Eyepiece first light, 16mm SWA, 7mm TMB Planetary

I got my hands on these two eyepieces yesterday, and I went cloud-dodging to get a first look through them.

With the work-in-progress briefcase dob, I got a look at a 13-day old moon and Saturn. Both were seen through a variable thin layer of cirrusstratus that was clearing up completely every now and then. Seeing wasn’t that good. The moon showed fast moving ripples over the surface.

The 16mm UWA (cost me €65) is a nicely built eyepiece, possibly a bit weighty. The images are clean and crisp in the scope, and it’s nice to get a good look at last in a premium eyepiece! The eye relief is just not enough to be comfortable with wearing the glasses but at an exit pupil of 2.8mm in my scope my astigmatism wasn’t *that* noticable. However the views were slightly improved with wearing the glasses at a cost of the outer 10 degrees of view. Using the meade #128 barlow with this eyepiece vignetted the outer 10 degrees but allowed the use without glasses for an effective FL of 5.3mm. At the native FL Saturn is crisp, easily showing the major moons. Very slight softness at the edge of field, and requiring a little bit of head movement to get the complete FOV.

The 7mm TMB Planetary (€45) is also very good but different. This is sharper to the field stop than the Meade is at the field stop, but it’s a narrower FOV at 58 degrees. The twist up eyecup is not as useful as the Meade’s. It is a little harder to find the sweet spot for the fully illuminated FOV, but this is reachable with wearing my glasses and I can still see the field stop. Just for fun, I put this eyepiece on the 3x barlow, for an FL of 2.3 and magnification around 580x. It focused to almost sharp, and it was odd seing the seeing shimmers over the globe of Saturn, and I was managing to keep Saturn in hte

The moon wasn’t being that interesting last night. I was looking at sunrise over Schiaparelli and I saw some details in the Aristarchus rilles that I never looked at before.

Saturn was not far from edge-on, with the gap between the rings and planet being difficult to see, and Cassini’s division was intermittently visible.The moons were resolving almost to points as it appeared that the high-altitude cirrus was getting in the way a bit.

My overall impression is that these eyepieces do make the telescope “get of the way” when looking through them. I’m looking forwards to adding a TV 2x barlow or powermate to the arsenal. The comfort difference that the wider FOV and longer eye relief gives is really quite a big one. The longer time between nudges is very useful too. MAkes me want to get that equatorial platform up and running.

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