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Effect of smoke on optics?

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11 replies to this topic

#1 Gary.McK

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:10 PM

Hi,

 

wondering if anyone has any ideas about the effect of smoke on optics. I'm in Australia, and as you are probably aware we have had some truly horrific fires that are still burning. I live about 300 kms as the crow flies from the fires, but where I live over the last couple of days the smoke here has been horrendous. Visibility was officially down to 1.1km, though my impression was that in the particular area I live it was more like 4-500 metres. I have kept my scopes inside the house with caps on etc. I'm just a little concerned that the smoke will seep in through any gaps and cause damage. Am I being a little too paranoid?

 

cheers

Gary

Geelong Australia



#2 epee

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:21 PM

I think you may be getting paranoid, although, given the events I certainly can't blame you. If there is not enough chemical content to the smoke to endanger you, and we are talking bushfire smoke, I suspect you might get a tad more particulate deposits than you would under normal conditions.

Just keep her covered and it shows be fine.

#3 Stevegeo

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:24 PM

Like many things including pollens,  smoke probably isnt healthy to optics in general.

 

Much like acid rain on paint, hard water in pipes ....  I know you folks down under have it bad right now.

 

To be safe , I would place covers over everything. And plastic bag over that with painter's tape tite on the plastic. Or a rubber band... this will seal out any contamination,  particulates, and fumes.

 

And sit it out.   

 

Hope for the best, be prepared for the worse.

 

Stevegeo Area3751 observatory otisco ny....


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#4 scadvice

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:27 PM

Based on a conversation with a friend who had his gear exposed to the Santa Rosa, California US fire a few years back where he had his optic's covered as you described he had no smoke residue just the smell on the outside of everything for a time.  



#5 macdonjh

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:27 PM

If we were talking about tobacco smoke, I'd be worried about the tar.  But even that would take a long time to build up.

 

I hope you and yours make it through the fires safely.  I wouldn't worry too much about the wood smoke and your optics.  As Stevegeo said, some typical, common-sense precautions will make you feel better: keep your glass covered so particulates to settle on them.



#6 ShaulaB

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:30 PM

Organic molecules in smoke, like from eucalyptus and other aromatic plants, leave sticky residues which take some experimentation to clean off properly. Microscopic particles in smoke may cause sleeks when you go to clean your optics. I worked in chemical labs for decades, and have had experience cleaning glass exposed to junk like what is found in smoke.

 

No, you are not being paranoid. Try to store your mirror in an airtight container until your air quality becomes safe for humans.


Edited by ShaulaB, 14 January 2020 - 03:31 PM.

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#7 vtornado

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:51 PM

I think you are fine with your stuff capped, and if you want to be sure, bag the scopes.

 

In the days of yore folks wood make soap out of wood ash and water.

Combining the ash with water makes potassium hydroxide.

Which I am sure is not so great for optics and or coatings.

 

So IF your optics appear to have a lot of ash/smoke on them,

I would first try to blow everything off with a squeeze bulb,

As Shaula said some smoke may be abrasive, so never wipe when dry.

 

If you can't get everything off with a bulb, before they get wet (dew) ,

I would clean them with a LOT of water or alcohol. 



#8 greenstars3

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 04:07 PM

Gary.McK

 

Please be careful and if you can, create some defensible space around your place so if the fires come your way they may stop before the flames get to your residence. As to the optics, cover them as stated above and if needed use some isopropyl alcohol  when you clean your optics later, Takahashi states clearly never to use ammonia on its optics and this may be good advise on other optics as well. (some solvents have other ingredients such as oils and other things you do not want, make sure that whatever you chose to use is clean and pure)    

Wildland fires are a challenge, I hope it rains for you soon.

 

Robert  



#9 Oregon-raybender

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 04:20 PM

If you can cover the system that the optics are in even better. Just a large trash bag will do, tape to seal. Add extra plastic bags over to layer optics. Smoke should not effect the optics if covered in a sealed container or bag.

 

Be safe.

 

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Edited by Oregon-raybender, 14 January 2020 - 04:26 PM.


#10 Gary.McK

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 04:31 PM

Thanks guys, scopes are inside the house and capped. Predictions are that the smoke will clear our area progressively throughout today, so things will hopefully improve and I can stop worrying about my scopes. Feel a bit silly thinking about a hobby when people are losing their homes and precious forest is being destroyed. I can only wonder what it must be like in the fire areas if smoke is so bad where I am 300km away....

 

cheers

Gary

Geelong Australia



#11 Night shift

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 06:55 PM

Thanks guys, scopes are inside the house and capped. Predictions are that the smoke will clear our area progressively throughout today, so things will hopefully improve and I can stop worrying about my scopes. Feel a bit silly thinking about a hobby when people are losing their homes and precious forest is being destroyed. I can only wonder what it must be like in the fire areas if smoke is so bad where I am 300km away....

 

cheers

Gary

Geelong Australia

Saran wrap. It works very well.


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#12 SonnyE

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:20 PM

You will probably be alright. If you had your telescope(s) set up and the smoke was drifting around you might get some deposits.

If you can get good fire insurance, that might be your best bet.

But I think you are just erring on the side of caution to try and protect your investments.

 

We have two seasons here in California. Brush Growing season, and Brush Fire season.

Right now, while you are in your summer, we are getting lots of rains to grow our bumper crop of fuel.

Then, about your Spring time, we burn up.




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