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Astro heart-stopping moments


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...and I don't mean the good heart-stopping moments, like when you look through a new telescope and it's awesome.

I mean the bad heart-stopping moments. I had two tonight. The first one occurred as I was loosening the AZ clutch on my mount and suddenly realized I was actually undoing the dovetail.  The sad thing is it's the third time I've done that. My problem with the dovetail started when I was doing outreach and someone thought the dovetail knob was the focus knob. That alarming moment sank into my subconscious and I seem doomed to relive the awful moment every full moon now.

Anyway I did not destroy my fragile SCT so I shot several sequences of the Moon until I ran out of hard disk space. I went  in and deleted last night's data to make room for the processing. Ten seconds later I realised last night's data was actually shot past midnight, so I had pressed Shift-Delete on all the sequences from tonight's run too!

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Let a friend use my DM6 and Tak 150. We were on grass. He didn't have the tripod firmly stuck in the ground. It started to tip over. I had a cardiac event as I was watching from several meters away. Fortunately he caught it and righted it. 

Another time I was enjoying the moon when a second stage booster leisurely floated through the FOV. In circumstances like that first you say it loudly then you do it. And it is why mother always asks about clean underwear... ;) Well not really. But it did scare the snot out of me. I was not expecting that at all. 

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Outreach 3 years ago with a school's astronomy club. Was giving my intro into the night sky green GPL presentation. We move to my scope (Tak FS-128 + trimmings) and someone had loosened the mount clamp while I was giving the presentation. 

Tak was sliding out of the clamp. I was holding my iPad. Took a fraction of a second to decide to throw the iPad away and jump for the scope. Scope saved, iPad screen cracked.

Thankfully, I held it together, no change of undies required 🤣

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Had SWMBO, a cousin and her grand daughter in the observatory looking at a 3/4 moon. When the wife moved, she bumped the case with all the eyepieces in it.

Needless to say. Crash.

That's okay honey, I've done it too.

 

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I've only had one significant one, thank goodness. My lovely Vixen ED102SS refractor fell out of the jaws of the dovetail clamp and onto the patio about 5 feet below :sad2:

The noise as it hit the paving slabs was horrible.

Very fortunately Vixens are tougher than they look and the damage was limited to a bent focuser wheel axle and a dent and a scratch on the dew shield. No optical damage and no change to the collimation of the scope.

The focuser has been replaced, the dent smoothed out of the dew shield, a touch up with paint and the scope is still looking good and performing well.

Heart stopping moment though. Due I think to using one of those small dovetail bars in the flat jaws of the ADM dovetail clamp. It felt tight but it wasn't really :rolleyes2:

 

 

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A quite gusty night at a dark sky location and my 8" f6 dob, the OOUK version, quite light and on a tall narrow base, set up on a rubber mat on level ground. A gust caught it suddenly and over it toppled as I was having a coffee, hearing it before seeing it. Fortunately it landed partially onto grass and no noticeable damage, dobs are tough.

This very nearly happened to my 14" OOUK dob a few years back, set up on a mat upon gravel, a rain shower swept in so I put the cover on, which subsequently then acted as wind sail, that definitely had been a heart stopping moment, when stood a slight distance away to watch it rock from side to side but mercifully not topple.

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Ooops! Forgot this one. Likely because I wanted to never relive it! I was doing an outreach event at a local high school with a large number of middle and grade school kids. Had my EdgeHD 14 up on my CGX. Bloody thing started to slip down in the saddle! Fortunately I was able to catch and brace it before it came completely off and hit a child! I promptly halted the queue, apologized profusely to everyone and ended the event. It was a brown trousers moment there at first. 

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The focal reducer for my EdgeHD fell apart in my hands today. All the elements are held in with a small ring that only requires about 2.5 turns to undo, and it had come loose when I removed it from the 'scope. Fortunately I was indoors when it happened and the elements landed in my hand and I was able to keep them in the right sequence. It's back together now, but it needs to come apart again as I can see dust on the internal elements. A bit of superglue I think once it is clean enough.

In a momentary lapse of concentration, I have also removed the counterweights from the mount when packing up before putting the mount back into the home position. Managed to stop the 'scope from swinging around and the camera from smashing into tripod - I only managed this by stupidly putting my hand in the way, but it was an instinct reaction. Didn't break anything (kit or body), but it was very painful.

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On 06/04/2020 at 08:06, nicoscy said:

Outreach 3 years ago with a school's astronomy club. Was giving my intro into the night sky green GPL presentation. We move to my scope (Tak FS-128 + trimmings) and someone had loosened the mount clamp while I was giving the presentation. 

Tak was sliding out of the clamp. I was holding my iPad. Took a fraction of a second to decide to throw the iPad away and jump for the scope. Scope saved, iPad screen cracked.

Thankfully, I held it together, no change of undies required 🤣

There probably aren't many things that would take precedence over saving a scope like that!

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Actually my thoughts were no where near about saving the scope. My worry was for the 8 year old observing. Fortunately I was able to nail both birds with one stone, saving the scope and injury to the child. 

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It was pretty heart-stopping when I was in my obsy scope room and a very sudden extreme gust of wind caught the roof like a sail, lifted it high into the air and deposited it upside down on the boundary fence 20ft away!!  Considering the roof weighs several hundredweight, that was pretty horrific!!  Fence destroyed but not too much damage to the roof.  Guess my over-engineering of the construction paid off...

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When I dabbled with a dual rig last year, I had used a guitar pick to shim the side of the dovetail on the 102EDR to help align the 2 scopes. Laptop was setup inside by the back door where I was sat and I watched in horror as the 102 pointed straight up with the 6D on the back slid straight down the saddle and luckily caught grip again at the last moment! If the scope survived, the camera wouldn't have! I promptly ditched the guitar pick idea and invested in a better clamp!

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Had one about a year ago when I went out to check on my imaging setup, and realized to my horror that the scope had run into one of the tripod legs.  Mount still kept churning, slipping with a "clack-clack-clack" sound 😱

Fortunately it seems nothing was damaged, as the mount has worked fine after the incident (HEQ5Pro), but it has certainly made me very aware of this potential problem.

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Shortly after getting it, I placed my az-eq6 onto its tripod and went inside to get a counterweight. As I was fiddling with the bar to slide the weight on, the mount started to topple off the tripod - I’d forgotten to clamp it on! I dropped the weight and quarter-caught the mount before it struck the concrete. A couple of bent dovetail bolts, easily replaced, and it all seemed good thereafter.

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  • 1 month later...

My heart-stopping moment was many years ago, when I snapped one side the dovetail bar under my ETX105, (it was a white metal casting one). Fortunately it was on grass. The only damage was to the plastic flip-mirror/weight housing mounting points and a large crack. Other than that everything else was intact with no sign of damage or dents to the OTA.   

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I "bounced" a Skywatcher May127 on the wood floor of my observatory?
I let the "business end" of a Skywatcher ED80 "backflip" onto the lounge
carpet while assembling it into my Solar Frankenscope. Both still work? 😛 

I HATE it that none of my scopes are entirely pristine/virginal/whatever! 🙄
(They SEEM to work... Something of a testament to luck and the maker?)

I suspect that my *bigger* scopes (weight wise) might not fare so well? 🤔
(I do try my best not to do "stupid things" these days, but... lol)

Edited by Macavity
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I was setting up in the dark of my garden, taking out my 200p, it is quite a wide scope and I always carry it out in front of me, almost vertical as it makes it easier to mount. Inside the house had full lights on so I had no night vision when I walked outside and promptly crashed the scope into a retracted clothesline- the scope then bounced back and I headbutted it for good measure.

Kind of caught me by suprise. Turns out when held out in front, the scope is wider than the clothesline pole. Gave me a good fright... but I never did it again.

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Two very different moments.

1) Many years ago I was quietly observing when one of my cat lept onto my back and just hung there. Heart stopping. 

2) Just leaving for the plane to go on holiday when I noticed some smoke near the observatory.  I thought "Hum, that bonfire is rather close." . On checking the whole thing had burnt to the ground. Jaw dropping. 

Regards  Andrew 

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29 minutes ago, Macavity said:

I "bounced" a Skywatcher May127 on the wood floor of my observatory?
I let the "business end" of a Skywatcher ED80 "backflip" onto the lounge
carpet while assembling it into my solar Frankenscope... Both still work? 😛 

I HATE it that none of my scopes are entirely pristine/virginal/whatever! 🙄
(They SEEM to work! Something of a testament to luck and the maker?)

I suspect that my *bigger* scopes (weight wise) might not fare so well? 🤔
(I try my best not to do "stupid things" these days, but... lol)

You have 'Frankenscope'...
@rorymultistorey (a.k.a. 'AstroBiscuit') has 'Riktenstein' and 'Pink Bunny' ...
I have what I call my 're-modded' ETX105 'the poor mans Questar'
...and it too still works.

PIC010.JPG.0427f5c9c080cd309eec4c8a1deff884.JPG

PIC011.JPG.d44aaf7659477cb4cf6a80da07ee9215.JPGPIC012.JPG.3b3b2b4aaf9826a35f9fd23345ee7b76.JPG

Together, we make a good team! :thumbsup:

Edited by Philip R
added some images
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Three recently:

1. Seeing the pic of @Stu’s blown over dob the other day

2. two weeks ago a blood curdling scream across the road. When I came to my senses and dried my trousers I realised it was a fox

3. A couple of years ago when in the  dome in darkness and complete silence, a bright light shone in and a man high vis jacket and peaked cap saying “allo allo what’s going on here then?”. Or words to that effect. 
 

All the other events have been blanked from my mind eventually, via therapy 🙂

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Many years ago, Es Reid would avail himself of my workshop and optical testing facilities to work on some of his "special" projects.  Occasionally he would do a few things for me.  One such thing was refiguring the corrector plate for one of the 8" F20 Schmidt-Cassegrains I used to build.  When he eventually finished it he left it set up on the collimator for me to have a look at next day when I arrived.  It was indeed a fine result. I took it off the optical bench, turned round to put it elsewhere and the corrector plate flew out of the tube and smashed into countless pieces, I didn't realise it was just propped in..  I wasn't looking forward to telling him!      😭 

Edited by Peter Drew
typo
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I was using a delos with a diagonal, I hadn't screwed it in very tight, neither the diagonal or the eyepiece, (You know what's coming don't you)

The diagonal rotated, the eyepiece fell to the floor denting the shaft badly although thankfully no damage done to the optics. 

I sent it back to TV who repaired it, wasn't cheap though but worth it. 

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Fortunately nothing terrible has happened to my equipment though I have heard scopes crash to the ground at star parties thanks to a sudden gust of wind.

 

However, I did experience one heart stopping moment with one of the university scopes. It was during my masters astrophysics project (photometry of T-Tauri stars) and my project partner and I were in the warm room controlling the data capture. The system was not completely remotely controlled. Pointing was done at the scope but the dome and camera were controlled from the warm room.

 

We had just completed a data run on one star and were moving onto the next. Fortunately no one had gone back to the dome to move the telescope on, but I decided to nudge the dome opening on to roughly the next stop (we had become very familiar with the relative positions of all our target stars). Hit the button to move and the top began to move and then B.A.N.G!!!

 

Sounded like a gun going off. The dome was moved by series of motors and high tension cables and one had failed quite spectacularly. Rushing over to the dome, cables had ripped out all over the place, one even wrapping round the scope.

 

Immediately ran back to the warm room and called our project supervisor who drove in. Took us about an hour to untangle everything and close up the dome. Luckily repairs were made quite quickly and the scope was up and running in only a few days. But just in that moment, our hearts skipped a beat.

 

But I got a first for the project so alls well that ends well! 😉

Edited by DirkSteele
Typo
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