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Portable Light Blocking Panels

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#1 RBTinFL

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 10:59 AM

Kind of unusual equipment, but equipment non the less.

 

While all of us enjoy observing from the darkest sight possible, we can't always just load up and head out each time we may have some time to observe. My semi dark site is a 30 minute drive, the very dark is 60. Many evenings I want to spend some time observing without the drive (falls under the subject of domestic tranquility). I attempt to do as much as I can to even the odds against the LP fight. I have Bortle 6 skies at my house, along with a very pesky streetlight. Two of them actually, but one is REALLY offensive. There are also porch lights and skyglow around the neighborhood.

 

I can set up two, four, or all six, depending on what direction I want to view. Once I get them set up late afternoon, along with all my viewing equipment, I can then sit behind them for extended periods and give my dark adaptation a fighting chance over continually having to look at those light sources. For me, I believe it really helps, especially after the first hour.

 

The other benefit, IMHO, is it keeps my eyes looking up, meaning I get more observing time and I also become more familiar with both the sky and my equipment. Always a good thing. While doing all this is certainly no replacement for dark skies, I believe, for me anyway, the benefit of doing so FAR outweigh the alternative of not observing using the light pollution excuse. I also believe it helps my ability to see objects I would not see if I observe with a blaring streetlight in my face. They do block light. I use #10 duck cloth, PVC and ensure to drill the joints with screws for strength. I pound 36 inch metal stakes with holes in them used for cement work between the panels and zip tie the stakes to the panels and then zip tie the panels together up top. High winds will hamper their use, but overall they are quite sturdy and can be easily torn down. They are very light. I have even transported two to my semi dark site to block out any errant headlamp that may get nosey.

 

Nothing is better than darker skies, but doing what I can to help my ability to see is worth the time and effort, again, for me. I hope some find this approach useful. This is my second round of building these. The first go was 15 years ago up in Alaska. There is a thread with info about costs, materials etc. in the Best Of Beginners forum under light panels from back then for anyone wanting additional info.

 

panelsmall
 

 


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#2 BRIMoPho

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 11:27 AM

I've thought about the same thing, I'm fairly dark for being in a metropolitan area; but, because we're in a rural area we have neighbors that keep some outdoor lights on to help keep coyotes away so there are better spots in my yard than others.  I think being able to selectively block a couple of specific light sources would help open up my yard a little more.



#3 Couder

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 11:48 AM

We had a similar problem, so we made lightweight frames from PVC pipe and my friend's wife sewed black fabric for it. We have several panels we can use at home, or when we go somewhere for a public star party (not currently) we use them to shield the light from the Science Center.

It is 1" PVC pipe, and the fabric attaches with Velcro©. 1 panel fits in bag weighs maybe 15 pounds.

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#4 B 26354

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 12:02 PM

I did this...

 

Driveway Observatory.jpg

 

Here's my thread about it, which garnered a fair amount of collateral discussion:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ay-observatory/

 

grin.gif


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#5 SonnyE

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 12:02 PM

I've done a few things to make my Astro Imaging more pleasant.

First, I use filters to block the sky glow caused by light pollution. I can't control them, but I can control what my camera sees.

Second was patio umbrellas to block specific sources. But my neighbors have realized that their porch lights can be a problem for me. So they don't just leave it on.

And Third was to put a Wall Topper on our back wall, to block out the Condominium complex behind us. Making our back wall 8' 3" high now.

 

Now, if we could just put a switch on the Sun, and a shade on the Moon.....


Edited by SonnyE, 24 January 2021 - 12:05 PM.

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#6 brentknight

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 02:07 PM

The one thing I didn't like about PVC shields was how they store when not in use.  I wanted something that would roll up and fit in a corner...

 

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4 - 7' x 8' shields rolled up in a corner.  32' total coverage.  They attach together with a long piece of black plastic (to cover the gaps) attached to the cross piece with Velcro.

 

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Shelf standards are used to keep the base wide and stable.

 

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From the front.

 

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If it's windy, I use a couple cinder blocks to keep the bases in place.  I've had them out in 10+ mph winds without any issues.

 

Usually, I only need one or two of these setup in my driveway.  But if I need to setup closer to the road, I can setup all 4...

 

I hate having to use these, but it makes my front yard into a reasonable little observatory.

 

 


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#7 RBTinFL

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 03:10 PM

Storing the built panels is an issue. I already have a paver base 2.5ft wide around the sides and the back of the house to put potted plants on, I'm having a block wall built on the back side, 8.5 feet long and 50 inches tall from a corner. The panels will hide behind the wall against the house. In addition, I'm extending the paver walk  that's outside of the pool cage exit door that will be  a flat 8 by 8 feet. Two smaller retaining walls to height on each side and full retaining wall across the back to the same elevation as the door. I'll have permanent tubes buried in all four corners and the halfway points across the back and sides in the pavers. I can place poles into each tube for support of the panels. Easy up, easy down in the morning to keep the HOA and hurricane adjusters happy. I'll put up some pics as it unfolds. I call it my "perch".


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#8 mkothe

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 10:29 PM

I made removable panels from tarps attached to extendable pool poles that fit into 2” PVC pipes sunk into the ground or a concrete-filled bucket. I attached eye hooks to the poles and use carabiners to clip the tarp on. One advantage of these is that they can easily be raised to block streetlights or other high lights. I use small bungees to secure the bottoms and that can be adjusted as needed to reduce wind resistance. For the pole in the bucket I need to attach a rope to a tree to prevent it from falling over due to the weight of the tarp and especially if there is wind. A smaller tarp would probably be fine. 
 

Best,

Michael

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#9 izar187

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 05:31 AM

If one has a few rigid places to attach them, then a few strategically placed clotheslines can work for this also.

I left my lines up year round, and just put away what I hung on them between uses.

But the lines can come down too. 

 

"Kind of unusual equipment, but equipment non the less."

 

Very relevant equipment.


Edited by izar187, 25 January 2021 - 05:35 AM.


#10 StephenH

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:23 AM

I used welding screens. Had two that were 6' x 8' on small dollies. Roll them out of the garage into place and done. Only issue is wind (as with any such device).


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#11 Jarno

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 02:18 PM

Now, if we could just put a switch on the Sun, and a shade on the Moon.....

We already have those, they're called clouds. The only small issue is that we're not the ones in control of them. grin.gif

 

Some interesting ideas here. Being from a country which has both too much light and too much wind, I might well end up building something too.

 

Jarno


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#12 scotsman328i

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 02:58 PM

Another possibility weighing in at $250. 
https://youtu.be/1rL5PzPa-dQ


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#13 CeleNoptic

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 03:34 PM

Hmmm... portable? It depends fingertap.gif  Same as what to consider grab-n-go scope, everybody's mileage vary...

 

To me portable is something like this GigaTent Portable Pop Up Pod, just ~$25. Plus DIY black plastic screen hanging on Work Light stand. Good minimalistic (and cheap) grab-n-go setup, IMO. 


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#14 scotsman328i

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 03:40 PM

Hmmm... portable? It depends fingertap.gif  Same as what to consider grab-n-go scope, everybody's mileage vary...

 

To me portable is something like this GigaTent Portable Pop Up Pod, just ~$25. Plus DIY black plastic screen hanging on Work Light stand. Good minimalistic (and cheap) grab-n-go setup, IMO. 

I know, the possibilities are really only limited by the extent of one’s imagination and or bank account.



#15 jcj380

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Posted 26 January 2021 - 11:46 AM

PVC frame painted black with black, grommet top nylon shower curtains held on by cable ties or shower curtain ringy-things.

 

When on my deck, I now sling a 8-ft steel closet rod (also painted black) onto a couple of planter hooks and slide the curtains onto the closet rod.

 

And, the most technically advanced option, I use spring clamps to hold a large tray-like cardboard box on my deck rail to cut one pesky security light that's far enough away to be at a low angle.  I suppose I should paint the box black or cover it with duck tape to strengthen it, but it hasn't been necessary.

 

I do like the looks of Cele's worklight stand though.


Edited by jcj380, 26 January 2021 - 11:51 AM.



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