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Helping on losing weight

Refractor Mount Astrophotography
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#1 MVoltae

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 09:33 AM

I have reached an age (soon to be 83) at which the weight of some of my favorite setups have become increasingly difficult to manage.  Cataract surgery has fixed my cloudy eyesight, but my arthritis, though generally manageable, has no solution. As a result, it has become somewhat difficult to put together and later disassemble and store my basic setups - tripod (13lbs), Celestron CG4 German equatorial mount (10lbs), counterweight (usually 10lbs), SW ED100 and Diagonal (9.5lbs).  Mounted on this platform is a Quark Chromosphere, Lunt CaK or Lunt Wedge, together with various fittings, adaptors and cameras (ZWO ASI174 or ASI1600).  For visual, I use WO binoviewers (25 and 32mm TV Plossyls). I need to manage less weight.

 

As a first step I would like advice on downsizing to a lesser weight refractor and mount, keeping price somewhat in mind. I myself have been thinking of the SW EVOLUX 62mm refractor (5.5 lbs).  It would get me to F27 with the Quark for observing and a FOV of 0.74 which would give me a full disc with some room for proms. I welcome your comments and other suggestions.

 

With regard to a matching mount, I have no idea and would appreciate suggestions.


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#2 Terra Nova

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 10:05 AM

I’m seventy four and sold my house a year ago and moved into a condo to make my life easier and more manageable. In the process, I have gone through a major downsizing of my equipment, this includes several heavy German equatorial mounts, and my telescopes with an aperture of greater than 4 inches. I still love to observe but everything I have now needs to be easily carried as my observing is confined now to either my 5’x12’ balcony, my building’s rooftop patio, or down the hall of my floor to the elevator and down to our parking garage and my vehicle for offsite viewing. I love to do regular solar observations, weather permitting, and especially now that the Sun has finally and once again gotten so active. To this end, I wanted a very quick and easy setup. I recently purchased a TV60 for quick and easy white-light observations. I was using it just the other day. The tripod and Wimberley gimble mount weighs around 10 pounds max. The counterweight for added stability is 4 pounds. The telescope is five pounds or less and the Baader filter around two ounces.

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_9175.jpeg

Edited by Terra Nova, 02 March 2024 - 10:08 AM.

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#3 MalVeauX

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 10:06 AM

Hi Jordan,

 

First, awesome that you've circled our star almost 83 times! shakecane.gif

 

When you're already working with 10lb, 13lb, 9lb, etc, items, you're going to be hard pressed to shed a lot of weight without getting into exotic costly things made of different lighter materials. So instead of trying to suggest something expensive that saves you 2~3lbs perhaps, I wonder, would you be open the idea of a mini-observatory? Or just the idea of a permanently setup mount in a location for use, maybe with a small scope installed, where you just walk out with a case with your filters and binos/eyepieces and/or cameras? That would shed all the weight down to just your filters, eyepieces, cameras. It would also shed setup and tear down time and maximize your viewing/imaging time and more time means more lucky imaging or seeing moments. This doesn't have to be a big elaborate structure. It can literally just be a push away set of walls and lid or a pre-made garden shed that rolls away or just the lid opens up and the scope can see out, etc. You can get real creative with any ideas. Maybe just something that can handle getting some snow based on where you are.

 

For notes:

 

AT80ED is 6lbs

AT72ED II is 4.8lbs (FPL53)

AT60ED is 3.25lbs (FPL53)

 

For a mount, maybe switch to an alt-az. No counter weight. No shaft. None of your gear needs to be on EQ for weight, so the EQ mount would be just for the purpose of preference of operation. Alt az is still very intuitive and simple for solar system, at course image scale it's totally fine. Field rotation isn't a problem if you keep it under 30 seconds at course image scale and software handles it no problem. The tripod and counter weights are where the weight is at. Alt az mount heads are generally light. You could swap to a Vixen Porta mount head and put it on a pier as described below and never carry the mount out ever again, just your scope and filters and stuff.

 

At the very least, you could also just do a yard pier. The pier stays put. You put your mount on it (CG4 for example) and leave it out there, covered, with maybe something like a TG365 cover (or just a heavy duty grill cover). Then you're only carrying your small scope, filters, eyepieces, cameras. Reduce scope down to a light weight 60~80mm around F6. You might save 3~4lbs doing that. But it's not just weight, it's the length of your ED100 at F9 that adds moment arm if you don't carry it in the center which feels heavier than it is due to that. A small compact scope will just be easier to carry in general despite weight. A yard pier is economical and simple. Reduces weight and reduces setup time. Just cover it. Good in any weather (snow, hurricanes, etc, no problem).

 

I have two observatories and a couple of yard piers (cinder blocks with a mount on top). I use the yard piers all the time. Takes seconds to setup. We use the yard pier with a manual mount all the time, because in like 20 seconds we're viewing and then just cover it and leave it. Makes 5 minute planetary sessions, lunar peaks, solar peaks, etc, a reality. More viewing time. Less work.

 

Here's how that looks (video):

 

https://youtu.be/O8N631fOwfU

 

49854517871_aa052415d5_b.jpg

 

52120863769_33271458b6_b.jpg

 

51316890919_d7d6f8a013_b.jpg

 

53082605513_d9032af78b_b.jpg

 

Very best,


Edited by MalVeauX, 02 March 2024 - 10:15 AM.

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#4 Terra Nova

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 10:15 AM

I’m seventy four and sold my house a year ago and moved into a condo to make my life easier and more manageable. In the process, I have gone through a major downsizing of my equipment, this includes several heavy German equatorial mounts, and my telescopes with an aperture of greater than 4 inches. I still love to observe but everything I have now needs to be easily carried as my observing is confined now to either my 5’x12’ balcony, my building’s rooftop patio, or down the hall of my floor to the elevator and down to our parking garage and my vehicle for offsite viewing. I love to do regular solar observations, weather permitting, and especially now that the Sun has finally and once again gotten so active. To this end, I wanted a very quick and easy setup. I recently purchased a TV60 for quick and easy white-light observations. I was using it just the other day. The tripod and Wimberley gimble mount weighs around 10 pounds max. The counterweight for added stability is 4 pounds. The telescope is five pounds or less and the Baader filter around two ounces.

My Coronado SolarMax-40 H-alpha telescope* is similarly lightweight:

 

_________

*In these two pictures (this post and post #2), I’m viewing from my east-facing balcony.
 

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  • IMG_1654.jpeg

Edited by Terra Nova, 02 March 2024 - 12:37 PM.

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#5 gstrumol

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 10:33 AM

While I don't use the scopes in this configuration anymore, this might have been a good solution for you:

 

solar rig.jpg

 

It was very versatile. You could switch from WL (Baader solar film filter on front of 90mm Mak) to Ha viewing by just moving your head a bit, and for nighttime viewing the mak gives nice images of the moon and planets at reasonable magnifications. Both sat on a simple, lightweight camera tripod and were weight balanced so you could position it at any alt angle and it stayed there without using the tension knob at all.


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#6 ch-viladrich

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 11:04 AM

Hi Jordan,

 

If you would like to keep a tripod, consider a carbon tripod. Mine is from iOptron, it is very similar to the carbon tripod of ZWO. The weight is only 2.4 kg (about 4.8 Ibs ?). It is really rigid. Maybe a bit short for visual observation.

 

I know there are other carbon tripods, some with adapters for various mounts. Maybe you can find one for your current mount.

 

Regarding the mount, if you want to keep an equatorial mount, maybe have a look at harmonic drives such as ZWO AM3. It is 4 kg (8 Ibs) and does not require a counterweight. There are other brands too.


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#7 ch-viladrich

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 11:22 AM

Thinking again about it  ...

 

Depending on the configuration of your place, using a trolley to move your rigs could be of help. Just an example :

https://www.cloudyni...elescope-dolly/

 

I have something a bit like this (but much simpler) to move my Taka NJP from the garage to the garden.


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#8 vtornado

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 12:12 PM

I hope I make 83, congratulations!

 

Would a scope buggy work for you?  You can leave the scope assembled in the garage and wheel it out?  I know it doesn't work for everyone


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#9 BYoesle

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 01:33 PM

A 40 year career in EMS took a toll on my back. For the last 20+ years I've been using a Losmandy G11 (seen here on a Berlebach Planet tripod waytogo.gif ) with twin 100 mm refractors for both my solar outreach and observatory, and it can be a literal pain in the back to take down and set up:

 

20230826_115100crpsm.jpg

 

But I recently have been using my Questar with its full aperture WL filter on a Berlebach Uni tripod w a Tristand tilt head, and a Lunt 35 on a SolarQuest tracking mount, and this has made life much easier for the typical outreach event, and also much easier on my back ;-)

 

20230819_171222crpsm.jpg


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#10 rigel123

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 04:31 PM

I would say sell it all, get a Lunt 60MT since you have the CaK and Wedge for WL, and put it on a Sky-Watcher SolarQuest mount.


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#11 MVoltae

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 05:42 PM

After considering all of your very helpful comments as they relate to what is possible in my situation, here is my plan. About a month ago, my wife and I moved to a retirement community. One reason we chose our particular unit was that immediately adjacent to my office, in which I now store my astronomy gear, is an open porch with an almost unobstructed southern view of the sun. So my plan is to seasonably store my tripod and attached mount (30.5 lbs) on the porch.  Thus, my only “heavy lift”  (for me), will be my 9.5lb SW ED100. 

 

While I have been satisfied with my Quark Chromosphere-ED100 combination, I would also like a smaller refractor that would provide a full disc view. I already have a Lauda 50X200 and posted some full Quark images on CN threads that some of you have participated in. Nevertheless, I would like to improve on these images.  And that is why, I mentioned the SW EVOLUX 62 refractor in my posting this morning.  Do you think it is a good choice for me? If not, what alternatives would you suggest?  I am not interested in a dedicated Ha scope.



#12 MVoltae

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 06:07 PM

I would say sell it all, get a Lunt 60MT since you have the CaK and Wedge for WL, and put it on a Sky-Watcher SolarQuest mount.

Warren,

 

Will follow up on the SW SolarQuest Mount.  Thanks for suggesting.  

 

Jordan 


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#13 Helen P

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 07:11 PM

Warren,

 

Will follow up on the SW SolarQuest Mount.  Thanks for suggesting.  

 

Jordan 

The Solarquest is wonderful and lightweight. Just needs, IMHO a better (carbon ?) tripod.


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#14 MVoltae

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Posted 02 March 2024 - 10:46 PM

I may be closing in on 83, but not ossified to the point that I cannot be persuaded to change my mind.  I intend to dump my burdensome CG4 equatorial mount and tripod.  In their place, I will get a SW Solar Quest mount (and perhaps a Vixen Porta AZ).  


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#15 rigel123

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 09:00 AM

I may be closing in on 83, but not ossified to the point that I cannot be persuaded to change my mind.  I intend to dump my burdensome CG4 equatorial mount and tripod.  In their place, I will get a SW Solar Quest mount (and perhaps a Vixen Porta AZ).  

Sounds like a good plan.  Being in my 70's and finding that hefting a 70lb setup was getting a bit much,  I sold my Atlas, C9.25 and RC6 knowing how lugging that set up was going to break me down pretty quickly!  My iOptron CEM25P is plenty for my Lunt 60 and Orion ED80T with each component being under 10lb is so much easier to handle.  I guess the new replacement for that one is the iOptron CEM26.  Now I use my Seestar S50 for any dabbling I want to do in DSO imaging!


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