Winter viewing with an SCT

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Winter viewing with an SCT


Post by Glenbo58 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:22 pm

Hi everyone,

I live in the Muskokas of Ontaio Canada where the temperature can flux between +35.f to -15f. on a given day or evening this time of year.
I bought a vintage Celestron Ulltima 8 PEC from the mid nineties as it has a solid reputation for optics & a rock solid steady (and friggin heavy) fork, wedge & tripod. The only thing that I did not properly research is the large cooldown time required to properly use it in this kind of climate. Thus it has not been outside since late October. I have a dew shield but no heater. Many have said to store it outside the house in a n unheated shed or garage. It has a big protective case for storage but can I rally do that without hurting the scope? Im just not really willing to spend hrs of cooldown for maybe an hr. of viewing. Did I make the right choice?

My first scope was a 5 in. reflector & used it outside all the time with little trouble this time of year.I found that some of the best viewing was in the winter time.
I like planetary viewing but starting to take an interest in DSO's too. Was tinkering with the idea of a used grab & go APO refractor with a simple tripod for winter viewing that I could also piggyback on my SCT in the spring summer fall months.

Thoughts or other ideas?
Celestron Ultima 8 Pec
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Post by Lady Fraktor » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:36 pm

Yes you can store the telescope outside without damaging it, if you have a case to keep dust/ creatures off of it even better.
For DSO viewing a apochromatic really is not required, a decent achromat will do just fine or even a ED achromat.
Enjoy the views when you can, cold weather viewing can be fun as long as your are not cold.
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Post by Don Quixote » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:49 pm

I store my big Cats in my unheated garage just off the concrete under a tarp. When I have a sky and the will to go it is always ready as far as ambient temps are concerned.

You have a nice case...even better!

For me it is about the setup in the bitter cold.
My fingers don't work as well as they used to and I am always thinking about my fingers. I cannot feel anything in my left hand so I have to be careful of freezing and not knowing I have done it.

When it is bitter cold, frostbite cold, I usually go with my 100mm ed frac which I also keep in the garage...much less to lift and manage in the cold. The tube gets a nice frosty coating after a good session. 😁
I bring it back into the garage, and leave it uncovered on my cg4 mount. By the next morning the frost has sublimated and I cover it with a big beach towel.

I hope you gave some nice clear nights that are not too awfully cold.
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Post by Bigzmey » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:36 pm

Having small refractor is a good idea. There are nights when you don't have time, desire or conditions to drag large scope out.
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Post by OzEclipse » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:11 am

I agree with other posts, just store it cold. It won't do it any harm provided the storage area is dry so that you don't get any moisture or condensation.
Bringing a cold telescope into a warm humid house usually results in instant condensation all over which could do more harm long term.

You could also consider selling it and switching to a cassegrain type of instrument such as a Vixen VMC200L. With the open tube and no corrector, they cool down much faster and no problems with dew or frost forming on the corrector plate. You may also see Vixen VC200L's advertised second hand or new. The VC200L is an astrographic instrument. Though it provides reasonable views, its large central obsruction is designed to provide a fully illuminated photographic field and is not an ideal instrument for viewing.

You will need to purchase a separate mounting for it but the 8" Vixen OTA's only weigh about 7kg. Easy to set up and will sit nicely on a light HEQ-5.

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Post by Glenbo58 » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:39 am

Funny you should mention the VIixen VC200L, as there is one with a Sphinx goto mount for a really good price closeby. Did a rather extensive investigation on it & concluded that other than much better cool down time & being much lighter overall, that viewing quality would only be slightly sharper than the C8. For the difference in price I would have to pay if I sold my Ultima 8 I think a good 80mm. refractor would compliment my Ultima 8
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