After looking through a lot of eyepieces my go to eyepieces are my Orion Stratus eyepieces. Hopefully this will help you understand why.
Although I am primarily an astrophotographer and so I spend far less time looking through an eyepiece than I do a computer monitor, I still like quality views when I do a little visual.
Like most people, I started with the eyepieces that came with my first telescope. While they did indeed provide a view, once I tried a nice eyepiece I was smitten. There was obviously more contrast making objects easier to pick out, more of the field of view was in nice sharp focus, there was a much wider field of view and last but certainly not least, it was much easier to look through the better eyepieces as they had more eye relief.
Eyepieces generally represent half of the optics in a telescope which should give you a hint as to their importance to the views that you get. The typical problem with any quality product, especially a quality optical product, is they can get very expensive quickly. One can start at the bottom of telescope eyepieces for around $20 each and then move up to the top of the line at over $600 each. I wanted as much quality as I could afford, so where was the best bang for my buck?
Above is my collection of Orion Stratus eyepieces, available from Amazon, including the 24mm, 13mm, 8mm and 5mm. At around $140 each these eyepieces have the specs to put them right in the middle of the pack so I thought they would be a good place to start.
General specifications: Apparent FOV: 68 degrees Elements: 8 Eye relief: 20mm Filter threads: Yes Rubber eyeguards:Yes Material: Aluminum Weight: Approximately 1 pound Barrel size: Both 1.25″ and 2″ without adapter
For those who have only used the eyepieces that came with their scopes these will seem huge and heavy. They average just over 2″ in diameter and roughly a pound. In comparison the typical Plossl eyepiece shipped with starter telescopes is less than 1.5″ in diameter and weighs about a quarter pound.
Right off the bat you realize that the Orion Stratus eyepieces are large eyepieces and are nice to hold on to, and the rubber grips on these do not disappoint. In cold weather with gloves or in the Texas heat with sweat covered hands I had no problem holding on to these things. I have never even come close to dropping one.
The most striking thing in switching from a higher powered Plossl to one of these is the eye relief, or distance your eye has to be to get a nice complete image. On the higher powered Plossl eyepieces your eye has to be over the tiny little optical window at just the right distance and any slight movement will cause image problems. These all have large optical windows and plenty of room to move around without distorting your view. Although I do not wear glasses, I can see where people who do would love these.
I primarily use these in my refractors (f6.5 and f7) and find that they provide very nice views. On faster scopes such as an f4.9 Dobsonian you can start to see some coma in the outer 10% on the wider 24mm and perhaps a little on the 13mm.
My favorite eyepiece is the 24mm and while it certainly is no TeleVue 22mm Nagler, it provides excellent widefield views of the sky.
The attention to detail is nice, for example the white painted numbers denoting the focal length on the side of the eyepiece are very large which makes them easier to see out in the dark. The rubber eyecup seems pretty durable while being more than soft enough to be very comfortable. There is a groove machined into the 1.25″ barrel to help make sure it can not come lose from smaller telescopes. The threads for filters are a nice touch and make it convenient for using a moon or polarizing filter.
In a world filled with eyepiece choices how would I rank these in terms of performance for the amount paid? Honestly I wish they were just a tad cheaper and I would give them top honors, although I do believe they are an excellent buy.
If however you want eyepieces that will not disappoint, fit in both 1.25″ and 2″ focusers without an adapter and especially if you can get them on sale, the Orion Stratus eyepieces are a solid contender for all but the most demanding situations.
I do still have some inexpensive Plossl style eyepieces like the ones that come with some better starter telescopes that I keep around for various uses and comparisons.
Bottom line, when I want to view something in my inexpensive 90mm refractor, my much more expensive 110mm APO refractor, or the University’s very expensive 16″ SCT, I reach for one of the Orion Stratus eyepieces, get yours from Amazon.
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