Saturday, April 26, 2008


OK, I’ll admit it: I WANT ONE!

I didn’t think I did. I didn’t think any eyepiece in this focal length range could possibly be worth the approximately $600.00 TeleVue asks for its 13mm Ethos, 100 degree apparent field or not. After all, Unk has a perfectly wonderful 12mm Nagler Type 2 that has served him well for a decade and a half. Ain't I always saying, "The Only Enemy of Good Enough is More Better"? That, however, muchachos, was before I got a chance to use an Ethos.

When I did get that chance, during a recent expedition to the Chiefland Astronomy Village, I immediately began scheming to come up with them many, many George Washingtons I'd need to get an Ethos of my very own into my hot little hands. That is not the interesting part of this story, though. What is interesting is what made me start that scheming. Surprisingly enough, it was not the eyepiece’s huge apparent field that blew me away.

What did it for me? The amazing optical quality of the Ethos; in a fast 8-inch scope it was impressively sharp to the edge of that gigantic spaceship porthole. And high in contrast. Despite less than perfect conditions, little M43 was amazingly well defined with its comma shape criss-crossed by easily visible dark lanes. Frankly, it looked as good as I've ever seen it--in any scope. Barrel or pincushion distortion? I didn’t notice anything of the sort. Astigmatism? Uh-uh. What I did notice was an incredibly immersive experience, something akin to what I felt when I looked through a Nagler for the first time.

After that “first time,” I found it downright impossible to live with the soda-straw-field viewing experience offered by dadgummed Plossls and Orthos. Will the Ethos spoil the 82 degree AF ocular experience for me? It just might. That being the case, I hope Uncle Al can find a way to make more of these things…

Stop the Presses Department: Just hours ago, at NEAF, Mr. Nagler announced the imminent release of a second Ethos eyepiece, an 8mm this time. According to Al it will be lighter, cheaper, and available in July. 

2020 Update

I did get my 13mm Ethos. And an 8mm, too. But I left it at that. The coming of the Explore Scientific 100-degree eyepieces meant there was no longer any reason to spend the exhoribtant amounts the TeleVue eyepieces commanded. The ESes offer 99% of what the TeleVues do, and my aged eyes certainly cannot distinguish that 1% difference.

I'd be grateful for your advice. Assuming one is already sold on the quality of the views, what's the best way to break into the world of fancy wide-field eyepieces? Buy a budget "68" now, save for a while for a UWAN, save forever for an Ethos? Some combination of the above? If this has already been asked and answered elsewhere, please feel free to point me in the right direction. But you seem to have a lot of experience with the really good stuff, and I'd appreciate your thoughts.
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