Televue, Meade RG, Pentax, and TMB Eyepieces

Meade 1.25" Research Grade Eyepieces:

These are classic Meade Research Grade (RG) eyepieces and are somewhat collectible.   From left to right they are a 4 mm,   7 mm, and 10.5 mm RG Orthoscopic, a 12.4 mm RG Wide Angle (WA) Erfle, and a 16.8 mm RG Ortho, all in 1.25 inch OD.  They have so-called cool glass and impart no extra color to the image.  The lens edges are not blackened and IMHO there is less contrast in the Meade RG as a result.  However, these Meade RG do have very sharp views.  Meade should make a new series with blackened lens edges and with similar good looks.  I wasn't actually collecting the RG Wide Angle, but I recently picked up the 12.4 mm RG WA pictured below to fill a gap in the RG Orthos.  It turns out that the 12.4 mm RG WA had such pinpoint sharp star resolution that I was for the first time able to see 6 of the moons of Saturn in my A-P 6 inch!  I then went on to get the 15.5 mm and 20 mm RG WA, the later of which may be the sharpest of the series. I am still looking for the Meade 28 mm RG Ortho, preferably with the original box, to complete the Ortho set.  And I am now also looking for the last of the 1.25 inch RG WA Erfle set, namely the 7 mm, preferably with the original box.  Shown below is a comparison photo of all of the 1.25 inch Research Grade eyepieces that I have.  Also shown are two photos of the eyepieces I have from the separate RG series.

The RG Orthos have an Apparent Field of View (AFOV) of 45 degrees, while the RG WA Erfles have an AFOV of 65 degrees.

Meade 1.25 inch eyepieces

Meade RG Orthoscopics
Meade RG Wide Angle Erfles

Televue 1.25" Plossl Eyepieces:

These are all Televue (TV) eyepieces of the early non-rubber eyeguard (NREG) type and are also somewhat collectible.  From left to right they are a 7.4 mm, 10.5 mm, 17 mm, 21 mm, and 26 mm Plossl.  I love the crisp, contrasty views through these Televue Plossls.  They have so-called warm glass and may impart a slight yellow tint to the views, but this effect gives more contrast on planetary views.  I also like the smooth barrel and lack of rubber eyeguards (dust magnets).  They also look cool.

The AFOV of the pictured TV Plossls is 50 degrees.  The 40 mm TV Plossl (don't yet own, but want one) has an AFOV of only 43 degrees.  Also, these are all of the Televue parfocal type B group.
Televue 1.25 inch eyepieces
I am still looking for NREG type 13 mm, and 40 mm Televue Plossls.

Televue 2 inch Eyepieces:

Two of these 2 inch Televue eyepieces are of the non-rubber eyeguard (NREG) type and are somewhat collectible.  From left to right the Televue 2 inch eyepieces I have are the 9 mm Nagler Type I, the 20 mm Nagler Type 5, and the 55 mm Plossl.

The Naglers have an AFOV of 82 degrees and the Plossl has an AFOV of 50 degrees.  The 9 mm and 55 mm comprise the extreme ends of the fields of view of all the Televue 2 inch eyepieces.  The 9mm (which type?) and 20 mm Naglers are of the Televue parfocal type C group (which has the least amount of members) and this was a key reason for my purchase of the 20 mm Nagler Type 5 to replace my Meade RG WA Erfle 32 mm.  However, in actual use, the NREG 9 mm Nagler Type I and NREG 55 mm Plossl are nearly parfocal (to within 3.6 mm of each other), but the 20 mm Nagler requires 22.6 mm more in travel than my 9 mm Nagler Type I. These three amazing Televue eyepieces comprise a wonderful 2 inch OD deep sky set, with zoomed in, normal, and wide angle views.  They all weigh about the same as well, being 0.9 lbs, 1.01 lbs, and 1.3 lbs respectively, so no scope rebalancing is necessary.
Televue 2 inch eyepieces

Meade 2" Research Grade Eyepiece:

This is the only Meade 2 inch Research Grade (RG) eyepiece that they ever made.   It is a Wide Angle Erfle with an AFOV of 65 degrees.  Mine is in very good to excellent condition (minor usage marks on the barrel) with the original box and is very collectible.  I don't remember seeing one of these on the used market.  This has amply filled the middle range of field of view of my 2 inch OD barrel eyepieces for twenty years.  It is characterized by a very sharp and bright central field of view.

A larger picture from another angle of the Meade RG WA Erfle can be seen by clicking on this link: Meade 32 mm WA Erfle
Meade 32mm RG WA

Pentax SMC 0.965 inch Eyepieces:
These are perhaps the finest planetary eyepieces ever made, although they use the somewhat inconvenient 0.965 inch barrel OD.  Below are shown the Pentax SMC XP-3.8 (ortho?), and the Pentax SMC O-6 (6 mm), O-7 (7 mm), O-12 (12 mm), and O-18 (18 mm) Orthoscopics.  These four element Orthos have an AFOV of 42 degrees.  I am still looking for the Pentax SMC O-5 and O-9 to complete my set, with or without boxes, preferably with their end caps.  The adapter shown below on the left is a Baader Planetarium 1.25 inch to 24.5 mm (0.965 inch) Reducer #10, part number 240 8191.  I also recently acquired the 5 mm Pentax  SMC 1.25 inch XO 5, which is possibly the best 5 mm orthoscopic eyepiece ever made and still available brand new.  I have no photos of the XO 5 yet, but plan to put one up at some point as it's very good looking, too!

TMB Super Monocentric 1.25 inch:

These may eclipse (or equal in the case of the Pentax eyepieces) my other planetary eyepieces.  These are 3 element designs by Thomas Back which are made in Germany using the finest glasses from eastern Europe.   The AFOV of the TMB Super Monos is even tighter than an Orthoscopic at 32 degrees so the TMB Super Monos have the largest image scale of any current high performance eyepiece.   The sharpness and contrast are of the highest order, while light transmission is maximized using an updated 3 element monocentric design.  The larger image scale for a given magnification ensures you have the largest viewable image that the seeing allows.  Shown below are the TMB Super Monocentric 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, 7 mm, 8 mm, and 9 mm, all of the second parfocal series.  The rest of the second series finally came back in stock, briefly, and I completed the series by getting the 10 mm, 12 mm, 14 mm, and 16 mm.  I have no photos of these last four eyepieces yet, but plan to put one up at some point.  It is not clear whether these will continue to be available.

Televue 1.25 inch Nagler eyepieces:

These Televue 1.25 inch Naglers are of a different generation, to be sure.  The 4.8 mm Nagler is of the early NREG type and is a pretty nice eyepiece.  The Televue 3 mm - 6 mm Nagler Zoom, on the other hand, is one of the latest high tech offerings from Tele Vue.  It's most convenient zoom feature allows one to dial in the maximum power that the seeing will allow.  The resulting view is IMHO not quite as sharp as the Pentax SMC, but it does appear to be a little sharper than the Meade 4 mm RG Ortho when dialed to the same 4 mm setting.  That's very impressive.  I have not yet had a chance to test it against the TMB series yet, but reviews on the web suggest that the TMBs have more contrast, (but certainly much different image scale which may complicate the comparison).  The 4.8 mm Nagler has the usual 82 degree AFOV, but I believe the AFOV of the Nagler Zoom is only supposed to be 50 degrees, which is more like a TV Plossl.  The zoom feature is dialed clockwise to zoom into 3 mm and the top of the eyepiece rises as one zooms.  Shown in the jpg on the left is the 5 mm click stop position for comparison with the venerable 4.8 mm Nagler.

Wanted: Eyepieces I am currently looking to acquire include the 28 mm Meade Research Grade Orthoscopic with original box in very good to excellent optical condition, as well as the original (NREG type) 13 mm,  and 40 mm Televue Plossls in very good to excellent optical condition (with or without boxes).  I am also looking for the rest of the Pentax 0.965 inch SMC Ortho set (with end caps, boxes optional), including the O-5 (5 mm) and O-9 (9 mm).  I am now also looking to complete the Meade RG Wide Angle Erfle 1.25 inch OD set by acquiring the 7 mm, preferably with the original box.

To check out my Mathematical Physics research, visit my physics web site at URL: http://www.physics.mq.edu.au/~dalew/

Last Modified: December 7, 2012
Dale Alan Woodside (dale.woodside@mq.edu.au)
Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Dr Dale A. Woodside