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Getting Astro Gear Through Security

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#1 kfiscus

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Posted 25 January 2024 - 12:15 PM

I am not planning on taking my PST to the eclipse.

 

I was thinking about the stuff that I am planning on taking as carry-on luggage and how easy it would be to demonstrate its innocent nature to an suspicious TSA agent.  I plan on taking an 80mm refractor +/or a 4" Celestron.  (It probably wouldn't do to be heard saying that you were trying to get your C4 through security...).  Then I wondered how hard it would be to convince an alert security person that a PST is a telescope.  You can't see through it at all.  I have no idea what it would show or not show on an X-ray.

 

Just thoughts as I watch 4-8-24 approaching.


Edited by kfiscus, 26 January 2024 - 12:14 PM.

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#2 SkipW

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Posted 25 January 2024 - 03:52 PM

My Questar in a Pelican-like carry-on case mostly sailed through security in 11 instances (I think) on two international round trips. It was really cool looking on the X-ray displays, which were apparently tomographic scans and could be panned and tilted in 3D! The times I could see the screener look at the images, (s)he gave them a thorough look, and from different angles. Maybe three or four times it provoked enough interest that it was flagged and I was at least asked about it ("it's a small astronomical telescope"), and once or twice out of those they asked to open the case (which always elicited "that's beautiful!") No one wanted to look through it or even remove the telescope from its foam cutout in the case. It was mostly transparent in their views, even the metal base.

 

I had removed the three tripod legs (which could potentially be considered weapons, and I didn't want to risk that) and some odds and ends accessories and put those in a checked bag.


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#3 kfiscus

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Posted 25 January 2024 - 04:17 PM

Questars are not my thing but they are gorgeous.


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#4 ismosi

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Posted 01 February 2024 - 09:30 AM

I am not planning on taking my PST to the eclipse.

 

I was thinking about the stuff that I am planning on taking as carry-on luggage and how easy it would be to demonstrate its innocent nature to an suspicious TSA agent.  I plan on taking an 80mm refractor +/or a 4" Celestron.  (It probably wouldn't do to be heard saying that you were trying to get your C4 through security...).  Then I wondered how hard it would be to convince an alert security person that a PST is a telescope.  You can't see through it at all.  I have no idea what it would show or not show on an X-ray.

 

Just thoughts as I watch 4-8-24 approaching.

I traveled with my Lunt 60 in my carry-on for the annular eclipse. My bag went through without additional scrutiny on the way there. However, on the return trip, the TSA agent (in El Paso) wanted to examine the contents of my carry-on. Everything was professional and courteous. I think maybe I used so much packing their detectors couldn't provide a clear image of the contents. Once opened he could tell it was a telescope and was very cautious in its handling and offered to help me repack (which I declined since I had plenty of time to get to my gate).

 

The funniest moment was the agent swabbing the telescope. I asked what that was for. He was swabbing for explosives. So any of you considering a Lunt, rest assured they are explosives free smile.gif


Edited by ismosi, 01 February 2024 - 09:31 AM.

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#5 bosastroguy

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Posted 01 February 2024 - 04:57 PM

I have flown once with my astro equipment.  I carried on my SWSA GTI mount along with some of my other equipment.  I did have my counterweight in that carry on and TSA opened my bag to reveal my counterweight ON the counterweight shaft.  They said it could be used as a weapon.... I never even thought of that.  They allowed me to remove the counterweight from the shaft and let me go through.  They were curious about my equipment so I explained to them it was for astrophotography and they were intrigued.  They were very professional, I cooperated fully and they were great about it. They could have confiscated it.  Next time, I'll put my counterweight and shaft in separate bags.  Also, just a heads up, if you want to bring a powerbank to run your equipment, there are regulations about the sizes.  They have to be under 100 amp hours.  Mine was and they didnt blink and eye about that.  Luckily, I only have to drive to northern Vermont to view/image the eclipse.  Happy travelling and clear skies, especially on 4/8!!!!!. 


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#6 timelapser

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Posted 01 February 2024 - 06:48 PM

They have to be under 100 amp hours.

The limit is 100 watt hours, not amp hours.


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#7 Diana N

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Posted 01 February 2024 - 10:46 PM

I took my PST to New Mexico for the annular eclipse, wrapped in clothes and packed inside a regular soft-sided carryon.  It went through the X-ray machine at security with no issues.  (I checked the tripod.)  I am considering doing the same for the eclipse in April, because it will be a lot of fun to watch the sun in H-alpha during the partial phases of the eclipse.


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#8 Cajundaddy

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Posted 03 February 2024 - 02:16 PM

I have traveled quite a bit with scopes and drives  I check the tripod and anything heavy and carry on the battery pack and optics.  Only once, shortly after 9/11 did a TSA agent inspect my small C-90 scope and want to view through it.  Maybe a dozen flights with no issues.


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#9 timelapser

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 01:12 PM

I had removed the three tripod legs (which could potentially be considered weapons, and I didn't want to risk that) and some odds and ends accessories and put those in a checked bag.

Anyone here have any trouble carrying on a light-to-medium-weight DSLR tripod?  Without spiked feet I can't see it being considered a potential weapon.  I'd hate to have checked bags delayed till after the 8th!



#10 Anhydrite

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 03:32 PM

Anyone here have any trouble carrying on a light-to-medium-weight DSLR tripod?  Without spiked feet I can't see it being considered a potential weapon.  I'd hate to have checked bags delayed....

I have flown with a medium weight metal tripod multiple times as a carry on.  It even has spiked feet...although it also has rubber feet that screw down to cover the spikes.

 

Never had an issue.



#11 Alan D. Whitman

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 04:02 PM

Canjundaddy said: "I have traveled quite a bit with scopes and drives  I check the tripod and anything heavy and carry on the battery pack and optics.  Only once, shortly after 9/11 did a TSA agent inspect my small C-90 scope and want to view through it.  Maybe a dozen flights with no issues."

 

Do you pad the tripod or otherwise protect it? I'm starting to feel remorseful that I am only taking my Canon 15x50 IS binoculars to this long totality. I have an 80mm apo refractor on a Vixen altaz mount. The mount and tripod were only a couple hundred I think (long ago), but I always thought that the tripod would be vulnerable.

 

When I was planning to drive to the path, I did plan to bring both the apo refractor and the image-stabilized binoculars, but I reluctantly have been thinking only the binocs on the flight. It is only one direct flight from Kelowna to Toronto which minimizes baggage-handling. I rarely use the refractor for anything except eclipses, most recently the annular in October.



#12 Cajundaddy

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 10:54 PM

Canjundaddy said: "I have traveled quite a bit with scopes and drives  I check the tripod and anything heavy and carry on the battery pack and optics.  Only once, shortly after 9/11 did a TSA agent inspect my small C-90 scope and want to view through it.  Maybe a dozen flights with no issues."

 

Do you pad the tripod or otherwise protect it? I'm starting to feel remorseful that I am only taking my Canon 15x50 IS binoculars to this long totality. I have an 80mm apo refractor on a Vixen altaz mount. The mount and tripod were only a couple hundred I think (long ago), but I always thought that the tripod would be vulnerable.

 

Yes, I wrapped the tripod and removed and separately wrapped the drive head.  The checked suitcase was fairly sturdy but not a Pelican or anything like it.  All survived without incident.





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