about myself. I got started
into astronomy when I was a young boy quite some time
ago. My friend showed Saturn to me
through his 60mm refractor, and I was hooked ever
since. I went to
the library, checked out many astronomy books and
enjoyed every page. My
parents helped me buy my first telescope, the venerable
Dynascope RV-6. Over the
last 40 years, I’ve made many observations with
telescopes as small as 2.4” and as large as 48”. The rest is history.
observe with telescopes ranging from 22” to 48”. My main observing targets are
mainly the obscure deep sky objects, such as VV catalogue
of interacting galaxies, galaxy
trios, Shakhbazian galaxy groups, super thin galaxies to
name a few "lists".
I'm a star
hopper at heart and apparently very experienced at it.
My buddies sometimes wonder how I can find stuff
so fast by just using a zero power finder and 24mm
Panoptic (my general low power eyepiece). I just
chalk it up as experience. In fact, I tried
digital setting circles (DSCs) and found that it took
more time finding stuff than just star hopping.
Figure that most of the objects I look for are not
even in the built in catalog of the DSCs, so I would
need to enter in the coordinates. Those of you who
own these things understand the pain of entering RA and
Dec manually one digit at a time.
My search and
find methodology is to find the object with the zero
power finder (Telrad or Rigel QuikFinder), then center
the field using a low power eyepiece. Once centered, I
generally bump up the magnification to at least 230x,
generally higher. Medium to high power observing
yields detail that one would miss if it is observed at
low powers. Sometimes tight galaxy pairs, trios or
groups need high powers to "bust" them apart. I
observe between 230x and 500x more than 90% of the time.
I not only
observe at high powers, I prefer to use very high
contrast eyepieces. My current favorites are
orthoscopic eyepieces as I use those 90% of the
time. If I need to go wide field, I’ve found that
the 72 degree TeleVue Delos is the best in class in
terms of observing threshold objects, which I’m at
pretty often. The wide field eyepiece goes in my
focuser when I observe very star poor regions, where
very little if any field stars are visible at high
powers. There was several times where I was
looking at something in Cetus or a star poor region at
500+ power, I was getting lost due to the lack of field
stars, so I had to pull back and throw in the
Delos. A bit more detail
are in the Eyepieces section, which discusses
which eyepieces I use and why.
located the object, I generally observe with several
eyepieces and note details visible. Sometimes some
detail are visible at higher powers and other detail at
lower powers. My observing notes are generally a
composite of what I see with varying
magnifications. Hence when I write my notes, I
generally include not only the telescope and atmospheric
conditions, but the magnifications as well. When I
sketch objects, I generally observe at several
magnifications, then sketch in the details as a
composite of the different magnifications. Since I
observe at the edge a lot, I use different
magnifications and with mostly orthoscopic
sites are generally in the Sierras of northern
California at 5,000 feet and higher with fellow TAC and
TAC-Sac observers. Our most used site at
7,600 feet elevation under NELM 7.0+ skies.
star parties, I regularly attend the Texas Star Party,
the Oregon Star Party and the Golden State Star
Party. I'm associated with TAC, Austin Astronomical
Society and the Sacramento
Valley Astronomical Society
I’m not just
a visual observer, but like to build telescopes. I
haven’t built one since 2011. My most used
telescope is the 22” I built in 2000. I’ve build
several smaller and larger telescopes, ranging from 16”
to 28” reflectors. Some detail can be seen in Telescope Components.
spoke at some major star parties when asked to do
so. I was invited to speak at others, which I had to
decline due to work commitments. Some that I did
speak at are:
- 2010 and 2012 Texas Star Party – afternoon speaker
Oregon Star Party – evening speaker
- 2009 Golden
State Star Party – evening speaker
- 2010 SVAS
Star-B-Que – evening speaker
- 2012 NCA
This is one
award that I was blown away when I received it. The TSP Lone Star Award in
2009. I was very shocked! Thank you to the organizers of
f/4 home-built reflector
I personally use this telescope the most as it is
fairly light and very transportable. I feel that
22 inches of high-end glass is a good balance of
aperture and portability. I can pack this
telescope with all of my accessories and camping gear
into the Volkswagen New Beetle (old vehicle) and now
the BMW 330i. The primary was figured by late
John Hall of Pegasus Optics
and resulted in a very fine figure. I've used up
to 1200x with full aperture with no image breakdown,
so it meets the 50x per inch quality guarantee.
I recently started using the Crossbow Platform and it
- 30" f/4.3
Starmaster with Sky Tracker I
use this telescope only at major star parties as it is
too big for one person to setup. It also
requires a trailer to transport unless you have an
Excursion or something similar. It barely fits
in there, due to the long truss poles and a 12-foot
ladder. The primary was figured by Steve Swayze
and is a very good sample. I was able to use
1200x at Mars during the 2003 Oregon Star Party.
There was astounding detail and many folks yelled that
"You gotta see Mars in the 30." Lastly, the Starmaster has the
best customer support and best optics of any
commercial made truss telescope in the market.
Rick Singmaster personally tests each telescope as a
system over several nights before it leaves his
f/11 AstroTelescopes refractor This
telescope is used mainly as a quick grab and go for
quick views out of my backyard. This telescope
features an ultra smooth focuser, feels very close to
the famed Feathertouch, and excellent hand figured
optics. During the 2010 Golden State Star Party,
I viewed Jupiter at 450x and was astounded by the
level of detail with no image breakdown. Yes,
there is very little color in very bright
objects. But the amount of color is less
than expected in an f/11 system. Some folks
commented that the views through this telescope rivals
those through the famous 4" f/15 Unitrons. Here
is a brief review of this refractor.
and very high contrast
ZAO-II (10, 6 and 4mm) and ZAO-I (25mm) The
Zeiss ZAO-II is my favorite Deep Sky eyepiece as it
gives me the best chance to observe that last photon
or minute detail that I'm attempting to fish
out. The Zeiss gives the highest light
transmission, lack of scatter and highest contrast of
any eyepiece I've used. And I've used many
different eyepieces. The only eyepiece that
would outperform the ZAO-II is the TMB
Supermonocentric, which I used to own. I
regrettably sold them as I initially determined that
the TMBs and the ZAO-II's were redundant. Best
of all it is only 4 elements in two groups with
incredible polish and coatings. I use the
ZAO-II's most of the time, the only time I don't use
them is when I'm observing galaxy clusters or galaxy
rich field in star poor regions, where I tend to get
lost at high powers...so I employ one of my Delos in
Genuine Orthoscopics (18, 12.5, 9, 7 and 5mm)
I use these to fill in the holes between the Zeiss
eyepieces. Great alternative to the Zeiss
ZAO-II’s as an entire set of BGOs costs as much as one
ZAO-II eyepiece – used. The Baaders are
excellent eyepieces and outperform the Delos, Ethos or
any wide field eyepiece when it comes to the ability
to see threshold objects. A couple beginners at
the 2009 Golden State Star Party saw more detail and
background stars with the Baader than the Ethos.
We compared a 6mm sample of both eyepieces along with
the Zeiss ZAO-II. In actuality, the UO HD (I
think it is the same as Baader) is closer to the Zeiss
than the Ethos. See results here
(scroll to the bottom).
Classic Orthoscopics (10 and 6mm) – I got
these just to compare to the ZAO-II and Delos as the
focal lengths are exactly the same, hence making
comparisons fair. In a
nutshell, I’ve found that the performance of the BCOs
sits in between the Delos and the ZAO-II, a little
more than halfway between the Delos and the ZAO-II
(closer to the Delos). At
$74 a whack, it is a pretty good deal since the ZAO-II
and BGO aren’t quite available anymore.
Ethos (17, 13, 8, 6, and 3.7) I
don't own these as I replaced them with the Delos. The Televue Ethos is by far
the best ultra wide field eyepiece on the planet right
now. I compared several focal lengths with every
major brand and the Ethos goes deeper and shows more
contrast than any other. The Pentax XW comes very close and a
great alternative if you don't want to spend that much
(See note regarding the Delos below). The
Explore Scientific 100 degree series is a good
alternative too, but doesn't perform as well.
Those who wants the best should stick with the
Delos (17.3, 12, 8 and 6mm) The
Televue Delos is currently the deepest wide field I've
ever tried so far. I think it has 6 (or 7)
elements versus the 9 elements in the Ethos. As
I was told, the Delos and Ethos have very well
polished surfaces with glass-matched coatings, giving
the highest contrast (or lack of scatter) and
transmission for a wide-field eyepiece. So I've
got to see it for myself as the true performance of an
eyepiece is what the observer sees through the
eyepiece, not theory and numbers. So...
2011, I've borrowed the 6mm Delos from Televue rep,
John Rhodes. The skies were very dark, NELM =
7.5. I've observed two objects namely Hickson 99
(components D and E) and IC 1296. For more
detailed notes, click here.
To sum it up, I found that the Delos noticeably
outperforms the Ethos, but not the Zeiss, while
observing extended objects. The objects used in
threshold observing are Hickson 99, component E (mag
17.7) and IC 1296 (a good low surface brightness
galaxy by M-57).
is basically a narrow field Ethos with extra eye
relief with even more contrast and transmission.
Very impressive. The end result is that
after my experience at OSP 2011, I sold all of my
Ethos and acquired the above Delos. This French
test report confirms my observations (The title
of the article is “Six
oculaires à grand champ de 10 mm au banc d'essai”).
The Delos is my wide-field of choice when it comes
to observing deep.
Panoptic (24mm) This
is my primary finder eyepiece as I leave the 2"/1.25"
adapter in my focuser 100% of the time. This is
the widest practical 1.25" eyepiece. I
would like to see a 22-24mm Delos in 1.25" format in
the future, but given the basic understanding of how
the Delos is made, I don't think it is physically
Several thoughts of eyepiece comparisons when
observing faint deep sky objects.
compare several eyepieces at the SAME focal length
against each other. Even
1mm of focal length difference especially at high
powers makes a huge magnification difference. Test objects are generally
threshold objects, such as a mag 17.7 example I used
at OSP or a very low surface brightness object. Also the larger the scope,
the wider the difference between two given eyepieces. For example, the difference
between the Ethos and the BGO is pretty obvious
through the 22” reflector, while I could not discern
the difference in my 6” refractor.
The diagram below shows that the difference
between eyepieces increases as aperture increases. The graph is a bit
exaggerated, otherwise there wouldn’t be space to
insert text or brackets.
Other Visual Accessories
Barlow 1.8x ED Wow,
is excellent. The coatings is so well made that
the glass is very hard to see under normal
light. The glass is made at the famous
Zeiss Jena facility and is regard by many to be in the
same league as the famed Zeiss barlow, a few think it
is actually even better. It has only two
elements in one group as far as I know! Someone
on CloudyNights.com has recently performed the
transmission test with a laser and sensor...has
determined that the TMB barlow has a greater than 99%
filters. Note all
links below are to actual scans as produced by Cary at
noted the age of the filters as I understand that the
quality of filters changes over time as companies
constantly change and/or improve the filters.
UHC filter – Workhorse
narrowband nebula filter. The current version is far
better than the original 1990's version as it rejects
the red wavelengths. This filter have replaced
the Orion Ultrablock filter as my primary narrowband
filter. The filter was picked up at about 2014.
Ultrablock filter – The original, made in
Japan, back from the early 90's. Not the current
version, which is currently made in Korea. Solid
everyday nebula filter.
Optical NPB Filter –
and a good alternative to the Ultrablock or Lumicon
UHC filter. The stars appear natural versus
greenish as this filter also passes some red.
Some observers sometimes prefer this over the O-III
for planetary nebulae.
Picked this up in about 2010. You can
pick it up here
O-III filter – Workhorse
planetary nebula filter. I think this is the
best O-III filter. I picked it up to replace my older
Lumicon blue box O-III filter at about 2007.
H-beta filter – The well-known "Horsehead
Best used on the "redder" nebulae, such as the
California, IC405, IC 5146 (Cocoon Nebula), etc.
This replaced my old blue box Lumicon at about 2007.
CLS filter – Good filter for protoplanetaries
and reflection nebula where the Ultrablock/UHC doesn't
work. Outstanding filter for the younger (bluer)
galaxies, such as NGC 253, M-33, etc. Don't let
the "budget" marketing label fool you. This
filter actually passes quite a bit more than
your standard broadband filter, while rejecting a
majority of the light created by artificial light
sources, such as street lamps. Jimi and I have
used this filter to enhance the view of Hanny's
Voorwerp with his 48" reflector.
Deep Sky filter - rock solid broad band filter.
Picked it up about 2014.
up about 2014.
Moon and Skyglow filter –
that really works in enhancing the lunar and planetary
contrast. Acquired in 2010
- The Celestron
LPR Nebular Filter was my first filter
of any kind to reduce light pollution. I picked up way
back in about 1983. It still works well,
considering that it was probably among the first
generation with the early Lumicons. I actually
saw the Veil for the first time ever with this filter
with a 6" reflector in west San Francisco. Yes,
in the city of San Francisco in 1984.
self-centering collet 2"/1.25" adapter with both
2" and 1.25" filter threads. This adapter lives
in my focuser. This
adapter is no longer available in the market.
- I'm still
considering the AstroDon Sloan G filter for
visual use as my buddy, Jimi, and I have found it
effective for protoplanetaries or objects like Hanny's
site of discoverer or an
sight tube, Cheshire and Autocollimator
holographic collimator – Got this in 1995 and was the
best one out there back then. There
are many current offerings from Glatter, HoTech, etc
are also very good. I
haven’t tried many of them as I got one that work and
works well for me. It is
also very hard to find anywhere now.
- Glatter’s The Blug
barlowed collimation plug – Great tool for those time
I arrive a bit too late to use the autocollimator,
which requires a bit of ambient light to work. It works great.
Contact me by email at alvin dot huey @ faintfuzzies period com