A telescope cover is a reflective mylar or nylon cover for your scope. It protects a scope from dust (and the sun) while it is set up outdoors. It is not intended to provide long-term protection (at least,
I certainly wouldnít store an expensive scope outdoors for a long time without a the protection of a real observatory roof) but it can serve as a temporary cover for a few days, giving you the convenience of
leaving the scope set up during a period of good observing weather.
It also gives you the convenience of retaining the scopeís star alignment.
With the Celestron scopes Iím familiar with, you do this by turning the tracking off (so the scope doesnít keep rotating) but leave the scopeís power on.
Before using a scope cover Iíd want to be sure no storm is approaching, and I havenít been able to bring myself to use it on a very hot Arizona summer day since I donít know the consequences of an overheated scope
but I suspect theyíre bad and expensive. But I can tell you these covers do keep the scope cool on normal days, i.e. if the temperature stays below the high-90ís (I havenít tried it above those temperatures -
if you do, let me know how it worked out <grin>).
Caution: the Hand Controllers for GoTo scopes have been known to fail after exposure to high summer daytime temperatures!
I strongly recommend that you store your HC indoors during hot summer days even if you have your scope outside under a cover.
You could probably make a scope cover from a couple of ďspace blanketsĒ sold in camping/outdoors stores, but those space blankets tend to be really flimsy.
As an alternative there are a couple of commercially-made products for you to consider. Note that these manufacturers do not claim that these covers are acceptable for long-term protection of your scope outdoors, nor do they claim that the covers will protect your scope during rain or snow showers, and I donít think these are simply legal disclaimers - you should believe them.
The classic scope cover is the Desert Storm cover, now sold by Anacortes Telescope. It is made from reflective mylar that reflects heat and is rather
impervious to moisture. It sells for $30 or a bit more, depending on the size of your SCT. I havenít tried the actual Desert Storm cover sold by Anacortes, but
I used one (shown on my older 8Ē scope in the photo on the right) sold by now-defunct Pocono Optics and although it worked well, my experience was that
mylar isnít a material all that resistant to long-term wear - the cover ultimately started to tear after a year or so (used intermittently for a few days at a time). As they say, your mileage may vary...
I currently use the TeleGizmos scope cover sold by Scopestuff. It has a sturdy construction, as well as a cylindrical shape (rather than the more typical rectangular shape) that makes it easier to pull
down over a scope (as shown in the photo on the left). These covers sell for around $50 and up, depending on the size, and Iím very happy with it.
Another alternative is the scope covers sold by Astrosystems. These are made
of a white reflective polyurethane-coated nylon fabric that should wear extremely well but is not as impervious to dust and moisture as mylar; it sells for $35 and
up depending on the size of your SCT. I donít have any experience with this scope cover but it seems to have a good reputation.
Back to Nice-to-Have Accessories