Jump to content

sgl_imaging_challenge_2021_4.gif.6a323659519d12fc7cafc409440c9dbf.gif

Small scope to take camping


Recommended Posts

Hi all,

Not been round here for some time and my SW200p has hardly been touched in the last year or two.

Even so, I'm considering getting a small 2nd scope to take on camping holidays (my wife's suggestion!).

The Meade ETX80 was the obvious choice, especially having contemplated this in previous years, but I'm also considering the ETX90 or Nexstar 4SE.

I know they won't compare with the 200p but I like the idea of a small goto that I could take camping and also use at home (as I can never find anything manually). I also like that the ETX90 and 4SE have a wedge built in to the mount to offer some basic photo opportunities.

Any thoughts on these scopes?

I was initially leaning towards the ETX80 cos of the price and the fact it came in a backpack, but then I looked at the ETX90 which comes with a hard case (again suitable for taking on holiday) but now I might be leaning towards the 4SE!

I don't really have anything particular in mind when it comes to what I'll be looking at - Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Orion Nebula but I guess I'd like to be able to see some other Messier stuff that I've never been able to find manually.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps the Skywatcher Evostar 80ED, which is a popular choice for camping and general holidays. I have just returned from a short family camping trip in the Lake District not so far from Keswick and I took with me my 76mm refractor. This and the tripod / mount I use combined with three eyepieces, two filters a sky quality meter worked fine as a fairly compact kit option to take along with the usual excessive and bulky camping paraphernalia. I also took along a small very compact camping stool. For navigating I use a Rigel Quikfinder. In terms of use, it would have been potentially very good, but for cloud banks coming and going, though I got to view the NAN before I gave up. Typically the North East where i'd traveled from had the best of the clear sky forecast, but this was an impulsively arranged family camping trip so all was good.

As for Go-To,  personally I have never used it preferring the challenge and excitement of exploring n' discovering things for myself. Another option and in some ways one I prefer wold be to take along 15x70 binoculars mounted on a monopod, I find this set up ideal for camping trip scenarios.  

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

I was in a similar situation as my usual scope was to big to take away if camping. So after3 some consideration I went for a second hand skywatcher 127 alt az synscan goto  and find its ideal. It all fits in a large toolbox along with a 7ah skywatcher power pack and with only the tripos separate.  These occasionally come up in the classifieds but they are great scopes.

Cheers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use an old ST80 refractor on camping trips and vacations with my Manfrotto tripod and fluid head.  I keep a cheap diagonal and plossls with it to keep the loss risk low should anything happen to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone.

Maybe not the answers I was expecting, but it has certainly given me more things to consider. I'd already got my eyes on the SW80ED and Heritage 130p but not really considered them recently and for camping use. I suppose the 130p would be ideal and I kind of regret not getting a Dob as my first scope.

With the SW80ED, I suppose I'd need to use my EQ5, but I don't think we'd have enough room in the car to take that.

Also, the SW127 is purely Alt-Az (like the ETX80 I'm considering) but I do like the idea of the ETX90 and 4SE both having a built in wedge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, Javert said:

Thanks everyone.

Maybe not the answers I was expecting, but it has certainly given me more things to consider. I'd already got my eyes on the SW80ED and Heritage 130p but not really considered them recently and for camping use. I suppose the 130p would be ideal and I kind of regret not getting a Dob as my first scope.

With the SW80ED, I suppose I'd need to use my EQ5, but I don't think we'd have enough room in the car to take that.

Also, the SW127 is purely Alt-Az (like the ETX80 I'm considering) but I do like the idea of the ETX90 and 4SE both having a built in wedge.

Realistically, both the etx90 and the 4se have long focal lengths and are not particularly suitable for DSO astrophotography. The chances of you getting images you are satisfied with are slim I would suspect.

I agree with the other posters, I would get yourself a small widefield refractor on a simple mount. Getting this sort of scope under a dark sky is a great experience. You don't actually need much magnification to get some fabulous views along the summer Milky Way.

You don't mention budget at all, an indication of this would help. Options could be anything from an ST80 on a photo tripod through to an ED80 on, say, an AZ4 or small Giro mount and tripod. If you are definite about GOTO then there are options out there, but the beauty of a simple AltAz mount is not requiring power or cables etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Javert,

How about considering the combination of SkyWatcher Synscan Alt-Az mount and 102 Startravel refractor-https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-startravel-102-synscan-az-goto.html all in at £302 from our sponsor. Quite light to carry about. Ok, more suited to DSO's but it's surprising how much astro-photography you can do on a lightweight Alt-Az mount. :evil:

Enjoy your trips away.

Cheers,
Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again guys.

Budget is probably in the £300 - £400 range so the Startravel 102 is a definite option.

Anyone checking my old posts will see I had big plans a couple of years ago, but unfortunately the money all went on doing our house up and buying a new car. Once the car is paid for though I definitely want to get something decent.

In the meantime though, a small travel scope that I can also use at home instead of the 200p is what I'm looking for. I think, having got a bit frustrated with myself for not being able to locate things, I'd like to give Goto a try.

I might even consider a sub £200 travel scope and buy a Goto kit for my EQ5.

Edited by Javert
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Stu.

I did actually take a quick look at that this morning but couldn't find the full Goto upgrade.

Having looked more on FLO today, there's quite a lot available in my current budget. I'd love something capable of planets & DSO's but I'm probably asking too much. To be honest, I'm not even sure I know which would be my viewing preference. Possibly DSO's as I'm actually capable (believe it or not) of finding planets manually with my 200p!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, Javert said:

Thanks Stu.

I did actually take a quick look at that this morning but couldn't find the full Goto upgrade.

Having looked more on FLO today, there's quite a lot available in my current budget. I'd love something capable of planets & DSO's but I'm probably asking too much. To be honest, I'm not even sure I know which would be my viewing preference. Possibly DSO's as I'm actually capable (believe it or not) of finding planets manually with my 200p!

I'm sure FLO can tell you what you need. The other alternative is the Skyview which has GOTO and a bit more flexibility. You could put a 114mm Newt or perhaps a 102mm frac on that?

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-allview-mount.html

In terms of targets, my view has always been that you can see planets anywhere, light pollution doesn't make that much difference, so focus on the things you can't see well from home ie DSOs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again Stu,

I think at this stage the All View mount would be out of my price range as I'd then need to put a scope on it, although it's a shame it wouldn't hold my 200p as that'd probably have been a better option instead of getting a GoTo upgrade kit for the EQ5.

I'm in a somewhat tricky situation where I know in 3yrs I'll be looking to upgrade my main scope to something in the £1000 - £1500 price range, so I'd prefer not to spend too much (if anything) on upgrading my current setup.

Anyway, that is slightly off topic as I'm looking to get a cheap second scope. The Startravel 102 is looking like a good option, but I notice Celestron do something similar (Nexstar 102 SLT). Presumably they're pretty similar in specs.

I now have at least half a dozen options that I'll be investigating further, with the hope that I may be able to buy something at the end of the month.

Thanks for all your help and suggestions.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, I am using Omegon 80 mm Mighty Mak as my travel scope. I observed moon with it and it was very sharp and bright. I even forced it with Baader Hyperion Mark III Zoom eyepiece up to x250 and yes it was too much for a 80 mm Mak but still the view was ok. The views are sharp upto x160. I also viewed Jupiter, Saturn and Mars as well. Saturn was nice at x100 with hints of cassini divison. Mars was sharp with little surface details. One thing I liked because of the small aparture size and very low cooling requirement the views were mostly very steady and clear compared to my C8 and 80mm Apo.  I also paired its table top mount with orion slow motion adapter and it is perfect fit. I am very happy with this setup as it also has the travel bag. Total weight is less than 1600 grams. 
 

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will agree with you considering the etx90...I only purchased mine after inheriting my father's questar and using it so much I thought getting the etx would  save the vintage scope from my continued abuse. I was right the optics are as good or better than the questar and at 400us with 2 eyepieces tripod carry bag and a case for the scope not to mention the very ridged 884 tripod that will take winds up to 15 knots and hold the image steady. You can even leave the tripod home and use it on any picnik table you come across, few others will do what the etx can for portability, price and all around use... Whatever you choose have a great time with your family under the stars!

Edited by Aaron F Johnson
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So much choice!

I keep falling into the mindset of wanting more, more, more.... but I guess it's a common problem. Am contemplating a Mak, but the focal length would be the problem unless a low powered eye piece would help widen the field of view a bit.

I think though that when it comes down to it, I'll get a small(ish) refractor - either the ETX80 or the SW Startravel 102.

Am also looking again at the Allview Mount suggested by Stu. It's around budget, but I'd only be able to put a cheap scope on it. Whilst looking at that though, I also saw the SW Star Adventurer which can be purchased with a Wedge. I don't know if anyone has any experience of this? I already have a carbon fibre Manfrotto tripod with a ball head which I'd be able to use.

On the subject of photography tripods, I know it has been mentioned already by Louis D and I've seen it in other threads, how would I go about attaching a telescope to my tripod? Do you need a particular type of attachment? This is another option that I've not really looked into as yet and may allow me to get a better scope (80ED subject to weight) but without the GoTo aspect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's easy to go around in circles and get knowwhere! You have a largish scope at home which is hardly used, i would consider something very compact 70 to 90mm wide field so it's easy to find things without goto. A small say 70 to 80 refractor would be useful to use at home and ideal to take anywhere. Most have a 3/8 screw in the foot or dovetail to attach to a photo head and tripod.  There's always a trade off in using different ways to mount things on but it's very liberating just to carry a telescope around and set up and observe - it's as easy as using binoculars.  Look at this thread.

This is my setup which i use a lot - an st80 on photo head and tripod.  If you want to observe planets/moon well,  an ED refractor or mak would be better.

Enjoy the trip and the views !

andrew

st80.JPG

Edited by andrew63
spelling
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Javert said:

how would I go about attaching a telescope to my tripod

I bought a used DSV-1 mount for about $100 here in the states.  It's American made by a machinist in Phoenix, Arizona.  It has a 3/8" thread on the bottom to attach to my Manfrotto tripod.  The DSV-1 mount has a Vixen style dovetail clamp to hold a Vixen dovetail rail.  I attached the rail to my scope using two 1/4" screws in the mounting foot of the scope.  If you have tube rings, you would attach to them.  I leave the rail permanently attached to the scope and the mount permanently attached to the tripod, so I have only two pieces to assemble together to observe.  Accounting for time to get everything out of storage and cases, assembled, and outside, I can be up and observing in about 5 minutes.  If I left the scope on the tripod with the diagonal attached in a closet, I could probably bring that down to a minute.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was not even aware mak's were bad for dso until reaching my middle 50's and reading about it here so at 13 years old I grabbed my dad's mak90 and paper charts and my messier 110 took me about 6mo but dad diddent help not even a little. Narrow field does not mean pinhole field...and you can do limited but considerable dso work with most any size mak... : )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, Aaron F Johnson said:

I was not even aware mak's were bad for dso until reaching my middle 50's and reading about it here so at 13 years old I grabbed my dad's mak90 and paper charts and my messier 110 took me about 6mo but dad diddent help not even a little. Narrow field does not mean pinhole field...and you can do limited but considerable dso work with most any size mak... : )

To be fair, a 90mm Mak is still a different beast to a 180 or 200mm Mak with a much longer focal length. At f20, my 200mm Mak struggled to get over 0.6 degree field of view, fabulous for globs or PNs for instance, but hopeless for M45 or M31 if you wanted to see all of them. At least a 90mm will show well over a degree of sky which is more friendly for open clusters etc

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whar kind of finder are you using?   I struggled to find anything for ages before i invested in a Telrad.  It is the best upgrade to any scope and you can move it onto scopes in future.  It really made a difference in my ability to find stuff by star hopping and with plenty of free maps available, it makes seeking out those DSOs much easier.

Im not saying dont think about the small goto for travelling, but it seems to be a bit of a waste of a perfectly good 200p?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm just using the standard one that came with the 200p - think it's a 9x50.

I still put down being unable to find anything is more to do with my lack of ability than anything else. I've never really been one for a challenge! I bought the Astro EQ too, but never really managed to work it out.

Am seriously considering the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer now though. It'd be great for attaching my DSLR and I could also add a small scope to it (maybe the ST102). I already have a decent carbon fibre tripod and ball head and everything would be compact for travel. It'd be slightly over my budget but I could buy either the Star Adventurer now and the scope (OTA only) later or vice versa. I've even seen a video of the Star Adventurer with an 80ED on it.

Or, I could buy the ST102 now on the Alt-Az GoTo and buy the Star Adventurer early next year.

edit - I've just had a quick look at the Telrad and I like the idea of the circles in the display.

Edited by Javert
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.