Sunday, February 21, 2010

A case for the quick set Winter (or why astronomers should never HIBERNATE!.

Just to summarize:

I have been looking at double I normally do. Eta Orionis is fab! Go look at it! Mars has been great. This has been a good opposition. Go look at it! Saturn is back, it's great! Go look at it!

So anyway...

But what I want to do is talk about the quick set up. I honestly feel today's amateur short changes himself/herself by imposing a moratorium on winter observing because of the usual's too cold, the set up takes too long, it's too cold...blah, blah, blah. The question of portability has more involved in it than "can I lift it"...just like picking the right clothing, picking the right telescope is very important.

Okay so it might sound more like a "Pronto Brag" (thanks SUG!). But whatever you have, the case for the "quick set up" is this. If it takes too long to set up, takes too long to cool down and quite frankly, is too cold to touch in the dead of winter, chances are you have the wrong "winter scope". This assumes you live in a snowy country (what snow? Toronto has had so little this year). If you are observing in Florida, you might want to skip this blog entry.

Any small Refractor, SCT/CAT, 6"-8" Dob or Reflector that can be mounted to a sturdy, portable AZ mount (or EQ if not too big) is desirable. In my case, the Tele Vue Pronto which can be converted to so many different types of observing, it's been a great scope in the quicky set up (assuming I remember to convert it to the right dovetail--side note to that is I merged the universal dovetail to the TV balance plate--that worked!).

How fast is the Pronto up? Well, under 10 minutes. I would hazard a guess that I could set up the Pronto in five minutes with heaters and e/p's ready to go. Simple AZ mounting, no motors, no polar alignment, no elaborate GO-TO alignment. Set up fast, to be taken down fast. Oh and the big thing. Short cool down time. Less than 30 minutes on average. You don't know how important that is till you drag out the monster aperture and it cools down after you want to go home.

So whatever you do, the quick set up adds to your winter enjoyment. While you don't have the aperture to work with, or perhaps the elaborate, imaging set up, the old argument, "the best telescope is the one you use most often", comes into play. It's far more important that the astronomer is "out looking through equipment" rather than "looking at equipment"....


  1. Oh Mark so true. We place so many conditions on this astronomy stuff. Quick easy setups provide freedom and copious photons per minute usage!(pretty neat verbiage - what did I say?)

    Anyway what you said was well said and you should speak of Pronto under such glowing terms - he is designed for this. With SO MANY super OTAs from high end Refractors/Macs to budget Reflectors along with great alt/az mounts the possibilities are plentiful! Love the "looking through" vs "the looking at"! In the super cold and quick observe my wife's 8"Dob is the ticket! Mr.Dr.Drive By's 60mm Coronado on the simple alt/az is the bomb! Just today he was out in the Buffalo cold taking in Solar vistas.

    Please do not tell your lil twerp that I would enjoy one of his cousins..........

  2. I won't tell the Pronto'll go to it's head...

    The quicky configurations are:

    Pronto/Camera tripod (okay but not great)
    Pronto/AZ-3 Mount (better, but not the best)
    Pronto/AZ-4HD and HD tripod (best)
    Pronto/Super Polaris Mount (getting heavy)
    SP-C102/Super Polaris Mount (pushing the limit)
    C102/EQ5 and HD tripod (not and ideal quick set up)