The hobby of Astronomy can at times be a costly one. Telescopes can easily run into the hundreds of pounds and believe it or not there are more and more eyepieces being sold that can cost more than a small telescope. This can be a serious drag for the strapped for cash Astronomer (like yours truly) which makes it all the better when you discover an eyepiece that not only surprises you performance wise but carries a minuscule price tag to.
I received two generic eyepieces with my 12 inch Dobsonian telescope a number of years ago now, one was a 26mm and the other a 10. Both I would later find out were from the Skywatcher SP plossl range and both as it turned out were excellent performers, far from generic as I had previously thought.
I am so impressed with the 10mm SP plossl that it still regularly features in my eyepiece collection, getting just as much use as it’s significantly more expensive brothers and sisters.
First, let’s start off straight out of the box, the ep is just shy of two inches long, it’s 1.25 inches at it’s thinnest (where it slots into the telescope) and only a couple of millimeters wider at its fattest. It has a metal barrel that is threaded to accept any 1.25 inch filter. The inside of the barrel is dark and matte, those little light rays won’t be bouncing around needlessly inside this eyepiece. The matte finish makes sure that the light goes only where it’s supposed to….into the observers eye!
As this is one of the shorter focal lengths in Skywatchers range it doesn’t have the nobbled rubber grip ring running along the middle, the shortest three SP eyepieces are considered light enough not to warrant the need for added grip, also with such a ring in place they’d no longer have room to write the stylish “Super Plossl 10mm” that features on the side.
The eyepiece that is most similar to the SP 10mm in my personal collection is the Televue 8mm plossl. The SP came free with my telescope but would only cost a mere £20 to buy new while the Televue cost me a little under £70. This should really be like comparing a Rolls Royce to a tricycle but the SP is only slightly inferior to the TV. When holding the eps to the light you can clearly see that the TV has more of a green hue to it’s outer lens showing that a better quality coating has been used than in the SP but when placed side by side in the field the SP isn’t a million miles behind it’s more expensive cousin in pure performance.
What I really love about the SP apart from it’s surprisingly good performance on both solar system and deep sky objects is that it’s an absolute joy to use. It has a very comfortable eye relief, something that I used to under estimate in an eyepiece. I used to think that comfort while viewing was unimportant and the only thing that mattered was how much detail could be pulled from an object, while I still believe performance does come first, being comfortable at the eyepiece is very important.
With a longer eye relief than similarly focal lengthed eyepieces Skywatcher have included a nice big pull up rubber cup to shield your eyes against local light pollution. I much prefer the pull up type cups as opposed to the twist up variety although I’m sure this is just a matter of personal opinion, they seem much more comfortable to me.
As well as a nice eye relief, the SP has a large focal stop so you don’t have to feel like you’re straining your eye to look through a pin prick. It’s this marriage between quality and comfort that makes the 10mm Skywatcher SP plossl one of my favourite eyepieces, it consistently surprises me by how well it performs even when compared to eps 3 times its price. A definite recommendation.