Hack 61. Stash Your Gear in a Photographer's Vest or Fanny Pack
You can never have too many pockets.
Astronomers carry a lot of stuff around with them. Red flashlight, eyeglasses, pens, eyepieces, Barlows, filters, lens caps, adaptersthe list goes on and on. (Robert sometimes rattles.) Many of these items are much too expensive to risk droppingeveryone cringes when a $300 eyepiece hits the pavementand all of them are hard to locate if you drop them in the dark.
Pockets are essential to hold all this stuff, and pockets with Velcro locking flaps are all the better. One excellent solution is to use a photographer's vest, which you can buy under different names from photography stores, astronomy retailers, and outfitters like L.L.Bean and Cabela's. Figure4-36 shows Barbara wearing her fully loaded vest; this one is a model formerly sold by Orion Telescope and Binocular Center.
Figure 4-36. Barbara wearing a loaded photographer's vest
These vests are available in various materials, including canvas and mesh. Barbara prefers a mesh model, which is cool in summer and, she swears, warm in winter. (Robert doesn't understand how a mesh vest that is 95% holes could possibly help Barbara stay warm in cold weather, but he's been married too long to make the rookie mistake of pointing that out.)
If you use a vest, give some thought to how you'll organize it. Decide on a pocket for each of the items you regularly carry, and keep each item in its pocket. If you keep your red flashlight clipped to the left breast pocket, for example, you'll always know where to find it. If you just load items willy-nilly into the vest, you'll find yourself searching 20 pockets to find what you're looking for.
Robert finds a vest constraining, so he uses a fanny pack instead, which he wears to the front. Although a fanny pack doesn't offer nearly as many nooks and crannies as a vest, it is ideal for holding eyepieces, filters, and other small optical gear while you are actually working at the scope.
The model he uses was designed for photographers. It is well padded externally and provides padded interior separators that can be moved around and secured with Velcro. The top flap secures with Velcro sufficiently well that we are never concerned about dropping an eyepiece while working at the scope, and it can be zipped during transport or when it is otherwise not being used.
Hack 62. Use a Voice Recorder for Logging
Don't write it, speak it.
Traditionally, amateur astronomers have kept written logs of their observations, and most still do today. An increasing number, though, have started using a voice recorder to supplement or replace their written log sheets.
There are a lot of benefits to using a voice recorder:
There are two types of voice recorder available: