Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My 8" F/4 travel scope: Traveling

I visited my parents in BC, Canada, and finally got to do air travel with my travel telescope, which is what it was designed for.  The eight pound mirror box was in my backpack.  The rest of the scope (another 8.5 pounds) was in my suitcase, as were my eyepieces.  It made it just fine.  On the way out, I had to open the mirror box cover up for TSA.  They asked about a blackish stain on the mirror box, which I said was either paint or a table saw burn (closer examination later revealed that it was the latter).  No questions were asked on the return.

The eyepieces were packed mostly in bolt cases, and then in bubble envelopes, and a soft bag that was inside my and my son's big suitcase.  There was also my home-made laser, which I put in a cardboard box that I labeled "telescope collimation laser" because I knew it might puzzle TSA.  In both directions, the suitcases ended up with a card from TSA saying they had opened it.  They kind of messed it up on the return leg, not zipping up the inner bag with the eyepieces, and putting the lightshield randomly in the middle of the suitcase, rather than tucked in by the bearings to prevent damage.  But no damage was done to anything.

The scope did very well on Saturna Island.  I used to think it was no good for planetary purposes, but one night it actually did decently on Jupiter and the moon at 200X (TMB/BO 6mm + Barlow cell).  I had hoped for darker skies, and I thought that with the moon rising at around 10:30 pm, I'd get some dark sky time before moonrise, but I forgot that up north in the summer it only gets dark really late--like 10:45 pm.  Moreover, with the moon rising over the sea, even when the moon was very low, it was not covered by anything.  Nonetheless, my parents and sister liked the E.T. / Owl Cluster, and several other deep sky objects, and both Jupiter and the moon were hits.  Maybe next time I visit, I will do a public star night.

I also got to see some nice killer whales through the scope.  The scope works quite well for terrestrial purposes at 27X (30mm Rini)--the whales were quite some distance away, but they were very clear.  And the mount is nicely solid for daytime use, and one doesn't need to worry about objects slipping from the field of view.

I did find that with my 13mm Hyperion, the balance was off for elevations below about 30 degrees, even with the springs attached.  For low elevation work, I ended up hanging a small drawstring bag with about one to pounds worth of stuff inside.  I hung it from the wingnuts holding the strut to the mirror box.  I like this way of doing a counterweight--I can just travel with a drawstring bag, and then fill it at the destination with whatever heavy objects (rocks, other eyepieces, whatever) I can find, and the counterweight doesn't add to the travel weight.


  1. I think the public star night is a good idea. I should be going to my first one this coming up Saturday.

    When looking at the orcas with the telescope, does them being upside-down not bother you?

  2. Since the eyepiece is on top, you can turn your body around so it's not upside down--it's just that then you have your back to where the telescope is pointing.