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Leaving a mount outside

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#1 rathbaster

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 09:31 AM

I have been tasked by my department head with putting together a full equipment list with specs and justifications for the astronomy section of the new science building they are building at the college I work at (Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts)

One of the ideas we have discussed is having eight permanent piers outside. On each pier would be a permanently aligned German Equatorial Mount onto which would go any of several scopes. (I have been leaning towards Losmandy G8s)

My question is, what are people's experiences with leaving mounts outside, under some sort of cover (and what do you use) and how have your mounts fared in various weather?

thanks

Joe

#2 raf1

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 10:11 AM

Hi Joe - I live in south Texas so I do not have the low temperatures to deal with that you do but we do have extreme heat and humidity. A couple of quick suggestions for outside setup; make sure you treat the area around your mounts with insecticide - critters love to climb up the pier and set up shop under whatever cover you go with. I have a painted pier and use car wax on it every couple of months to help resist weathering. While remote, a lightning strike is always a possibility and I never leave electronics or cables attached to the mount.

Regarding covers, check these out: http://www.scopestuff.com/ss_t365.htm

I have used these covers for piers and fully setup image/observing systems with great luck and I am currently having a custom cover made. Jim at ScopeStuff can answer all of your questions regarding the covers and I have had one outside 24-7 for about two years with no sign of weathering with the exception that I had to replace the bungie pull cord which doesn't handle the weather well and after about a year needs to be replaced. I replaced it with weed-eater line and that has worked well. I probably gave you more information than you asked for and at the same time not enough information so let me know if you have any questions. I'm sure you'll get additional responses.

Cheers.

#3 rathbaster

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 12:42 PM

Thanks Ron, there's no such thing as to much information :cool:

-Joe

#4 cweinhei

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 02:28 PM

I live in Oregon and I left my Atlas EQ-G out coevered all winter.

I found that when I tied the cover around the bottom of the concrete pier humidity gets trapped in the cover when it gets cold and tends to hang around until you take the cover to air out. The cold metal is like a cold finger and draws moisture into the cover which gets trapped.

Recently, I have been putting the cover on loosely with better results. Although, the coldest part of winter is over.

#5 Luigi

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 02:55 PM

My preferred method is to use a hard cover, like a plastic trash can, and support it such that nothing touches the mount. Rig up screen covered ventilation holes in the bottom to keep critters out.

One thing you could do is put a fixture in the dovetail of the mount to support the can above the mount.

#6 jog

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 03:13 PM

I just leave mine out on the deck and just cover it with a garbage bag.

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#7 johnnyha

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 08:32 PM

Definitely recommend the scopestuff covers - really well made and a great solution.

#8 WirelessDude

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 10:52 PM

I have used Telegizmos 365 Series scope covers for over a year. One of the best astronomical buys I have ever made! :D

Clear skies!

#9 roscoe

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 06:33 PM

I hate to be the voice of doom, but I'd be pretty cautious about leaving good mounts outdoors in a public place like a college......... I don't know the details, but at Greenfield Community College, the Astronomy Professor put up a nice dome out at the edge of the field out front, and it didn't take long till it got ravaged. Very distressing! Maybe you could have some piers with indexed hubs on them, with holes that pins on numbered mounts could plug into, or something like that........ Russ

#10 Charlie Hein

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 07:09 PM

That is a very good idea Russ, especially if the mounts are to mostly be used visually.

#11 rathbaster

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 01:33 PM

I hate to be the voice of doom, but I'd be pretty cautious about leaving good mounts outdoors in a public place like a college......... I don't know the details, but at Greenfield Community College, the Astronomy Professor put up a nice dome out at the edge of the field out front, and it didn't take long till it got ravaged. Very distressing!


They're going to be on a roof, 4 stories up with limited access.

Our current observatory was setup in 1976 on what was the very edge of Campus then and to an extent still is now. Its seen its share of exterior vandalism (including a .22 hole in the dome door)

Maybe you could have some piers with indexed hubs on them, with holes that pins on numbered mounts could plug into, or something like that........ Russ


I have been in favor of getting fork mounted alt-az C8s, since 4 of the piers we intend will (probably) not have a view of the North star. However my department head wanted me to find out what we can do.

Thanks for the ideas.

Joe






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