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Beginner's question about a simple observing set up during the early "learning stage"

beginner equipment observing
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#26 Mr. Mike

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 05:35 AM

I think the motto should be keep it simple.  It's so easy to grab everything, but it's no fun putting it all away at the end of the evening.


For organization, I use SkySafari on my iPad or on my S10+ - lots of information in a little space.  I use a plastic folding work table that you can get at a home improvement store - not too large, but easy to move around that will hold binoculars, the iPad and other bits and pieces.  Then I use a much smaller folding table that just holds my eyepiece case and that I can put near the scope within easy reach of my observing chair.

Yes, my iPad is a great observing tool with sky safari pro and the night vision setting.  I love how you can input eyepiece data and you’ll see right on the charts what will be in your exact FOV.  Makes star hopping easier, IMO.  Then, as others have mentioned, a decent chair, small table, and comfortable clothing rounds it out.  Coffee and water if it’s gonna be a late one. 

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#27 clearwaterdave



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Posted 27 April 2019 - 06:06 AM

I added saddlebags to my chair.,now I know right where my tablet.,glasses.,flashlite and extra ep's are.,

   Keeping it simple.,keeps it simple.,Where have I heard this?

 Good luck.,I don't believe any of us don't "fumble around" in the dark.,lol.,

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#28 ButterFly


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Posted 30 April 2019 - 04:15 PM

You have a nice setup already that will be useful even with larger equipment for its grab-and-go ability.


The planishpere (or some other orienting means) is critical at this stage.  Its usefulness will diminish quickly as you get to know where constellations are in relation to each other.  There is no way around that unless you just start fully go-to and just don't care.  But you don't need to bring it out to the field forever.  Just check what's at meridian at home, then use your book chart's index page to go from there.


Interstellarum is a great match for your binos, but it is very expensive right now (wait for the field edition).  The Sky and Telescope Pocket atlas Jumbo edition is just fine for now at 10% the cost.  One of the best apps for your binos is Heavens Above becuase it shows satellite passes for your location.


With my 25x100s, I bring a thermos, the tripod, the binos, and a music stand for my charts.  A good music stand is VERY portable.  My K&M stand folds up really small, but it doesn't lie completely flat (~30 degree minimum).  You can get stagelight clips for red led lights and a cup holder, though I haven't needed those.  Things that lie flat tend to not fold up smaller.


As your euipment changes, so will the gear.  A compass to do rough alignment for an equitorial mount, a tarp to place the dob on, a computer to control the camera ... .  The only things faster than mounted binos are handheld binos and naked eye, in that order.  Your setup will see a lifetime of use regardless of what other equipment you get down the line.

#29 aeajr


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Posted 30 April 2019 - 06:16 PM

As  you get involved in this hobby  you will have more stuff to carry, to put down and to find.  Here are some ideas to help.


Lighted pens for taking observing notes. - I have these



Table in a bag - I have something similar



I have this dual stalk red light.  Clip it on the table or the hatch of my SUV, one pointing to the ground and one into the back of the car.




Let's take this to the next step.


My actively used accessories, things I take to most observing sessions, live in an empty cat litter bucket (yes, we have a cat)
https://www.amazon.c...t litter bucket


I grab my telescope, my observing chair and the bucket and I am set for then night.  Might grab the table too. Might take two trips depending on which scope I take. 


Bottom of the bucket has a foam pad to soften the ride for the things I carry but generally the bucket is handled gently and not bounced around.  In this bucket lives:

  • 10X50 binoculars
  • Baader Hyperion 8-24 zoom -  bolt case
  • 2" GSO Barlow - box
  • 2” 38 mm Agena Astro 70 degree eyepiece –  box
  • 2” 20 mm Meade 5000 UWA 82 degree eyepiece – box
  • 12V adapter cord for my GoTo scopes
  • Hand control for whatever scope I am using that night if I plan to use the computer feature
  • Spare AA, 9V and button batteries
  • eye patch
  • reading glasses with neck strap
  • Dual stalk clip on red light
  • Clipboard with notebook and paper for observing reports
  • Red lighted pen and regular pencils and pens
  • Bright Star Atlas 2000
  • Orion Moon chart



Also in the bucket is my Orion Eyepiece Belt Case - below is what is in the case - I find it very handy.
https://www.amazon.c...piece belt case

  • 1.25"  2X barlow  
  • 1.25” 2.5X barlow
  • Celestron 8-24 mm zoom 
  • 1.25” ES 82 degree 14, 8.8 and 6.7 mm
  • 1.25” Meade 5000 82 degree 5.5 mm
  • 6 colored filters 
  • 2 moon filters
  • 1 Skyglow filter
  • 1 Nebula
  • 1 OIII filter 
  • 1 Red flashlight
  • Lens cleaning cloth


When I don't bring the table out the bucket sits next to me and my observing pad and clip board are rested on the bucket between notes.

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#30 maknswarf


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Posted 30 April 2019 - 06:27 PM

Even when I am out with my scope, I spend about half my time just looking up enjoying the night sky so a place to sit is good for me. With my new scope, I have to get a new observing chair, the old stool I used is too low, but I use the tailgate of my pick up as table/chair. I also just purchased a clamp on cell phone/tablet mount for my scope as I find it handy to use my phone when observing. There are no rules, make your set up as comfortable as you like.

What cellphone mount did you buy, I've been trying to find one, I use a couple of straps now but they are not as secure as I would like.

Edited by maknswarf, 30 April 2019 - 08:14 PM.

#31 REC


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Posted 06 May 2019 - 02:49 PM

My setup, in my apartment's balcony, deep in the white zone.


The scope is on a 70's stable metal table, that provides the right height for a comfortable stand up observation.

A movable light barrier to protect my eyes from those obfuscating street lights.

A small movable platform to put the keyboard, monitor, mouse, observation log, etc.


An old office chair...

And one of the most important things, setting circles to find my way in these bright skies.











That's a real nice set-up and solution! Setting circles are nice too, you fins things easily with them? Just use the object setting from Stellarium and transfer them to the circles?

#32 Classic8



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Posted 06 May 2019 - 04:36 PM

This might be sacrilege but I always have a regular white-light flashlight that I keep in the car - that I only use when done for the evening, to find the black lens cap I dropped in the grass.

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