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Best Telescope Eyepieces 2021 (TOP 7 Reviews) – Buyer’s Guide

Most telescopes come with one or two eyepieces which give you one or two magnification options. However, if you want to optimize your viewing experience you’ll need to invest in a better-quality eyepiece. By having a range of magnifications you can optimize the image, which means you need more eyepieces.

I want to help you select the best eyepieces for your budget and your telescope. So, I am going to organize the guide around five questions and four formulas.

As we go along I will refer back to these so don’t worry if you can’t answer the questions or understand the formulas now. Once we are done they will make sense.

Questions:

  • What is my budget per eyepiece?
  • What diameter eyepieces will my telescope accept?
  • What focal length eyepieces should I buy?
  • What apparent field of view and eye relief do I want?
  • How will my telescope’s focal ratio affect my purchases?

Formulas:

  • Magnification or power = focal length telescope / focal length eyepiece
  • True field of view or FOV = Apparent field of view (AFOV) eyepiece / magnification
  • Focal ratio = focal length telescope / aperture telescope
  • maximum practical aperture = aperture X 2

Don’t worry about the math as it’s simple stuff you can do with any calculator, on paper, or perhaps in your head. These are things you will want to know and use.

If you just want eyepiece recommendations and don’t care about the details, I’m adding that section right below before we go into the specifications that answer the above questions and make use of the formulas. But I think you will feel more confident about your purchases and be less likely to be disappointed if you read through the guide.

Recommendations – The Best Telescope Eyepieces We Know

What follows are specific eyepieces that I have tried, own or have read so many good reports that I feel very comfortable recommending them.

1. Under $50 – Plossls Eyepieces

Celestron - Cometron 7x50 Bincoulars - Beginner Astronomy Binoculars - Large 50mm Objective Lenses - Wide Field of View 7x Magnification

These are the workhorse eyepieces of today. They deliver sharp images in almost all telescopes. The 50 to 52 degree AFOV is wide enough for general observing. I have used and recommend Meade, Celestron, Orion, and GSO. If you are on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong with Plossls. Just remember that at focal lengths of less than 12 mm the eye relief can get short. And if you are wearing glasses, consider staying with the longer focal lengths and using a Barlow to achieve higher magnifications.

2. $50 to $100 Price Range – Agena Astro Starguider Dual ED

Agena 1.25' Starguider Dual ED Eyepiece - 15mm

These and the essentially identical AT Paradigm are universally praised as good quality eyepieces with a wider 60 degree apparent field of view. They also offer more eye relief than Plossls at the shorter focal lengths. If you want a good eyepiece with a bit wider field of view but are on a budget, these are a very good choice.

3. $50 to $100 Price Range – Celestron 8-24 Zoom Eyepiece

Celestron - Zoom Eyepiece for Telescope - Versatile 8mm-24mm Zoom for Low Power and High Power Viewing - Works with Any Telescope that Accepts 1.25' Eyepieces

This was my first zoom eyepiece and the one that caused me to fall in love with the zoom. The zoom lets you explore your target over a wide range of magnifications without having to change eyepieces. If you are on a strict budget, this is a good choice as a zoom eyepiece. The Meade 8-24 zoom is the same eyepiece with a different label.

4. $100 to $150 Price Range – Meade 5000 Ultra-Wide

Meade Instruments Ultra Wide Angle 20mm 2-Inch Waterproof Eyepiece (7743)

These come in 2” and 1.25”. I have the 2” 20 mm as one of my low power wide view eyepieces and it is excellent in my F5.9 scope. At $149 for a wide view 2” it is a steal. I also have the 5.5 mm which is my highest power eyepiece. The full line is good. The 82 degree AFOV provides a wide field of view with a sharp and well-corrected image even in F6 telescopes. These eyepieces have an adjustable twist-up eye guard that adjusts to your personal liking. However, this eye guard adds size and weight which is the only negative I can offer for these. Great views at a midrange price.

5. Over $150 – Explore Scientific 68 Degree Series

Explore Scientific 68 Degree 28mm Argon-Purged Waterproof Telescope Eyepiece

Offered in both 2” and 1.25” these are excellent eyepieces. I often recommend the 2” in this series as excellent low power wide view eyepieces, especially in scopes at focal ratios below F7. For the cost, it’s very well worth to spend the money for this eyepiece.

6. Over $150 – Explore Scientific 82 Degree Series

Explore Scientific 82° 14mm Eyepiece 1.25-inch Barrel

The ES 82s are my favorite eyepieces, especially in the 1.25” format. Wide view and well-corrected view, even in F5 scopes. These are often compared to the higher priced offerings. They have a smaller eyepiece cup than the Meade 5000 which makes them smaller and lighter.

7. Over $250 – Baader Hyperion 8-24 Zoom

Baader Planetarium 8-24mm Hyperion Clickstop Zoom Mark IV Eyepiece, for 1.25' to 2' Mounts

This is my all-time favorite eyepiece and the one I use more than all the others put together. While it is the same range as the Celestron zoom, it offers better optics, better mechanical operation and a wider field of view. It costs four times as much as the Celestron zoom but if you have the budget, this is the one to get.

These are just a few examples of eyepieces that I have used, and some that I own. I can recommend these with confidence. There are so many others at comparable or higher prices, many of which are quite good and some rather poor.

To get the best performance you have to be willing to pay the price. But the difference in price to get to the next level is high and the performance difference may be small. But some people demand the very best, and it is out there, at a price.

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.

Budget

Whether it is cars or telescope eyepieces, there are inexpensive ones, the upgraded models and the very expensive ones. They all work but as you go up in price you gain features or performance or both. Do you need to have the best to enjoy astronomy?  That is up to you and your budget. I don’t think so.

Over time you will likely spend more on eyepieces than you spent on the telescope. But don’t fear you will waste your investment as eyepieces are standard sizes. If you upgrade the telescope or add a second one, the eyepieces will work in that telescope too.

Eyepieces under $100 each are generally considered budget or low-cost eyepieces. There are some very good choices in this range. Think of these as your Ford, Chevy, and Toyota of eyepieces. They work great every day and get you where you want to go, but don’t have what the higher priced models have.

Between $100 and $250, I will call mid-range. This is your Lexus, Acura, and Infinity types that offer more features, better build and a bit more polish. Many approach the quality of the premium brands. Here we have very good eyepieces with some extra features.

Over $250 I will label premium eyepieces. Here we get into the BMW, Cadillac, Porsche, and Ferrari of eyepieces. Price can run to over $1000 per eyepiece. These are the best in optical performance and build quality. It costs a lot to get that last 10% of performance. If you are very demanding and must have the very best, this is where you want to be.

What Diameter Eyepiece Should I Buy?

Most modern telescopes use a focuser or diagonal that accepts 1.25” eyepieces. Some accept 2” and have an adapter that allows you to also use 1.25”. These sizes have become the industry standard sizes. Take a look in your manual or user’s guide. It should list what size eyepieces you can use. Or take one of your eyepieces and measure across the bottom of the barrel.

Why two sizes?  A 2” barrel on the eyepiece will allow the manufacturer to create an eyepiece that provides a wider field of view. But just because an eyepiece is 2” doesn’t mean it has a wider field of view than one that is 1.25”. We will talk more about the field of view later, but note that if you can use 2” eyepieces, you will typically only have one or two for very low power wide field views. All the rest will likely be 1.25”. It doesn’t matter what type of telescope you have as long as your scope takes these standard sizes.

Your eyepieces do not need to be the same brand as your telescope. You have a very wide choice of brands and styles to choose from. There is no problem using a Celestron eyepiece in a Meade telescope, for example.

If your scope uses eyepieces that are closer to 1”, then you have an old style .965” that is now obsolete. You can still get eyepieces but there are few choices. There are inexpensive adapters that will let you use standard 1.25” eyepieces in a .965” focuser/diagonal. However, there can be a problem bringing the eyepiece to focus. I haven’t addressed .965” eyepieces in the recommendations.

What Focal Length Eyepieces Should I Buy?

Most telescopes come with one or two eyepieces. Typically these will be 25 mm and 10 mm or something close to that. This will give you a lower power and a medium to high power eyepiece, depending on the focal length of your scope. But these are only intended to get you started.

Each eyepiece gives you a unique magnification based on the formula listed at the start:

  • Focal length telescope / focal length eyepiece = magnification or power

Why do you need more than two eyepieces?  Because some objects look better at low power, some at medium power, some at high power and some at very high power. It is as simple as that. Not everything in the sky benefits from high magnification.

Also, atmospheric conditions can limit how much magnification you can use on a given night. If you look up transparency and “seeing” in the context of telescopes you can learn more about how atmospheric conditions will affect what magnifications you will choose on any given night. The bottom line is that it is best to have several magnification choices so you can optimize the view.

To determine a magnification range we will start with the aperture of the telescope, the size of the front lens or the mirror in the back. This determines how much light the telescope will gather. The more light that is gathered the more magnification that can be applied to the image, up to limits that are imposed by the atmosphere.

To estimate the highest practical magnification for your telescope you take the aperture in millimeters, mm, and multiply by two. This will give you a maximum target for planning purposes. Nothing will stop you from trying to go higher but in all likelihood, the image will be poor and not worth the cost of eyepieces to achieve it.

For example:

  • 70 mm scope will have a max of 140X for planning purposes.
  • 130 mm scope will have a max of 260X for planning purposes.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to get a good image on any given target at that level of magnification on any given night. This is just a planning target. The atmosphere is typically the limiting factor as we get to higher magnifications. Even big telescopes are subject to limitations imposed by the atmosphere.

Now we have a maximum established. Let’s look at the minimum. In this case, I am going to define this by focuser and eyepiece size.

If your focuser/diagonal only accepts 1.25” eyepieces I will recommend you use a 32 mm as your longest focal length, lowest power eyepiece. I usually recommend a 32 mm Plossl type eyepieces as that provides about the widest view you can achieve in a 1.25” focuser. Plossl eyepieces are very good and fairly inexpensive, typically between $25 and $50 each.

If your focuser/diagonal will accept 2” eyepieces then I will suggest you get one or two 2” eyepieces for your low power wide view eyepieces. Consider something between 35 and 40 mm in focal length with an AFOV of 65 degrees or wider for your lowest power eyepiece for your telescope. We will talk about the AFOV of an eyepiece in the next section.

Now we can establish a target magnification range.

Let’s do an example. We will use a 100 mm telescope with a 600 mm focal length that only takes 1.25” eyepieces.

Low Mag = 600 mm FL / 32 mm = 18.75X

To achieve the maximum of 200X (2X the aperture of 100 mm) we solve for the focal length.

600 mm / 200X = 3 mm   This will be the focal length of our highest power eyepiece.

We have a range of 32 mm to 3 mm. Now we just divide it up and fill in some sample focal lengths. You could base this on 3, 4, 5, 6 or more focal lengths/magnifications. I am going to use 6. Some people have more than 6 and some as few as 3. Note that as we get into the higher magnifications the millimeter jumps between eyepieces focal lengths gets smaller.

32 mm = 18.75X
12 mm = 50X
8 mm = 75X
6 mm = 100X
4 mm = 150X
3 mm = 200X

If your telescope’s focal length is different, just change the focal length in the formula. If you have a longer focal length telescope, your shortest focal length eyepiece will be a higher number than what I have shown here. Just start with 32 mm for your low power eyepiece. Then set your maximum based on your aperture and split it up. Focus on the magnifications rather than the mm of the eyepieces.

Zoom eyepieces make things simpler.

A zoom eyepiece works like the zoom lens on a camera. They provide a range of magnifications with one eyepiece. A typical zoom eyepiece has a focal length range of 8 mm to 24 mm. If we look at the range I provided above, we see that we could replace several eyepieces with one zoom. And the zoom provides every magnification in that range without having to change eyepieces. My most used eyepiece is an 8-24 mm zoom.

A Barlow lens can save you money and add flexibility.

A Barlow lens is an optical device that goes between the eyepiece and the focuser. It was named for Peter Barlow who invented in the 1800s, so it is usually capitalized. It allows each eyepiece to provide two magnifications. For visual use, 1.5X, 2X, 2.5X and 3X Barlow lenses are common. Higher than 3X are usually reserved for astrophotography.

For example, if you put a 30 mm eyepiece in a 3X Barlow it will triple the magnification you get from that eyepiece. Another way to look at it is that a 30 mm eyepiece in a 3X Barlow works like a 10 mm eyepiece.

To achieve six magnifications you can have six eyepieces. Or, you can have three properly sized eyepieces and use a Barlow lens to achieve three more magnifications, which is usually a less expensive way to go.

I often recommend the use of a Barlow to achieve the higher range of magnifications. In the beginning, you are not going to know what the atmospheric conditions might be in your area. In our example, we targeted 200X as the top magnification. But you may only be able to achieve that rarely. So perhaps you do your line up like this.

  • 32 mm = 18.75X 16 mm = 37.5X (32 mm eyepiece with a 2X barlow)
  • 12 mm = 50X (If you have a 25 mm that came with your scope, Barlow for 12.5 mm)
  • 8 mm = 75X
  • 6 mm = 100X
  • 4 mm = 150X (8 mm eyepiece with a 2X Barlow)
  • 3 mm = 200X (6 mm eyepiece with a 2X Barlow)

Using this approach you would buy a 2X Barlow and hold off on the 4 mm and 3 mm to see if you can reach these magnifications often enough to justify buying an eyepiece. Or, you may find that you like the 8 mm and 6 mm used with the Barlow and can avoid the expense of two eyepieces.

Note that we also gained a 16 mm magnification at no additional cost. This gives us more flexibility at the low end of the magnification range.

If we combine a Barlow with an 8-24 mm zoom eyepiece we have an amazing range.

  • 24 mm = 25X (the low power end of the zoom)
  • every magnification down to 8 mm
  • 8 mm = 75X

Now put the zoom in a 3X Barlow and you have:

  • 8 mm = 75X (24 mm zoom setting in a 3X Barlow)
  • every magnification down to 2.66 mm
  • 2.66 mm = 225X (8 mm zoom setting in a 3X Barlow)

Using the zoom approach with a Barlow your eyepiece set would consisit of a 32 mm low power eyepiece. You use the 8-24 zoom for the midrange. Put the zoom in the Barlow for the high range.

If you go this route you can always add single focal length eyepieces along the way to serve specialized purposes. But with 2 eyepieces and a Barlow, you have the full effective range of your telescope.

How you divide up your magnification range is up to you. But, if you have a plan you can fill into those slots, working toward a well-balanced set of magnifications. This saves money and helps you buy in an organized manner.

What Field of View and Eye Relief do I Want?

We will now discuss the specifications of eye relief and apparent field of view. These are two very important considerations when you are looking for eyepieces.

Eye Relief – This refers to how close your eye has to be to the lens in order to see the full field of view. Most people will be fairly comfortable with eye relief of 12 mm or higher. However, some eyepieces have eye relief as short as 5 mm. They are useable, but your eye will be extremely close to the top lens glass.

If you are a glasses wearer and plan to keep your glasses on while you are observing, then you will likely want eyepieces with at least 17 mm of eye relief, and some glasses wearers prefer at least 20 mm. With your glasses on you simply can’t get your eye close enough to an eyepiece that only has 10 mm of eye relief.

Apparent Field of View – This is a measure of how wide a view the eyepiece will provide as compared to alternate eyepieces. This number can range from 30 degrees to 120 degrees.

This is where the second formula comes into play.

  • True field of view or FOV = Apparent field of view (AFOV) eyepiece / magnification

Let’s illustrate with an example using a 1200 mm FL telescope. We will use 10 mm as the eyepiece focal length but we will look at three different 10 mm eyepieces, each with a different apparent field of view, AFOV.

Note that the full moon appears as approximately .5 degrees across, so use that as a mental reference when looking at the numbers. Imagine you are looking at the moon with each of these eyepieces and consider what you would see.

1200 mm FL scope / 10 mm FL eyepiece = 120X

40 degree AFOV / 120X = .33 degrees (less than 1 full moon wide)

60 degree AFOV / 120X = .5 degree FOV (about one full moon with no space around it)

82 degree AFOV / 120X = .68 degree FOV (about one full moon with a star field around it to frame it)

In general terms, the higher the AFOV number the more the eyepiece will cost. And, in general terms, the higher the AFOV the harder it is to make an eyepiece that will present a good image all across the field of view, which also drives up the cost.

When discussing eyepieces you will hear people comment on how well the eyepiece is “corrected”. They are referring to how much or how little distortion is visible as you look from the center of the image out toward the edge.

We can see that 2” eyepieces have an advantage over 1.25” eyepieces when designers are making wide view eyepieces. The larger barrel allows them to create an eyepiece with a higher AFOV. That is why I suggest, if you can use 2” eyepieces, you will want one or two low power wide view 2” eyepieces. If you can’t use 2”, that 32 mm Plossl, which has a 50 degree AFOV, will give you about as wide a field of view as you can get in a 1.25” eyepiece.

When you add eyepieces to your collection you will want to consider what field of view you want and how much you are willing to pay for it. Note that many cheap eyepieces promise a wide AFOV but deliver a view with a lot of distortion or aberration as you move away from the center of the field of view.

Here are a few types of eyepieces you may read about and their typical AFOV. I add comments on where you may find and use them.

Eyepiece table

There are many more designs that are associated with specific brands, but the ones above are designs that are produced by many companies in one form or another. And new proprietary designs come out from time to time.

I consider the Plossl to be the minimum standard for a good eyepiece. You can build a full set of these with good results, but be aware of eye relief, especially if you wear glasses.

After these, we have mostly proprietary designs from various eyepiece companies. In most cases, these are eyepieces that are focused on wider AFOV or better correction for low focal ratio scopes. These tend to run toward the more expensive price range.

How will my telescope’s focal ratio affect my purchases?

In simple terms, high focal ratio scopes, say those over F6, tend to be less demanding on eyepieces than those below F6. Depending on how fussy you are about having a completely clean image across the visual field, if you have a lower focal ratio scope you will want to look for eyepieces with a reputation for being “better corrected” in low focal ratio scopes.

Low focal ratio scopes deliver the light rays to the eyepiece at an ever-increasing angle as the focal ratio number goes down. As a result, this can cause aberrations in the image as you move from the center of the view toward the edges. I won’t go into all the types of aberrations there can be, let’s just say that once you get below F5 it is really hard for the eyepiece to deliver a clean image to the edge.

Also, as the apparent field of view gets wider the image will require more correction. Again this is more noticeable in lower focal ratio scopes.

So, if your scope is F6 or lower, you may want to consider some of the higher priced, better corrected eyepieces if you want the best image to the edge of the field. If you are looking at eyepieces that are wider than 55 degrees AFOV you will again need to consider looking at the better corrected, and typically more expensive eyepieces.

It all comes down to cost benefit. You have to decide how fussy you are about the edges and what your budget can tolerate.

Does the type of target matter?

Perhaps you have read about planetary eyepieces and DSO eyepieces and other types of specific eyepieces. Do you need a 10 mm planetary and a 10 mm DSO eyepiece?  In my opinion, you do not.

Unless you are a professional astronomer or extremely demanding, you can select your eyepieces based on magnification, the apparent field of view, eye relief and price. You can use the same eyepiece on planets and deep sky objects, DSOs. Over time you may wish to add a specialty eyepiece here or there but I would not make that a priority until you have filled out your magnification range.

Summary

If the above guide has helped you understand the terms and working of eyepieces, scroll up and make a selection from our recommendation list.

When selecting the best eyepiece for you, consider:

  • Your budget
  • The magnification range that is appropriate to your scope.
  • Know what diameter eyepieces your scope takes.
  • Pay attention to the eye relief, especially if you will be observing with glasses.
  • Look at the apparent field of view specs and understand what this means to the field of view.
  • Be aware of the focal ratio of your scope.

Eyepieces are standardized so whatever investment you make today, the eyepieces will continue to serve you in any future scopes you may own. I have four telescopes but I use the same eyepieces in all of them.

49 thoughts on “Best Telescope Eyepieces 2021 (TOP 7 Reviews) – Buyer’s Guide”

      • You alluded to them, but you never mentioned Tele Vue. As the clear cut worlds best eyepiece manufacturer, their name should at least be mentioned in an article like this.

        Reply
      • Hello sir, thanks for your article it’s realy helpful. I need your advice on it. I wants to install one in house(fixed place) another I need movable. I want these as possible as wide, magnification and astrophotography purpose. Can you suggest the total . I am looking for as much as best I can buy. No price limit. Can you help me. You can email me also.

        Reply
        • No price limit? That is a wonderful expression. I hope I can say that someday. And certainly, if you are getting into AP you are going to need that big budget.

          Sorry but I am not offering a configuration and pricing service. Even if we were next-door neighbors this would take weeks of discussion and planning. And I am a visually observing focused person. I don’t dabble in AP. Perhaps you should seek out help from your local astronomy club.

          Remember that visual and AP have very different requirements, so plan on at least two different optical tubes. But for AP you should really start your planning with the mount.
          https://telescopicwatch.com/best-telescope-mounts-for-astrophotography/

          Then you look at the optical tubes. This might contain more of what you need.
          https://telescopicwatch.com/best-astrophotography-telescopes/

          Visual astronomy is all about aperture, the more the better. AP is all about the mount and accurate tracking.

          Best of luck.

          Reply
  1. OHHH, now i get it! now it all makes sense, you did a great job explaining all this information it was a lot to take in but i have it now. thanks Ed

    Reply
  2. ES 82 degree series plus 1 meade uwa @20 mm – with 1800 focal length optical tube – lowest mag 51 x / highest mag 300

    EP-mm = magnification = afov
    6.7 = 268 = .3
    8.8 = 240 = .34
    11 = 163 = .5
    14 = 128 = .6
    20 = 90 = .8
    30 = 60 = 1.3
    did i pass? thanks for all your help.

    Reply
    • Outstanding job Jack. You really understood the material.

      Now, for my one or two low power eyepieces, I also like to know the field of view provided by that eyepiece. This can be very helpful for star hopping.

      Take the AFOV of the eyepiece (provided by the mfg) in your case 82 degrees
      Divide that by the magnification of that eyepiece in that scope

      So, for your 30 mm, 82/60 = 1.36 degrees. It may be a bit less than that in reality but for practical purposes that is close enough. So if you need to go to Arcturus and then go 2 degrees to the right to find your target, you can use the FOV of the eyepiece to estimate 2 degrees.

      Again, I only do this for my low power wide views. In your case, I would do this for the 30 and the 20.

      Hope you find this useful.

      Reply
  3. There is always more to learn but it helps if you go in with a good base understanding, and that was my goal.

    I continue to be very pleased with the ES82 eyepieces. I just added the 4.7 mm. And I continue to read excellent reports on the AT Paradigm and similar under different labels.

    Reply
  4. Hi Ed,
    Very nice article. I would like to know what is best for a 7 year old that would be getting his first telescope.

    -Joe

    Reply
    • As you saw in the article, they eyepieces that would be best for you, or your child, is based on your budget and what your goals are. Age is not part of the equation.

      If you want to buy him $200 eyepieces so he can grow into them, that works. If you would prefer to buy him $60 eyepieces or even $30 eyepieces because he is only 7 and he can upgrade later, that is also OK. It is all about your budget, your goals, and your objectives, as outlined in the article.

      Reply
    • As a kid, I loved looking at the moon (which can be seen any time of day, regardless of one’s bedtime)… so make sure that the field of view is wide enough to see the whole shebang.

      Also, children do not often have highly developed motor skills–so I would avoid the frustration of switching out eyepieces, and consider a zoom lens.

      One last thing, as a kid I used my telescope to watch squirrels and birds (which was interesting because the image was flipped around :-)… so, you might consider getting an eyepiece that flips things the right way around so that navigating terrestrial nature is easier to manage.

      PS. I don’t know if they make anything like this anymore, but as a kid, I had plastic slides with images on them (the Milky Way, Horse Head Nebula, etc.) that I could slide into my telescope and look at.

      Reply
      • Interesting points Philip. I agree with your comment on zooms for kids. Us big kids like zooms too. 🙂

        With a refractor, SCT or MCT, it is usually better to get a correct image diagonal than a correcting eyepiece. I expect such eyepieces are available but I have never seen or used one. I am not aware of any such solutions for Newtonian reflectors.

        Reply
    • One more thing… if you haven’t purchased a telescope yet, I would recommend a tabletop version, since they are easier for kids to move than the fiddley ones with spindly legs and complicated dials.

      Reply
      • As for tabletop scopes, don’t forget that you need a table, stool, or bench to place them. If that surface is wobbly the scope will be almost useless. So plan this into such a purchase.

        Reply
  5. Excellent article, thank you very much for taking the time to publish it. My understanding of eyepieces was very limited until I read this article, you explain things in a clear and understandable way which made my understanding so much clearer.

    Reply
    • Yes, eyepieces is a large and complex topic. We often end up spending more on eyepieces than we did on the telescope. Fortunately, the investment can be leveraged with future scopes since eyepieces are standard sizes so they work in almost any telescope.

      Reply
  6. This was very useful, I got a meade infinity 90mm – ( after read the review here 🙂 -. Now looking for a couple of decent eyepieces. Thinking in a super ploss 32mm and maybe something between 9mm and 15mm .

    Hayppy that now I have more facts to put in my decision.

    Again thank you very much for all the information in the page, excellent notes.

    Reply
  7. Hi Ed,
    Great article on eyepieces but I am still undecided exactly what eyepiece & Barlow to buy and from where since some buying sites don’t provide all the info you cite in your article. I purchased the Celestron Starsense 102mm refractor, focal length 660mm, stated highest useful magnification is 240x; it should arrive in about 2 weeks. It comes with 1.25” Plossls 25mm (26x) and 10mm (66x) eyepieces.
    I am considering buying another eyepiece, maybe 6mm, and a Barlow, maybe 2x, to give me a wider and higher range of magnification.
    You noted eye relief is important for those wearing glasses. I am very near-sighted, barely see the big E on the vision chart without glasses. However, i can read very well without my glasses with almost microscopic vision and can use my binoculars without glasses. However, sometimes i am at the end of the range of the binocular focus adjustment.
    Can you give me any specific recommendations on what to buy and from where? With regards to budget, whatever works well and is on par with the quality & capability of the telescope. Thanks, Angelo M.

    Reply
    • You picked a great first scope. My friend has one and he really likes it, and it is his third telescope.

      In terms of eyepieces, my best advice is provided in the article. I would wait till you get the scope and use the included eyepieces. See if you will observe with or without your glasses. That is the critical factor.

      If you are going to wear your glasses when you observe, you want at least 18 mm of eye relief and 20 mm is better. Why not go back to the people who sold you the scope and get their help. Or, if you are buying from an online like Amazon, then look at the eyepieces I recommend and see if any suit your needs. But you need to know, first, if you will be wearing glasses when you observe.

      As for Barlow Lenses, take a look at this article.

      Understanding and using a Barlow Lens
      https://telescopicwatch.com/?s=barlow

      Best of luck with your new telescope. I think you will love it! Just give yourself some time to learn the app and to understand the scope. If you stumble the first few uses, don’t be discouraged. Every new skill takes time. And remember, when all else fails, read the instructions. 😉

      Clear skies!

      Reply
      • Hi Ed,

        I’ve read, and re-read, and re-re-read this page. I cannot thank you enough! Sooooo helpful!

        I also just bought the Celestron Starsense 102mm refractor (650mm focal length, f/6.5) as a first scope for me and my kids. We also joined our local Astronomy Club and look forward to joining others under the night sky when the opportunity presents itself again.

        Being a total novice, I love the StarSense app and technology. It has made learning the Constellations and star-hopping more fun and engaging for my whole family — exactly what I was hoping for.

        I’ve read reviews about my scope. Every review suggests replacing the 10mm Kellner eyepiece (and possibly 25mm Kellner) that comes with it. Some reviews also suggest replacing the diagonal.

        https://telescopicwatch.com/celestron-starsense-explorer-dx-102-130-reviewed/

        If I was to upgrade these lenses, I was planning on working toward something like this:
        2x Barlow
        6.5-ish mm (100x & 200x)
        8.5-ish mm (75x & 150x)
        32mm (20x & 40x)

        I guess my curiosity is mostly about the diagonal. I couldn’t find any suggestions on your site about diagonal recommendations. I’m also uncertain about what to expect from an additional investment? We enjoy binoculars for the moon, but having never looked through another telescope, my kids and I do not know what internal reflection, ghosting, vignettes, or diffraction spikes look like! For our experience level, would you recommend changing anything right now? As we continue, what would you recommend adding first? Second? Etc.?

        Thank you so much for taking the time to provide all this information!

        Reply
        • You have selected a very good starting telescope that will serve you for many years to come. I often recommend it.

          I don’t have a specific diagonal to recommend and I am not aware of any specific issues with the one that is included with the scope. Any 1.25″ diagonal should work. Prices can run from $20 to $200 so the field is pretty broad.

          If there is a local club, I would suggest you visit and consider joining. Just search on Astronomy Club and you will probably find one in your area. Not only is it good to share the experience but you can get first-hand advice on things like diagonals and may even be able to try one in your scope to see if it makes a difference.

          If you feel the need to buy something now, consider this Orion diagonal. I don’t own nor have I used it, but Orion has a very good reputation. If you are upgrading, avoid ones that say correct image as these add a prism system into the diagonal which can reduce the light transmission. The image will be reversed left to right so you will need to get used to that. Correct image diagonals are easier for beginners and they are great for using the scope during the day, but experience people don’t use them for astronomy.
          https://www.amazon.com/Orion-8879-1-25-Inch-Enhanced-Telescope/dp/B000BMPBLK/ref=sr_1_8?crid=3KKUJRXYYN7DI&dchild=1&keywords=telescope+diagonal+1.25&qid=1610887695&sprefix=telescope+diagonal%2Caps%2C512&sr=8-8

          Reply
  8. Excellent article and very good recommendations. But I have one little niggle. Using your example: “We will use a 100 mm telescope with a 600 mm focal length” and “Another way to look at it is that a 30 mm eyepiece in a 3X Barlow works like a 10 mm eyepiece.”

    As I’m sure you know, a Barlow actually narrows the cone of light that enters the eyepiece, hence it affects the apparent focal length and thus the f/ratio of the telescope objective. So your 600 mm example (f/6) becomes, in effect, an 1800 mm focal length, f/18 but it does not change the focal length of the eyepiece.

    Thus the 30 mm eyepiece in a 600 mm telescope produces 600/30 = 20X magnification while with the Barlow, we have 1800/30 = 60X. The magnification and field of view is the same as a 10 mm eyepiece (AFoV being unchanged) in a 600 mm telescope but the eye relief is that of a 30 mm eyepiece.

    Reply
    • You are talking about the technical details of how a Barlow works, and I agree. But the conventional way of expressing it is in terms of eyepiece focal lengths. The result in magnification is the same and the eye relief associated with the eyepiece is retained or, in some cases, actually lengthened a bit.

      Suggesting an F6 scope becomes an F18 would also imply things like reduced CA in a refractor. A Barlow lens will not reduce the CA in a low FR achromat refractor so to speak of it changing the focal ratio would, I think, introduce confusion in most situations.

      So speaking of the Barlow as if it modifies the FL of the eyepiece, while technically not correct, does provide an easier model to understand the net effect. And since this article is intended as an aid to beginners rather than a rigorous optics lesson, I think the context I provided works well enough. But your point is well taken.

      In High School, they told me that F=MA In college I learned that F=dp/dt But F=MA works well enough for most situations and that is how I think of it.

      Clear skies!

      Reply
  9. Hi Ed. Very nice review. Thanks

    You mentioned regarding ORTHO eyepieces: “Excellent specialty eyepieces, usually for planets. They have a narrow AFOV but have a reputation for being very sharp.”

    Question: would an 18mm Baader Classic Ortho mostly used for Moon and planets loose sharpness and contrast if used with a short F5 telescope like the Celestron Astro-Fi 130?

    Question: would it perform well with 1.5/2x and 3x Barlows?

    Reply
  10. You are asking about a very specific eyepiece in a very specific scope combined sometimes with a Barlow. I can’t answer that specifically as I have no experience with that eyepiece in that scope.

    What I can say is that, in general, eyepiece characteristics are inherent to the eyepiece. If we want to get VERY specific to a combination then inherent aberrations of this scope and that eyepiece could produce a unique result. That can only be shown through actual testing.

    Where a difference can show up is that a lower number focal ratio scope will make it harder for an eyepiece to provide a uniformly good, in-focus image all the way across the field of view due to the steeper angle that the light arrives at the edges of the eyepiece with a low focal ratio scope, as compared to a high focal ratio scope.

    To say it a different way, in general, an F5 scope will place more demands on the eyepiece around the edge of the field of view than an F10 scope. This will become more apparent the wider the AFOV is of the eyepiece, in my experience. And, the quality of the eyepiece clearly comes into play here. So we say that an F5 scope benefits from “better corrected” eyepieces more than the F10 scope. Or we say that F10 would be easier or less demanding on the eyepiece than the F5.

    This is where the cheap eyepiece will frequently fail to deliver a good image, around the edges.

    Typically a Barlow does not add or subtract from this, but there again we have bad Barlows and Good Barlows. So you would have to test the set to see the actual result.

    Reply
    • Thanks Ed for your valuable comments.

      With a 130mm-F5 I would use a Plossl 32mm for its low-mag-wide-view. But for the targets requiring higher mag I’m still undecided between:
      – a Celestron 8-24 Zoom with a 2x Barlow
      – or a Baader Classic Ortho 18mm with both a 1.5/2x Barlow and 3x Barlow.

      Both solutions offer somewhat similar mag-fov-er-price.

      But will the Baader CO with 1.5-2-3x Barlows deliver a visibly sharper and more contrast view of the Moon and planets than the zoom lens with a 2x Barlow, to compensate for the zoom’s convenience… that is the question!

      Do you have any additional comments to help me?

      Reply
  11. I am a BIG fan of zoom eyepieces, especially if you don’t have many. I have Celestron and the Baader Hyperion. Depending on your budget, if you only have limited funds and are just starting to fill out your eyepiece collection I would go with the zoom, then zoom with Barlow. You can add the specialty single FL eyepieces later if you wish.

    This can be debated 100 ways, but that is my advice.

    Reply
  12. Another really helpful article, Ed. Our previous exchange convinced me to start out with an 80mm refractor. Though not the Meade. I decided to jump in with both feet and get an Orion ED80 (600mm f7.5 with a 2” focuser, So that I can move into astrophotography down the road.

    I must say I’m quite confused about eyepieces. I think I’d really enjoy a zoom for all the reasons you mention, But I’m having a difficult time assessing how much weight to put on the field of view of given eyepieces. Is it just about finding and framing, or do wide fov EPs create a more immersive experience? Like going from a 32” TV to a 65”? The Baader offers wider fov, but at quite the price premium.

    How does that field of view impact the viewing experience? Besides fov, How would you compare the optical quality of the Celestron to the Baader?

    What should one opt for a 2” EP over a 1.25? I see that there are some optical limits to how wide an FOV a 1.25 EP can manage at bigger (like 32mm) focal lengths. Again, does it create a more immersive viewing experience? If you had to choose 1 low-power 2” EP for chasing deep sky objects (again, at 600mm f7.5), what size piece would you go for? Are there any good low-cost 2” EPS out there?

    Sorry for another wish list 🙂

    Reply
    • Field of view, is about finding, framing, drift time, and context. These are matters of individual preference and budget. As to a more immersive experience, yes, I would say a wider FOV does provide a more immersive experience.

      I have to say that your questions are answered in the article. Perhaps another review would be helpful.

      Reply
  13. Hi, I have recently bought a Orion XT8 and am trying to work out which eyepieces to add to what is provided with the scope. The telescope comes with a 2x Barlow so I was thinking of getting one of the zooms you recommended. Is there much of a difference between the celestron and haader? I’m fairly picky so would extend budget for better eyepieces if its worth it. Does this sound like something you would recommend based on the telescope I have? I am very interested in viewing Nebulae – do you think this set up will work well for that or do I need other eyepieces or filters? Also worth mentioning i wear glasses which I will wear while observing. Many thanks, Sophie

    Reply
    • I owned an XT8 Intelliscope which is the same optical tube on a PushTo mount.

      Orion SkyQuest XT8 Intelliscope Review
      https://telescopicwatch.com/orion-skyquest-xt8-intelliscope-review/

      My Baader Hyperion Zoom is my most used and favorite eyepiece. If I had to give them all up and keep only one eyepiece, It would be the BH Zoom.

      With the XT8i I usually used the zoom configured with a 1.5X Barlow giving me a 75X to 225X which I found to be nearly perfect for that scope. Under my sky it was rare that I would be able to get over 225X and still maintain a good quality image, except on the Moon. My Barlow is a 2X with a removeable Barlow element that can be screwed right onto an eyepiece giving a 1.5X effect. So you ended up with:
      50 – 150X, no Barlow
      75-225X, 1.5X Barlow
      100-300X, 2X Barlow.

      My other eyepieces, ES and Meade 82 degree, stayed in the eyepiece case most of the time. I have since moved up to a 12″ Dob but I use the same eyepieces and the BH Zoom continues to be my most used.

      I would suggest you also get a 2″ low power wide view. Something in the 30 to 38 mm range with a 65 to 70 degree AFOV. Orion Q70 38 mm works well. Explore Scientific 68 34 mm or ES 82 30 mm would also be good choices at a significantly higher price but with better edge correction. I like my 38/70.

      I hope that helps.

      Reply
      • Hi Ed, that is really helpful 🙂 sorry if this is a daft question but is the baader hyperion 2″ or 1.25 or can it be both? This is the link to the one I plan to buy as I know some others come with add ons: https://www.rothervalleyoptics.co.uk/baader-hyperion-mark-iv-8-24mm-universal-zoom-eyepiece.html

        Thats great you had an XT8i that makes me feel confident I got a good telescope 🙂

        Is there anyway you could include links to the eyepieces you mentioned in the last paragraph of your reply as I’m totally new so worried about buying the wrong thing!

        Thank you for all your help 🙂

        Many thanks
        Sophie

        Reply
        • The BH zoom is optically a 1.25″ eyepiece. However the package includes a 1.25 to 2″ adapter so if you have a 2″ focuser you can treat this like a 2″ eyepiece leaving the adapter normally included with the scope for use with other 1.25″ eyepieces. The BHZ 2″ Adapter has threads on it so you can attach filters to it allowing you to use 2″ filters with the zoom. Any 1.25″ eyepiece will work with the BH Zoom 2″ adapter. The zoom can be used with any 1.25″ focuser too.

          You can find the eyepieces I use and recommend in this article. They include links to them where they can be ordered. The only one not in the article is the Orion Q70 which is available in 38 mm, 32 mm and 26 mm. I have the 38 mm and recommend it often.
          https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Orion+Q70&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

          Understanding Telescope Eyepieces- There are recommendations, based on budget,
          but the meat of the article is about understanding the considerations and specifications to know when selecting eyepieces.
          https://telescopicwatch.com/best-telescope-eyepieces/

          Reply
      • Hi Ed,

        I tested out my BH zoom yesterday for the first time and it is a great eyepiece so thank you for the recommendation!

        I found an ES 70 degree AFOV 35mm eyepiece and am wondering whether I should get this or the Orion 38 70. The ES is actually slightly cheaper than the Orion but my understanding from your reviews and replies is that ES might actually be the better eyepiece – have I got that right? This is the link to the eyepiece I am looking at potentially buying, would you recommend this over the Orion one or vice versa do you think?

        https://www.widescreen-centre.co.uk/explore-scientific-70-eyepieces.html

        Thanks again,
        Sophie

        Reply
        • Explore Scientific, like many eyepiece providers, have higher-priced and budget lines. I am not aware of an ES branded 70 degree series in the USA, but they do have a Bresser branded 70-degree series. I beleive this is the same as they ones you asked about. They are just OK, but I don’t recommend them, especially in a low focal ratio scope. I had one and sold it.

          I would recommend the Orion Q70 series over that. I have used these in my F6 and F5 Dobs and find them a good value for the price. Not perfect to the edge but better than the Bresser, in my opinion.
          https://www.amazon.com/Orion-8829-Wide-Field-Telescope-Eyepiece/dp/B000M89H7C/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Orion+Q70&qid=1606584502&sr=8-2

          The Explore Scientific 68 degree series would be better but at a much higher price.
          https://www.amazon.com/Explore-Scientific-68%C2%B0-40mm-Eyepiece/dp/B007LMG3F6/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=explore+scientific+68&qid=1606584676&sr=8-1

          Reply
          • Hi Ed,

            Thanks for your reply, I think I will go for the Orion Q70 🙂

            Do you think it would be sensible for me to look at getting a higher magnification specific eyepiece? I saw Jupiter today and its 4 moons but when I looked at saturn I struggled to get a really clear image and it was very small. I also struggled to see features on both (gas bands on Jupiter and clear rings on saturn). Would a higher magnification eyepiece help do you think or am I already pushing my telescope (XT8) to highest sensible magnification I can with BH zoom on setting 8mm and 2x Barlow?

            Many thanks
            Sophie

          • Jupiter and Saturn are low in the sky now. You are looking through a LOT of atmosphere which distorts the image. This has nothing to do with your scope or eyepiece.

            The BHZ in a 2X Barlow will take an XT8 to 300X. On many occasions, that will be too high power for the atmospheric conditions. I often had to drop back to about 180X because of poor seeing and transparency. Look those up, “seeing” and “transparency” in the context of astronomy.

  14. Ah I see what you are saying, I had wondered whether this might have had an impact as I’ve seen it mentioned before but don’t fully understand it so will do some research, thank you 🙂

    Reply
  15. Was compairing the Apertura standard 15mm Plossl with their 15mm super wide angle eyepiece (70 afov). I already got the 10mm super wide because of the added eye relief but at 15mm both have the same eye relief. I also have a 25mm plossl and am happy with that. Does having a 70 vs 52 fov make a noticeable difference for double the price? These will eventually be used in an 8in dob whenever it arrives.

    Reply
    • If you read the article you know how to calculate the magnification and field of view. Both will provide the same magnification. You can do the calculation which will show that the 70 will have a significantly wider field of view as compared to the 52.

      Reply
  16. Do you think the Baader Hyperion Zoom would work OK with the Skywatcher 150p? Or is this overkill and am I better off saving money and going forward something like the Celestron Zoom? Many thanks.

    Reply
    • I would recommend the Baader Hyperion Zoom for any telescope. However, your budget must guide your purchases.

      A key thing to remember is that eyepieces are universal. You can buy eyepieces specifically focused on a particular scope or you can buy eyepieces that you expect to use with this and all future scopes.

      When I started, I purchased less expensive eyepieces to learn about them and how I would use them. I started with the Celestron zoom. I still have it and still use it from time to time. Once I knew how much I liked the zoom I upgraded to the Baader Hyperion Zoom.

      I have a variety of eyepieces, including Explore Scientific and Meade 82 degree series so I have choices. However, the BH Zoom is by far my most used eyepiece. If you are investing for the future, get the BH zoom. If you are just testing the waters or on a tight budget, get the Celestron, which is still pretty good. I recommend it often to beginners on a tight budget.

      I recently purchased the SVBony 7-21 zoom from Amazon. This is a fairly inexpensive zoom that I wanted to try. I have not had an opportunity to test it yet but the general discussions have favorable. I would expect it to be similar to the Celestron in image quality. If that is the case, it will give me another reasonably good, inexpensive zoom to recommend to beginners. Most likely it will be used as a loaner eyepiece to go with one of my two loaner telescopes.

      Reply
      • OK that makes sense, many thanks. I think I will go for the BHZ because, as you say, I will be able to use it now and into the future.

        Reply

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