Packing it all up
Most of us do not have the luxury of a suitable observing site in the backyard and we end up hauling our telescopes for many miles. I can't even begin to observe until I get about 50 miles outside the Atlanta Perimeter Highway and another 30 miles is needed to get real dark sky.
For those of us who head off to star parties, it's necessary to keep your equipment organized. There is nothing worse than driving 800 miles to a star party only to discover you left an essential part at home!
Some people use the checklist method; go through a list to make sure they have everything when they leave for an observing site and, again, when they leave for back home. Yes, it works, but it's an involved procedure that doesn't work for me. I much prefer the "place for everything and everything in it's place" school of thought. There is an eyepiece case, a telescope case, a tripod/wedge case, a solar observing case and a miscellaneous parts case. Before leaving I just count to 5 (or 4 if not observing the sun) and make sure all the cases are there.
One of the best inventions to make the life of a Celestron owner simple is the Orion softcase. I bought mine a couple years ago and have never regretted it. Much easier to handle than the standard Celestron footlocker, this case makes transporting the C-8 a dream. It seems to do a wonderful job of protecting the tube assembly. I leave my scope in my vehicle all the time and it does not seem to have suffered from loss of collimation due to being bounced around.
A good eyepiece case not only serves to keep your eyepieces in one place, but also protects them from dew and man-handling. This is a Doskocil camera case that I bought from one of the large, local camera stores. It's not cheap (I think it was $40 or so) but it keeps eyepieces safe and secure. You will also notice that every hole in the case is filled. One quick look will show me if someone borrowed the 9mm and hasn't returned it yet. Each eyepiece has a fixed hole in which to sit - a place for everything and everything in its place!
Here's the case I use to carry all the other cases! Makes life much easier when you can store all your observing stuff in a vehicle and not have to pack anything!
One modification Harry Gelblat and I built was a portable bookcase/desk that goes into the back of the van. I used to haul all my observing books around in a backpack, but find this a much nicer solution. If you have a truck, you might wish to consider building something similar. The double doors on the back of the van are open and you are looking in. On the left of the case are all my observing books. On the right is a 3 drawer storage unit I found at the Container Store. The bottom drawer holds the drive corrector; the middle holds all the tools, mounting bolts, Advanced Astromaster, pens, observing flashlights...etc and the top drawer carries the Orion Dewzapper strip and the little 12v hair dryer. The other cases for eyepieces, solar observing and such fit into the space underneath the desk unit. Using bungee cords, I keep my copy of Skyatlas 2000 strapped down to the top of the unit and an observing chair secured to the left side. The convenience of this bookcase/desk has been incredible and, best of all, it keeps most of the dew off the books even though the writing surface extends a bit past the end of the van.
Here's the unit closed and ready for travel. You can see the observing chair to the left and the star atlas on top. If you think I am happy with this accessory - you are correct!
Here's an additional suggestion for carrying your C-8. This suggestion came from:email@example.com
I use a travel golf bag that I bought at Sam's Club to carry my Celstar 8 wedgepod. The bag is designed to protect a golf bag filled with clubs, so it's quite roomy. It also has a large exterior accessory pouch. The entire bag is covered with extry heavy duty nylon. The back lower half and bottom have an interior hard plastic casing with external skid pads and permanently mounted wheels. The upper half of the bag is padded. It really works well, and is a perfect fit. I'm sure there are other travel golf bags that would do the job, but this one seems to be custom made to carry a Celstar 8 wedgepod. The brand name is Hilton Head Pro Edition. It cost $50. P.S. It came with a separate golf shoe bag, which I gave my wife as a present. Hey, the girls deserve something too!
For the optical tube assembly, I purchased a 28" tow along luggage bag, with wheels and an extendable handle, the kind that airline crews drag along behind them at airports. The body is approximately 14" square. It cost $20, also at Sam's club. The entire main side of the bag unzips for easy scope storage. I lined the case with sheets of 1" foam pillow/seat cushion material purchased at a fabric shop. The bag has narrow zipper compartments in the top, back and along one side, into which I permanently installed foam sheets. I also installed a layer of foam at the bottom of the case, along with a piece of thick posterboard for added strength. I wrap foam around the OTA when it has been place in the bag. I made one minor modification to
the bag. I cut a small hole in the fabric which separates the main compartment and the top foam filled compartment, so the focus knob could poke through without being placed under pressure. Overall, it turned out to be a very good fit. It's easy to handle and it stores neatly in the trunk of
my Toyota Camry. Hope this is helpful to others.
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