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Thread: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

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    Default Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?



    I'm curious to know if anyone has ever modified a camping tent to make a portable observatory. I'm considering this; the only really half-way decent area I have for observing is in my front yard, next to the road. The car headlights are killing me. My back yard is out of the question as I have too many trees; and to build a backyard observatory would be a tricky proposition as I'd have to build an elevated platform to get high enough to see over them.

    The only option I can think of is a tent observatory or other portable observatory of some sort. Something that can be erected quickly and easily retrieved at the end of the session. I've been looking at tents; and it would seem that the taller dome-shaped camping version might be easy to modify by removing the mesh window.

    Anybody ever do something like this?
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    I did back when my back yard was under a street light and my only telescope was a small refractor.

    The Avid Astronomer

    It did help a lot, although moving to a different part of the sky to observe meant moving the telescope and pointing it through a different window in the tent. A bit inconvenient, but it was especially nice in the winter to keep the wind off me as well as the stray light pollution.

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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    In your signature I noticed that you use a EQ mount. Here in is a big part of the issue you'll encounter with a window in a tent. EQ mounts take up a lot of real-estate. I saw a pic on the net (Google DIY observatory) where the person was using a 1/2 tent. A lot of the flex-pole tents need a floor in them to support the tension of the poles that keep it up. This would negate the ability to rotate your window without messing up your PA.

    Wish I could be more help. Hmmm, maybe you should consider purchasing 5 acres of land from me. It's dark here! (Just kidding)
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    Well, Option #2 that I am considering would be taking some PVC pipe and tarpaulins and erect some walls around my observing area. This would give me a clear sky above and allow the EQ mount to move freely. I'm mainly trying to consider all possible courses of action to improve upon my situation. And while 5 dark acres in Saskatchewan sounds inviting, I'd never persuade my better half to be that far away from her grandkids!
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    Quote Originally Posted by GulfCoastGuy View Post
    I saw that, but they are unavailable until next year.
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    One of the biggest hobby killers is the set-up and tear-down time, well for me anyway. When you first start out it doesn't seem like a big deal, most find it gets old fast.

    What kind of trees are in your back yard? Proper pruning could give you some sort of window back there. There are a couple AP guys on here with postage sized "windows of opportunity" in their locations.
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillrat View Post
    One of the biggest hobby killers is the set-up and tear-down time, well for me anyway. When you first start out it doesn't seem like a big deal, most find it gets old fast.

    What kind of trees are in your back yard? Proper pruning could give you some sort of window back there. There are a couple AP guys on here with postage sized "windows of opportunity" in their locations.
    Mostly they are some nearly 50 year old shady maples, most in the 60 to 80 foot range. I do have one Canadian Red Maple (love the red in the fall) but it is a slow-growing tree. And my better half won't let me trim them down as she likes the shade.
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    I *just* priced out making an 8*8*6 foot high 1.5" PVC frame with 3- 6x9 tarps. If you make two side fixed - ie glued to make two rectangles then you can pin (using nails with pre-drilled holes) the middle pipes to the two rectangles. The only real problem I found was trying to find a 3-dimensional corner piece. I found Ys, Ts, and +s, but nothing for the "true corner" of a cube. So you would have to add a small connector pipe and a 90degree bend. The sides could have the tarps zip tied. This would not take a lot of space as it is totally collapsible... I figure probably 5-10 minute set up. Total cost was about $120.

    I guess I finally got to my closest neighbor as he turned off his all night light last night. It was amazing how well I could see into his backyard with out the blinding light. I'm processing images from last night's unguided test run... and it's looking pretty good. Still trying to decide whether to make the jump to actually building the "observing cube".
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    Default Re: Has anyone ever modified a tent to make a portable observatory?

    Quote Originally Posted by TOTSUWA View Post
    ... my better half won't let me trim them down as she likes the shade.
    You'll miss her sometimes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Star Dad View Post
    ... I found Ys, Ts, and +s, but nothing for the "true corner" of a cube...
    https://www.amazon.com/1-1-3-way-Elb...70_&dpSrc=srch
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