Astrophotography forum > Reflectors Telescopes Forum

Leave Scope Outside for the Night or Bring it In?

(1/4) > >>

Gabriel Green:
Last night, although it was still light outside, there was not a cloud in the sky.  I wanted to see M31 and other objects towards the northeast and north which are not visible from my driveway, so I rolled the scope (I have added 10" pneumatic wheels and wheelbarrow handles to my 12 1/2" because my icon pic was shot) to the garden where I'd have a crystal clear view.  Since I really don't have a ramp to get the wheels across the checking bordering my driveway, I couldn't move the 100' directly to the backyard, and so I rolled the scope about 240 additional feet up the front walkway, in which there is a break in the curbing, and around the house in the other direction to the rear.  (I should add, it's a bumpier excursion going in that direction but collimation appeared to hold.)  I set up everything and then went indoors to see the Olympics on TV.  At 11, I went out and wouldn't you know it, strong clouds had gathered!  Naturally, I had been completely PO'ed but not wanting to leave the scope out for the night, and try again tonight if it's supposedly going to become clear, I reversed the procedure but I was wondering, do you people ever leave your stuff out in your yard, supposing the weather for the next 24 hours or so will be good, or would you bring it all in after every observing session?The issues I'm wondering about are the ramifications of overnight dew or whatever on the optics, painted cardboard tube, wood foundation and mount; and anything else I'm not considering.  In addition, I have a plastic lid that seals the top of the cardboard tube, a lace bag for your diagonal along with a giant plastic garbage bag covering the whole assembly too.  (A Telegizmos cover is in the plans for the long term, I believe.)

And no, I'm not in an urban jungle; this really is a wonderful safe suburban bedroom community along with also the scope in the backyard isn't even visible from the street.  (And moreover, 95% of the people who have seen it have no clue what it is.)

What do you do?

Lance Soto:
In the past, I left mine out once in a while to see planets visible just before dawn. Like you, I live where it's secluded so there were no worries about monkey business.

I have to say that once your scope has cooled completely overnight, it's possible to have superb views. My best-even view of Saturn through a 4mm Radian was probably just before the sky started to lighten. Sharp as a photo. That experience is etched in my memory.

The scope can become completely wet with dew on the outside. I used shower caps on the front and back to keep out spiders and other small crawlies while I slept. Like you, I worried a bit about the scope materials that are sensitive to moisture. Since then, I've painted the outside of my tube with many coats of paint, sealed around the bottom periphery of my circular ground board's edge banding, and looked for possible routes of entry for moisture. Any exposed bits of particleboard were painted.

So far, so good.

I live in a similar situation where I have no concern about vandals, thieves, etc... and I have left mine out for days at a time. I have a plastic insert to cap off the tube but I cover my complete setup with a tarp. While I have had the setup get completely SOAKED during viewing from dew, if I'm not actively using it I don't see the point in unnecessarily exposing it to the elements. A nice clean tarp from Home Depot or the like is cheap and keeps things dry. Since yours is on wheels covering it like you did with the plastic bag would even protect it from the unexpected summer shower and the wheels would keep it up off the ground. I've even done this with my APO and EQ mount overnight.

I don't doubt that some people will say it is a bad idea but for my equipment it's has been fine and I stress, I don't leave it out like this for weeks. But, I have done it from time to time for 2 - 3 days at a time.

Hi.... I live in Fairbanks, Alaska where it is cold, but dry. I will leave tripods, mounts and OTA out for several days if it is clear. But, I cover them with several polar fleece blankets and a Goretex cover over that. Plus, I roll a deck sized umbrella over them all. They stay cold, minimizes thermal shocks, and spin up easily. Some wooden tripods in the mix, but I have refinished and oiled those.
Works very well. Standard OTA caps for all.

I would routinely leave my 18-inch Litebox Dob outside in my village backyard for up to two weeks at a time, spring, summer and fall, with the scope always covered with a Telegizmos cover when not in use. Unfortunately, during these stretches there would be several days with brisk winds, which will take its toll on the cover. Basically, it might go a year before it starts shredding. I’ve gone through three covers in the last six years, so now its time for a more durable solution.

In your circumstance, I think your Achilles heel is the cardboard tube... if your location is subject to heavy dewing, moisture will eventually take its toll on your tube. Covering the scope would only prolong the inevitable. If you’re just planning to leave the scope out for a night or so every once in a while, you should be okay.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version