When itís late, youíre
a fun night of observing at your favorite dark sky site and itís
time to pack up the telescope and
drive back home,
that's when youíre most likely to drop an eyepiece, lose a cap, your
car keys, or do something
else that you really wouldnít
like to do normally.
Fatigue can make all of us do stupid things that are expensive
to fix or replace later.
Itís a good idea to pack up before you get to your tolerance
points for fatigue or cold. Experience
will tell you where these points
are for you.
If youíre driving home late, remember that youíll need to be sharp
behind the wheel.
The first thing you
should do when packing up the telescope is
put the cap or cover over the
end of the telescope to
protect the mirror or lens and keep anything from dropping
down the tube and onto your
mirror. Next, put
the cap on the exposed eyepiece you were using, then carefully remove the
eyepiece, replacing the caps over the focuser and on the
other end of the eyepiece. Remember
to unscrew any filters that
you might have been using on the
eyepiece before putting it back in its
an equatorially mounted telescope, next ensure that the counterweights are
at their lowest possible point of travel to avoid injury or irreparable
damage in the following steps. Once the counterweights are in the 'safe'
position, loosen the clamps holding the telescope to the equatorial mount,
then carefully remove the telescope and place it in it's case.
Important - do NOT remove the counterweights before removing the telescope
because your telescope could slam down hard causing damage to both your
telescope and your mount and perhaps injury to you also.
Finally, remove the counterweights one at a time, remove the equatorial
mount head from the tripod and place it in its case, then finally, fold up
a wedge mounted Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, double check that the
cap is securely on the front of the scope and that visual back
is also capped tightly. Using the declination axis, lock the
Schmidt-Cassegrain so that the optical tube is aligned with the forks
and that the front of the tube is faced downward towards the clock drive.
Lock the declination axis in this position, and lock your right ascension
axis unlocked. Partially loosen the wedge bolts that hold the
telescope, then with two hands, carefully lift the telescope off of the
wedge by grabbing only onto the forks. Place the telescope into it's
case. For anything larger than an 8" SCT, you should have
another person help you with lifting the scope off of it's wedge or base
and placing it into the case to be safe.) Finally, fold up the
In the case of a Dobsonian
telescope, lift the tube assembly off
of the rocker base and
place the cover over the telescope.
Carefully load the telescope and base into your
vehicle if transporting the telescope.
You'll be tired
at this point. After
a great evening of viewing, you'll be thinking about other things, but
remember to check around your telescope carefully
with your red flashlight. Make sure you haven't dropped any eyepiece
caps or anything else.
mind back in Safe Driving Mode if you have to drive back home. Remember,
probably the only people out driving this time of night are drunks and
astronomers ... and there
are very, very few astronomers.
Drive alert and
drive home safely!