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Further Down the Rabbit Hole ...

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I’ve been down the rabbit hole a lot with the 72ED. I’ve been trying different eyepiece/diagonal  combinations for at least five years. For the past couple or three years (bearing in mind I had a year of no observing, where I really was down the rabbit hole of the NHS, dribbling into my hospital food) I’d stuck with a combination of 1.25” Tele Vue mirrors, a 19mm Panoptic and a couple of TMB clones. Much as I love my TV Enhanced Aluminium and Everbrite diagonals I fancied something new. Recently I found my Baader ‘Broad Band Hardened Silver’ (BBHS) 1.25” mirror diagonal out.




I’d totally forgotten I had actually purchased one of these. That’s brain damage for you! No wonder the Mad Hatter was off his face! One of the reasons I preferred the TV diagonal was that it has an undercut. It would hang nicely in the Baader adapter and be safe enough to rotate with one hand without it falling out. The Baader also has an undercut, although it’s more shallow. Either way, it works very well in the Baader adapter.




As the ED72 is f/5.8 a 6mm eyepiece gives about a 1mm exit pupil (70x). After a bit of a brain-damage, brain-storming session, I decided to return to my 7mm Type 6 Nagler for 60x. In this way I get 135x with the compact but superb Baader 2.25x Barlow. I originally had envisioned this stratagem to utilise just two eyepieces and have a selection of reducers and Barlows to give me more of a magnification range. Unfortunately, with my physical disability, this proved to be impractical in the field (aka my backyard), let alone it was starting to get decidedly over complicated as a system. I finally settled on one (Baader) Barlow and four eyepieces: A 35mm Baader Eudiascopic, a 14mm Baader Morpheus, a 7mm Nagler and a 4mm Astro-Hutech orthoscopic. The Morpheus was a bit of an accident.




I bought it years ago, but never really used it much. It was originally intended for my 235mm SCT. However, I changed the original batshit, sorry, I mean ‘winged’ eyecup for a more conventional one. Which seriously improved its ergonomics and overall usability IMO. For a long time I used a 14mm ES for 30x with the ED72. Now I’m using the Vixen Porta II/TL-130 combo again, I can get away with slightly bigger and/or heavier EP’s. The Morpheus is surprisingly lightweight for its size. It also has a deliciously large eye lens with 72° of field and a correspondingly large field stop. The big question was; is the Baader badder than the 14mm ES? The answer is that it is both bigger and badder!




At 23:20 GMT on Sunday 19th of November I was set-up and waiting for the clouds to clear and the rain to stop. I could see Jupiter (Aries) which was unmissable at -2.9 mag, 48.9 arc seconds and 99.9% illuminated. I really wanted to witness the Europa occultation at 23:55, but at around 23:30 the clouds were starting to get in the way.




As a consequence I missed the moment itself. The Galilean moons were beautiful little discs though, with quite vivid colouration. I’m pretty convinced that this was due to the BBHS mirror. I really was super impressed by the colours of the individual moons. The rich oranges and browns were a delight. I’m probably sticking with the BBHS mirror now. The Nagler/Baader Barlow combination for 135x was also pretty astounding. I knew the jetstream had shifted away from the Midlands, but seeing Jupiter with excellent detail and incredibly sharp at 135x with a 72mm aperture was a tad unexpected. Collinder 70 is also called the Serpent Cluster in Orion’s Belt. It is 1262 light years from our solar system. Collinder 70's apparent size is approximately 140.0 arc minutes, corresponding to a physical diameter of 51 light years.




It looked very nice at 30x with the Morpheus, as did the ‘Great Subaru in the Sky’. Although I definitely considered that C70 was better at 12x with the 35mm Eudiascopic. The Pleiades were simply stunning with the Morpheus at 30x however. In fact, I was a bit gobsmacked by the view (The Baader’s definitely ‘baadass’ lol). According to Ovid (43 BC-17/18 CE), Morpheus is the son of Somnius and can appear in mortal form in human dreams. I’m guessing he (Morpheus rather than Ovid, who’s now a bit brown bread) hangs out with the Mad Hatter and Alice. The clouds were getting more profuse so I got a rapid butcher’s hook at two of my faves; iota Cass and the Owl Cluster. The former was particularly satisfying at 135x. I viewed the upside down Owl at 60x with the Nagler without the Barlow. At around one o’clock I called it a night. I was very impressed with the Nagler and the Morpheus. The original batshit Baader eyecup used to annoy me and I was initially underwhelmed with the Nagler Type 6’s field stop size. I’ve vastly ameliorated the eyecup and the Nagler’s crispness, colour separation and definition finally won me over. Tune-in next time when I’ve changed all of the 72’s eyepieces yet again ROTFLMAO!



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The diagonal on the left in the picture with the OTA is a Baader Zeiss Amici with a helical focuser. I've taken two of the screws out of the helical, leaving the one directly opposite the gap in the compression ring (above). The other screw which is actually physically lower, at the top left, is to lock/unlock the helical mechanism.




I find this is far easier for me and less finicky than operating three screws. I use the Amici for lunar viewing.

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