What Is a Huygens Eyepiece?(Explained!)

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Huygens eyepieces are used for magnification in optical devices, such as telescopes and microscopes. These eyepieces consist of two planoconvex lenses separated a short distance in the eyepiece, enhancing images using only white lights.

For more information regarding Huygens eyepieces, such as how they work, where they come from, and the pros and cons to using them, continue reading this article.

How Does A Huygens Eyepiece Work?

A Huygens eyepiece is a type of lens often seen on telescopes and is made of two plane-convex lenses, which have one plane side and one convex side. On the Huygens eyepiece, the plane sides on both lenses face the eye.

Each of these lenses is mounted into the telescope with enough space between them, equating to half the sum of each lens focal length. Placing the lenses together in this manner reduces chromatic aberration and spherical aberration or utilizes a 3:1 ratio for separation, which will minimize spherical aberration.

This specific eyepiece works best with low or medium-power achromat and utilizes only white lights.

Instead of simply enlarging an image, the two lenses capture the object in between both lenses’ curvatures and transmit to the eye without distortion or blurriness.

These eyepieces are often seen in microscopes used in college courses and high school science classes.

When Was The Huygens Eyepiece Created?

In the 17th century, a mathematician by the name of Christiaan Huygens began authoring books regarding optical theories he had developed throughout the 1650s, being the first person to combine the telescope with the theory relating to refraction of the lens to a spherical surface.

In 1662, Huygens developed the Huygens eyepiece that changed how we could study space and other scientific objects.

While the Huygens eyepiece is considered to be outdated these days, it was still a crucial design that changed history.

Some of the more modern eyepiece designs would include plossl, flat field or aspheric whereas the huygens design is more or less obsolete due to its limitations for modern day hardware.

Are Huygens And Negative Eyepieces One In The Same?

A Huygens eyepiece and a negative eyepiece are not one and the same. However, a Huygens eyepiece is an example of a negative eyepiece.

This is why you are unable to use this type of eyepiece to magnify objects close up. Negative eyepieces are designed with the convex side facing towards the specimen.

The Pros Of Huygens Eyepieces

There are many benefits to using a Huygens eyepiece. When the invention first came about, it had its issues, but there have been corrections and updates over the years, making this lens very useful for many reasons.

Highlights details

The Huygens eyepiece is well-known for magnifying the intermediate image, making it large enough so that details and specific items can be observed.

Creates a sharp image

This lens specifically focuses the light rays of the primary mirror to provide a clear and detailed image directly to the retina.


These Huygens eyepieces are relatively expensive compared to other newer and more technically advanced options.

Short Eye Relief

Although many people will argue a short eye relief is a disadvantage, it can be ideal for specific optical devices such as a scope on a hunting rifle. Using this type of eyepiece can help you zero in on a specific target.

Designed to Reduce Lateral Chromatic Aberration and Coma

The Huygens eyepiece is better corrected for lateral chromatic aberration, which happens when different wavelengths of light (mostly blue-yellow and red-green) come together at different focal points and create fringing on the sides of the image.

These eyepieces are also beneficial to correcting comas in an image, which is when there is an issue with the lens that causes off-axis points, distorting the picture in different ways with one commonly compared to “comet ta” l” l.

The Cons Of Huygens Eyepieces

Although Huygens eyepieces are still used in some situations, they aren’t the best options. Here are a few cons associated with the Huygen eyepiece.

Out of Date

While this was a great option back in the 1600s, these negative forms of eyepieces are way out of date, and technology has advanced a lot since then, with other eyepieces having the ability to show pictures much clearer and with more details.

Small Apparent Field of View

The field of apparent view is very small; it is ca. 30-35° to be exact; this makes it really hard to identify the more minor details of any object the lens is focused on.

Not Achromatic

Achromatic is an important feature to have on your lens that is not present on a Huygens eyepiece. Achromatic lenses pull two light wavelengths, commonly blue and red, towards the same focal point in order to eliminate the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration.

Short Eye Relief

Short eye relief is another disadvantage of the Huygens eyepiece. Because of the higher magnification of the lens combined with the more significant field of view, this eyepiece has a short eye relief; meaning, the image in the lens is larger and easier to see; however, a lot of the images around it are not visible.

(Yes, we do have this detail on both lists because it can be seen as a pro or con, depending on what you are using the lens for and who you ask.)


The Huygens eyepiece is a simple lens that was a perfect fit for a very long focal range and was the beginning of a whole new world of enhancing optical devices. Although it may no longer be the best option out there, it still serves its purpose rather well and can be utilized in many concluding with fantastic results.

If you’re looking for an eyepiece for your telescope, click here for some of our best options


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