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Dark Sky Campout Gear Planning...

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#1 jrbarnett

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 03:09 PM

Hi-ho CNers.

 

I'm planning a trip for the club to Pinnacles National Park.  We'll be camping there for a couple of nights at the end of October, so I've started thinking about what I'll bring.  We last visited Pinnacles in 2011.  For that trip I took my 16" f/5.1 Teeter/Lockwood Dob.  It was a great site for the scope to strut its stuff.  But this year we'll have at least one 20-incher in attendance, so I'm thinking of mixing things up on the scope front and bringing something else.  I have a new "travel Dob" in the works.  Teeter is building the structure and Carl Zambuto is making the mirror.  It is a 12.5" f/5.5. Originally I reckoned that the 16er would be an easy solo haul sized Dob.  It isn't.  So I commissioned the 12er, having traveled with another 12er many times, finding the aperture very convenient and easy to load and unload solo.  The new scope may or may not be ready by the date of the trip, so I'm noodling what to bring should the Teeter/Zambuto not arrive in time.

 

There will be 20", 15", 12" and 10" (x2) Dobs in attendance.  There will be at least one 11" SCT.  So there are plenty of large and medium aperture scopes on hand to borrow for specific targets.  This has me considering going smaller and purpose specific.  For rich field observing but with some "teeth" (i.e., going deep), I'm thinking of taking the Astrotelescopes 152mm f/5.9 achromat and running it with a dedicated set of Sterling Plossls on an Orion Atlas as a communal wide field scope.  I may also put a laser pointer rather than optical finder on it to help the star hoppers acquire targets when needed.  If so, I am also considering running my never-dark-sited C9.25 Edge HD on a CGE as my main scope for the trip.  I'll do a big list of targets, but will personally concentrate primarily on DSOs.

 

Does it make sense for me to take smaller scopes and Bogart off of my club mate's larger scopes when I hit a target that needs more aperture, or would you take the 16-incher again and be done with it? 

 

- Jim



#2 mogur

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:04 PM

I think your plan sounds pretty good. It's cool sometimes to see what a smaller scope can do compared to a larger one. People will constantly be moving from one to the other. Besides, the Pleiades & M42 look so good in a wide-field scope!



#3 Americal

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 09:43 PM

Huh?  Pack to the space available.  You got a truck now, use it.  There's a lot of wide field targets available that time of the year, a short f/l, wide field is really nice on the 'back side' of the Milky Way.  Just don't use up all your space.. remember house, bed, food and beer



#4 StarBlaster

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 04:01 PM

Mind if I ask what club you're part of? I'm quite interested in joining a group that does camping trips like this.



#5 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 08:26 PM

I agree about taking a short focal length wide field scope along.  While the big scopes gather the light on dim objects, a fast wide field scope with proper EP is pretty impressive too!



#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 06:29 AM

Personally, I would still take the scopes I wanted to spend my time observing with. Sharing views is nice but limiting.

 

Jon 



#7 jrbarnett

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 02:48 PM

Mind if I ask what club you're part of? I'm quite interested in joining a group that does camping trips like this.

OFLI - the "Off Fisher Lane Irregulars"

 

Based in Sonoma, CA.  No rules, no dues, no management.  Just observing and astronomy related travel.  You want in, you're in.  Just PM me your e-mail address and I'll add you to the mailing list.

 

We have regulars from as far away as SoCal and Nevada, and for our last big trip had folks who drove from New Jersey to New Mexico.

 

Here are three of our trip reports:

 

http://www.cloudynig...host-them-r2595

 

http://www.cloudynig...ient-land-r2726

 

http://www.cloudynig...it’s-1979-r2872

 

We generally have observing sessions each new moon at a farm in Sonoma, and then do one or two camping trips per year.  New moon sessions are usually pretty "sleepy" as in maybe 5 or 6 telescopes on average.  Turn outs for the camping trips tend to be higher.  No dues, no mandatory meetings and no restrictions on also belonging to other groups.  It's fine if you just want to go on the annual trips.

 

It's extremely informal.  We call it the "anti-club".  :lol:

 

- Jim



#8 jrbarnett

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 04:12 PM

I agree about taking a short focal length wide field scope along.  While the big scopes gather the light on dim objects, a fast wide field scope with proper EP is pretty impressive too!

Yeah, Tony, I'm thinking getting the 6" f/5.9 out under dark skies with a 22x, ~2.5 degree TFOV eyepiece on a dedicated tracking mount is almost a must.  The RFT experience is one every amateur should enjoy at least once in a lifetime.  I've played with the scope a lot under suburban skies, but never dark skies.

 

For my main scope, though, it really depends on whether or not the 12.5" is ready by the end of October.  If so, it's going.  If not, it'll be either the 16" f/5.1 or the C9.25 Edge HD on the CGE.

 

I dunno how Pinnacles is in October.  It's been bone dry the times I've been, but I've never been at the end of October.  If I take the SCT and require dew control, I'll need a second dew controller hand box, since I'd also need one for the achromat.  :thinking:

 

- Jim



#9 csrlice12

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 11:48 PM

Maybe bring a hot tub a pair of binoculars and a portabar.......sounds like you got the scopes covered...



#10 GeneT

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 03:44 PM

Does it make sense for me to take smaller scopes and Bogart off of my club mate's larger scopes when I hit a target that needs more aperture, or would you take the 16-incher again and be done with it? 

 

- Jim

 

If it is ready, I would recommend taking the 12 incher plus the smaller telescopes, and bum off your friends to view through their larger telescopes. If it is not ready, why haul the 16? I agree that a 12 incher is just the right size. Going larger often increases the hassle for many to a point where we don't want to bother. That happened to me with a 20 inch and 18 inch Obsession. My 12.5 inch, F5 Portaball is the keeper.  



#11 delgado39

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:36 AM

Hey Jim, I've got an extra dew controller you can use (either a Thousand Oaks or a Dew Buster with temp sensor) and heating strips.  Planning on using my 10" Teeter with Zambuto mirror.  Hope the seeing is good to see what this mirror can do under dark skies.  It would be nice to get your 12" for the trip!!  



#12 jrbarnett

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 06:06 PM

Hey Jim, I've got an extra dew controller you can use (either a Thousand Oaks or a Dew Buster with temp sensor) and heating strips.  Planning on using my 10" Teeter with Zambuto mirror.  Hope the seeing is good to see what this mirror can do under dark skies.  It would be nice to get your 12" for the trip!!  

Thanks Reuben.

 

Let's see how we do with the 12.5".

 

I may just do what I did last time, and bring the 16-incher.  I hope we get a hot weekend soon as the primary needs a bath.

 

Though I'll also probably bring the Atlas and either the AT111EDT or Astrotelescopes 6-incher if I go with the 16-incher, to have a sit down wide field scope for when I get tired of the step ladder.

 

- Jim



#13 spinoza

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 09:13 PM

The most interesting astronomer in the universe doesn't have to decide which scope to take on a dark sky campout, he takes the one that wins the octagon.


Edited by spinoza, 19 August 2014 - 09:32 PM.


#14 Jim T

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:57 PM

I just know that I'd want my 16" if I was spending a LOT of time under pristine skies.  For wide field views I'd relax for a while with my 25x100's in my lounge chair.  Just jealous for the trip you are making. Looking forward to some major star parties one of these days.

 

I actually feel a need for a 12" for quick and dirty outreach.  Quick packing.








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