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Old 02-01-2013, 12:06   #1
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Telescope Aboard?

I have enjoyed amateur astronomy on and off for a number of years and the thought of (someday) cruising to far off places, including some southern hemisphere venues, is very appealing.

But the telescope I currently own (which my father and I built many years ago) is too bulky to be transported aboard. I'm musing about buying one that would be relatively compact and be able to stand up to getting bounced around while in a case on board the boat.

When it comes to astronomy, aperture is more important than "power" - so looking for something as big as practical. My current scope is an 8" reflector, but that's probably too big.

My main question then would be for anyone who's done this. Is a reflector too delicate? Would a Schmitt-Cassegrain be more durable? Or is a refractor the only way to go?

(and before anyone says it - yes - I understand that I can't use such an instrument aboard).
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:31   #2
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Re: telescope aboard?

It's been one of my life dreams that I have never achieved.... But so close!

I wanted to buy one for the boat but practicalities always got I the way.
Then a mate was given one and needed to get rid of it so gave it to me.
It takes up lots of space, salt air gets everywhere etc. then you need to drag it by dinghy in 37 bits of plastic, mount the tripod in the sand, exposé the hollow tube to salt air and salt spray.... Then a cloud comes over.

So I gave it away, unused, to some people who loved it living on an island in a propper house.

My only thought would be to buy a cheap one and replace as necessary.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:49   #3
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Re: telescope aboard?

forget refractors if you want aperture gets stupid expensive.

I say go build or buy a collapsible dobsonian reflector.

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:51   #4
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Re: telescope aboard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
It's been one of my life dreams that I have never achieved.... But so close!

I wanted to buy one for the boat but practicalities always got I the way.
Then a mate was given one and needed to get rid of it so gave it to me.
It takes up lots of space, salt air gets everywhere etc. then you need to drag it by dinghy in 37 bits of plastic, mount the tripod in the sand, exposé the hollow tube to salt air and salt spray.... Then a cloud comes over.

So I gave it away, unused, to some people who loved it living on an island in a propper house.

My only thought would be to buy a cheap one and replace as necessary.
Good points. I hadn't thought quite that far ahead. Problem is that a cheap scope (i.e., poor optics, shaky mount) is not worth the effort.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:53   #5
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Re: telescope aboard?

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Originally Posted by Ashura View Post
forget refractors if you want aperture gets stupid expensive.

I say go build or buy a collapsible dobsonian reflector.

That's in fact what I have now. A home built Dobsonian that fits itself into a box. It's still too big (and heavy) to find a home on the boat and I'm afraid that the parabolic mirror is going to be vulnerable to a sudden shock - although it could be taken out and packed separately.
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Old 02-01-2013, 13:00   #6
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

I would think that something like this:
Astroscan Plus Telescope - best selling beginner telescope | Edmund Scientific

or like this:
The Lap Scope - Article

would be what you would want.
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Old 02-01-2013, 13:12   #7
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

MarkJ, no need to give up! A nice quality 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars which you may already have makes a nice compact and sturdy nebula and galaxy viewer.


sneuman I'm no expert but if an 8" collapsible is still too big I dont think you'll find anything thats too much smaller... maybe give apochromatic refractor a try? they are quite pricey but its the most compact scope I know of that would match/beat your 8".
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Old 02-01-2013, 13:13   #8
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

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Originally Posted by Ashura View Post
MarkJ, no need to give up! A nice quality 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars which you may already have makes a nice compact and sturdy nebula and galaxy viewer.


sneuman I'm no expert but if an 8" collapsible is still too big I dont think you'll find anything thats too much smaller... maybe give apochromatic refractor a try? they are quite pricey but its the most compact scope I know of that would match/beat your 8".
Well, I'm sure a Cassegrain would be, but not sure if it would stand up to the rigors.
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Old 02-01-2013, 13:18   #9
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

I have a 2 inch refractor and it is bad enough on land ...I would like to have a 2-4 inch reflector with a equatorul(sp?) tracker and a gimbled seat and mount to observe from ..might work?
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:04   #10
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

An Astroscan, a Celestron...the point is not whether it is a good or suitable telescope, but that something small and rugged like that is STOWABLE and will survive being stowed on the boat. Keep it in a padded hard case and if anyone says you need a better instrument just tell them you left it on the other boat.
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:13   #11
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

Can only assume you intend to use the telescope on land. The biggest yacht will be too unsteady on even the calmest millpond.
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:36   #12
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

There is no perfect solution here. What I would do is get a high grade but small reflector, store it in a large Pelican case and take it to the beach for your observations. Figure in the $200 to $300 range. Small scopes are made for being transported and jarred around somewhat. You can still see plenty of beautiful nebulas and the moons of planets with a compact reflector. Refractors (one lens) have better light transmission for the same aperture but reflectors (two mirrors) are smaller, which is what you need.
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:41   #13
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

I use a pair of 15x56 binoculars Vortex Optics - Kaibab HD Binoculars for astronomy, and they're fine in a flat anchorage if you lay down on deck. Anything more powerful wouldn't work on a recreational boat, in my opinion.
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:48   #14
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

I have some 15x50 Canon's that are image stabilized. The best I see are Jupiter's moons and the Orion nebula. I cannot make out Saturn's rings. Anything more powerful would only work for land viewing only.
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Old 02-01-2013, 16:17   #15
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Re: Telescope Aboard?

Some of the nights sailing away from the general, and light pollution that are common in modern society allow for a wonderful view of the heavens.
However I share the concerns of other posters that even under the calmest environments a yacht on the water is still moving and even modest magnifications of 15x and above will become unusable.
If you want to use an astronomical telescope it needs to set up on land.

If you want to observe without magnification, or low powered binoculars a yacht offshore, away from light pollution provides a wonderful view.
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