If you are an amateur astronomer, you may have wondered whether it is safe to leave your telescope mount outside. After all, it can be a hassle to take it down and set it up every time you want to stargaze. However, leaving your mount outside can expose it to various elements that can damage it over time.
For example, humidity and dew can cause rust on the mount, whereas air pollution, insects, and dust can scratch the surface of the mount. Additionally, if you live in a salt environment, leaving your mount outside could be a quick way to shorten its useful life. It’s important to consider these factors before deciding whether to leave your mount outside.
Why Leaving Telescope Mount Outside is Not Recommended
If you own a telescope, you know how important it is to take care of it. Leaving your telescope mount outside can cause a number of problems that can lead to costly repairs or even replacement. Below are some reasons why you should not leave your telescope mount outside.
Exposure to the elements can cause significant damage to your telescope mount. Rain, wind, and snow can cause rust and corrosion, which can weaken the structure of the mount. Even if your mount is made of durable materials, it is still susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions. Additionally, exposure to direct sunlight can cause the paint to fade, which can make your mount look unsightly.
Leaving your telescope mount outside can also make it more vulnerable to theft or vandalism. A mount left outside is an easy target for thieves, who can quickly dismantle and steal it. Additionally, vandals may intentionally damage your mount, which can cost you time and money to repair.
Leaving your telescope mount outside can also cause maintenance issues. Dew build-up can cause damage to the mount and optics, and insects and other critters can take up residence in your mount, causing damage to the internal components. Additionally, exposure to the elements can cause wear and tear on the mount, which can lead to the need for more frequent maintenance and repairs.
Overall, leaving your telescope mount outside is not recommended. To ensure the longevity and performance of your telescope, it is best to store it in a dry, secure location when not in use.
How to Protect Your Telescope Mount
If you plan on leaving your telescope mount outside, it’s important to take steps to protect it from the elements. Here are some ways to ensure your mount stays in good condition:
Covering the Mount
One of the simplest ways to protect your mount is by covering it with a waterproof cover. Look for a cover that is designed specifically for telescope mounts, as these will fit the shape of your mount and provide adequate protection from rain, snow, and other weather conditions. Make sure to choose a cover that is made from a breathable material, as this will prevent moisture from building up underneath the cover and causing damage to your mount.
Additionally, consider using a rust inhibitor spray to protect your mount from rust and corrosion. ACF-50 is a popular choice among astronomers, as it is specifically designed to protect metal surfaces from the corrosive effects of salt and other environmental factors.
Storing the Mount Indoors
If possible, it’s always best to store your mount indoors when it’s not in use. This will protect it from the elements and help prolong its lifespan. If you don’t have room to store your mount inside your home, consider investing in a small shed or storage unit to keep it protected from the weather.
When storing your mount indoors, make sure to keep it in a dry, cool place. Avoid storing it in a damp basement or garage, as moisture can cause damage to the electronics and other components of your mount over time.
Using a Portable Mount
If you plan on using your telescope mount in different locations, consider investing in a portable mount that can be easily transported. Look for a mount that is lightweight and easy to set up, as this will make it more convenient to use on the go.
When transporting your mount, make sure to pack it securely to prevent damage during transit. Use a padded carrying case or wrap it in blankets or other soft materials to protect it from bumps and scratches.
Leaving your telescope mount outside can be tempting, but it comes with risks. While some people may have success with leaving their mounts outside, the majority of experts recommend against it. The risks of damage from weather, animals, and theft are simply too great.
Instead, consider investing in a sturdy carrying case or storage container for your mount. This will protect it from the elements and make it easier to transport to observation sites. You may also want to consider investing in a weather-resistant cover for your mount if you must leave it outside for short periods of time.
Remember to always take proper care of your mount to ensure its longevity. Regular maintenance and cleaning can help prevent damage and prolong its lifespan. And if you do decide to leave your mount outside, be sure to take necessary precautions to protect it from the elements and potential theft.