SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

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JimL
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SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

I’m new to visual solar observing and given how much I enjoy it I figured early on that a Herschel wedge was in my future. I purchased a Baader Cool-Ceramic II, which is excellent, but wanted something in the 1.25” size that matched better with my smaller scopes.

I ordered a 1.25” SkyRover Solar Prism, for which I paid $214 U.S. shipped to my residence in Northern California. The solar prism is manufactured by Yunnan Tianhu Optical Technology and sold under the Kunming United Optics house brand Sky Rover.

Here’s what arrived at my doorstep this 15 days after placing my order:
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The three documents shown in the second photograph, from left to right, are a one-year warranty, brief manual and description of the solar wedge, and a quality inspection card.

The light and compact body of the solar prism appears to be manufactured and machined from a single piece of aluminum extrusion purpose designed and purpose made, and from which are attached the aluminum nosepiece, rotatable filter holder assembly, translucent ceramic heat dissipater, and eyepiece holder. Aluminum side plates affixed with three machine screws each provide access into the body of the solar prism when removed.
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For added safety I installed a 1.25” SvBony IR/UV cut filter between the included ND3.0 neutral density and circular polarizing (CPL) filters. All three filters are internal to the solar prism and are mounted on an externally rotatable base below the eyepiece holder.

The externally adjustable CPL provided a range of infinitely adjustable brightness between slightly too bright to slightly too dim and provides a useful range of light throughput for most visual observations. The eyepiece holder does rotate when you adjust the internal polarizing filter, so bino users will need to loosen the eyepiece holder’s grip on the bino nosepiece when making brightness adjustments.

I did a morning side by side comparison of the SkyRover Herschel wedge with a 2” Baader Mk II Herschel wedge using a Celestron 102 AZ achromat refractor and a SvBony 135 7-21mm zoom with a GSO #56 green filter. The GSO filter proved useful with my achromatic refractor though it is likely optional when using a apochromatic telescope. The sun was low, about 25°, transparency was fair, and winds were 25 mph gusting to 30 mph. Seeing seemed fair to almost good. With this equipment, and under these conditions, the views through the two solar prisms were very nearly identical in sharpness and contrast. Very nearly so in that the Baader was perhaps 2% better, though I suspect, although unverified, that the difference had more to do with the difference between the $11.95 GSO #56 filter and the $199 ($119 in 1.25”) Baader Continuum filter, rather than the internal wedge prism.

I imagine that outfitted with equivalent quality ND3.0, CPL, IR/UV cut, and 7.5nm Continuum filters there would be no discernible difference between the Baader and SkyRover solar prisms. Pure speculation on my part, but given the differences between the optical components of the respective solar prisms, and the very minute differences in the views through them, I think my supposition reasonable.

Comparing the size and shape of the Baader and SkyRover Solar wedges:
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Pros go to the SkyRover for ease of use and lightweight mount and tripod friendliness. The SkyRover did not exhibit any sign of excessive heating, or indeed any sign of heating at all in my 102mm refractor, but the Baader is said to be capable of handing the light input through a larger refractor, so we’ll give that pro to the Baader.

This last photo I post with some hesitation. It’s a view through the SkyRover captured by my ancient hand-me-down Apple phone camera, and worst yet, partially obstructed by a cypress tree the sun inconveniently ducked behind unnoticed. With those caveats, and keeping in mind the actual view unimpeded by the dense foliage of a tree was significantly better, here’s the shot
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Shame about the photo, and feel free to discount it as not fully representative of the SkyRover’s capability. Your view through the eyepiece is very likely to be much better.

I’ll conclude by saying that because the SkyRover’s internal prism is of the wedge design rather than the right-angle design used in the Hercules solar prism and it’s analogs, there is a significant improvement in contrast between the former and the latter. The sky behind the SkyRover is completely black, while the sky behind the Hercules has a distinct glow for some distance from the sun. The difference is such that it’s immediately apparent and obvious.


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by Montana »

A very warm and sunny welcome Jim :hamster: and thanks for the great review, I have never heard of this brand before. I'm not sure I would have taken it apart though before testing as I expect that would invalidate your warranty ;) but thanks for the pictures :)

Alexandra


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

Montana wrote: Thu Jun 06, 2024 11:26 am A very warm and sunny welcome Jim :hamster: and thanks for the great review, I have never heard of this brand before. I'm not sure I would have taken it apart though before testing as I expect that would invalidate your warranty ;) but thanks for the pictures :)

Alexandra
Thank you, Alexandra.

KUO is one of the largest Astro optical manufacturers in China and the quality of their products seem to be several notches above that of their competitors. Unlike some others, KUO doesn’t seem to pander to the low end of the market for the sake of volume, and instead focuses on the mid to higher end users who don’t mind spending more to get a superior product. SkyRover is KUO’s brand name for their products they sell directly and not through a third party.

Before I purchased the the SkyRover Herschel wedge I purchased a Hercules solar prism, the same of which is marketed under the TS-Optics and Antila brands, among possibly others. I won’t go into details here, but I returned it the next day. I had been lured to the Hercules by its low price and as is often the case the compromises required were not worth the price difference to me. I then ordered the SkyRover, and have been delighted with it ever since.

Herschel wedges are such simple devices that I had no concern disassembling it for internal inspection. And besides, photos of the outside don’t tell you nearly as much as what’s important inside. They’re hardly more complicated than a conventional star prism, the only differences being the addition of a heat rejection sink and ventilation and in the case of the SkyRover, but not the Hercules, provision for a rotatable filter cell. Super simple!

It’s probably worth mentioning that the KUO/SkyRover Herschel wedge is sold by First Light Optics (FLO) under their StarField brand name for roughly what I paid for mine shipped from China. Here’s a link:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/solar- ... wedge.html

If I had know that FLO optics carried the KUO/SkyRover beforehand I’d have ordered it through them for the added benefit of their well regarded customer support and much faster shipping. But I’ve got mine, it’s terrific, and I use it nearly every clear morning.
Last edited by JimL on Mon Jun 10, 2024 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

I’ve been encouraged enough with the views through the SkyRover Herschel wedge that I ordered a 1.25” Baader Solar Continuum filter to see if it makes a meaningful improvement in the resolution of fine details. I guess I’ll find out the results sometime next week.

The latest, 7.5nm, version of the Continuum filter also blocks IR radiation so it will replace both the GSO #56 and SvBony IR/UV cut filter. That means all of the filters will be internal to the SkyRover Herschel wedge, and there will no longer be a need to remove and replace the green filter when changing eyepieces. The filter stack should be, from field to eyepiece side, ND3.0-Continuum-Polarizing. As before, brightness adjustment will happen by rotation the eyepiece holder.

Here’s what’s coming:
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IMG_2736.jpeg
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The photo of the filter box shows the older and now superseded 10mm filter, which didn’t effectively block IR.


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by Dennis »

JimL wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 11:34 pm I’ve been encouraged enough with the views through the SkyRover Herschel wedge that I ordered a 1.25” Baader Solar Continuum filter to see if it makes a meaningful improvement in the resolution of fine details. I guess I’ll find out the results sometime next week.

The latest, 7.5nm, version of the Continuum filter also blocks IR radiation so it will replace both the GSO #56 and SvBony IR/UV cut filter. That means all of the filters will be internal to the SkyRover Herschel wedge, and there will no longer be a need to remove and replace the green filter when changing eyepieces. The filter stack should be, from field to eyepiece side, ND3.0-Continuum-Polarizing. As before, brightness adjustment will happen by rotation the eyepiece holder.

Here’s what’s coming:

IMG_2733.jpegIMG_2734.jpegIMG_2735.jpegIMG_2736.jpeg

The photo of the filter box shows the older and now superseded 10mm filter, which didn’t effectively block IR.

Hi Jim,

with refractors, apo or achromat a green filter should always be a good option because most of them have a very limited cross spectrum performance apart of green. With the 7.5nm continuum filter you also get rid of the atmospheric dispersion which is good.
Personally i would leave the uv/ir cutfilter in as safety measure.
BTW you state that the continuum filter also blocks IR radiation, but the shown graph doesnt show so (400 - 700nm).

Regards
Dennis


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

Dennis wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 5:20 pm
JimL wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 11:34 pm I’ve been encouraged enough with the views through the SkyRover Herschel wedge that I ordered a 1.25” Baader Solar Continuum filter to see if it makes a meaningful improvement in the resolution of fine details. I guess I’ll find out the results sometime next week.

The latest, 7.5nm, version of the Continuum filter also blocks IR radiation so it will replace both the GSO #56 and SvBony IR/UV cut filter. That means all of the filters will be internal to the SkyRover Herschel wedge, and there will no longer be a need to remove and replace the green filter when changing eyepieces. The filter stack should be, from field to eyepiece side, ND3.0-Continuum-Polarizing. As before, brightness adjustment will happen by rotation the eyepiece holder.

Here’s what’s coming:

IMG_2733.jpegIMG_2734.jpegIMG_2735.jpegIMG_2736.jpeg

The photo of the filter box shows the older and now superseded 10mm filter, which didn’t effectively block IR.

Hi Jim,

with refractors, apo or achromat a green filter should always be a good option because most of them have a very limited cross spectrum performance apart of green. With the 7.5nm continuum filter you also get rid of the atmospheric dispersion which is good.
Personally i would leave the uv/ir cutfilter in as safety measure.
BTW you state that the continuum filter also blocks IR radiation, but the shown graph doesnt show so (400 - 700nm).

Regards
Dennis
Hello Dennis, and thank you for your response.

I’m pleased to hear that my Baader Solar Continuum filter will be useful for my apos as well as my achros. That will help spread the cost a bit more broadly ;)

Baader’s website marketing could probably use an update, and I’m afraid some of the marketing photos I posted are dated from the original Solar Continuum filter, including the Spectrum plot. The one shown is 10nm wide, so wider than the current filter’s transmission width.

It takes a little bit of searching within Baader’s website to find their statement concerning IR/UV blocking, but in the FAQ section there’s this quote:

“This filter blocks everything from 300 nm up to 1200 nm - except for a "clean" solar continuum-area at 540 nm.”

It’s a bit vague, but taken at face value I think I should be ok using the Baader filter as an IR/UV cut filter as well. That said, I will take your recommendation for eye safety very seriously and continue to dig for more definitive supporting information. My recollection is that the website Astronomy-ru has a thread with a wealth of information on filter transmission spectrums, and I’ll begin there to see if I can find a plot for this latest Baader Solar Continuum filter.

Thanks again Dennis and I appreciate you helping me out as the beginner I am.

Jim


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

Dennis, here is the 2” Baader Solar Continuum filter spectrum plot taken from Astronomy-ru:

BaaderSolarContinuum.PNG
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The plot source is post #1433 by Dmitry Makolkin in the “Filters - Measurements Results” on Astronomy-ru, dated 11 April 2024. There’s lots of very useful and interesting posts and data on the “Filters - Measurements Results” thread on Astronomy-ru, but I’ll leave it up to the interested reader to locate the post and explore to their heart’s content :cool:

The plot, covering the spectrum for 360nm to 1100nm, doesn’t contradict Baader concerning IR/UV suppression within the range measured, so hopefully I should be good to go with the Solar Continuum filter doing double duty as a IR/UV cut filter as well.


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by Dennis »

JimL wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 2:58 am Dennis, here is the 2” Baader Solar Continuum filter spectrum plot taken from Astronomy-ru:


BaaderSolarContinuum.PNG


The plot source is post #1433 by Dmitry Makolkin in the “Filters - Measurements Results” on Astronomy-ru, dated 11 April 2024. There’s lots of very useful and interesting posts and data on the “Filters - Measurements Results” thread on Astronomy-ru, but I’ll leave it up to the interested reader to locate the post and explore to their heart’s content :cool:

The plot, covering the spectrum for 360nm to 1100nm, doesn’t contradict Baader concerning IR/UV suppression within the range measured, so hopefully I should be good to go with the Solar Continuum filter doing double duty as a IR/UV cut filter as well.

You are right, the blocking of the new version looks good to me. Thanks for the tip with the website.

Regards


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

Dennis wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 6:26 am
JimL wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 2:58 am Dennis, here is the 2” Baader Solar Continuum filter spectrum plot taken from Astronomy-ru:


BaaderSolarContinuum.PNG


The plot source is post #1433 by Dmitry Makolkin in the “Filters - Measurements Results” on Astronomy-ru, dated 11 April 2024. There’s lots of very useful and interesting posts and data on the “Filters - Measurements Results” thread on Astronomy-ru, but I’ll leave it up to the interested reader to locate the post and explore to their heart’s content :cool:

The plot, covering the spectrum for 360nm to 1100nm, doesn’t contradict Baader concerning IR/UV suppression within the range measured, so hopefully I should be good to go with the Solar Continuum filter doing double duty as a IR/UV cut filter as well.

You are right, the blocking of the new version looks good to me. Thanks for the tip with the website.

Regards
Dennis, thank you for helping to confirm that the latest version of the Baader Solar Continuum filter should be a safe replacement for a dedicated IR/UV cut filter. You’ve given me peace of mind.

Also, hearty congratulations on your, “solar photograph of the day”. The beauty and the minute detail are absolutely astonishing!


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

Two days after ordering the Baader Solar Continuum filter arrived in my mailbox:
IMG_2737.jpeg
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To install the filter within the Herschel solar wedge, where it will reside permanently, it’s first necessary to gain access to the filter stack holder by unthreading the eyepiece holder from the wedge body and removing it:
IMG_2738.jpeg
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The previously installed SvBony IR/UV cut filter is unthreaded, removed, and separated from the polarizing filter that came shipped within the solar prism. The ND3.0 filter, also supplied with the solar prism, is left in place:
IMG_2739.jpeg
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The Baader Solar Continuum filter filter is threaded onto the ND3.0 filter, followed by the polarizing filter. The photo below shows the completed filter stack installed on the Herschel wedge, with the no longer required IR/UV cut filter off to the left:
IMG_2740.jpeg
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Finally, the eyepiece holder is threaded back onto the Herschel wedge body and the assembly is now complete and ready to use:
IMG_2741.jpeg
IMG_2741.jpeg (101.04 KiB) Viewed 152 times

The first immediate effect of the retrofit is that the Baader filter, being shorter, makes for a shorter filter stack and allows the eyepiece to slide further within the eyepiece holder. The second effect is that the GSO Wratten #56 filter I previously used by threading it into the eyepiece is superfluous and will no longer be used.


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by marktownley »

Very good!


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Re: SkyRover Herschel Wedge (1.25”)

Post by JimL »

I had an opportunity to observe through the SkyRover Herschel wedge and the newly installed Baader 7.5nm Solar Continuum filter between this morning and this afternoon. I can’t say whether it’s the new filter or better seeing, but the views through the latest setup were remarkably improved over the views yesterday using the #56 Wratten filter. This called for further investigation, and as I also have a 2” Baader Cool-Ceramic Herschel wedge, a direct side by side comparison between the two.

Both wedges are equipped with the latest 7.5nm version of the Baader Solar Continuum filter installed within the wedge bodies. The Baader wedge is also equipped with a Baader sourced ND3.0 filter and a 48mm Vivitar polarizing filter originally made for photography cameras, and which I threaded into the eyepiece holder’s 2”-1.25” adapter. The SkyRover wedge is equipped with SkyRover sourced ND3.0 and polarizing filters, both internal to the wedge body beneath the eyepiece holder.

The telescope I used is a 102mm f/6.5 Celestron AZ 102 achromatic air spaced doublet, purchased for the princely sum of $159 at Costco, and which came packaged with a mount with slow motion controls, a pair of decent Plössl eyepieces, a not so decent RACI prism diagonal, and a red dot finder. Only the telescope was used for the comparison and the ancillary articles have found other homes.

Transparency was average and seeing average to a bit better than average. For the comparison I viewed through a SvBony 7-21mm zoom, an Edmund Optics 28mm RKE, and a SvBony 3-8mm zoom; the latter two were the most useful for comparing the respective Herschel wedges.

Cutting to the chase, I could ascertain no material difference in the quality, sharpness, contrast, scatter, or any other meaningful optical attribute I can think of, between the 2” Baader and the 1.25” SkyRover Herschel wedges. At the 24x magnification provided by the RKE eyepiece both wedges revealed well defined solar plage and faint granulation; I usually find lower magnification best reveals these features. Taking the opposite extreme and using the 3-8mm zoom eyepiece at its shortest focal length, which provided 220x magnification, I was able to resolve, despite intruding floaters and the magnified shaking of the scope in the breeze, striations within, and the sawtooth exterior perimeter of, sunspot #3709’s penumbra. One wedge or the other would sometimes reveal a tiny bit more, but because neither on average could prevail over the other I attributed these fleeting differences to seeing and shaking. The views through the scope were such that I doubt that under the same conditions a better view would be obtainable through a similar sized apo.

There were some differences between the two wedges worth noting, however. The SkyRover had a wider range of brightness, both dimmer and brighter, the Baader seemed to get hotter and hotter faster than the SkyRover, and the Baader’s significantly greater mass challenged the marginal AZ-GTi mount far more than the much lighter SkyRover. Beyond that, and optically, it was a wash between the two Herschel wedges.

I don’t imagine I’ll have much more to report about either of these Herschel wedges in the coming days, weeks, and months, but if anyone has any questions about them I’ll be happy to answer those questions to the best of my abilities. Cheers all!


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