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Backpacking Scope

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#1 mrelliot

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:08 AM

Hi, I'm an avid backpacker, and I usually take my trusty 10x50's whenever I go out... But they always seem to leave much to be desired. So whats a good scope thats small and light enough to stick in my backpack or put in a case and tie to my pack? I'm not picky about glass or anything. 

Thanks



#2 stevenf

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:22 AM

Check this thread for some ideas:

 

http://www.cloudynig...r-back-country/



#3 GOLGO13

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 03:45 PM

I really like my Televue 60mm for this. I have it mounted on a Univeral Astronomics Dwarfstar and a fairly compact Giottos camera tripod.

 

Total weight is probably around 10 pounds.

 

the scope supports 11x-120x easily. A bit limited in aperture but we are talking as small and light as possible.

 

Sometimes they come up used for a very good price (around $400).

 

An ST80 is another option on the cheaper side of things, but not as compact.

 

Keep in mind the mounting for this...to me that makes a big difference.

 

The only downside the TV60mm for me is I'm using it for a lot of my observing because it's so easy to setup and use.



#4 Sarkikos

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 09:34 AM

The C80ED on sale at Astronomers Without Borders for $349 would be nice.  An ST80 would be less than half as much and much less than half as nice.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 20 August 2014 - 09:35 AM.


#5 stevenf

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 10:24 AM

I can't imagine backpacking the C80ED plus a mount for any kind of distance. Especially with all your camping gear. The ST80 is compact enough but there's a very significant weight difference between the ST80 and the celestron/orion travel scope/go scope II due to the plastic focuser on the TS70. I've humped both these scopes in a backpack this year and the TS70 was much easier to deal with. There are some variants of the ST80 out there with a plastic focuser Sky Watcher made one, I think the iOptron 80mm is also plastic, One of these might be better (lighter) in the backpack. 


Edited by stevenf, 20 August 2014 - 10:25 AM.


#6 tigerroach

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 04:06 PM

TV-60 on a carbon fiber camera tripod.



#7 jrbarnett

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 06:35 PM

C5 with a UA Dwarfstar head and the cheapest, lightest photo tripod you can find that will still stabilize the load.

 

- Jim


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#8 stevenf

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 08:09 PM

I've never seen this ST80 before. From Celestron. Looks like it has a plastic focuser too.:

 

http://www.bhphotovi...ml/prm/alsVwDtl

 

This 70mm Barska looks very light too. Would need a better tripod but only $65.

 

http://www.bhphotovi..._Telescope.html


Edited by stevenf, 20 August 2014 - 08:13 PM.


#9 HBNorm

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:10 AM

How about an Astro-Tech AT-65EDQ?  Small, light, well built, and great optics...

 

Clear skies!

 

Norm



#10 orlyandico

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 03:15 AM

one of the various 80mm f/6 carbon tubes?  the 80mm f/7 are about 17.5" long with dewshield collapsed, so kind of un-handy in a backpack.  The f/6 would be 3" shorter - about 14" - so better.



#11 Sarkikos

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 07:00 AM

I can't imagine backpacking the C80ED plus a mount for any kind of distance. Especially with all your camping gear. The ST80 is compact enough but there's a very significant weight difference between the ST80 and the celestron/orion travel scope/go scope II due to the plastic focuser on the TS70. I've humped both these scopes in a backpack this year and the TS70 was much easier to deal with. There are some variants of the ST80 out there with a plastic focuser Sky Watcher made one, I think the iOptron 80mm is also plastic, One of these might be better (lighter) in the backpack. 

 

It depends on the mount. You don't need a GEM.  You don't need an AT Voyager or Vixen Porta Mount. Don't even think about it.

 

My C80ED works very well on my 501HDV head on a Bogen tripod.  IME, the C80ED itself is relatively light and is short enough to fit in a medium-sized backpack. C80ED on 501HDV and Bogen tripod is a very light, easy-to-carry setup. I can carry it in one hand out-the-door, down my steps and around to the back of my building.  I don't see any problem carrying the C80ED in a backpack, sling the mount  and a fold-up camping stool across my shoulders and walk a mile or more to an observing site.

 

I replaced the focuser in my ST80 with a metal 2" Crayford. I'd have to weigh the two, but I think my ST80 is a bit heavier than the C80ED.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 21 August 2014 - 07:04 AM.


#12 MooEy

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 07:38 AM

I just chuck the borg 71FL, manfrotto 410(or stellarvue m1) and feisol ct3401 tripod into my backpack. Accessories include a green laser pointer with finder bracket, vibration supression pads, tak 1.25" diagonal, radian 18mm, radian 8mm, tak le 2.8mm. I prefer to bring the lighter borg 7835 focuser instead of the ftf-m57 for trips. The lens and focuser unscrews nicely from the main tube and makes it alot easier to pack. Most of the stuff goes into small little ziplock bags, wrapped by my clothings. Get those eyepiece bottles with foam inserts to store your eypieces. Small enough to disappear into your backpack, with optics that doesn't disappoint. And yes, I have hand carried all these this up a plane before, including the tripod and my other belongings. 

 

Now I just have to wait for my 90FL to arrive...

 

~MooEy~


Edited by MooEy, 21 August 2014 - 08:08 AM.


#13 Sarkikos

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:09 AM

My grab-n-go eyepiece set for the C80ED is a little camera gear case with Baader 8-24 Zoom, Nag 3-6 Zoom, Pan 24 and XO 5.1

 

Mike



#14 stevenf

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:58 PM

 

I can't imagine backpacking the C80ED plus a mount for any kind of distance. Especially with all your camping gear. The ST80 is compact enough but there's a very significant weight difference between the ST80 and the celestron/orion travel scope/go scope II due to the plastic focuser on the TS70. I've humped both these scopes in a backpack this year and the TS70 was much easier to deal with. There are some variants of the ST80 out there with a plastic focuser Sky Watcher made one, I think the iOptron 80mm is also plastic, One of these might be better (lighter) in the backpack. 

 

It depends on the mount. You don't need a GEM.  You don't need an AT Voyager or Vixen Porta Mount. Don't even think about it.

 

My C80ED works very well on my 501HDV head on a Bogen tripod.  IME, the C80ED itself is relatively light and is short enough to fit in a medium-sized backpack. C80ED on 501HDV and Bogen tripod is a very light, easy-to-carry setup. I can carry it in one hand out-the-door, down my steps and around to the back of my building.  I don't see any problem carrying the C80ED in a backpack, sling the mount  and a fold-up camping stool across my shoulders and walk a mile or more to an observing site.

 

I replaced the focuser in my ST80 with a metal 2" Crayford. I'd have to weigh the two, but I think my ST80 is a bit heavier than the C80ED.

 

Mike

 

 

 

I just put the Travel Scope 70 side by side with the C80ED and you're right. The C80ED is only about twice as big. Heavier yes but depending on the trip it could be doable. If the main point of the trip is to get to dark skies I could pack minimal enough to fit the C80ED plus a VersaGo II head on a camera tripod. But if astronomy was a side activity to the main trip I think the TS70 would win out. Small enough that I don't have to think twice about packing it and can take on every trip, plus cheap enough that if it gets thrashed it won't hurt too much. 

 

I'm headed out to some dark skies in a kayak this weekend. Thinking of trying to fit my Skywatch 5" collapsible dob in there somewhere.



#15 DocFinance

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 04:35 PM

I've never seen this ST80 before. From Celestron. Looks like it has a plastic focuser too.:

 

http://www.bhphotovi...ml/prm/alsVwDtl

The Tasco/Celestron ST80 I got a few years ago (as part of a NexStar 80) has a cast metal focuser - it's the heaviest part of the tube.  That one looks identical.  Still, I wouldn't hesitate to pack that scope because it's pretty tough.  Telescope Warehouse sells both the Tasco and Celestron soft cases for them, but I'd want something with more padding I think.


Edited by DocFinance, 21 August 2014 - 04:40 PM.


#16 Patrick

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 06:05 PM

Hi, I'm an avid backpacker, and I usually take my trusty 10x50's whenever I go out... But they always seem to leave much to be desired. So whats a good scope thats small and light enough to stick in my backpack or put in a case and tie to my pack? I'm not picky about glass or anything. 

Thanks

 

 

Well, my opinion is that if you're going to actually carry glass while backpacking, you might as well carry good glass.  :)  My suggestion would be the Stellarvue SV60APO.  The really tough part of this setup is the mount.  Once you get over 10x or so, handholding it becomes out of the question.  Now, if you can keep the magnification down, then handholding while sitting down with the scope cradled in your arms can work.  Otherwise, you'll be carrying a lightweight tripod as well.  Have you considered a 300mm telephoto lens with an eyepiece adapter? 

 

I just did a google search and came across this: Telephoto Lens Eyepiece Adapter! :cool:  They call it the Ultra Light Backpacking Telescope!

 

Patrick


Edited by Patrick, 21 August 2014 - 06:11 PM.


#17 mrelliot

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:26 PM


I just did a google search and came across this: Telephoto Lens Eyepiece Adapter! :cool:  They call it the Ultra Light Backpacking Telescope!

 

Patrick

 

Thats a great idea! I'm actually a photographer so that works perfect! I might try that!



#18 SpaceNetworks

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:41 PM

I have a Vixen A80SS 80mm f/5 refractor and other gear in a Rick Steves’ convertible carry-on travel bag.  Now all I need to do is finish rehabbing from a recent surgery so I can get it out in the field.

Attached Files



#19 jrbarnett

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 12:30 PM

Hmm, if you're going to go to the trouble of lugging along optics to a remote, hike-in, dark site, I'd think you'd want the most APERTURE you could conveniently carry.  Why?  Simple.  It's pointless to fight your way to such a site to observe double stars and the planets.  Your views of those targets from your suburban back yard are just as good as they will be from your nighted perch.  DSOs are the entire point of making your way to a dark site, or nearly so, and for DSOs I'd rather have a fair to middling 4" or 5" scope than a top quality 2.4" scope.

 

Enter the C5 if you can swing it.  The OTA is the size of a medium coffee can and weighs about the same as a fast 2.4" to 3" refractor.  It will ride on the same mount as such a scope.  It will cost no more than such a scope.  It will have between 2.5x and 4x the light grasp of such scopes.  For DSOs it will pummel them into shards of glassy sand.  But wait, what's that I hear?  It doesn't do wide field?  To which I respond, it does eide enough field to make target acquisition easy on an alt-az mount.  A 32mm Plossl in such a scope delivers about 1.3 degrees of true field of view.  You won't get the whole Pleiades in a single field, but everything smaller in angular diameter than that - which is most everything DSO - will be nicely enough framed.

 

As an added bonus, it operates as a HUGE daytime spotter.  You can pump up the magnification well beyond ordinary spotting scope range, and not suffer dimming and image breakdown.

 

- Jim



#20 stevenf

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:28 PM

But on the other hand, sometimes after having fought my way to a remote, dark site, I'm so overwhelmed by the amount of stars in the sky that I sometimes don't want to just be viewing a sliver of it through a telescope. I want the huge, expansive views I get with my own eyes. 

 

I really think the right scope for backpacking depends on the nature of the trip then it may be worth it to drag out aperture (plus corresponding mount), if the trip is focused around star gazing (and that's a perfectly worthy goal of a hiking trip, imho). If not, then humping an extra 10lbs of scope and mount up a mountain might exhaust you enough that you're asleep right after the sun sets



#21 Hesiod

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:56 PM

http://astrob.in/80088/0/

http://astrob.in/80091/0/ (the tiny blue backpack is only to provide a "scale")

 

This is my backpack stuff. The OTA is a 66/400, a bit on the heavy side for such a small telescope (about 2kg). It can provide huge tfov even with light, small 1.25", in my opinion a clear advantage over the 90/1250 (which however is smaller and lighter). The same could be told of ST-80: wonderful rich-field telescope.

 

I like the short refractor more also as spotting scope: large tfov to detect animals, and fast f/ to have bright e.p. even at dusk (and too high magnifications do not cope well with my rather unstable tripod).



#22 mogur

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 06:36 PM

C5 with a UA Dwarfstar head and the cheapest, lightest photo tripod you can find that will still stabilize the load.

 

- Jim

Well, a C-5 is certainly a nice little scope, but perhaps a bit big when you consider that you would want to wrap it in some padding. However, one of the smaller 90 or 100mm MAKs would be a good option. Certainly easier to get some magnification for the moon and planets than any short refractor, probably more durable, and with a reducer added capable of some decent wide-field views!



#23 GOLGO13

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 07:23 PM

I think a C5 is a good grab and go scope...but for backpacking I rather use my TV60. It's a great spotting scope also. Just a heck of a lot lighter of a setup overall. And more compact as well.

 

But I do agree 60mm is a bit limited in aperture. It's nice in a dark sky with it's wide field of view, but still limited.

 

Another option would be some 15x50 Canon IS binoculars...or just normal 10x50 binoculars. Could even take both the binos and a small 60-70mm refractor.



#24 drollere

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 08:18 PM

orion sells a star max 90mm mak cass with tripod, three eyepieces and a finder, 9.25 pounds total weight, for $300.

 

it might make more sense to just get the OTA with a tripod you can use for scope, camera and binocular. this may make the binocular more attractive to use, and let you get more out of it.

 

problem is, i'd still take the binocular for birding, wildlife, scrutinizing scramble paths, and so on. so i'd try to love the binoculars and leave it at that. unless you have a steady comfortable tripod you're not going to get much out of high magnification, and you may find that mountain turbulence favors a wide, low magnification view.



#25 jrbarnett

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:31 PM

I think a C5 is a good grab and go scope...but for backpacking I rather use my TV60. It's a great spotting scope also. Just a heck of a lot lighter of a setup overall. And more compact as well.

 

But I do agree 60mm is a bit limited in aperture. It's nice in a dark sky with it's wide field of view, but still limited.

 

Another option would be some 15x50 Canon IS binoculars...or just normal 10x50 binoculars. Could even take both the binos and a small 60-70mm refractor.

The difference between a TV-60/DwarfStar setup and C5/DwarfStar setup is just 3 pounds.  The C5 is just 11" long; only 1" longer than the TV-60.  The C5 gathers 4.5x the amount of light of the TV-60, too.  Put another way, for a guy living under Mag 4 Suburban skies, taking a C5 out to Mag 7 or better dark skies is like using a 10-incher at home.  The TV-60 under those same skies, is like having a 5-incher at home.

 

The C5 really is a shockingly small and light package for its aperture.

 

- Jim


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