Initial Impressions of moving up to a 24" SpicaEyes f/3.1
By: Vlad Fedosov
Since my early days in the hobby of going to star parties at Blue Canyon that my old astro club(Sacramento, CA) hosted I have always wanted a really large dob! Back in the early 2000’s I don’t remember what aperture scopes were that I saw at the star parties but they seemed huge and I wanted one!
Over the years I have owned a few 16″‘s and an 18″(all with very nice mirrors)dob. Somehow even the 18″ was not really enough to really put the itch to rest for a really big dob. I had the urge(can you say aperture fever???) to get at least a 20″ scope! The dream recently finally came true! I’m now the owner of a 24″ Spicaeyes f/3.1 goto dob! It’s humbling in a way to even think that this is true after dreaming of this for at least 20 years!
Anyhow with the story out of the way I wanted to share my initial impressions of using the scope from my simi-dark sky home(green zone) and how it compares to some of the other scopes that I have owned. I have 3 nights out with the scope. Conditions on the first few nights out have not been ideal as far as transparency and moisture so I do want to stress that these are just initial impressions and I really need to get the scope out to a truly dark sky to really appreciate it. I just do not want to lose these first thoughts about going to the big aperture.
The physical aspect of the big scope
Overall having the scope be fast at f/3.1 makes it appear not as large of an instrument. I have seen and limitedly operated a 25″ Obsession f/5 and this scope seems very petite compared to the tall boy! Having said that, the weight and size is still a magnitude up from an 18″(and especially 16″) dob. I can easily roll around the entire scope with wheel barrel handles but loading up the rocker box was a real workout into the bed of my Tacoma(it’s lifted and has larger tires). I honestly don’t know that I would be able to do it myself. I had my wife and the scopes original owner help me guide it up the 8′ ramps into the bed. I do own a trailer with ramp gate and I’m sure loading it in there will be a non-issue. Carting my old 18″ f/4.5 Obsession clone seemed like a walk in the part after the 24″ though!
m42 – With ES 25mm 100* it’s bright! The most 3d I have ever seen it. Fish mouth area has shown a hint of color in the 16/18″ but with the 24″ I can clearly see the yellow/pink hew in the bar. VERY COOL! The nebula itself looks green to me even in my AP130GT so nothing new there. I think it has a bit more of a blue tint to it in the 24″? There is certainly a more dynamic color range in the 24″ overall. At first, I thought the 24″ was not showing that much nebulosity in the areas that are not the brighter “bat” region of the nebula. I then realized that it’s all nebulosity! The entire FOV was filled with it!
Moving up in power to the ES 14/9mm 100* the biggest difference is how bright the nebula stays! Just a crazy amount of detail in the fish mouth region. I saw stars in that region that I did not even know existed. I would say that it’s a very big difference compared to an 18″ scope. The big 24″ does just beg for high powers!
At low power with the 25mm it’s bright. Like I can’t believe how bright it is, bright! To make a long story short this is BY FAR the best view I have had of this nebula short of EAA. Amping up the power by using the ES 5.5mm 100*(~380x) I was easily able to see the central star(very bright) outer halo and the inner circle with some irregularities to it. I mean the view was just crazy and I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming. 24″ LOVES the high powers!
If your not familiar with this one it looks somewhat like the Dumbell(m27). Both the brighter lobes were easy to see in the 24″ with the ES 25mm as well as the central star. Upping the power with the 14mm ES and using an O-III filter I was also able to pick up the outer dim lobes! This is certainly the best view I have ever had of this object. I can say resembling EAA photos?? Ok, yes it was not as bright as an EAA picture that I’d get with my 12″ ACF EAA rig but after some studying all the same detail was there! Very cool!
This one at low power with the 25mm ES was not bad, noting to write home about though. Going up to the ES 9mm I could easily see the central star. The “eyes” were fairly easy to pick up! This is certainly the best visual view I have had of this object. The 24″ lover them high powers!!!
This pair was a bit of a disappointment in a way..?? Especially at first blush. M81 just seemed like a washed-out blob in the ES 25mm. Not much detail was seen at first. After analyzing the FOV for a few minutes I was fairly easily able to pick out the two main spiral arms. This one will certainly benefit from a darker sky! M82 was nice in the ES 25mm but really displayed a crazy amount of molting in the 9mm ES! I could not see the dimmer radiating features that come off the center of it. It’s something I’m looking forward to checking out from a really dark sky! Overall though these two I would not say were a huge improvement from what I remember in the 16/18″(besides being able to easily use high power). Mater of fact I remember viewing this pair in the TEC 140 a few years back from a crazy dark sky and would say I almost preferred that wide field perspective better. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the sky condition.
m36 / m37 / m38
The open clusters were very nice with the 25mm ES. I’m pretty sure they showed more stars than what I’m used to seeing. Did the view knock my socks off??? nop…. I will need to set up my Meade 178 ED next to the 24″ one of these days. Pretty sure I prefer the view in the big APO. Not really sure why. Might be that the stars are a bit tighter in the APO. I probably just prefer the wider FOV in the refractor.
What can I say? with the ES 9mm the entire FOV was filled with sharp pinpoints of light! Very cool! By far the best view I have had, even better than EAA! Can’t wait to see m13 in this bad boy!
Every time I see the scope, I’m like a little kid on Christmas! Loving every second of it! Full review to come in the future!