Hitting the road and exploring dark skies sounds like the ideal getaway for most stargazers, but a daunting hurdle to overcome is the fear of damage to your scope. Here are our top tips for travelling safely with your scope this summer.
Disassemble the Telescope
The first step to travelling safely with your scope is to take the telescope apart. Ensure that the optical tube assembly (OTA) is removed from the mount, and if possible the mount is removed from the tripod. Take any accessories such as guide scopes or telrads off the OTA also. This keeps your gear safe, and free from being snagged, crushed or caught.
Storing the Telescope
Depending on your telescope, there are several options you can take to make sure your telescope arrives in one piece. If your telescope came in a protective case, place it in the case and place it somewhere in your car where it won’t slide or rattle around too much. For smaller scopes without a case, a valid option may be to create your own case with a metal tool box and some foam lining. If you’ve got a Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope, stand the scope up in the back seat and buckle it into place. For large reflecting or refracting telescopes, such as Dobsonians, lay them horizontally across the backseat of your car, and buckle them up for extra piece of mind. Alternatively, you can store your scope in the cardboard box it came in for that extra layer of security and peace of mind.
The size and awkward shape of telescope mounts can make transporting them tricky. Find somewhere in your car where the mount can be placed so it is lying on its side, somewhere such as the boot or passenger footwells suit this perfectly. Tripod legs can be stored anywhere they can be laid down, making sure they won’t bump into any other pieces of gear.
The odds and ends of your telescope set up can be transported easily. For eyepieces, we recommend a padded case with foam cut outs. Foam segments can be removed so that eyepieces fit snuggly and won’t roll loose. Filters, Barlow lenses and adaptors also fit well into these cases. For hand controllers, cables and other miscellaneous items, nothing works better than a small tool box or tackle box. All components are kept in one place, and won’t go missing in transit.
Despite the best intentions and perfect preparation, damage can still occur. We recommend carefully inspecting your gear as you set it up to make sure everything is in working order. This can include checking collimation of reflecting scopes, inspecting eyepiece glassware and mirrors, and checking all gear is present.
Riley is an experienced astronomy guide who has been working within the astronomy community for several years. He is incredibly passionate about the night sky and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, Math and Education.
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