Astronomy

A Good Eyepiece



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Over the years I have been lucky enough to get a look through quite an extensive array of eyepieces of all different shapes and sizes, but never have I been so consistently impressed than I am with the Skywatcher Plossl, supposedly a bog standard Ep that comes with any Skywatcher telescope, it never ceases to amaze me how such a low cost eyepiece can be such a big performer.

It uses a typical plossl format of 4 lenses each with a smooth and even reflective coating, holding it up to the light will make the elements shine a pleasant apple green, a tell tale sign of a nicely coated lens.

As a result of the few lenses used (something synonymous with the plossl design) the field of view in the 26mm is 52 degrees, generally amongst eyepieces this is leaning towards the smaller end of the scale but it is fairly typical of the plossl type, it's a small gripe though and is overshadowed by the sheer quality of the eyepiece.

The eye relief in this Ep is one of it's most attractive qualities, it's just so comfortable to view through. No need to push your eyeball up against the glass, potentially getting dust in your eye and more likely developing eyestrain. Any stray light that could enter your eye as a result of the long eye relief is negated by a large fold up rubber cup that can be flicked up to shield your dark adapted pupils from the horrible glare of light pollution.

Recently I was out with this eyepiece and during a momentary distraction I dropped it on the ground, luckily a large pile of rocks got in the way to cushion it's fall. I was surprised to see on close inspection that there were no scuffs or scratches at all which means I was either ridiculously lucky or more likely these Eps are robustly built. I suspect it is the latter of those statements which is true.

The body of the Ep feels thick and sturdy, made from a tough metal. There is also a spiky textured ring a quarter of the way down the Ep to aid gripping which is a nice touch and will help prevent any accidents (providing you pay attention to what you're doing, ahem).

The 26mm gives an exit pupil in my 12" Dob of 2.2mm, this makes it perfect for viewing faint extra galactic objects such as distant galaxies and quasars. The exit pupil is high enough to ensure enough light reaches my retina so that faint objects are at their brightest but is low enough not to let in too much light pollution, a higher exit pupil will produce brighter objects but will brighten the surrounding sky to a higher degree. For those who aren't fluent in geek, the exit pupil refers to the cone of light that is allowed to pass through the eyepiece.

This is the eyepiece that has racked up the most targets for me, together we have witnessed the light from around 70 galaxies, 40 planetary nebula and a handful of emission nebula just from this one eyepiece alone.

To surmise the Skywatcher 26mm plossl is like an old friend to me, it can outperform eyepieces considerably higher in price, it's rugged and robust enough to survive a few drops and is complete with a gripping ring to limit these unfortunate occasions and it's cheap cheap cheap! Worth every penny of it's £15 price tag. It matches quality and comfort and makes a fantastic Deep Space eyepiece.

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