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The Lap Scope

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#1 Olivier Biot

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 04:30 PM

The Lap Scope

#2 rockethead26

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:12 PM

Now I want one! Thanks for the article.

#3 coopman

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:08 PM

Nice article, Doug. This is pretty much the ultimate in simplistic telescopic observing. I'm concerned that I couldn't hold the scope steady enough. I have a 6" f/5 Newt. in the garage, so I'll be able to give it a try soon. Maybe if I rest the lower end of the tube on my thigh, I can steady it enough. Thanks for the inspiration to try something different.

#4 Denner

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 12:54 AM

Doug...great article and it looks like an interesting and fun way to survey the night sky! Thanks,

Mark

#5 Tom Mengel

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 02:48 PM

I have a very old 6 inch F5 that I ground/polished (80% of the way) while in high school in the late '60s sitting in my basement and was wondering what to do with it (a divorce and move demand a "simpler" lifestyle). I will get rid of the homemade fork mount and try your Lap Mount". That and a green LASER finder sounds like a great way to have at it anywhere/any time.

Thanks for the the food for thought.

Tom

#6 TimD

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 03:47 PM

Really neat scope.

#7 richard7

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 04:57 PM

Well. Looks like another project on the list.
Thanks for the article.

#8 J_D_Metzger

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 12:16 PM

Nice article.

After reading it, I'd like to suggest a new title for Doug: "Mr. Metaphor"... :)

#9 Chich

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 06:04 PM

Just snooping around for ideas. Well notions really. You actually end up doing something with ideas :)

I might give something like this a shot in the future. Would be a bit of all right to have something you could just sit down and use..

chich

#10 mwedel

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 11:59 PM

Oooh-ah, this is cool. Great idea, and a very inspiring write-up. I have a 5" f/5 Newt that is currently unmounted...I foresee some lap scope time in my future!

#11 Sarkikos

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 08:32 AM

Olivier,

Great article and a neat little telescope.

I have a 4.5" ball scope that has served me as a lap scope from time to time. Mounting the laser pointer makes it easier to position objects in the field of view. Just click on the laser and point. Carefully look in the eyepiece without moving the scope and you have your object. Years ago, my first view of M78 - Casper the Friendly Ghost - was through my lap scope.

But yes, you do have to control your breathing if you want a nonpulsating image. And I'm afraid the lap scope is pretty much limited to warm weather viewing. I've yet to find a green laser pointer that will continue to work below about 40 degrees F.

Mike

#12 RobbW

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:26 AM

Hmm, now I'm eyeing that Newt in the back corner of my basement with renewed interest. Thanks for the article!

#13 mwedel

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 02:11 AM

Oh, I like that laser pointer idea a LOT.

I hauled out my 5" f/5 OTA and spent about 20 minutes lap scoping. It was a pretty darned interesting experience. The views were surprisingly good. I had thought the scope would be all over the place and hard to steady, but I found that by sort of gently pulling down into my lap I could hold it as steady or steadier than my 70mm binocular. With a 32mm Plossl the view was sort of like a binocular on steroids (albeit with just one eye).

Navigating was confusing. I had a *very* hard time reconciling the motions of the scope and the FOV. I've been using dobs since day one so I didn't expect that, but somehow going handheld changed the game. I have an image-erector somewhere that came with my second-hand Astroscan--I will dig that out and see if the workings are any more intuitive with an erect image.

Oddly enough, the navigating confusion didn't make the experience any less enjoyable. In fact, it was kinda cool to be lost in the sky again, just panning around and seeing what I could find. I liked it enough to want to try it again, image erector or no. One more tool in my observing toolkit, and for that I am grateful.

I am out fairly frequently with people who haven't stargazed before. I like the idea of parking someone with the scope and the Milky Way and just having them go nuts.

#14 Sarkikos

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 06:54 AM

It goes without saying that a lap scope would be best for low-power, rich-field views and relatively easy-to-find objects. I wouldn't be trying to complete the Herschel 400 with a lap scope! When I was using mine, I concentrated on fairly big and bright objects whose locations I knew from memory, such as the Messiers or some wide doubles.

Mike

#15 Sarkikos

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 12:18 PM

It also goes without saying - but I'll say it anyway! - that a lap scope pretty much has got to be a short-tube Newt. How could you possibly use a Cat or refractor as a lap scope? The eyepiece is at the nether end of the OTA. Not gonna happen.

:grin:
Mike

#16 mwedel

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 04:45 PM

It also goes without saying - but I'll say it anyway! - that a lap scope pretty much has got to be a short-tube Newt.


Quite! And the Newt in question needs to be appropriately sized for the observer. I've seen ads in which people use an Astroscan as a lap scope, but I'm 6'2". If I set the Astroscan in my lap it is hard to get my collarbones to the eyepiece, let alone my eyes!

#17 Sarkikos

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:09 PM

The lap scope must be fitted to the observer, like a good suit!

Mike

#18 jrbarnett

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:33 PM

Doug:

That is just plain clever. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences. Beats the heck out of oversized binos IMO.

Regards,

Jim

#19 JKoelman

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 08:34 AM

Great article. For those interested: the 6" f/5 Orion StarBlast works like a blast as lap scope. In the past I have also tried to use a binoviewer with such a lap scope setup. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well ( too large distance from the tube, and difficulty in positioning both eyes accurately).

#20 mattyfatz

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:22 AM

I often use my Astroscan as a lap-scope. The ball rests nicely on a lap, especially sitting cross legged. I don't like hunching over so far though, maybe a little ATMing to an RFT 5 or 6" newt is in order!

Thanks for the great Article Doug!

#21 Peter D.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 12:32 PM

Wasn't the Astroscan the original prototype of the lap scope? I seem to recall seeing a picture of it used that way in an old Edmund Scientific ad. I think that it's sized more for kids in that application though: when I used mine that way, my neck complained after only a few minutes. It's really better on its base as a table-top Dob.

#22 Sarkikos

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 12:57 PM

I tried bringing along different kinds of pillows or "bed desks" as a base for the ball scope in my lap, in order to raise it up a bit. But as far as I recall, the make-shift platform seemed to amplify the motions cause by my breathing. Also, the "platform" was just one more thing to bring out with what is supposed to be a simple grab-n-go scope, further defeating the purpose. So that enhancement for the lap scope never worked very well.

Mike

#23 mwedel

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:36 PM

Does anyone know Douglas Bullis's username? I'd like to send him a PM, but I haven't been able to figure out his username. If it's listed someplace obvious and I'm just being a moron, let me know!

#24 LateViewer

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 06:55 AM

Great article. Great that people have commented on it recently so that I could find it a read it.

I especially like the way you captured the wonder of visually observing. The comparison to great art is a good analogy.

Al






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