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  1. #1
    skaven's Avatar
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    Default Are (good) orthos worth the money?



    With Mars and Saturn just about to peek over the horizon early enough to be observable in the next few weeks, I've been considering a purchase of an orthoscopic eyepiece dedicated to planetary observation.

    I've been reading dozens of reviews about various "planetary" EPs and virtually all of them end up with the same conclusion: For serious planetary observation, get an ortho -- a Zeiss Abbe ortho if you can.

    As the Abbe orthos are frustratingly hard to find (especially when you're hunting a particular focal length) I looked at even more reviews and have concluded that, for the money, the Baader Genuine Orthoscopic EPs appear to be the best bet.

    So -- what it comes down to at this point is...should I plunk down the $110 for a GO, and be pleasantly surprised? Or will observing through a 5mm GO be basically the same as the 6.5mm Meade series 5000 I've got now (but with tighter eye relief and a narrower FOV)?

    The reviews all say that an orthoscopic EP provides better contrast, a sharper image, etc. etc. But compared to what? And how big is the delta? M42 undoubtedly looks better in a 12" scope than a 10" scope, but not so much more so that it alone would justify the upgrade. That's kind of what I'm afraid of with an ortho EP...is the delta so minor compared to other, more comfortable eyepieces that it's not really worth the investment? Or is it like night and day?

    And as a corollary, anybody have direct experience with both the Abbe and Baader orthos that can weigh in on the similarity?

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  2. #2
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    No one else is responding so I'll weigh in with what little I know - and hope that others jump in with better info.

    I think it really matters what you are trying to do. I was at a star party once when a very good astronomer (at least compared to me) was trying for Stephan's Quintet. He had Panoptics and the like available but nailed it with a good Orthoscopic.

    Not sure they are really superior to something like an Ethos or 100 degree Explore Scientific, but some day I'd like to get some nice Orthos from Siebert: Siebert Optics - Home Page

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  3. #3
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    Post Ortho eyepiece shootout

    Do a google search for "ortho eyepiece shootout" and you get alot of comparisons of the different "ortho" eyepieces. How much money are you wanting to spend? I have never looked thru one so no personal experience, but I really am happy with the TeleVue Radians I purchased last year. Some people think Radians are superb for planets some think they arent. I think they are great, good sharpness, contrast and eye relief plus a sharp field almost to the very edge where they get "a little" soft and exhibit a small amount of false color on the limb of Jupiter. I got mine during the " buy 2 get 1 free" sale couple years ago so I paid about 150$ apiece and darn worth it. Hope I get a chance to look thru some orthos someday just to see the comparison.
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  4. #4
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    @olecuss: Wow...somebody needs to drag Seibert's website out of 1993 ... what a mess! But holy cow those look like some finely crafted eyepieces. Curious that their orthoscopic offering is a six-element system; I always thought that one of the advantages of the ortho was in reducing the glass surface count. I see that they have a line of singlet EPs as well, but I suspect that's going to be a bit too hard core for me. The off-axis clarity of a singlet is going to be pretty awful.

    @reborn: Thanks for the feedback on the Radians! I'll look for some more reviews and see if I can make a decision.

    If I end up buying anything (whether it's a "true" 3-element ortho or a six-element hybrid) I'll be sure to let everybody here know how it goes.

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    As to the Zeiss Abbé Orthos. I had a set pass through my hands about a decade ago. On planets, in my AP 6" APO, there was nothing that could beat them, obviously better than my Naglers and several brands of Plössls we tried. In my C11 and my 20" DOB, the scope did not deliver a wavefront that was sufficiently perfect enough where the ZAOs were visibly better than the Naglers! That is, if you have an extremely high quality APO refractor, you can see the difference a ZAO brings to planetary observations. If your scope does not deliver such a perfect wavefront, ZAOs are not usefully better than other Orthos, Plössls, or other medium complexity EP designs. ZAOs belong with AP APOs, TAKs, and that 0.01% of scopes that just work right.

    So, do not allow the mythos of ZAOs prevent you from observing Mars and Saturn.

  6. #6
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    Be careful of the age of the reviews. Orthos were the very best up to about twenty years ago. But since then there have been other designs that compete very favorably.

    The difference was when computer driven machines could accept any prescription on any glass to make a lens.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaven View Post
    Curious that their orthoscopic offering is a six-element system; I always thought that one of the advantages of the ortho was in reducing the glass surface count. I see that they have a line of singlet EPs as well, but I suspect that's going to be a bit too hard core for me. The off-axis clarity of a singlet is going to be pretty awful.
    Harrys 3 element Performance series are true orthos with 16mm eye relief and 60* afov. His 6 element ortho series is designed to give a very nice flat field, and to work very good in fast focal length Newts of f/4.4

    I have both series of Siebert orthos, and they a very good eyepiece for observing the planets. It is to bad Siebert Optics newer eyepiece designs are over looked by the visual astronomer.
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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johann von Hesse View Post
    Harrys 3 element Performance series are true orthos with 16mm eye relief and 60* afov. His 6 element ortho series is designed to give a very nice flat field, and to work very good in fast focal length Newts of f/4.4.
    Looks like the Performance series stops at 13mm; I need something around 4.7-5.4mm.

    The only two series that Seibert offers that focal length is the Star-Splitter (five-element) and the Planesphere series (single element).

    Given I want a fairly well flattened field, the Planesphere series is out. That leaves:

    * Seibert S^3 (5 element) 5.4mm: $169
    * Baader GO (3 element) 5.0mm: $110
    * Pentax XO (3 element) 5.0mm: $359 (!!)
    * TV Radian (7 elements!) 5.0mm: $240

    Assuming effectively identical optical performance (given the imperfect Synta mirror I'm pairing the EP with) I believe it really comes down to light dispersion, and logic would seem to dictate that fewer elements is better, especially if I don't care about eye relief (which I don't) and don't care [as much] about off-axis clarity (which isn't as critical with planetary viewing).

    With those parameters in mind, it definitely seems like a Baader GO would make a nice addition to my EP set. From what I've read I believe it would, at a minimum, give better contrast than my 6-element Meade series 5000 EPs. And at best, better color and better clarity.

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  10. #9
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    Default

    Great thread. I've been pondering some orthos but backed off as Jupiter kept getting smaller. The mars opposition and with Saturn on the rises have me peaked up a bit on them. Anyone have any experience with the UO orthos?

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    If you buy me one, I'll let you know.

 

 

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