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Old 10-10-2007, 06:48   #1
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Telescopes on board

Has anyone any experiences / recommendations regarding telescopes on board.

I would love to take a telescope with us when we leave for good to use on the beach when we're well away from anywhere. My concern is that this would mean taking it to the beach in a dinghy which in turn means we'd have to have it well protected - all adding to bulk.

Steve
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:54   #2
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I've not taken one on a boat but I have experience in recreational astronomy.

What are you planning on using it for? Celestial use - lunar/deep sky? daytime spotting? photgraphy?

A cassegrain style scope is probably the best. compact, tough, good aperature for deep sky yet little aberation for color work. 4-5 inchs would do. You can mount is on a camera tripod which would be less cumbersome than an equitorial mount.

You might consider some big binos as well. They take up some room but are really fun for just looking. They can be mounted on a tripod to.

~Brett
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:14   #3
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My interest is primarily night viewing of the various faint fuzzies.

I have some what I think are good 11x70 binocs (Little Giant from Orion) which are simply awesome for stargazing. I want something that's a good step up so I can begin to really take in the faint fuzzies. I was thinking more in terms of a reflector in the 8" to 10" range. On land I could probably pick something out but I'm really looking for something that can be lugged in a dinghy and across a beach without being ruined.
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:32   #4
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I've got a 8" orion reflector - It's a bear to lug across my back yard, and I'm a strong guy. I think it would be very difficult to move in a dingy. It would have to be dissasembled from the mount (which is easy) to move it, but it is a pain in the neck moving/assembling it. Even when it is on my back porch the effort keeps me from looking through it very often.

After I bought my big reflector I bought an old set of ships glasses. I've found than I use them 10x or more often that the telescope.

Unless you get to the really big telescopes the faint fuzzies are exactly that - they look practically the same in anything from a 6-12 inch. The only telescope that I've been able to see any sort of structure in the faint fuzzies was a 30 inch dobsonian.
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Old 10-10-2007, 11:24   #5
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I guess the other option would be to get a mount for my binocs and a beach chair. I find being able to hold them still makes a big difference to the detail that can be seen.
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Old 10-10-2007, 11:42   #6
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It's not exactly ideal and definately not going to show you fuzzies, but for portability, I like using my reasonably cheap digital camera with a decent optical zoom on a tripod. I set the exposure time to 10-15 seconds, fiddle around with the aperture and other settings, take several pictures, and then move in and look at them on the computer. Doing this I can get pretty good pictures of the moon, I can get a sorta blurry picture of venus if I try hard enough, and bright easily recognizable constellations like orion are a cinch. longer exposure times would be even better, but then you start having to worry about the earth's rotation, etc.

It's nowhere near like a real telescope, but it's reasonably cheap, it's definately portable, and it's better than nothing.
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Old 10-10-2007, 12:49   #7
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We had a Celestron NexStar 130 onboard for awhile. This was a fairly large but light weight Newtonian design. Definitely capable of spectacular viewing of the night sky on outisland beaches. It was also a hit at a couple of potluck beach parties.

We used to remove the tripod and transport it large lawn/garden trash bags. Never experienced any serious problems with the marine environment (maybe some sand in the motor drive). In the end we got rid of it because we usually went to bed early and didn't really spend much time on beaches after dark. My son has it now and has taken some amazing pictures with the addition of a cheap NexImage camera.
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Old 10-10-2007, 13:06   #8
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We have taken our Celestron C90 ashore when sealed in its box even while in our kayak. We also take it backpacking. When travelling we remove the motor drive and astronomical tripod with wedge and just carry tube itself which we then mount on a photo tripod ashore. The scope is a bit tricky to use without the motor drive as the celestial objects are crossing the sky at 15 degrees per hour (About 900 miles per hour!), so lots of fiddling is required. On ours I also have a gadget that allows my SLR camera to use it as a 1000 mm lens, although with the newer digital cameras I don't think this would work. I don't know if this scope is still in the Celestron line, but any 4" scope from Celestron or Meade would be ideal.
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Old 10-10-2007, 13:27   #9
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I would just wrap it in a big garbage bag and take it ashore...double bag it for extra security. I don't see the need for some $100 fancy waterproof rafting bag...although they are available.

I used to use a rafting bag for putting all my goodies in it when I went Hobie camping at islands on lakes.

This is the idea. There are plenty more by doing a Google search.
"WATERSHED " ZipDry waterproof gear bags
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Old 11-10-2007, 08:58   #10
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I agree with cubicle zombie. Once you’ve looked through a big boy then anything under 12 inches is not too impressive. There is a difference (especially on paper) but considering the size…go with a 4-5 inch as I mentioned above. Spend some money on some good lenses and it’ll do fine. Anything under 5 inchs will be nice for lunar, solar, and on deck daytime use too. Reflectors are inexpensive ways to get aperature. Great for backyard use but they are cumbersome and delicate. And as Zombie also said you tend to use bigger scopes less. After I bought my 10in reflector on an Atlas mount (~115lbs) I didn’t get out as much as I did with the smaller scope.

Get a telrad and some low mag wide angle lenses.

~Brett
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