For awhile now, I been in the mood to up-grade my 25mm plossl eyepiece. But my heart is now broken! You see, I plan on hunting for globular clusters as summer begins to constrict its sweaty palms around New England.
As I was strolling through the grocery store, I happened to turn my head and see an Astronomy Magazine next to a box of condoms. Guess what? The issue happens to be dedicated to globular clusters! A strange coincidence, indeed.
I know what you’re thinking: Well, did you check Amazon? The Lord of Retail? Yes—I scoured all 20 pages of eyepieces, thank you very much.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the eyepiece I own and try to figure out why Orion gave it the boot.
Compared to many eyepieces; the Orion Epic II ED is pretty sexy, I must admit. And smooth to the touch! None of that cheesy plastic shit here, folks. The rubberized eye cup can be twisted up or down to accommodate a more comfortable viewing session. Very polite!
ED stands for “extra-low dispersion”—a fancy way of saying images retain their natural, true color, without being degraded by nasty chromatic abberation.
The lens is fully mutli-coated, but don’t ask me with what exactly. Orion took down that particular information on its website, so I can only report what I discover as I frolic down memory lane. Forgive me.
The main attribute about these particular lenses are the contrast they provide for the price. I believe I paid around $75-80 for my 18mm. For less than a $100; the mechanical and optical quality is envy inducing—at least in my opinion.
When it comes to planetary observation, I usually use it to spy on Jupiter or maybe Saturn. I’m not a fan of Saturn; that gaseous planet has a massive ego and is pretty much a diva.
Stars appear as sharp points of light throughout the entire field of view. Usually an eyepiece will have optimal performance toward the center and gradually lose performance toward the edges. The Orion ED Epic II 18mm exhibits even performance across the entire field of view. Stars have a ‘shiny characteristic’ to them, almost like a subtle glow. The Pleiades, even though the entire cluster can’t fit in the eyepiece’s field of view with my particular telescope, seem to radiate an unhindered glimmer.
I use a telescope that has a focal length of 1300; the Orion Epic ED18mm provides 72x magnification. I find it to be the sweet spot for my particular telescope—not too much magnification—but enough to get the job done.
I was going to recommend you purchase one of these, but since you can’t anymore, I suggest getting a decent 18mm eyepiece if you happen to own this particular telescope.
Bright nebula, such as M42, ‘stick out’ against the background stars in sharp clarity. The extra eye relief helps for long-term observation sessions. A plossl eyepiece can be a pain in the ass to view through once you start getting lower than 12mm (unless they’re specifically designed to increase eye relief).
Perhaps some day, Orion will re-release the Epic II ED line of eyepieces. Then again, Orion already has a menagerie of lenses to choose from, so I wouldn’t hold your breath. Unless you feel like passing out and smashing your cranium on top of your computer desk, tablet, or whatever the hell it is you use.
Remember when I said the eyepiece is polite in accommodating a comfortable viewing session? Watch this magical transformation:
Now… watch this:
The lens itself is, of course, internally blackened. A fancy way of saying that a coat of black paint smothers the inside barrel to combat stray photons from bouncing around the inside. This is part of the reason for the increased contrast.
Did I forget to mention? This eyepiece has a cumberbun!
Let’s go ahead and review why Orion discontinued this line of eyepieces:
- The mechanical construction is sexy
- Lens quality is desirable for price
- 60° apparent field of view
- Two elements of ED glass
- 6 elements in total
- Eye cup can be adjusted
- Internally blackened barrel
- Lens is fully multi-coated
- Less than a $100
- Aluminum body
- 13mm eye relief
- All ED lenses are parfocal
Yeah—now that I think about it—with those qualities, who the hell would want a lens like that? GROSS! Oh yeah…me. The best hypothesis I can come up with for Orion’s reason to discontinue the Epic II ED line is:
- Orion has too many breeds of eyepieces for sale
- Orion could push the Tele Vue line-up for a higher price
Makes sense, right? Why sell an eyepiece for less than a $100, when you can sell one for more than $100? I know I would.
I‘m not hatin‘, just statin‘ a fact. From what I understand, Tele Vue manufactures some of the best optics in the world. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to fork over the few extra bucks for a Tele Vue. However, I haven’t observed with a Tele Vue plossl, so I can’t compare the two lenses (yet).
If you happen to own a Orion Epic II ED eyepiece, take care of it!!! If Orion chooses to never re-release them, maybe you’ll have a rare, optical treasure that will siphon the envy of every sky watcher around you.
I also suggest that if you come across one of these eyepieces, snatch it up! Maybe you’re perusing through a tag sale one day, and next to a stuffed armadillo are a box of Orion Epic ED eyepieces. I suggest you buy them…
…And the stuffed armadillo.