Review - SkyWatcher Sky Panorama Eyepiece Kit

The people at Sky -Watcher have recently introduced a new 82 degree (Sky Panorama) 3 piece eyepiece kit to the market for RRP $699.00(AUD).The kit includes a hard metal case of good quality with hard foam on the bottom and soft foam on the top, protecting the eyepieces. The case is lockable and 2 keys are provided inside the case.

The eyepieces feature 7 element, 82 degrees (AFOV) and fully multicoated design, with screw down eyecups. I am unable to source any information from Sky-Watcher or elsewhere for that matter as to the eye relief specs.

Suffice it to say, the eye relief for each of these eyepieces is comfortable, albeit tight for spectacle wearers. The measured weights from my digital scales were 857 grams for the 23mm eyepiece and 375 grams and 317 grams for the 15mm and 7mm eyepieces, respectively.

I must say, when I first looked at these eyepieces I thought them a little ugly, not being of traditional design, but their aesthetics grew on me. They certainly look better in hand than they do depicted on the internet
I had the opportunity to test these eyepieces in a variety of telescopes, including a custom 18" Dobsonian (owner made) and a Takahashi 102mm TSA refractor, together with my 12" Sky-Watcher FlexTube Dob. I was treated to crisp well corrected views in all these telescopes and noted the 23mm was the pick of the three. For the most part, I used my own 12" Sky-Watcher Dob, as I thought this would be a typical rig used in the field as well as at Astronomy clubs.

The 23mm

This eyepiece was the one I used the most during testing and is the flagship of the three. At 857grams it is quite heavy. The eyepiece balanced OK in my Sky-Watcher by using the tension handles on the side of the scope, as long as I did not attach the shroud.

Other Dobsonians may require a little balancing to get this right. Viewing through this eyepiece was a wonderful experience and it certainly produced the ‘wow factor’ on a number of viewed objects at 65X.Objects snapped into focus without the need for searching. The view was flat and crisp with good contrast and ample eye relief. I noted the edge of the view was black and sharp. I checked for coma and detected a little at the very edge of the field. However, this is not the fault of the eyepiece, but rather the result of the fast F5 mirror of my Dobsonian (Newtonian) telescope. I could not detect any obvious astigmatism. Nor could I detect any Kidney Beaning, which is the bane of some wide angle eyepieces. Viewing through the 18"custom Dob at 87x just made things better, with less coma because of a Baader coma corrector in this scope. The Tarantula Nebula was simply stunning, with beautiful nebulosity and plenty of contrast. Equally impressive was using the eyepiece in a friend’s Takahashi 102mm refractor. At 35x the eyepiece produced beautiful wide field views of all objects encountered, although not quite as bright due to limited aperture. I was quite surprised by the amount detail I saw through this scope whilst viewing NGC 253 with the 23mm.

The 15mm and 7mm

I have reviewed these 2 eyepieces together as they were somewhat similar. Both of these eyepieces had similar eye relief to the 23mm with the 7mm being definitely tighter
That said, the viewing through these eyepieces (without spectacles) was still comfortable. Both eye pieces had a similar focus, which was convenient when swapping between focal lengths. The edge of the field of view was slightly soft for each of these eyepieces and they appeared a little less than 82 degrees to my eyes, particularly the 7mm. Again, there was a little bit of coma at the edge of the field produced by my SkyWatcher f5 mirror.

Other than that, I detected no other obvious optical aberrations. In my 12" telescope with a 1500mm focal length the eyepieces produced 100x (15mm) and 214x (7mm). These eyepieces were perfect for getting closer when viewing certain objects such as globulars and planets.

I spent some time observing Tuc 47.The stars were pinpointed in both eyepieces. With the 7mm eyepiece I could explore the inner core of this object. Mars was still up at the time of this review, but was well past its prime. I was therefore quite surprised to get such well resolved views from both eyepieces. The 7mm produced enough power to see some detail of the red planet. Both of these eyepieces would be very useful when Mars is in opposition.

Some concluding comments

The Sky-Watcher Sky Panorama 82 degree eyepiece kit is a no nonsense good quality triplet of eyepieces that will serve the astronomer well (whether the kit is used for casual astronomy or serious club use). For someone looking for a set of eyepieces for a new telescope they would not be disappointed with this kit. I only wished they were available when I purchased my 12" Sky-Watcher Flex Tube several years ago.

About the author

Phil Stephen is an enthusiastic deep sky observer, having logged years of observing, ensuring that he gets the best possible performance from his equipment