I’ve come to the realization that I’m not doing much Astronomy because I don’t have a lot of time for it. My backyard isn’t too bad when it comes to light pollution, but it just seems like too much of a chore to carry my 10-inch Dob outside, or to drag my Comet Catcher outside and go through the demanding requirements of plugging in and setting up my antediluvian goto mount. I need something I can use quickly in a 10 minute session when the conditions are especially nice.
So, I’m going to document my construction of the ultimate grab and go system. The term “ultimate” is subjective, so let’s just say that this will meet my definition of “ultimate”, and not yours. My definition of “ultimate” is that this will be cheap to put together, but versatile, and be a true grab and go. Some of you consider a 12-inch SCT to be grab and go, but I don’t. I can always carry my 12-inch dob outside, so this is going to be an in-between.
OK, I want to lay down my plan first. And I’m doing this because I’d love your feedback on my plans as it develops. Also, I’ll be doing this piece by piece, as bargains crop up, so part of the challenge is to keep my cost down but end up with something nice.
The cheapest way to do this is to work with things I already own. I already have a modest eyepiece collection, a laser pointer, laser collimater, rigel quick finder, etc. So I have “stuff”, but no mount…and I’ve never used a dovetail in my life. Dovetails really seem to have gotten popular in the last 10 years.
My original plan was to use my Comet Catcher. It’s a great telescope, and it gives me 140mm of aperture, and it’s a very, very, fast scope, so I can actually see some of the brighter DSO’s with it. The short-coming of the Comet Catcher is it’s so fast that planetary viewing is challenging.
But then I thought, what if I piggy-backed something with a long focal length onto the Comet Catcher? The Comet Catcher is already light weight. What if I pair it with a light weight Maksutov? That would give me a long focal length for planet viewing, and short focal length for DSO’s on one lightweight mount. OK, that’s where you guys come in…how big of a Mak can I put on there?
I just ordered some aluminum rings from the classifieds for my comet catcher. They are a little big, but I can add some padding, or even rubber blocks to it to make them work without scratching up my CC. I’m really interested in getting a light weight alt-az mount for this project. In particular, I’m considering the Twilight mount because it seems sturdy for its weight and it can handle up to 15-pounds. I definitely want to get an Alt-Az because I won’t be polar aligning and I don’t want the associated counter weight. I’ve read that the CC weighs “less than 8 pounds” (I need to weigh mine). That gives me about 7 pounds to work with. I’m considering a 90mm Mak or a 102mm Mak because they weigh in at a scant 3 to 4 pounds, have focal lengths of over 1200mm, and might just be short enough to piggy back on my Comet Catcher. That leaves me another 3 pounds to work with for the rings and dovetails. I figure my rigel quick finder is really light weight, and if I am judicious about the kind of rings and lengths of dovetails used, I can stay under 15 pounds and still have something that won’t wobble. I may need to bolt my rings together to make it sturdy
So what do you think? Would the Mak fit? And this might be a stupid question, but if I piggyback the Mak too low, will I see the edge of the Comet Catcher? Will it overload the Twilight Mount? Should I consider another mount? Has anyone here overloaded their Twilight Mount or piggy backed a Mak onto a Comet Catcher?
Edited by stevereecy, 23 September 2019 - 03:20 PM.