Eye Guards for small eyepieces

If you have Zeiss Orthoscopics, Baader Genuine Orthoscopics, University Optics HD Orthos, Parks Gold, or something similar.  The lack of an eyepiece guard can hinder your observation a bit as you tend to cup your hand around the eyepiece to shield off ambient light.  You can get one of these eyepiece guards from Agena Astro or here at ScopeStuff (Part EYU1) and stretch a little over the eyepiece.  You will also need to get a 36mm cap from the same place to cover the eyepiece with the guard, so you don't have to take it off every time you are done observing. 

Side view
These eyepieces will work with these eye guards;
- Zeiss ZAO-II and ZAO-I Orthoscopics (right)
- Baader Genuine Orthos (2nd from right)
- University Optics HD Orthos
- Antares Orthos
- Parks Gold Series Plossls (left)
- Vintage Zeiss 0.965" Orthos (middle)
- Vintage Takahashi 0.965" Orthos (second from left)

Observing In The "Dark"

Observing Vests from Dark Skies Apparel.  If you are a serious deep sky observer.  You MUST get one of Dark Sky Apparel.  Using the hood easily increases your visual acuity and goes at least 1/4 magnitude deeper if not more.  A very experienced observer at a dark site, I can easily go 0.2 magnitude deeper with than without it.  Unfortunately, the vests aren't available at the moment.

The vest features 8 eyepiece pockets (4 large, large enough for a 31mm Nagler or 21mm Ethos) and 4 medium.  I put my eyepieces in my pockets to keep them close to my body for three reasons.
1.  I can easily change eyepieces while I'm on the ladder.
2.  When I go to someone else's scope, I can pop in my favorite eyepiece, with permission of course.
3.  The eyepieces are warmer and free from dew.

Photos used with permission from Dark Sky Apparel.


A large eyepiece, such as a TeleVue Ethos, in the lower row, which contains 4 large pockets, two on each side.

The bottom row has 4 large pockets, the middle row has 4 medium pockets and the top row for writing instruments and reading glasses.

The hood is attached to the vest so it is with you all the time.  It is oversized so it would totally shield any ambient light from your eyes and eyepiece.  It also gives enough room, so you won't fog up your eyepieces while using and breathing in cold high humidity environments.

Observing Notebook

Click on this link for a sample notebook page.  I print these with page numbers and on both sides on good paper, such as 28 lb weight (to prevent see though), and bring the pages to Kinkos or someplace similar to have the pages coil bound.  Make sure that they are coil bound, not comb bound or anything else.  Coil binding will allow you to completely fold the book on itself without splitting.

Observing Notebook

Electronic Books in the field

Using a netbook or a similarly weighted laptop in place of paper observing guides.  My old Sony VIAO laptop (actually netbook size) has an excellent display with a very wide range of brightness.  I use two pieces of red transparent plastic sheets available at TAP Plastics and mount them with some gaffers tape.  The setting at the lowest setting and with white stars on a black background is very pleasing to use even at very dark sites.  It is dimmer and easier for the eyes than using an adjustable red LED light at the lowest setting on a white paper chart.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I could even hold the laptop on the "spine" like a book.  You can have the page on the left or right, depending on your preference, by rotating clockwise or counterclockwise.  I have mine on the left.

I've updated all of my downloadable guides so they can be invertible.  Most PDF readers has an invert functionality.  I use FoxIt reader.   I also rotate the view and use full screen, so I have no borders, scroll bars, etc...so the entire screen is BLACK!

The following photographs show the laptop screens.

Without red transparencies showing a screen with no borders!

Display brightness at max setting.  2 sheets of red transparencies (1/8" thick)

Display brightness at the lowest setting.  Note that you can't see anything!

Going DEEP with simple eyepieces

If you want to go DEEP, use low glass count eyepieces, such as Orthoscopics. 

2009 Golden State Star Party
NGC 6745 (triple galaxy system) in Lyra was nearly overhead under NELM 6.9 skies, average seeing, and above average transparency.  The telescope used is a 22" f/4 reflector.

The left image is with the 6mm Ethos and the right image is with the 6mm Zeiss ZAO-II, both giving about 383x.  The details seen in the triple galaxy system are evident as the three cores are a bit more distinct, especially in the Zeiss.  The two cores in the body are lost in the Ethos.  The upside-down house asterism shows only six stars in the Ethos and NINE with the Zeiss.  We had at least five other observers that confirmed this observation, including at least one beginner.  If a beginner can see the difference, then anyone can.  

I have to admit that the Zeiss is very expensive and very difficult to find as they are long out of production.   So we included a 6mm University Optics HD orthoscopic in the comparison and we found that it is between the Ethos and the Zeiss in performance, but a bit closer to the Zeiss.  So...I strongly recommend either the Baader Genuine Orthoscopics or UO HD Orthoscopics (pretty much the same eyepiece) if you want to go this route and save a bundle.

Note:  The Ethos goes DEEPER than any other wide-field eyepiece I've used, so this is my "reference" standard for wide-field.

NGC6745 Zeiss

Update (Sept 2011):  I've tried the Delos and determined that it goes a little bit deeper than the Ethos.  Short story - I've borrowed a 6mm Delos from the TV Rep at OSP and tried it on two objects under NELM 7.5 skies; Hickson 99 and IC 1296.  I've focused on Components D (mag 17.4) and E (mag 17.7).  I was able to hold it with averted vision 100% of the time with the 6mm ZAO-II and 50% of the time with the 6mm Ethos.  I could hold it for about 75% with the Delos.  I've switched back and forth at least three times and one other observer confirmed it the first time around and a different observer confirmed it the second time.  IC 1296 was a tiny bit more apparent with the Delos than with the Ethos.   You can read more about it in my Observing Report from OSP.