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Pollux

Foreign climes...

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All...

Your (existing?) set-ups for foreign travel? Or recommendations please...

What have you, or what do you fancy???

I'm undecided (VERY as usual)

Small dia. MAK? Small frac?

How about the tripod?

How about a 'photograpy' tripod/mount...

...or, how about a 'spotting scope', or, maybe binoculars???

Please, I'd love to hear your thoughts/ideas - surely there's plenty who escape to sunnier/clearer skies every year and do a little observing over there.

Hopefully

Mark

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Below lists the equipment I take abroad with the sizes and weights, which is a very import consideration when travelling by air.

The telescope OTA is the APM TMB 105/650 LW with 2" Feathertouch focuser. Weight including tube rings is 4.7kg. Minimum length for transportation is 450mm though this requires the focuser be removed (easy job of just loosening 3 small Allen bolts). Min length with focuser still attached is 490mm. I transport the scope (when flying) in a Pelican 1510 case along with the eyepieces. The 3 EPs I take are a wide angle (usually a 35mm Panoptic for over 3 degree field), a 10mm Delos (now my favourite EP) with a 1 degree field and 65x magnification and Televue Nagler 3-6mm Zoom which covers magnification range of 108-216x.

The mount is the Teleoptic Giro Ercole. Weighs 3kg and is capable of supporting 8kg on one arm without the use of a counterweight. With a counterweight, the load capacity increases to 18kg on each arm which can be two scopes so has use outside of a travel mount. The mount is very stable and smooth and easily tracks at 200x by hand.

The tripod was initially the big hurdle as I want to be able to travel without any additional checked baggage. In other words the tripod needed to fit in my largest suitcase. Most dedicated astronomical tripods are too long. In the end I went with the Gitzo Series 5 6X 5532S Carbon Fibre tripod. Weight is 2.8kg and minimum length for transportation is 620mm. The tripod is rated to carry 40kg so while not a dedicated astronomical tripod, it is more than up to the job, and damping time is phenomenal.

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Personally I am happy with my Polarie and 450D.

We do a bit of traveling and I find this set up to be just perfect in the realms of portability, I can still fit a decent tripod in the clothes case and the Polarie will fit in any bag taking up less room than a shoe.

Maybe in the future when the kids can carry their own bags then I'll add a suitcase dob to my baggage.

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For visual I'd take the biggest refractor I could get away with. Small Maks and SCTs are handy but the long FL means they are best on solar system and small bright objects. The charm of the dark sky is that if offers a chance to see large faint objects, extended clusters and milky way starfields. The whole of the Veil, for instance. Lovely, but widefield.

Photo tripods are just about OK to my mind up to about 80mm but they get badly unbalalnced as they approach the zenith, more so if they are heavy. I quite like the TV Telepod but they are costly new.

Imaging is difficult. The Astrotrac is proven but for lens imaging the Polarie is no bigger than a camera.

I'm now inseparable from my 8x42 bins and on holiday they have other roles as well.

Olly

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I think it's depends whether it's a holiday with a bit of astro or an astro holiday.

For the former it would be a pair of binocular or my grab and go set up, for the latter is something more beefy. Here are some of my light weight set ups.

The light set - table top or lying on the ground

Scope: Borg 77EDII

Eyepiece: Nikon 7-21 MC zoom and a 32mm plossl

Mount: Borg SWII on Giottos GB1060

The whole lot weights 3.3kg

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The heavy set (only took that once)

Scope: Borg 77ED, Solarmax 60

Mount: Vixen GP2 with RA drive. TS photoguider head. SXG-S71 tripod, Giottos ball head and Borg SWII mount

Eyepiece: 3 circle T orthos - 9,12.5 and 25mm

Camera: QHY5v and Panasonic GF3

Case: Peli storm im2500

Total weight is about 18kg

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Finally there is this one. It's a light travel set up I often use for astro club meet, but I have never taken this abroad. I don't have a case that will protect the C6 for airline travel

Scope: C6

Mount: Vixen GP2 dual axis on SXG-S71 tripod

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Hopefully this will give you some ideas.

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For visual I'd take the biggest refractor I could get away with. Small Maks and SCTs are handy but the long FL means they are best on solar system and small bright objects. The charm of the dark sky is that if offers a chance to see large faint objects, extended clusters and milky way starfields. The whole of the Veil, for instance. Lovely, but widefield.

Most definitely agree with Olly on this point, and was exactly my thinking when I selected a scope for travelling to foreign dark skies. Taking in the entirety of M45 while observing in the desert of Oman, and being able to see the associated reflection nebulosity is something I will never forget. That view was only possible because the refractor I use has a focal length of 650mm. But it is still more than capable of being pushed to 200x plus if a planet is well placed (as Jupiter was at the same time, being only a few degrees from the zenith).

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there was a good discussion of exactly the same thing a while back with some good info

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