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After months of deliberations, agonising and numerous deliveries, my travel setup is finally complete! Yesterday I had the fun of unboxing everything and putting it all together. My setup is comprised of:

SkyWatcher Equinox 80

2” Williams Optics Diagonal

Altair Astro Mini AZ Mount

Three Legged Thing Punks Billy Tripod

Baader SkySurfer III

Baader Hyperion Zoom 8-24mm Eyepiece 

Explore Scientific 68 24mm

TS Optics Herschel Wedge

Think Tank Airport Essentials backpack

The clouds cooperated and allowed me to enjoy some white light solar with it yesterday afternoon. 

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It’s been a bit of a journey to get here and I have a lot of people to thank for their advice or willingness to sell me kit :D I talked myself in and out of purchases more times than I can remember. 

First impressions from my brief solar session yesterday. The mount works well without the counterweight but it is definitely smoother with it. The tripod is nice and stable. I only noticed longer settle down times when the central column was fully extended. Having it half way with the legs extended further worked great. I was worried about the backpack being too small but it’s plenty big enough. I could squeeze more in if required. It’s comfortable to carry. Setup from backpack to observing took about 5 mins which is ideal for grab and go. Fully loaded the backpack weighs 10kg including the tripod on the side so it ticks the airline transportable box

I’m looking forward to it’s first night time session but am very happy with how it’s come together. Thank you to all who helped me along the way. I really appreciate it :D 

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Posted (edited)

Nice setup, I use something rather similar:
Skywatcher 102 f5
AZt6 from TS optics which is the same as your  Altair astra mount
Baader zoom +barlow
Maxvision 34mm 68°
2 inch diagonal
reddot finder

The weird part is that I almost bought a equinox 80 to replace my 102. Our setups would be almost identical!

Great minds think alike ?

Perhaps you should invest in the screw-on barlow for the baader zoom? It's really small, you can see it in my picture next to the red dot. You could have a magnification to 140x with just a little bit space lost.
 

rsz_dsc_0184.jpg

Edited by Wouter1981
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That’s a very neat looking setup and very close to mine! The extra aperture must be nice. I limited myself to 80mm to save weight for airline travel. I have a Baader VIP Barlow which in plan to use with the zoom for high powers. If I didn’t have that then I probably would have bought the zoom Barlow. 

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Looks great an£ will serve you well I think.  I have the big brother equinox 120 so no good for travel. If an equinox 80 had been available when I was looking for my travel set up I’d have snapped it up. For travel I have an Altair 80 starwave which I love and I managed to bag the last of the handset star discover mounts which is perfect for grab and go and travel etc.

Hope you enjoy using your set up as you did collecting it.

Steve 

image.jpg

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Congratulations on your new travel package. My Equinox 80 is coming with me to Morocco next month. I've had excellent planetary views at 170x with this scope - so it's a great all rounder. 

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12 minutes ago, Highburymark said:

Congratulations on your new travel package. My Equinox 80 is coming with me to Morocco next month. I've had excellent planetary views at 170x with this scope - so it's a great all rounder. 

Thank you, Mark! I’ve enjoyed some white light solar with it the last couple of days. Looking forward to getting it under the stars too. What eyepiece did you use for 170x?

Have a great trip to Morocco :) 

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Littleguy80 said:

Thank you, Mark! I’ve enjoyed some white light solar with it the last couple of days. Looking forward to getting it under the stars too. What eyepiece did you use for 170x?

Have a great trip to Morocco :) 

Thanks Neil - back then I was using a 3-6mm Nagler zoom. Excellent high power eyepiece. As Jupiter and Saturn have been poorly located from the UK for some years, holidays in Southern Europe have had an added attraction recently! So I always pack a high magnification eyepiece or two - and the little Equinox will happily take a 3mm EP under good conditions. In fact probably more - I've never pushed it any further. I have indelible memories of Mars with remarkable surface detail seen from the Canaries with this scope. It won't match the dso views you're used to with your dob but  I've seen over 50 Messiers with the Equinox - and it's built like a tank, so happily copes with the rough and tumble of a summer holiday

Edited by Highburymark
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1 hour ago, Highburymark said:

Thanks Neil - back then I was using a 3-6mm Nagler zoom. Excellent high power eyepiece. As Jupiter and Saturn have been poorly located from the UK for some years, holidays in Southern Europe have had an added attraction recently! So I always pack a high magnification eyepiece or two - and the little Equinox will happily take a 3mm EP under good conditions. In fact probably more - I've never pushed it any further. I have indelible memories of Mars with remarkable surface detail seen from the Canaries with this scope. It won't match the dso views you're used to with your dob but  I've seen over 50 Messiers with the Equinox - and it's built like a tank, so happily copes with the rough and tumble of a summer

Thanks Mark. I have the Nagler 3-6mm Zoom on my wish list! Should work well with the dob as well as the Equinox 80. I have some of the southerly Messiers that I’ve never seen which I’m hoping to get on our next holiday further south. 

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Posted (edited)

That's a near perfect grab & go set-up Neil. I found my 80mm Equinox very quickly became my most used scope, and I'd often use it in preference to my 120mm Equinox. I'd nip out for a quick five minute look at the Moon or Jupiter and find myself still sat on a frosty garden bench, cold and wet, over an hour later. With a binoviewer and a couple of cheap eyepieces, my Equinox 80ED would easily reveal five belts on Jupiter, including festoons and barges etc. Shadow transits looked as black as Indian ink and the Great Red Spot was easy to follow. The moon through the 80ED and binoviewer took on a life of its own and was so sharp and 3D it was almost as if I was viewing the Moon from a spaceship window just a couple of hundred mile above its surface. A binoviewer would be a very worthwhile addition to your G&G! 

So impressive was my little 80mm Equinox that it soon worked itself out of a job. It's ease of use outweighed the aperture advantage of the 120ED, and I eventually decided to sell them both and buy the grab & go FC100DC. I can resist anything but temptation!

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Edited by mikeDnight
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Thanks Mike! I'm pleased with how it's all come together. I've really been enjoying white solar viewing with it over the weekend. I've seen my first sun spots. Amazing! I'm really looking forward to trying with some stars that are a bit further away plus the planets of course! I'm yet to try binoviewers. I suspect it won't be long before I succumb to that temptation! My bank balance prevents from being tempted by Takahashi though I do hear children can be sold for a good price these days.....

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Neil that is a great setup. I am pleased that the Alt/az mount is working well. I must admit I do fancy one of these rather than the camera head that I use at the moment.

I guess you are now set up for the Mercury Transit in November.

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Thank you, Mark and thanks for all the advice along the way. I was a little nervous as to how well it would all work together but so far seems to be working great. The Altair mount seems excellent to me though I've not used others for comparison. It seems really good value to me when you add in the the counterweight and bar and extension. 

I've got everything crossed for clear skies during the Mercury transit. Likely to be one of all time astronomy highlights if it all comes together :) 

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I had an 80 mm Equinox as my G&G for some time, excellent in every way.

I now have another G&G which I consider to be in the same ilk, though in a slightly smaller package.   My main scope is now a SW 120ED, which in itself is a very portable telescope - I can very easily carry it about on my AZ4 when it's not in the observatory on the Ercole mount.   Though,  I can't take it everywhere I might want to observe and can't carry it about ready for action easily in one hand.  These two factors are two essentials for what I consider to be a truly G&G.  They are not the same as everyone's definition of a G&G - but it's quite right we all have our own requirements in this respect.  Anyway, back to the plot.

My G&G is the SW 72ED on a Manfrotto gimbal-type lens mount (ie a fork!) on a sturdy photographic tripod.  I really could take this anywhere, even in a rucksack on a bus if I needed to, and easily as carry on luggage on a plane.  It stands all set up ready to go in my 'office' with a 1.25 diagonal and usually with an eyepiece up the spout.  I can easily use it with my binoviewer and pairs of orthos.  It's easily balanced when used with a heavy load as the Manfrotto head comes with its own version of a dovetail as can be seen in the pic showing the lens.  Optically excellent, it's a fabulous telescope, and it will easily pass x150 on the Moon and planets in better conditions.  It's nice to know with the vagaries of the Yorkshire weather I can be out whenever there is an unexpected break and make the best of any observing opportunity.

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Great looking set up, Paul. I was close to getting one of those myself. In the end, I decided to go for the extra 8mm of aperture. That is a proper grab and go setup you have :) 

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Looking very sharp! I have an Evo 72 penned in to my 2020 purchasing plan.

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Posted (edited)
On 05/05/2019 at 21:35, Highburymark said:

Congratulations on your new travel package. My Equinox 80 is coming with me to Morocco next month. I've had excellent planetary views at 170x with this scope - so it's a great all rounder. 

Great picture from 2 nights ago on the beach 20 mins north of Essaouira (Moulay Bouzerktoun) - 30 seconds exposure, no processing at all... The dark sky in Morocco is really nice for astronomy.....

moulay at night.jpg

Edited by ginandtonic
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On 27/05/2019 at 22:25, ginandtonic said:

Great picture from 2 nights ago on the beach 20 mins north of Essaouira (Moulay Bouzerktoun) - 30 seconds exposure, no processing at all... The dark sky in Morocco is really nice for astronomy.....

moulay at night.jpg

Really great image. I hope you don't mind but I've nicked it for use as my desktop wallpaper.

However, I'm still at a loss as to whether an 80mm ED would get much use alongside my dob. 🤣

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