The eyepiece on a telescope is where you look through in order to view whatever the scope is pointed at. There are many different eyepieces of varying sizes and prices.
Most telescopes come with one or two standard eyepieces that can be used on the scope. However, if you want to optimize your viewing experience you’ll need to invest in a better-quality eyepiece. Eyepieces can seem complex in that there are so many different brands and specifications, but they all physically look largely the same.
Some of the nicest telescope eyepieces can be difficult to identify, so we’ve tested a range of different models in order to find the top five and provide a review of their performance and specifications.
Telescope Eyepiece Reviews
The first thing to keep in mind is that an amateur astronomer only needs one or two eyepieces and a professional might need up to four. An eyepiece provides half of the optics in refractor telescopes, so using the right type will make a big difference in the quality of your view.
Each type of eyepiece has a different-sized aperture. Be aware that a larger aperture on an eyepiece doesn’t necessarily equal a better view. The size of the eyepiece that’s used should be determined based on the scope length in order to attain optimal results.
When determining which eyepieces to test, we chose the ones that could be used for general observation of celestial bodies. The reason is that there are so many different types of eyepieces and some are used for specific aspects of astronomy such as terrestrial or planetary viewing.
Telescope eyepieces can range in price from low-end pieces at around $20 each to extremely high-quality ones that can average hundreds of dollars apiece. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing an eyepiece is that you want to get one that will compliment your scope.
For example, if you own a $3,000 telescope, a cheap $20 eyepiece isn’t going to take full advantage of the power of your instrument. On the other hand, using a $500 eyepiece on an $80 scope is overkill and a waste of money.
The scope models shown above are ranked from 1-5 based on a combination of factors including cost, features, functionality, and durability. Keep reading to find out the specifications for each of these models as well as telescope eyepiece reviews for each of them.
5. Celestron 93230 8-24mm 1.25 Zoom Eyepiece
Our top pick for best all-around eyepiece goes to the Celestron 8-24mm Zoom. It’s perfect as a replacement eyepiece for any starter Plossl that you get with your telescope. It fits almost every type of scope on the market.
This product by Celestron, a major player in the manufacturing of astronomy equipment, is a super-premium 1.25-inch eyepiece that has zoom capabilities. The focal length is 8-24mm and it allows for expanded magnification options. Its field of view is about 40-60 degrees and the eye relief (where you put your eye) measure 15-18mm in diameter.
The lens in the eyepiece is covered with multiple layers of coating to provide crisp and clear images. Because of its wide field of view, it can be used on scopes for either terrestrial, planetary or deep-sky objects. Let’s take a closer look at its zoom capabilities as this is what makes it have more value.
The eyepiece is set to the lowest magnification setting by default which is 8x. By using the Zoom function, your scope can instantly magnify up to as much as 24x. This means that you can save a lot by not having to switch lenses to increase or decrease magnification as the Celestron Zoom caters to a whole range of power levels.
All in all, an excellent choice for a first solo part to purchase as a replacement for whatever generic eyepiece came with your telescope out of the box.
VERDICT: For an eyepiece that’s got multiple levels of magnification and costs less than $100, the Celestron Zoom is definitely a steal. We recommend it to all amateurs who want to set aside the kiddie instruments and start playing with the toys for the big boys.
4. Meade Instruments 07199-2 Series 4000 8 to 24 Millimeter 1.25-Inch Zoom Eyepiece
Sliding into second place is an eyepiece that is similar in many respects to the Celestron Zoom but has its own distinct differences. The Series 4000 8-24mm eyepiece by Meade is a good backup option if the Zoom is out of stock or you can’t find one in your area.
It gives a wide viewing field along with extra sharpness and a longer eye relief. Low astigmatism, spherical aberration, and off-axis color are all additional benefits to using the eyepiece.
A rubber eye-guard and custom fitted bayonet mount make it easier and more comfortable for you to spend extended periods during observation. It’s super convenient for people that wear eyeglasses and will protect the glasses from getting scratched as well.
The lens is multi-coated, allowing light to penetrate easier and provide superior image contrast. It can magnify from 8x-24x just like the Celestron Zoom can.
Meade provides a 1-year warranty for most of its telescopes including this model.
VERDICT: The Meade Series 4000 8-24mm eyepiece uses patented technology and will allow you to get the most out of whatever telescope you’re using. It costs about the same as the Celestron Zoom and is a great secondary choice.
3. Orion 8728 32mm Sirius Plossl Telescope Eyepiece
Smack in the middle is the Orion 32mm Sirius Plossl, a great all-around eyepiece that can be used with a reflector, refractor or Cassegrain telescope. This model has a 50-degree wide-field view which provides clear and sharp images with high contrast.
The eyepiece is coated with magnesium fluoride and the edges of the lens are blackened to maximize contrast and reduce scattering of light. The housing is made of anodized aluminum and has a 1.25” chrome-plated brass barrel. Rubber eye-guards are also present to make sure your eyes are comfortable.
Internal threads ensure that any type of standard filter, camera or DSLR can be easily attached. Good for use in astrophotography, celestial or terrestrial viewing; the Orion 32mm Sirius Plossl is a jack-of-all-trades in terms of performance and flexibility. It costs less than the previous two eyepieces on our list.
VERDICT: This eyepiece is hardly complained about by any astronomy enthusiasts. It’s easy to use with any telescope and doesn’t cost much. You can’t go wrong with an Orion 32mm Sirius Plossl!
2. Baader Planetarium 8-24mm Hyperion Clickstop Zoom Mark IV Eyepiece
The Baader Hyperion Mark IV telescope eyepiece is in a class of its own. It only weighs about one pound and its dimensions are 6.4 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches.
This model made our list because even though it’s slightly costlier than the other eyepieces here, it can fit larger mounts and will work on both solar and regular telescopes. It’s a good eyepiece to use at the intermediate and expert level as you can easily use it alone instead of having multiple lenses.
The specs include an 8-24mm aperture and the eyepiece has two barrels – one 1.25” and one 2”. An adapter ring comes with the product and can be used to attach the 2” barrel.
The two-barrel system that the Hyperion Mark IV uses simplifies the view of the stars by not having to swap eyepieces in order to change the focal length or magnification within the zoom range. It costs less than $300, but it will come out at around the same as buying four different eyepieces of varying strength levels.
VERDICT: The Baader Hyperion Clickstop Mark IV will require a slightly higher investment on your part but it’ll pretty much even out in the end, especially when you factor in the hassle that you’ll be saved from.
1. Tele Vue 13mm Nagler Type 6 1.25” Ultra Wide Field Eyepiece
We’ve reached the last item on our list and it’s the Tele Vue Nagler Type 6. This telescope eyepiece is the most powerful of the lot but also the most expensive – expect to pay a couple hundred bucks for it!
It’s definitely one of the best eyepieces that money can buy due to the value that it provides. Here are some of its specifications to wet your chops: anti-reflection threads, rubber eye-guards, blackened lens edges, and a fully-coated lens.
The Nagler Type 6 uses a compact 7-element design which incorporates various focal lengths ranging from 5mm to 13mm. Every telescope sold by Tele Vue undergoes a full field visual inspection in order to guarantee the highest out-of-the-box-quality possible.
The ultra-wide eyepiece measures 4.6 x 2.2 x 2.1 inches and has an 82-degree field of view. If you could compare the Nagler Type 6 with any other 17mm Plossl, you’d find that the Nagler has much better image contrast and shows more detail.
This is the kind of eyepiece that you’re expected to buy once and have it last a lifetime. Buying a Nagler should be on every professional astronomer’s bucket list.
VERDICT: It pretty much doesn’t get any better than the Nagler. If you’ve saved up enough cash and want to buy the best eyepiece, the Tele Vue Nagler Type 6 is where it’s at. It’s an eyepiece meant for serious astronomers and if you’ve just started with the hobby, it’s recommended to skip this model and get a different one.
Telescope Eyepiece Buyer’s Guide
Since there are so many different types of eyepieces available on the market, choosing the right one for your situation can prove to be a harrowing task. In order to help you narrow down your choices, we’ve created a short guide that can help you to figure out what the best viable option is.
- If you wear eyeglasses, observation of the heavens will definitely be difficult if you aren’t using an eyepiece that caters towards eyeglass-wearers. Look for a model that has an eye relief which is more than 10mm. It’s the other way around if you don’t wear glasses.
- Most of us enjoy getting wide-field views because the experience is more immersive. However, getting up close and personal with the stars has its drawbacks in that most eyepieces which have a wide apparent field have a smaller eye relief. If your telescope has a focal range of f/5, expect to spend extra on an eyepiece that supports the aperture size.
- If you have multiple eyepieces, it’s recommended to space out the focal lengths. This means that you should have a 5mm, 10mm, 15mm, etc. Buying a 15mm eyepiece and a 16mm eyepiece isn’t exactly practical because the difference is almost negligible.
- Invest in quality eyepieces. They play a big role in providing clear and distinct optics in telescopes.
- If you have a certain eyepiece and are planning on getting more, it’s recommended to stick with one brand, line or series of eyepieces. For example, if you’ve got Celestron, stick with it. Manufacturers usually design eyepieces in a series (such as the Nagler Type 6) to be parfocal with the others. This means less time wasted on refocusing after swapping eyepieces.
- If a certain eyepiece has caught your eye, test it out before purchasing it. You’ll always need to make sure that you’re comfortable with holding your eye against the eyepiece for extended periods of time.