Solid tripod support on soilThe remote locations we seek out to find dark enough skies for imaging or for visual observations are hardly ever paved or tarmacked. Sometimes they are not even dirt roads, but spots in the middle of grassland, unused farmland or a clearing in a forest. To get a flat and stable ground to put the tripod legs on, we found the plastic pegs for securing weed membranes very helpful. They are easily availabe in most garden centers or home improvement stores. Of course, you can also use them in your backyard, since they are unobtrusive and lawn mower safe.
They are easy to drive into the soil, a small hammer will do the job perfectly. Make sure to drive the pegs all the way into the soil. Ours are 12 cm long, with a head that is 4 cm across. There may be other dimensions available, but these have proven to work nicely with tripods of different weights and sizes. We made one modification that we found was useful: as the surface of the pegs is very smooth, we sanded it with coarse grit sandpaper. This gives the rubber tips of the tripod legs better grip and they won’t move easily.
Apart from providing a solid surface e.g. when the ground is soft after rain, these impromptu tripod bases have another advantage: positioning of the tripod becomes repeatable. Thus, future set-ups and alignment procedures will be much easier.To give you an example of how stable the ground pegs are: we made dozens of unguided 8-min exposures with a 300mm lens running on a CEM25EC, sitting on a Berlebach tripod that stood on the pegs. All stars were pinpoint sharp whithout any signs of trailing or movement.