The importance of portable astronomy kit

Clouds HEADER

Clouds: an astronomer’s nemesis. But it does help to have decent gear for when the skies do eventually clear. Credit: iStock

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Frustrated, but at least I have the gear.

That’s what I tell myself as I write this blog, the day after the 21 January perigee full Moon lunar eclipse (you may have heard it called ‘Blood Wolf Supermoon’ or something along those lines).

But the weather is something we have no control over, and you can either stay put and hope for that clear gap at the right time or, if you have a portable set-up, head off to find a site with possible clear sky.

This is why it is worth considering a set-up that can be quickly taken anywhere and have a quick set up time too.

However, a ‘portable’ set up can mean different things to different people.

On the one hand, small lightweight tracking mounts for cameras and small telescopes have become the mainstay of many who do a lot of travelling, especially for solar eclipse trips or for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday to far off lands where there might be a chance of seeing new skies and objects.

On the other hand, portability comes down to if a larger system can be broken down into manageable items and transported in a car to a dark site.

Many dedicated amateurs do this; I for one have done it many times.

So even something like the Celestron Advanced VX 9.25-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain Pete Lawrence reviews in the February issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine makes for a good portable setup for both visual and imaging.

Of course, for imaging you will need a camera, and in the Feb issue Tim Jardine explores the merits of the ToupTek G3M-224-C colour camera too.

So, regardless of the local weather, it’s a good plan to have options when it comes to beating that inevitable cloud mass that is determined to spoil your view of the sky.


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The February issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine is on sale 24 January!