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Best height for a tripod


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Dear all,

I was reading the latest Sky At Night and in an article about setting up a telescope the author advised setting the legs so the tripod (not including mount) is at hip height. Is that good advice?

The article did use a newt as an example, however, and I'm using a short refractor so I'm kind of assuming I'd need it set a little higher. I currently have mine set up so the top of the mount is more-or-less at face height and have been experimenting a little with different heights but haven't found a setting that's comfortable at my most common viewing angles (typically around 45-60 degrees from horizontal).

Thanks v much.

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While tripods are probably more stable if not fully extended, it's also important to be comfortable when you are observing - when your body is relaxed I believe that you concentrate more on what's being observed. I like to stand when observing but I've battled for years to find a solid tripod that gets my refractor eyepieces up to a comfortable height (between 4 and 5 feet in my case as I'm 6 feet tall).

If you are happy to observe when seated (which many prefer because it's even more relaxed) then you can reduce the tripod height accordingly.

I also have a marked preference for alt-azimuth mounts because they keep the eyepiece in a readily accessible position.

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While tripods are probably more stable if not fully extended, it's also important to be comfortable when you are observing

Indeed. The best height is what suits you. Unfortunately with most scopes the eyepiece height changes depending on the position of the target in the sky, which is where an observing seat/stool with variable height comes in - it's not feasible to keep altering the tripod height to suit, except when using lightweight binoculars on a camera tripod with a rising column.

Most commercial mounts come with tripods that vibrate rather a lot when extended. Berlebach make excellent wooden replacement tripods - wood is excellent at absorbing vibration & these work much better than metal; though the cost is substantial & the weight increase is significant these can still represent good value in terms of improving the view you get with a mid-range scope on a mid-range mount.

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I tend to stand when observing with the refractor. And so set the tripod to its max height and even then i have to stoop a bit. The good thing about the CG5 is the 2" steel tripod is very sturdy even when fully extended, especially with a C80 on board.

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Thank you all for your advice. I do find that with the current height that I'm midway between a crouch and a stoop which isn't a particularly comfortable viewing position so I'll have a go at working out a comfortable seated position and go from there. Shorter legs on the tripod should also hopefully make it easier to fit in through the side door of the garage when I store it.

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Thank you all for your advice. I do find that with the current height that I'm midway between a crouch and a stoop which isn't a particularly comfortable viewing position so I'll have a go at working out a comfortable seated position and go from there. Shorter legs on the tripod should also hopefully make it easier to fit in through the side door of the garage when I store it.

A lot of folks use an adjustable stool or an ironing seat (Lidl do them from time to time).

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I have the Lidl chair, highly recommend it when it comes up on their offers week.

I think i may have a play with seating positions, i only ever use the chair with the dob but could be time to sit with the refractor too.

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That's an awesome seat moonshane, I reckon I'll have to have a look to see what I can knock up with the leftovers in the corner of the garage. What kind of mechanism have you used to keep the seat at the right height?

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That's an awesome seat moonshane, I reckon I'll have to have a look to see what I can knock up with the leftovers in the corner of the garage. What kind of mechanism have you used to keep the seat at the right height?

Hi there and cheers Peter

I have just added some more pics so you can see the 'upgrades'.

if making it again I'd probably use a large dowel (like a bit of broom handle) to go across the back of the upright. It's all a bit Heath Robinson at the moment but works well. The good thing is that if it splits (and I live to tell the tale) I can always fix it for 'nothing'.

I weigh over 17 stone and can literally stand on the seat with no 'cracking sounds'.

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Being in a wheelchair i really cant say much about this but i'd imagine that a tripod set to standing waist height (not including mount) would only lead to a lot of back ache. I'd say chest high is a more comfortable height. When i use my 90EQ..............i have the legs fully collapsed (shortest height). Its comfortable from my wheelchair which is basically the same hight off the ground as a kitchen chair. Its not great though for observing at the zenith.

The main scope i use now is the SW Heritage 130P and it is FANTASTIC from horizon to zenith. I can adjust the height along the side "dovetail" bar to either higher or lower the EP.

I can very comfortably observe objects low down to the horizon and also straight up 90 degrees to zenith from my wheelchair. I sometimes put the scope on a Stanley stepstool/toolbox just to make it that little bit more comfy.

I'm looking forward to getting out in the garden and sitting on a blanket on the lawn and using the Heritage from ground level.

Sitting while observing really has many benifits. If you have never tried it..........................DO. The main benefit is that youe whole body is more relaxed and believe it or not...........................the muscles in your eyes are more relaxed and you can see better. All this bending over a scope and EP malarchy actually increases the blood pressure in your eyeballs and you cant see as well and your eyes tire quicker.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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I can very comfortably observe objects low down to the horizon and also straight up 90 degrees to zenith from my wheelchair. I sometimes put the scope on a Stanley stepstool/toolbox just to make it that little bit more comfy.

Hey!! I thought you didn't even have a hammer!?

I agree with everything you say about sitting down. I think it stops a lot of head swaying too and just allows more concentrated and fixed 'looking'.

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Hey!! I thought you didn't even have a hammer!?

I agree with everything you say about sitting down. I think it stops a lot of head swaying too and just allows more concentrated and fixed 'looking'.

LOL.............i dont own a hammer but i bought a stool/toolbox in Lidl for 12 euro because i thought it may be useful to sit on and observe closer to zenith with the 90EQ. Its only about 6" high. My wheelchair seat is at least 2.5-3 times that.

I just love buying useless stuff in Lidl.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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LOL.............i dont own a hammer but i bought a stool/toolbox in Lidl for 12 euro because i thought it may be useful to sit on and observe closer to zenith with the 90EQ. Its only about 6" high. My wheelchair seat is at least 2.5-3 times that.

I just love buying useless stuff in Lidl.

true enough

:)

if they come up again you could always get another to store your eyepieces and bits in!

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true enough

:)

if they come up again you could always get another to store your eyepieces and bits in!

I have a alluminium case (Celestron EP kit) for that. But i am thinking of ditching that and adding an EP holder to the base of my Heritage.

I just need to buy a drill to do that.

LOL.

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Sitting while observing really has many benifits. If you have never tried it..........................DO. The main benefit is that youe whole body is more relaxed and believe it or not...........................the muscles in your eyes are more relaxed and you can see better. All this bending over a scope and EP malarchy actually increases the blood pressure in your eyeballs and you cant see as well and your eyes tire quicker.

I had no idea about eyeball pressure, thats very interesting to know. Sitting down it's so much easier to keep my head still and deal with any of the eye relief stuff, keep maps to hand etc. Maybe it'd be good to have some kind of astro lecturn to lean on when I don't have chair to hand or don't think to adjust the tripod before starting.

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I had no idea about eyeball pressure, thats very interesting to know. Sitting down it's so much easier to keep my head still and deal with any of the eye relief stuff, keep maps to hand etc. Maybe it'd be good to have some kind of astro lecturn to lean on when I don't have chair to hand or don't think to adjust the tripod before starting.

Its all to do with the carotid artery in your neck. When you bend your head downwards (looking into a scope EP) you are pushing against the main artery that supplies blood to the head thus the blood flow becomes stemmed and there is a build up of pressure (and lack of oxygen) to the head and the eyeballs.

If you tilt your head right back as far as it can go....you are doing the same thing (but it is more dangerous). The longer you keep your head tilted backwards......the more chance you have of passing out. You wont pass out with your head tilted downwards looking into the scope.

It happened to me once. I was reaching up very high for something and my head was tilted as far back as it could go and i pinched the artery closed and passed out for a few seconds.

DONT TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS.

Sorry for going slightly off topic but i think its important that people know this and why it is so much better for you to observe from a seated position (or any position where the neck is not bent/tilted to look into the EP).

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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