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Tantalus

Astronomy by Bike?

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Looking at dark-sky maps, I've noticed that there are some areas with virtually no LP further down the North Lincolnshire coastline, and temptingly close to home, within 20 or so miles. Yesterday I cycled 15 miles (30 mile round trip) to one nominal site, and at 18:00, and with no cloud, the sky was amazing. The Milky Way was good and bright, and even before my eyes had become dark adapted I was picking out constellations and naked-eye targets that are normally very difficult from home. I didn't stay too long though, because it was bitterly cold and I hadn't prepared for a long stay; this was just a look-see.

The trip was worth it and I'd love to bring a scope down here, but I don't drive (by choice) and my preferred form of transport is a bicycle. I don't have a problem cycling long distances, even at night, but is it possible to transport a scope by bicycle?

I have thought of using a fishing rod holder to carry the 5" refractor carefully padded, and saddle bags for an EQ3-2 mount, but I guess the scope could suffer serious collimation damage. I don't think a trailer would help either. I could of course get a smaller compact scope, but again I'd worry about the collimation. Anyone on here done astronomy on a bike or motorbike? Am I crazy for considering this?

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I think it's perfectly possible. I'd probably approach it the same way you're going. Scope under the top-tube, maybe in some kind of bungy/sprung holder? and then mount in the panniers... No reason it should be any worse than transporting the 'scope by car I don't think.

What about the tripod? On top of the rack maybe?

I had a fun summer night bike ride trying to explain to my companions that you could tell which was north because the sky was lighter in that direction... I think they got it eventually :)

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I used to do this a while back when my car was out of action for a bit. I live very close to the countryside in Northumberland, so with my WO Megrez in its backpack, tripod tied onto the bike frame, I hopped on for a 5 mile ride to some lovely dark skies, great :)

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Sometimes use my trike and trailer locally. Just make sure the scope is well padded....and don't forget to take your eyepieces :)

post-13079-133877499878_thumb.jpg

Edited by JohnC

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Hi. Callisto's suggestion of a WO in it's rucksack is very good. My Megrez 80 is in a nice small backpack that only gets used for home storage. You can get things like an ETX90 or a Skymax in a rucksack. By keeping the scopes on you, rather than the bike, they are proected from shock and vibration.

Being a lazy so and so, I won't be trying it though!

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Hi,

I don't think you are.

At least one manufacturer has brought out a short tube scope and accompanying backpack, well padded, just for that purpose. Whatever pack you use, it should be really well padded, to avoid frequent collimation!

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Thanks guys... Some interesting feedback. Ep's and tripod are not a problem, my main concern was collimation, but if a Megrez can be transported then I'll certainly give it a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained... :)

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I would say a pair of Binos would be an ideal start to see how you get on with the whole travelling to observe as it is a lot of effort

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I'd say big binos and an Alt-Az mount as well.

Or a short fast refractor on Alt-Az mount.

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I was told by a bike fiend that astronomy on two wheels was easy. He recons that a tube should be carried objective up in the backpack. Never side ways.

I've haven't seen the inside of a William Optics backpack but I bet it stores the scope objective down !

He used an alt az mount on a sturdy photo tripod.

Dave.

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I did for a time think of transporting my 8" dob in a custom trailer towed behind the bike. That idea lost steam when I remembered that there were no decent observing sites worth travelling to within less than 5 miles.

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I rather like the carrier of JohnC, you are transporting a refractor, which should hold collimation well, you could make a special like JohnC`s with the scope slung inside on bungee cords to cushion any vibration, just like they used to carry Nitroglycerin.

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i carry my nexstar 5 on oneof those kids trailers the trailer has some suspension and I've never had problems with collimation, strap it in with the seat belts fine something like this

Child Bike Trailer / Stroller / Jogger with SUSPENSION. 1 or 2 Children: Amazon.co.uk: Sports & Leisure

The idea of having a child in one of those is totally Horrific

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Yeh, definately!

They were great at center parcs but I'd be terrified to use one on public roads...or even paths!

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wouldnt put my child in one but it does me to carry my scope and the extra wheel makes for a handy trolley when i push it down a path

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For sure! It looks fantastic for the purpose you use it for.

Bet the scope enjoys it too :)

I'm picturing the scope sticking its head out the side with its tongue out catching the breeze when he goes downhill :D

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"Sometimes use my trike and trailer"

V.nice JohnC - "The Recumbant Astronomer" springs to mind as an ID lol :)

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Hi, whilst making your own way to a dark site by bike is perfectly feasable, would there not be someone that lived close to you that also wanted to observe from a dark site that could pick you up and observe with you? Friendly bunch on here and people often welcome the chance to observe with others.

If you dont mind me asking, where roughly in Lincolnshire are you, just roughly?

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I was hoping I could avoid using a trailer if possible, but I haven't ruled them out entirely. I suppose the best thing to do is to give it a shot and see how I get on.

Hi, whilst making your own way to a dark site by bike is perfectly feasable, would there not be someone that lived close to you that also wanted to observe from a dark site that could pick you up and observe with you? Friendly bunch on here and people often welcome the chance to observe with others.

If you dont mind me asking, where roughly in Lincolnshire are you, just roughly?

There are some astro-types near me, and I'm a member of the local AS. But I work shifts, and making prior arrangements can often be difficult. I also like the freedom of going where I want when I want, and seeing as I'm often out on my bike at night, It makes sense to combine the two. I'm in Grimsby, by the way Oldfruit, but I don't live rough... :)

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I must admit to enjoying cycling too but have never even thought of combining it with astronomy. I understand what you mean about where you want and when you want. I have probably got too used to driving anywhere over 5 miles from home.

P.S. glad you aint living rough:).

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