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is the beach a good or bad idea

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#1 diesel

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:26 PM

i am gettting ready to go the beach and i was thinking about taking my nexstar 8se to the outer banks where there isnt very much light and set up on the beach where they isnt any houses in the way of the sky. I was wondering if the humidity might be a problem and if the sand will be a problem. Any hints or tips would be very helpful

#2 caheaton

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:39 PM

I wouldn't set up directly on the beach if there's any wind blowing due to wind blown grit and salt spray. If you can find or setup a shelter of some sort (perhaps rig some tarps), that would be the best way to go. Another option (what I've done) is to use binoculars if observing from the beach. Another option would be a "disposable" scope, say an inexpensive achromat. A dob would also be good, as you could always disassemble the scope and give it a good cleaning when you return.

#3 kraberus

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:45 PM

I wouldn't set up directly on the beach if there's any wind blowing due to wind blown grit and salt spray.


+1

Sand can be brutal on tripods. Use zip-tied or rubber-banded ziploc bags around the feet at the very least. Plan on spending some time dismantling the tripod afterwards and blowing sand out.

Also make sure any sand is totally removed from any glass elements before you wipe anything off...you don't want to scratch anything. Use one of those rubber air blower things if you have one.

That said, I'd give it a shot - just be ready to call it a day if the conditions warrant.

#4 Ebyl

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:48 PM

I would also be very careful about taking a decent scope anywhere near the beach. Sand gets everywhere, even if you are not actually standing on the beach itself. Even areas adjacent to beaches are constantly encroached upon by sand. It wouldn't be worth it to me.

#5 AstroTatDad

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:04 PM

the only thing I take the beach is my camera gear, and no matter what sand gets on the gear. if you do take it, even if you don't see sand on your scope blow it off with a can of air real good! this stuff can be so small and might not see it. I always use air at the beach, I learned the hard way years back when I scratched a canon L lense.

#6 michael hester

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:45 AM

You're better off setting up on the beach house you rent if it has a good deck. I was in one with a third level deck once. With the exception of some annoying street lights it was a decent view.

#7 snork

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:15 AM

Last year I took a pair of 7x35 binoculars to Folly Beach in SC and was amazed at what I was able to see. Never really been to a dark site here in Ohio, so the beach is the darkest site I've experienced, especially when they require all lights near the beach turned off at night due to Sea Turtles hatching. Was thinking about taking a scope this year but have decided to take my 10x50 bino's this year. Just saying that if you're worried about your scope, binoculars due a pretty good job at the beach.

#8 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:27 PM

Sand always finds a way to get into everything. I would not set-up anywhere on or near the ocean.

I would try setting up near the sound. If the wind is blowing off the ocean say more than 5-7 mph? I would not set up anywhere. I do not know how far salt water spray (suspension) is carried but if the surf is up then the spray might be more easily picked up by any wind. The sound water is brackish, high salinity, but I would not think particulates would be as easily picked up.

On the other hand, if the wind is light off-shore (from the west) then this would be an advantage, for surfers and you. Still if the westerly winds are over say 5-7 mph I would be hesitant. It would depend on where you would be located, in a very exposed area or in a more protected area.

I would only take your least valuable EPs.

In spite of all the caution, I would take some gear, it could be good seeing if you go before the heat and humidity of summer arrives.

By the way, if the surf is up, stay in the white water.

LB

#9 lamplight

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:44 PM

Everything metal gets nasty quick at the beach..n that said I haven't brought a scope there but yes on cameras ,,cars etc.. Nasty salty grit is in the air always..my I laws live right on the beach with lousy light pollution in their case in Massachusetts, but a spectacular horizon to horizon view.. Plan to take a cheaper achromat as mentioned.

#10 David Castillo

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:44 PM

I have used my scope at a beach house that was less than 100 yards from the ocean. It had a concrete slab patio that I used to observe from, as I would never consider setting a scope/tripod on the sand. I would recommend using a dew shield to help reduce salt spray on the optics and avoid observing any targets near zenith. Yeah, it's doable, just reduce any chance of exposure to corrosive salt spray- Keep things dry and clean.(Oh, I forgot- don't get sunblock or tanning lotions anywhere near optical surfaces or rubber/latex eyepiece grips.)
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#11 obin robinson

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:50 PM

Sand RUINS optics. Don't bring anything you won't want to possibly write off as a complete loss. For beach observing I would use sealed waterproof binoculars and a rugged tripod. I wouldn't take anything else especially a telescope with mirrors or eyepieces. If you are set on bringing a telescope of sorts then get yourself a good spotting scope like what someone would use for target shooting. Before I upgraded to "real" telescopes I did all my astronomical viewing in Virginia Beach using nothing more than my binoculars and Yukon Optics spotting scope.

obin :)

#12 lamplight

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:58 PM

I almost mentioned that myself... My father inlaw who lives at said beach is a birder so on Christmas I showed them all Jupiter and did some observing with his spotting scope , and hey.. Not bad! Had a good quality zoom on it too

#13 Kraus

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:24 PM

Hmmmm....you're going to the beach and want to look up in the sky?? I am confused.

And yes, sands gets into everything.

#14 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:46 PM

Good point about the sunblock lotions.

I used to live on the Outer Banks many, many years ago. Did not have a telescope then, but keeping my camera and binoculars clean required extra caution. When you live at or near the ocean one can develop a system for confronting these dangers of sand and salt. But being a newbie to this environment adds to this risk.

#15 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:57 PM

I have started to use a dew shield (black construction-art paper) for my reflector all the time now to keep pollen, dust, stray light out. I think this $1 shield has improved contrast and help keep the mirrors clean.

#16 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 04:12 PM

Beaches are usually overcast here where I live. This overcast puts moisture everywhere. Typically the sun burns it off by around 11am but then it comes back at night. Not sure about the conditions of the beach you are going to but that is something to consider.

#17 ylem

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 04:56 PM

Just got back from Myrtle, had my mak on a balcony, had the time of my life with it.quite dark over the ocean, and lots of fun during the day.
I have it mounted alt az, and like others said just keep it away from sand and salt spray and you'll have a blast, even if its cloudy there's plenty to observe

Jeff

#18 paulr57

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:57 PM

I am a frequent flyer on the outer banks (Nags Head). I took my dob once, and after dealing with the prevailing winds, which can be quite forceful at night, it was coated with salt and sand. That was enough for me.

Now it's binoculars for me at the beach, and they provide a very nice view! You can use them during the day, if you like viewing the wildlife, and other distance objects. It's a birder's paradise!

#19 GeneT

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 06:04 PM

Sand and salt water can raise havoc with optics. I would just be careful as you would if you took a camera to the beach.

#20 RTLR 12

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:24 PM

I would never think of observing at the beach...

Stan

#21 obin robinson

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:27 PM

I almost mentioned that myself... My father inlaw who lives at said beach is a birder so on Christmas I showed them all Jupiter and did some observing with his spotting scope , and hey.. Not bad! Had a good quality zoom on it too


Spotting scopes are capable of some really good low power sky views. That is why I used one for so long before getting a "real" telescope. I am amazed at how many people shy away from em for "grab and go" stargazing in rugged environments.

Specifically for the beach I would suggest something like this:

http://www.ebay.com/...-Scope-tripo...

The views are not bad and you can write it off as a total loss if it gets full of sand. Someone will buy it for target shooting or bird watching and you won't lose much of your investment.

obin :)

#22 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:53 PM

Diesel, if the Nexstar is your only scope, leave it at home, its not worth the risk. Just bring the binoculars.

I always enjoyed being on the beach for sunrise and late at night. I used to love lying down in the dunes late at night and look at the stars. Now I am starting to feel homesick, have never lost my love and longing for the ocean and the Outer Banks in particular even though it feels as if every square inch of land (sand) there is now occupied. Ever since high school I wanted a telescope but never got one until recently. Got a phone call a couple of years ago that one of my old surfing buddies died. Quite a shock since we are in our 50’s. Went to the Outer Banks for a reunion of us old surfers. On the way back to Kentucky I came to that conclusion of "what am I waiting for" and I purchased my first scope several months later. Spiritually, I find surfing and stargazing have a lot in common.

Obin, that spotting scope is a good idea. It has got me thinking about getting an expensive or used one as a true grab and go. It can serve multiple purposes since I also like bird watching.

#23 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:05 AM

I meant to write an "inexpensive or used one" as my astronomy tank is running very close to Empty.

#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:02 AM

[quote name="obin robinson"]
Spotting scopes are capable of some really good low power sky views. That is why I used one for so long before getting a "real" telescope. I am amazed at how many people shy away from em for "grab and go" stargazing in rugged environments.

Specifically for the beach I would suggest something like this:

http://www.ebay.com/...-Scope-tripo... />



I support a group of people that use sign language to communicate over a considerable distance. I recently purchased a similar inexpensive spotting scope for their use and tried it out myself. As a birding terrestrial scope, it was actually surprisingly good.

I did do some stargazing with it, I would not recommend inexpensive spotting scopes like this for astronomy, it's a 60 mm so it's underpowered to begin with and with the complex optical train, it must be loosing a fair amount of light, even the Pleiades were only so-so. At 60x, the stars are not clean and sharp. The Meade might have a better tripod, the one I got was unusable.

The difficulty I find with using most/many spotting scopes for astronomy is that at the low magnifications, they have a relatively narrow AFoV, usually around 40 degrees with a 2 degree TFoV and are limited to 60x. For a budget refractor for astronomy, I think an ST-80 is a better bet, if that doesn't work, a pair of binoculars is a worthwhile tool.

Jon

#25 lamplight

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 07:00 AM

Just want to reiterate.. The salt is in the air.. Not just direct water spray.. Condenses right on your goodies and leaves an abrasive film. I'm thinking when I go it will be my low end refractor, and Another precation might be not opening up the tube to change EP's.. Maybe I will be keeping that low end zoom after all ;)

And ill observe from their deck , no way going going in the sand.. Lotta good sky view but worse moisture and light pollution at this location:
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