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How long does to take for you to get ready to go out?

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#1 joelin



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 01:59 AM

For those that go on day or multi day trips to observe/image, how long does it take for you to be ready?

For a same night trip, it can be about 2 hours. I image and change configurations. I need time to charge batteries, update software, check all my accessories are present. I might go from long focal length galaxies in the spring to short focal length nebula in the summer, all requiring substantial time. I’ll also need time to plan out what I want to see or image that night.

It’s always a bit of a panic as I’m rushing to leave before it gets dark.

For multi night trips then it’s more like 5 hours. I’ll need a lot more time to prepare camping or sleeping equipment.

Unfortunately when I come home I don’t spend anywhere near that unpacking so stuff gets left in the vehicles or living room and it’s a mess.

Hopefully one day my packing time will be more like 15 minutes but I don’t know when or how.

Edited by joelin, 10 August 2020 - 02:00 AM.

#2 luxo II

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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:12 AM

Some time ago I recall a star party where someone had literally thrown all the stuff for a weekend away in the back of a big Landrover. On arrival he opened the back door and it all fell out in a heap, on the ground on a dusty dirt road. Lovely. Quite a mess - bedding, pots, pans, cutlery, clothing, even packets of soup and spaghetti all mixed up with bits of telescope. I tried very hard to keep a straight face but I couldn't help thinking OK, so what sort of mess is his home like.


If the forecast is looking good I make sure the battery phone and laptop are topped up the day before.


From the decision to go mid afternoon, its 30 mins to on-the-road, and 30 mins to set up when I arrive. The drive is either 5 minutes (local park), 15 minutes (club site) or 2h (dark sky club site).


The longest part is making a thermos of tea, donning some thermals and thick socks while the kettle is on, grab beanie, overcoat and a jumper and load the car (5 mins) as the scope, mount and the rest is packed in 5 pieces and stowed on shelving in secure storage, so no problem there.


And just to make you dream, here's how the dark site looks, in mid afternoon. That's 90km of national park all the way to the peak in the far horizon.

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Edited by luxo II, 10 August 2020 - 02:24 AM.

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#3 joelin



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:14 AM

Do you stay with the same setup each time or change it?

#4 sg6



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:18 AM

Batteries I keep charged, software never update just before I go out - new software can have problems.

Accessories are in one trolly bag, have a small card with a list of all that should be in it so an eye and finger pointing exercise to verify all present (batteries are in the trolly bag).


So scope and mount in car, bag, in car.

Small cool box of cold drinks and choccy biscuits, 2 litre bottle of water for coffee. Have a 12v kettle and powered coffee/sugar/milk always in the car as part of an "emergency" kit.

3 red torches, 2 coats, body warmer.


Suppose 30 minutes.

Take longer to select food and coats then equipment. Coats now are lightweight down or heavy weight down, so they are quicker/easier.

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#5 luxo II

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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:26 AM

Do you stay with the same setup each time or change it?

Pretty much the same setup - always the big 10" mak, its mount and so-on. Only options are whether to put the MK66 or a 70mm APO on top for an outreach night, vs the finderscope - and I can take them with me, anyway, as they're also in soft bags ready to go.


One thing that helps is a list pinned up of the bits to pack, in the order you load them in the car.


I have a 6-way van-slyke turret, with the usual eyepieces loaded ready to rock, and that lot sit in a box ready to go so no messing with caps & lids. The mount is an AZEQ6, 15 mins to set up, put the scope on, install the turret and finder, a 1 or 2 star alignment and it's ready.


Portable, redefined:

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Edited by luxo II, 10 August 2020 - 02:40 AM.

#6 Napp



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:37 AM

I organized all my equipment in cases so I just need to grab the appropriate cases for whatever setup I am going with.  I put batteries on their chargers the next morning after I get back from a session.  This makes it quick to load and also helps prevent forgetting something.  I can easily load in about 15 to 30 minutes.  

If I’m going on a multi-day trip then it’s gonna take a lot longer.  I have to check and pack the travel trailer.  A lot more to do and a lot more attention to detail required for safety on the road.

Edited by Napp, 10 August 2020 - 02:39 AM.

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#7 pyrasanth



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:45 AM

......It's a good job I'm not taking the wife with me.....it takes her an hour to get her shoes on.......

#8 Ron-Fr


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Posted 10 August 2020 - 03:08 AM

I've got everything, an NEQ6, the C8 and all the astrophotography gear ready in a cart that I bought on Amazon. Everything is packet inside and ready to go. On D-day, I push the cart into the elevator (I'm on the third floor) and from the elevator to the car. Once everything is into the trunk, I'm ready to drive the 45-60 minutes that it takes me to get to a bortle 3 (-ish) 4 spot.


From then, I need 30 minutes to get the setup ready and polar aligned.


The same ritual takes place at the end of the session. The next day I charge the batteries, clean what needs to be cleaned and put everything into the cart again, ready for the next session.


Years in the military helps you get organized.

#9 clearwaterdave


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Posted 10 August 2020 - 03:47 AM

Boy am I glad I have dark skies at home.,I am visual only so it's.,"ok.,which scopes come out tonight.,".,Then I either roll out a dob.,mount a frac.,or carry out the OneSky.,battabing battaboom.,oh.,don't forget the comfortking observing chair.,lol.,

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#10 DaveHume


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Posted 10 August 2020 - 07:58 AM

For me, the day trip is pretty simple as all my gear is in cases.  So about the only thing I need to be certain of are batteries charged, seating, food, and drink.  For overnight trips, I have a packing list like others just to triple check that I have everything. 


I think packing for the return and unpacking once home might be the most important step for me at least.  Two things, making sure I remember to pack everything up and once home going over all the gear tidying up and cleaning anything that requires it.

#11 BlueMoon


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Posted 10 August 2020 - 08:20 AM

5 minutes. Telescope case in one hand, Porta II Tall+ in the other, laptop satchel slung over my shoulder. Into my 1996 E-150 Travel Wagon for an overnight. I keep some water and power bars in the van for late night snacking so down the road I go.


I'm fortunate to live in a Bortle 3 rural area so most of my observing is backyard. On those nights where I want to:

A) Have darker skies 

B) Just want to get out of the house for the night

there's a Bortle 2 site that stretches horizon to horizon less than an hour away.


Cheers and Clear Skies.

Edited by BlueMoon, 10 August 2020 - 12:53 PM.

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#12 Ron-Fr


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Posted 10 August 2020 - 08:43 AM


I'm fortunate to live in a Bortle 3 rural area (...) there's a Bortle 2 site that stretches horizon to horizon less than an hour away.


I just fainted a bit.

#13 kfiscus


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Posted 10 August 2020 - 12:10 PM

15 minutes.  12" dob, EQ platform, EP case, Misc case, atlas.

#14 psandelle



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 12:47 PM

I image, which means lots of stuff, but everything's in cases or bags in my closet. I top off the batteries the night before, then if the weather's still good the next morning, I lay all my gear out in the living room in the same spots each time. Then it's about 30 minutes or less to load in the car later in the afternoon. Drive 60 minutes to the mountains, get off the freeway and stop at the Subway to pick up two sandwiches for the night (not with the pandemic now, though), then drive the last 15 minutes to the site and set up early in the same order I always do, eat one of my sandwiches, and chat with whoever is there (though with the pandemic, I just glare at everyone and threaten to taser them if they get near me; they think I'm a hoot!). I load out in the same order every time, too, drive home (though it's MUCH faster coming back grin.gif), put all my cases and bags back in the living room, get some sleep, then later that morning put everything back in the closet after charging the batteries and transferring my subs to my main computer. Everything (regardless of rig) is done the same way each time in the same order. I do have a cold weather bag that I will add in the fall and winter, but it's all pretty much the same. For longer trips, I add my cot-tent and sleeping bag and solar panels, but, again, same thing each time.



#15 Eddgie



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 01:02 PM

I keep my 12" dob in a corner under my covered patio and can move it out to the patio and be looking at the moon in less than 2 minutes


Because it is stored outside 24/7, the Dob is provides the fastest setup I have ever had.  It takes me longer to set up my 106mm Apo.


The Lunt 80 also sets up in under 2 minutes.  As with the dob, the mount for it is outside 24/7, and with that mount, it just sits on the patio uncovered in the elements.  It is holding up well.  If it took much more time to set up than this, I probably would not do as much solar observing as I do.  I considered a Lunt 100, but what kept me with the 80 was the light and cheap mount that I can abuse and not have to feel guilty about it.  Most of the time it sits out in the sun, wind, sleet, hail, or dark and I never do anything to it. It just endures it all.  To observe, I just grap the 80 from inside, walk out, slip it into the saddle, pull up my chair, and away I go.  The binoviewers and eyepieces are deducted to the telescope so I never take them off. This makes a big difference in deployment time because everything I need is in my hands the moment I pick it up.







The 12" dob has been stored on the corner in the patio for over 7 years.  It is like a Jeep. You don't  need to keep it pretty for it still to be awesome to use.


Dob small.jpg


My most used gear is my Mod 3 night vision binocular.  There is really no setup at all.  I just walk out and turn it on, and I can see Barnard's Loop from my yard.  Hardly a night goes by where there are not clouds that I don't go out and observe with my Mod 3 binocular.




The best way to make sure your stuff gets used as much as possible is to make it as easy as possible to use.





Edited by Eddgie, 10 August 2020 - 01:23 PM.

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#16 Eddgie



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 01:10 PM

And I have to say, the dob has held up well.  The thing that did the most damage to it was that I set it out late one afternoon and while it was not a hot day, the sun was still hitting it.  I went in and came out half an hour later to look at the early moon, and the sun had crinkled up the thin vinyl covering on the MDF base and the shrinkage caused the seams at the edges to open up to expose the MDF.  Ok, so it is not pretty, but that was 5 years ago, and there is no swelling of the MDF.


Also, about four years ago, we had a horrible flood and the patio was under a foot of water.  The entire ground board and Azimuth drive motor housing with motor, gears, and electronics was submerged for two hours. After it dried out, it worked fine.   Yeah..  The Jeep of telescopes. the perfect telescope for the boys or girls that don't want to have to baby all their stuff. It sits there and takes it all, and can ready to go in two minutes.  Now again, it is in under the covered patio and tucked into a corner, so normal rain does not get to it, but otherwise it is out there every day and has been for seven years. 


Before the dob I had a Celestron C14 on a CGE mount and a 6" Apo.  Eveyone thinks they want a big refractor, but my experience is that it was almost as much trouble to put out as the C14 and after seven or eight years, I was pretty tired of setting the C14 up. Because it could not be moved easily or stored outside, it had to go. The Apo had to go simply because it was a lot of money for something that was not all that rewarding to use for most deep sky stuff, and a pain to set up. As badly as I wanted it when I got it, in the end, it was one of my least used telescopes.  I sold it to pay for my Night Vision Depot Micro night vision monocular. Now that was a fantastic move.   Best thing I ever did in astronomy.  

Edited by Eddgie, 10 August 2020 - 01:16 PM.

#17 SonnyE



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Posted 10 August 2020 - 02:50 PM

I don't travel much for viewing. (Imaging)

But when I do, I pack up in our RV, so I have lots of room.

My set up is in "chunks", because I do move it out and back in every night.

Four main parts, Tripod, Column and RA, Dec assembly, and Telescope Et Al.

Each is easily manageable for me, so far. The tripod I will often leave set up and covered. (At home, or away camping) And it makes things easier for the next night.

But home or away, my "Chunking" works fine.


Rough estimate, 20 minutes to set up.

My Polar Align is quite different than most. I simply center Polaris in my imaging telescope, then run my modeling (Alignment) until I get stars centering with my crosshairs. I can do this with the Gemini II, but with my previous AVX Nexstar I was limited to 2+4 stars. I'm seeing much better slews.

But maybe 30-60 minutes because I actually have fun with it.

So, what? 1.5 hours, to maybe 2 hours because I'm enjoying myself and I'm anal?


Then I go hunting. Which isn't very fair. It's a pretty much a can't miss.

Edited by SonnyE, 10 August 2020 - 02:54 PM.

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