The Three Musketeers

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3 x 3.5 = 10.5

Recently, I had the chance to test three outstanding 3.5mm wide field eyepieces on a TeleVue 76 (f/6.3) doublet apochromatic telescope, equipped with a TeleVue Everbrite diagonal. Although I wear glasses,  I belong to those hard-boiled stargazers don't give up if the eye relief of an eyepiece is short. Even so, who could resist the observation comfort given by long-eye-relief, wide-angle eyepieces? Not me, for sure. Now, all of them, a TeleVue Delos 3.5mm, a Pentax XW 3.5mm, and a TeleVue Nagler Type6 3.5mm were next to the scope silently waiting for their chance to prove their capabilities.

Only the on-axis performance on three planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) was considered. Since, fast doublets perform poorly on red, this test may not be conclusive for eyepiece evaluation on Mars. Pentax XW and Delos are comfort beasts and mainly address spectacle wearers. I have rarely had so much fun in planetary observing with an eyepiece. Generally, observations at high magnifications are uncomfortable since the observer must come very close to an orthoscopic eyepiece, the ideal but die-hard choice.

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Delos, the youngest kid on the block, showed a white Jupiter with bands in a grade one would expect from a good orthoscopic eyepiece. I honestly didn't believe what I was looking to. A white planet disc, SEB and NEB with turbulences, the Galilean moons, and a breathtaking 72° field of view subjectively appearing larger than the specs say. How is that possible? For a moment I removed my head from the eyepiece and looked at the small TeleVue. Has it been fatter? No, the scope still had 3 inches of aperture as always :-)

The Nagler showed its typical high contrast image with a hint of color possibly coming from the doublet. I am not sure but this is a cheeky EP, it provokes every scope to show more than it can show and brings the most sharpness out of it.

The Pentax XW showed a white planet disc being a bit softer that both TeleVues. The XW is a great eyepiece, a real workhorse that earned my respect during the last years. So, the Jupiter award went to Delos.

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The clear winner was here the Nagler. The image it showed, reminded me those breathtaking moments I had once with a Takahashi LE 5mm eyepiece on a black Takashashi FC-100DL (f/9), a limited edition fluorite APO, two months ago. No, it wasn't the same experience, but the tiny provocateur, my beloved TV-76, wanted to come close to it. Delos and Pentax were somehow equal on Saturn. It was pleasant to observe the planets with both of them!


Non of all three eyepieces could show serious details on the red planet. Nagler Type 6, the epiphany of an eyepiece in terms of contrast and sharpness, showed as expected a hard shaped planet disc, with a bit of false color. I think,  I saw Terra Cimmeria for a moment. I am sure, that I think it. Anyway, the second one, the Delos showed less color hint on the planet disc. The Pentax had the best color correction of all on Mars. But it´s image was softer than both TeleVues, although beautifully orange with very low blue/violett hint, but absolutely no details at all.

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Although choosing an eyepiece is a personal matter, I would dare to present my on-axis test results (Winner, 2nd place, 3rd place):

Sharpness: Nagler, Delos, Pentax

Chromatic abberations: Delos, Pentax, Nagler

Field of View: Nagler, Delos, Pentax

Haptic: Pentax, Nagler, Delos

Build Quality: Delos, Nagler, Pentax

Weight: Nagler, Pentax, Delos

Viewing Comfort: Delos, Pentax, Nagler


DISCLAIMER: I have no affiliation with Pentax, TeleVue or any other manufacturer for that matter so I don’t really care if you buy this stuff over another. I take my time with each piece of equipment because I am always on the hunt for perfect solutions.

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