glasses, I found the supplied eyecup quite comfortable to use. I could put my entire eye up against the cup to block out all stray light, and get a nearly unobstructed view.

On the Moon: The Axiom demonstrated a slightly brighter image than the Panoptic, but the Pan has slightly better contrast. The wrinkle ridge complex on Mare Serenitatis was a bit easier to see in the Pan. Other than that, everything else I looked at was just about a tie between the two ep's. The Altai Scarp was bright and sharp, and Posidonius showed equal detail in both ep's. Cyrillus has three peaks in its interior, but at this low power (30x) they looked like tiny craters. Catharina's large ghost crater, Catharina P, was easily seen in both ep's, although the Pan gave a slight advantage. The bright feature on Catharina B was more striking in the Axiom. Looking just inside the lunar limb, both eyepieces exihibited about the same amout of lateral color, even visible through the polarizer. This was not objectionable, and sharpness was not hindered. The detail of the "lakes" to the southeast of Mare Crisium were prominent in both ep's, in spite of an unfavorable libration that night. (As an aside, my 12mm Konig does not show any noticable lateral color.)

On Jupiter: Using no filter,the 19mm Panoptic's superior contrast won out here. Even at 30x, I could easily make out the two large equitorial bands of Jupiter in the Pan. They were visible in the Axiom, but I had to look harder. Also, as I mentioned above, the Pan corrects my slight astigmatism better, and I could get the four moons in better focus. With my glasses on the sharpness became equal in both eyepieces.

On Saturn: I guess there is no such thing as the "perfect eyepiece." The slightly brighter image quality of the Axiom gave me a better image here. You can't really see any detail on Saturn at this low power in any eyepiece, so I concentrated on the moons. Even though total darkness had not yet come, magnitude 9.8 Rhea was easily visible with averted vision in the Axiom. Rhea was more of a strain in the Pan. I switched back and forth several times, to make sure it was not changing conditions that unfairly helped the Axiom, but Rhea was easier to spot every time in the Celestron's Axiom.

I wanted to chase some deep sky objects with the Axiom as total darkness fell, but storm clouds rolled in. Still, I managed to use it enough to give my assessment: the Celestron 19mm 2" Axiom is a very good eyepiece for under $200. Do not expect edge-to-edge sharpness, but there is more than enough tack-sharp field of view to satisfy you. It suffers a bit from lack of contrast, but brightness is excellent. Is the Panoptic a better buy for about $50 more? Overall, I would say yes, but the 19mm Panoptic is not a 2" eyepiece. The Axiom certainly does not compare to the 2" Nagler eyepieces, but these are much pricier! If you are looking for a quality, moderately priced 2" eyepiece that has a bit more power to it than the 32mm or 40mm that you already have, the Celestron 19mm 2" Axiom eyepiece should be considered.

-David Elosser

Click here for more about this subject. -Ed.