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Equipment Discussions >> Equipment

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Cotts
Just Wondering
*****

Reged: 10/10/05

Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: careysub]
      #6037004 - 08/20/13 05:53 PM

Quote:

If you want to take an observing trip to Chile to see the southern skies, one thing to consider is renting time on a telescope that is already there.

The Atacama Lodge looks like a good bet:
http://www.spaceobs.com/en/telerent.php
http://www.spaceobs.com/en/tour.php

They have 13" and 18" Dobs, and a 24" Dob that is available after their nightly star tour, with Nagler and Ethos EPs.

Of course pre-arrangement would be needed to assure that you have the access you want.

Then all you would need to pack would some small instrument(s) and not need to "go big", say 40-50mm binoculars and and an 80 mm refractor. Or a 4.5" StarBlast with a Siebert coma corrector and light weight rebuilt base (replacing particle board with a lightweight core/plywood skin composite).

I am seriously considering this plan myself.




And it is by far the best plan for a trip to Chile, as the OP is considering. I went to Atacama lodge in 2010 and rented the 24" for 4 nights. It was $90 a night - two of us shared the cost and became observing buddies.

Alain has a great variety of scopes from 4" TAK to the 24" (more than he mentions on the website, in fact). Email him and work something out.

I enjoyed my trip so much I'm going again in late March of 2014. I'll rent either the 18" or the 24" for four nights (as stated above the 24" is only available after midnight because of its use for his sky tour business while one can book an 18" for entire evenings). The other four nights I'm going to use an AT65EDQ on an iOptron ZEQ 25 and a small, sturdy tripod of some sort. I will bring the latter set-up with me in my luggage.

Dave


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Mirzam
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: careysub]
      #6037007 - 08/20/13 05:53 PM

My scope along with books, flashlites, eyepieces, laser, etc was about 85 lbs. I used a Pelican-like case for about 60 percent of it and put the rest into suitcases with clothing. Eyepieces and the secondary were carried on.

Flying from US to Brazil the airlines allow (2) 70 lb bags so there were no additional fees. The leg to Chile had a limit of one 50 lb bag so I had to pay for a second bag, which was around $120 each way. This price was determined by the number of kilos, not a flat rate per bag.

I also built a sturdy box for transporting the primary that could be taken as carry-on or could be tossed into a suitcase with clothes for padding. It worked fine either way.

Sure there are plenty of things that could go wrong, but that is part of the adventure. The additional luggage costs are minor in the context of the overall trip costs.

All of this takes work and planning but is most definitely worthwhile if you can make such a trip:

Four perfect nights in Chile

JimC


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: retina boy]
      #6037173 - 08/20/13 07:15 PM

"So I have a few questions:"

And I have a few answers.

1. Would you try to do photography? Taking pictures increases the complexity by requiring a mount, camera etc but would allow you to keep memories of the trip."

Nah. I'd take pictures of people and daytime scenes. Bugger astro-imaging on holiday. Enjoy the dark night skies mano-a-mano, amigo. Imaging entails a decently sized mount and suddenly is not so conducive to airline transport.

"2. What would you take for a scope? Would you do binoculars for portability, a refractor for versatility, or a take apart dob for light gathering ability?"

For visual, none of the above. Well, okay, I'd probably find a way to squeeze some binoculars into the suitcase with everything else somehow, but on the all-important "aperture per cubic inch of luggage space" metric refractors and Dobs FAIL equally in inefficiency. What you need is as much aperture as possible in as little volume as possible, and that means CATADIOPTRIC.

I'd snag a C5 spotter, personally. You can pad the heck out of it by wrapping the OTA in clothing, or if you have a really big suitcase, you could put it and your other visual accessories in the padded semi-hard case that comes with the OTA, inside your suitcase for extra protection. It'll run you about $400. You'll want to add a 1.25" star diagonal because it comes with a 45-degree correct image diagonal for daytime spotting. You'll then want three eyepieces; a widest true field low power unit (24mm 68-degree or 32mm 50-degree) as your finder eyepiece, something in the 10-12mm focal length range for medium magnification, general DSO observing, and something in the 7-8mm range for high power (busting globulars, splitting doubles, moon, planets, etc.). I also hate straight through finders, so I'd replace the stock finder with an Orion finder shoe and an Orion RACI finder (probably 6x30 is ideal as it gives a 7-degree true field which under dark skies helps you find targets better than a 9x50 with only a 5-degree true field).

"3. What would you use for a mount? Driven or alt az? Would you bother with DSCs? (They may be useful to find objects under unfamiliar skies in a limited amount of time)"

For airline travel, I'd take any GOTO mount and any DSC-equipped mount off my list. You'll want a solid alt-az head capable of carrying the compact but decent diameter C5, that is directionally agnostic (you want to be able to reach zenith with it and keep the focuser knob in a decent orientation, so you want an al-az head that will mount a vixen rail on the right side of the centerline of the head (which will put the rail on the OTA on the left and the focuser knob on a C5 straight down below the diagonal - perfect).

I'd hurry up and see if I could get a Desert Sky Astro DSV-1 or DSV-2 head by the time of my trip if I were you. They are made to order. And then you'll need a tripod that is compact enough to fit in the suitcase but hefty enough for the C5 and DSV mount head. I'd look for something that has legs with locking spreaders like the old Bogen 3068 tripods. You want a minimum of about 20# tripod capacity for the head and OTA. Also be sure that the DSV head it tapped the same as the stud threads on the tripod you choose, or else that you can get a thread adapter for the tripod stud.

I'd also get a decent UHC or OIII filter in 1.25" format for the trip.

Regards,

Jim


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retina boy
sage
*****

Reged: 11/20/06

Loc: Bryan, Texas
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #6037432 - 08/20/13 10:50 PM

Very thoughtful replies guys thank you. I was really looking for a generalized airline travel scope package. The trip to Chile is really a thought provoker but something that could work elsewhere would also be a benefit.

The obvious best solution would be to rent a large aperture scope that is already there. I will take that as the default winner. However many trips I plan to go to locations where there are no scopes available. So what do you do then? My main options, a small refractor or a take apart dob both received votes. I did not expect the votes for a small catadioptric like a C6. That is quite interesting. I have a C8 that I love and use frequently. It however does not do much for wide field views. A C6 would not be wide field either but would certainly give you a compact observing package.

I think I am in agreement on no photography route. It just seems like so much muss and fuss and you're probably likely to get good quality photos in other ways.

In general I am star hopper but I still remain concerned about how well I would be able to find objects under completely unfamiliar skies that are much darker than I'm used to. Initially I will try to man up and go without the electronics.

Since I am always highly susceptible to aperture fever, the idea of a lightweight take part dob certainly seems like seductive option for the ultimate airline travel scope.


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: retina boy]
      #6037444 - 08/20/13 10:58 PM

Here's something to consider. It will actually be easier to star hop the brighter stuff under dark skies than under light polluted skies. This is because many of the brighter DSOs will be directly and/or avertedly visible to the naked eye under dark skies, and will also be much brighter and more obvious in a magnified finder. For dim stuff in a crowded region, it's easy to get lost in a sea of stars, but I think you'll have an easier time locating the showcase targets (Messiers, brighter Herschels, etc.).

- Jim


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Pinbout
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: retina boy]
      #6037490 - 08/20/13 11:29 PM Attachment (3 downloads)

Quote:

However many trips I plan to go to locations where there are no scopes available.




I throw my 127f5.5 frac into my tennis bag with the dvs-1 head and the bogen lays across the top. 2" 30mm 70* is a great inexpensive eyepiece for general viewing, much better alot corrected than binos. and if you want binos thru some wo binos into the tennis bag its big enough for it.


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Pinbout
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: Airline travel scope for a major dark sky trip new [Re: Pinbout]
      #6037495 - 08/20/13 11:34 PM

and I still have to test this one. it packs pretty tight. just have to lock all the hardware inside and I'll be good to go.



with my 8in scope



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