BEST TELESCOPES & GEAR FOR
While there are definite perks to having a large dobsonian or a complex astrophotography rig, one of the downsides is that they can be difficult to transport, especially on an airplane. So, what is an astronomer to do if he or she wants to observe in a different state/country/hemisphere? Not to worry, we have plenty of ideal travel setups for visual astronomers and astrophotographers alike.
The biggest concerns when traveling with a telescope are size and weight. Being able to get a full setup in a compact space is key and minimizing the number of separate parts you have to put together is definitely helpful. In this realm, you will typically have to sacrifice on aperture (there is just no way to make a 30” mirror fit under the seat in front of you).
For The Visual Observer
Table-top setups can be a great telescope travel solution. For example our Sky-Watcher USA Virtuoso mount weighs in at less than 12 lbs (and the tube a mere 3.1 lbs!). This little scope is perfect for observing planets, the moon, the sun, globular clusters, and much more while on a trip. We also recommend the Sky-Watcher USA’s AllView mount carrying their Esprit 80mm or Evostar 80mm telescope as an excellent visual travel scope. Additionally, Celestron’s 5SE or Evolution 6” are both great travel telescopes, though they probably won’t fit well as a carry-on on a plane, so be prepared to carry those in a car or secure them as checked baggage. There are also the Celestron and Vixen line of spotting scopes and tripods. These are excellent options that can fit in a backpack and be used for terrestrial or astronomical viewing.
For The Astrophotographer
We highly recommend Sky-Watcher USA’s Star Adventurer mount (in either its Astro or Photo configuration) and latitude base. It is one of the best equatorial travel mounts available. It is small and compact, as well as accurate and robust, and is easy to carry with you. With a payload of 11 lbs, you could easily mount a DSLR and lens, or one of our smaller Sky-Watcher USA Maksutov-Cassegrains like the 90mm (though an autoguider will probably be necessary at this focal length). Sky-Watcher USA also has the even more compact Star Adventurer Mini which provides some amazing Wi-Fi capabilities. There is also the iOptron SkyTracker Pro for a great portable equatorial tracking mount for DSLRs and lens combinations. This traveling telescope setup will allow you to image the night sky anywhere, with the accuracy necessary to capture beautiful images.
Traveling somewhere other than your local observing sites with your astronomy gear can feel overwhelming at times. Typically, telescopes tend to be large and heavy, and the mounts for those scopes are even more cumbersome. However, thanks to some of the new products and innovations, portable astronomy is now easy and affordable. Let the staff at Cloud Break Optics help you pick the perfect gear for your next trip!
Sky-Watcher USA EvoView 80mm EvoStar Doublet APO Refractor on AllView Mount (S20160)
Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerized Telescope and Deluxe Mars Observing Kit