Review of Agena Astro Dual ED StarGuider Eyepieces 1.25 inch 12mm and 25mm

Okay, on a whim I was reading over on CloudyNights and found a solid and excellent recommendation for these two eyepieces.  I looked them up, and for $60 I figured, why not? If they are good I need some outreach eyepieces or loaners when I am at a dark site if someone shows up and needs some additional eyepieces.  I used them last night in the backyard with my AR102 and my 14" dob.  Below comes the review after the specs.

25mm StarGuider ED  LINK
1.25 inch
60 degree FOV
20mm Eye Relief
Filter Threads 1.25
Fully Multi-Coated
5 Lens Elements
3 Lens Groups
Blackened Lens Edge: Yes
There is an undercut for safety but no problems with it.
Rubber Eye Guard: Yes/Twist Up
Weight: 5.9oz/167g
Made in China

Below you can see the two eyepieces and they come with the bolt cases below them. The 25mm is on the right, the 12mm is on the left.

In this image below, you can see the 12mm with the eye guard twisted up to wear I need it to observe with my glasses on and to provide the images I want.

The images below show the eyepiece looking right down the barrel on the 25mm. 

I have to admit that I was not just pleasantly surprised, but stunned by how well the 25mm performed in both the AR102 and in the 14" dob.  Images were sharp across the FOV, and I did not need to adjust the eye guard using the twist up.  I wore my glasses and the view was fantastic.  Alberio was sharp, color for both stars was clearly evident as yellow/orange and blue.  The presentation of both the object, Alberio, and the FOV was extremely pleasant.  I was impressed at this point.  I had used my DeLite's early that night and my Pentax XW's, 10mm and 20mm, and though not quite up to that level, this eyepiece by Agena is a keeper. It provided a much better view than the Orion Stratus or Baader Hyperion eyepieces that I had started out with. For the cost, this is a winner.

I went on to view Messier 22 and that provided a small fuzz of light in the AR102, with a nice wide field presentation. The 14" showed more of Messier 22 here, larger, more stars resolved and a very wonderful sight. I liked it! Great as a finder eyepiece!  From Messier 22 I went up to the Lagoon Nebula and here the view was again, sharp and crisp across the FOV, the contrast was very dark behind allowing the stars and objects to pop.  This was true both the AR102 and the 14" In the AR102 some nebulosity was observed, especially by the two bright stars in this OC and Nebula as they lit up the nebulosity.  The 14" showed more contrast thanks to the Zambuto and thus more of the nebula.

I tried at Messier 51 with the AR102 for the challenge, and between the light pollution and moon two days past first quarter, that extra light just about drowned it out. Since I know where this wonderful galaxy lays, I could detect a hint of the main galaxy in the 25mm StarGuider ED.  The 14" showed the galaxies better, hints of bright cores in both,

My last view this night in the test was Luna itself. Here again the 25mm was sharp, details popping, a good contrast between the lunar features and the varying layers of gray around them. The AR102 showed only a small hint of purple around the edge of the moon, but in truth, I didn't notice because I was focused on the view. The 14" loved teasing out detail with its Zambuto mirror on various craters, and the items in them.

My overall impression of this eyepiece is it is an instant winner. There is some slight field curvature to the eyepiece, but not enough to ruin the view. Use it for outreach or as a night loaner at a dark site? Yep, works awesome for that. Use myself, maybe, if I want to stay in the 60 degree range in a 1 1/4 (sorry, it is an wonderful eyepiece but not my 22mmNaglerT4 or my 26mmNagler T5).  If I was new to the hobby and looking to upgrade in a budget from plossls, this is the eyepiece! No problem on my end recommending this eyepiece as the poster on CloudyNights also recommended. It did very, VERY well in the AR102 and the 14" dob. No doubt either on the 20mm of eye relief on this eyepiece. I observed as I said with my glasses on, and with my glasses off with no problem (lazy on my part. I need my glasses to see the sky but not for observing). Finally the weight of these will not unbalance any scope that I own or have ever owned or used.

12mm Agena StarGuider ED LINK
1.25 inch
60 degree FOV
20mm Eye Relief*
Filter Threads 1.25
Fully Multi-Coated
6 Lens Elements
4 Lens Groups
Blackened Lens Edge: Yes
There is an undercut for safety but no problems with it.
Rubber Eye Guard: Yes/Twist Up
Weight: 6.1oz/173g
Made in China

I have to say at first, when I swapped the 25mm out with the 12mm, it was like WHAT! The stars would not come to a complete focus and be pin points of light. My first reaction here is to think and I remembered the eye guard and I hadn't twisted it up. So I adjusted the eye guard and the stars come to their pin points. Alberio was better for me with no glasses using this eyepiece. Closer with the increase magnification, the sky background was slightly lighter but not a lot.  I like this eyepiece. It was pleasing on Alberio in both the AR102 and the 14" dob.  I think I preferred at this point the 25mm more, as my notes record.

From Alberio, I went to Messier 22 and here I saw a major difference. Even in the light pollution and the light of a moon two days past first quarter, the globular popped out. With the AR102  I could discern several, three chain of stars on M22. The core had a slightly brighter appearance then the outer edge, not much but enough that I could pick it up, especially in the 14" but the AR102 did quite well with this. The 14" of course showed far more stars and chains, and it was fun to see M22 in this light through this eyepiece. Sharp and crisp and the 12mm was starting to grow on me.

The Lagoon Nebula in the AR102 with the 12mm was very nice, sharp, the nebula was quite evident with structure also evident in it. The 14" showed the nebula in this eyepiece quite well, and the stars popped. Now I was really liking the 12mm.

On M51 the AR102 showed with the 12mm a little hint of where it is located and in the 14" I could both see the inner core regions and the companion.

On Luna in the AR102 with the 12mm showed crisp and excellent views. There were structures seen in the craters and contrasts of the white and gray's was excellent. In the 14" this eyepiece was extremely pleasing.

Final judgement on the 12mm is I like the 25mm overall a little better, but the 12mm was an extremely solid eyepiece. I actually prefer it also to the 13mm Stratus and Hyperion, though those have a slightly wider FOV by 8 degrees if I remember correctly.

Here is an image of the bolt cases that come free with them.

I am not going to rate this in a quick reference guide as I think there is too much to consider, and each observer varies in what they think and view of an eyepiece.  Having said that, if you are a beginner looking to upgrade from say Plossls and what a solid to very good eyepiece, these are the ones.  Thee come in 3.2mm, 5mm, 8mm, 12mm, 15mm, 18mm and 25mm.  The 25mm is outstanding, and I really liked the 12mm, and will be keeping both. They cost $60.00 each and for that cost, you are getting a bargain and a steal, at least for the 25mm and for the 12mm also. You may find each of them here, at this LINK to Agena Astro.  Again, solid to excellent eyepieces from excellent contrast, very good color, sharp and crisp images and light weight to boot.  Sometimes it is nice to find something of very good quality that doesn't cost over $200.00. For that matter, even if you've been in the hobby for awhile and want to try these out, do, I think you'll like em.

Edit: I forgot to mention. I tried these out with the Orion 2x shorty barlow, worked great. I tried them with the Explore Scientific 2x extender and a TeleVue Powermate 2x, worked great! I cannot reiterate that these would make an excellent set of eyepieces to have if your not ready to invest $300 per eyepiece, or even to spend $99 to $130 on the Explore Scientific line per eyepiece.  So here is how I would rate these.

TeleVue Eyepieces/Pentax XW Eyepieces
Explore Scientific 100, 82 and 68 degree eyepieces
Agena Astro StarGuider 60 degree ED eyepieces
Baader Hyperion's (not a huge fan of these)
Orion Stratus (again not a huge fan).

There are a lot of other eyepieces I could fit in there, but I think this makes the point. The top line is premium, la creme de creme. The Explore Scientific are excellent eyepieces. The Agena StarGuider ED eyepieces are solid, middle of the road eyepieces that could offer someone satisfying viewing at an excellent cost.

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