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  1. Hi All - I'm fortunate to have a EQ6R Pro that has been in residence for about a year (unfortunately predominately hidden in garage due to weather and forest fire conditions for most of the year). The few times I've had it out, I've failed to get a proper Polar Alignment. I've used all the tools Sharp Cap, PoleMaster, Plate Solving and so on. My main issue has been once I'm within a couple of degree's I can get it to position no better. Fine adjustments on both RA and DEC give cause to jump around. I've watch every video/help show and finally have to admit defeat (hopefully short lived). The EQ6R Pro has the same issues the EQ6 has (with northern latitudes). RA adjustments are just as horrendous no matter how sensitive I try to be. The EQ6 had some tools created for it that one could purchase (RAIL Kit) that seemed to solve one of my issues (unfortunately not available for the Pro). My question is: Has anyone else experienced this and if so how have you addressed it. I'm at that place where I'm thinking on replacing this mount if I can't resolve it and the next step is quite more expensive. Jim Vernon, BC Canada
  2. No questions but thought my experience with PA using Sharpcap and a Canon 800D might be of help to some. Although I thought I was nailing Polar Alignment with a polar scope on my Fornax Lightrack, I could not get longer subs than 150secs. I considered buying a Polemaster but I thought was a bit pricey, so looked at a small guide scope and a webcam solution with Sharpcap which was a good bit cheaper. Researching Sharpcap and DSLRs, I read that PA might be possible with my WO ZS73 (430mm) main scope. I needed to install the ASCOM platform and then the DSLR Camera Setup for Ascom and, of course, Sharpcap. Sharpcap recognised my 800D camera and I completed an "Excellent" PA within minutes. On the first night I managed 180sec subs and experimented with 240sec - all nice round stars. How far can I go? I had done a manual PA first which was a fair bit off from the Sharpcap PA, so not as nailed on as I thought! I'd rather not be using a laptop but I can't argue against the results. I hope that might be useful for some.
  3. Hi there in prepping for a dark skies expedition in November last year, I discovered that the reticule in my Vixen PAS had come away from its retainers and was rattling around in the scope. I duly got in touch with Opticron (Vixen reps in U.K.) and they were happy to repair under warranty. After a couple of weeks I received delivery of the supposedly repaired PAS, only to discover that the reticule had been placed upside down in the PAS. The PAS was then sent back to Vixen UK in December, who promised that they would fix the error and ensure that the PAS was accurately calibrated. So after waiting about 4 weeks, I received a 2nd delivery of the PAS, installed the scope in my SXW mount, and set about checking the calibration again, only to discover that the calibration was off by about 30 degrees. Communicating with the rep at Vixen UK, he apologised and said that they would replace the scope free of charge. The following day he emailed me to tell me that Vixen no longer manufactured the setting circle based PAS , it has now been replaced by the new Polar Scope P-FL and that they would send me the new product instead. Quite happy with this arrangement I waited just 48 hrs to received my new all singing all dancing P-FL. This new device utilises a 3 star alignment process to achieve polar alignment. So the old PAS was swapped out and sent back to Vixen, and the new PAS installed. Familiarising myself with the new process I found that the quality of the optics in the PAS appeared to be sadly lacking. Once focused, the image of the reticule in about the centre 1/3 of the FOV was crisp, however outside of this area the image of the reticule quickly becomes blurred. The fact the other two stars involved are at the extreme of the field of view, I can only I imagine using this in the field may prove rather frustrating as you go through the iterative process for the 3 star alignment. Apologies for the diatribe, however this whole experience has led me to wonder about the quality of goods coming out of Vixen at the moment. Does this experience match with anyone else out there? Has anyone used the P-FL in the field, are my concerns needless or am I destined for more fruitless backbreaking, neck straining experiences at my PAS? Kind Regards Paul J.
  4. Hiya, I recently treated myself to the iOptron SkyTracker and tried it out for the first the the other night. I kept getting star trails (which I later realised may have been due to the fact that I had it set to half speed! Silly me!) But I also had a lot of trouble with the polar alignment and I feel that, even if I had had it set to the correct speed, I still would have been getting star trails... These are the steps I went through, can anyone tell me if I am doing something wrong? I levelled my tripod and faced the tracker towards North I set my latitude to around 56 for the UK (Perth)... am I right in thinking that Polaris should then be within the field of view if I just pan my tripod around? This is where I think I messed up, as I couldn't find Polaris anywhere and had to significantly increase the latitude to find (what I thought) was Polaris. Did I maybe not level my tripod properly at the beginning? I was in such a rush to start imaging, that I probably didn't pay enough attention when I was setting it up! I used a polar alignment app and placed 'Polaris' (in hindsight I think it might have just been a random star that I thought looked decent enough ) where it was meant to be... but I just got rubbish pictures... So if anyone has any advice, I'd be very grateful!! Also, if anyone has any images taken with the iOptron SkyTracker and wouldn't mind sharing them, I'd love to have a look! I live in a fairly light polluted area and my first target was Andromeda... not the best combination, but is it still possible to get a semi-decent picture? Thanks!
  5. Okay, I'll try to make this as short as possible. Info: I have a EQ5 mount (soon to become motorised and GOTO'd) and, after reading countless astrophotographers praise the QHY PoleMaster, I thought it'd be a good idea to follow in their footsteps and buy myself a PoleMaster. I saw nothing about the PoleMaster supporting the EQ5, so I thought I'd ask whether or not the PoleMaster would make my life easier by supporting the EQ5. Clear skies, Leon.
  6. Near perfect polar alignment with the synscan? I doubt it, but the proof will be in the proverbial pudding. There's too much of a moon for serious imaging, but I need more training in guiding. Hope tonight there will be opportunity for that. Btw, 2-star alignment with a 2 x barlowed 17 (?) mm eyepiece with homemade reticule resulted in these numbers. The second alignment star was pretty much spot on without adjustment, so there's hope.
  7. I was wondering if anyone know the diameter of the etched reticle of the Star Adventurer polar scope I experimented a little in the past years with a diy polar scope for my barn door tracker,using this useful article: http://www.marcellocucchi.altervista.org/cannocchiale_polare.pdf Italian pdf,I or Google can traslate as needed. The polar alignment was as fast as roughly pointing in the pole area,move the "mount" up,down,left,right to center all the stars in the relative circles,done. My reticle was as this one: this is one of the best shot I got, with the barn door tracker and the custom reticle,179 s at 300mm: Significant exif data: Would this be an improvement over the SA standard reticle? I think it should allow faster polar alignment and no need to have apps or software to get the position of Polaris Comments/feedback welcome! Andrea
  8. Thought I'd post this here as it may help others with AP900 mounts and Polemaster i made my own adapter to screw into the Polarscope peek hole in the Dec axis casting (my first proper piece of work since getting a lathe - a purchase driven from my astronomy habit and never seeming to have the right adapter despite having two boxes of various adapters!). only used PoleMaster once so far, velcroed and tie strapped to my mount, but it worked great, and this adapter should improve the mounting somewhat!
  9. Hello! This is my first post on stargazer’s lounge, so forgive me if this is the wrong place to ask. I have a SkyWatcher AZ-GTi mount (with a firmware update + eq wedge so that it can run in eq mode). I also have a Raspberry Pi 4 with INDI, KStars, and Ekos tools. I don’t have a guidescope (and my budget is extremely limited), so I was wondering if there was a way to polar align my DSLR using just the software running on the Raspberry Pi. I’m also competent in Python, if that could be useful for anything.
  10. So i just got my first telescope as a gift for my birthday which is celestron powerseeker 114EQ, and what i want to ask is do i have to do the polar alignment before i use it and what is the purpose of polar alignment?
  11. Hello all. I've recently come across a great app - before I go any further, I have no interest in this app financially at all. As a newcomer to the hobby, I have found polar alignment quite challenging what with learning where Polaris is at any given point and how to align with a polar scope. I've got a QHY Polemaster but that doesn't let me set up in the day or at a location where Polaris isn't visible. Along comes PS Align Pro and although I'd used it for levelling the mount and the weather forecasting side of things, until today I was unaware that you can use the app to ROUGHLY polar align during the day/when Polaris isn't visible. Hopefully, this set of images and step-by-step instructions will help another newcomer like myself to get somewhere near polar alignment without a significant purchase, I think the app cost me about £3.00. On opening the app you set up your time date and location, after this you can change to various polar alignment reticules, make calculations and allsorts with this app, it is quite astounding. So, how do you align during the day? You'll need a piece of timber that is a similar width to your Dovetail/Scope mount, two short screws, a means to cut a piece of wood for a smartphone holder, a means of setting the wood square and some good old elastic bands. Step one Remove your scope from the mount and try your selected bit of timber in its place, we're using timber to 'try' and stop any metallic interference between mount and phone. Don't clamp it too tight, you may well damage or split the timber, tighten it just enough to get a good hold. Step Two Cut a 'noggin' from the end and make sure it has a square/level edge, this can be done with a simple set square etc. Step Three Insert one screw, you are better drilling a pilot hole to help you drive the screw home without splitting your 'noggin'. Step Four Align the noggin with your square and install the second screw. You should now be able to rest your phone/smart device thus Step Five Transfer the timber to your mount and attach the smart device with the super technical 'laccy bands! The image in the back is me and the Missus in Monte-Carlo BTW! Step Six, level the mount. You can use your preferred method or use the apps own level and compass bearing to roughly point you in the right way. Now, click done on the app and press the icon that looks like the sun, this will bring up the day time polar alignment module. If you're somewhere near, the app will look like this Follow the prompts (seen above as Up and R, note the arrows) and adjust your RA/DEC adjustments, the cross will start to move. Your aim is to get it looking like this or with the centre a little bit closer, I couldn't get it just right whilst screen-shotting the image! That's it!! You're somewhere near polar-aligned during the day or if Polaris isn't visible, this may not be good enough for no-trail images, but it will get you a lot closer than guesswork. Step Seven Replace scope onto the mount and you should be good to go, check your PA when it goes dark, there are other parts of this app that will help you with that too. Really hope this helps someone. Kev
  12. I often read that leveling your mount is nonsense or a ‘myth’… Although it is not absolutely necessary to level a GEM to achieve good polar alignment, leveling is a very easy and handy way to make the first step into polar alignment, for the simple reason there is a relation between level and latitude. Latitude is always measured as a deviation from level, so why not start with level in the first place? When leveled you can use the marks on the mounts latitude adjustment scale to get a rough alignment together with azimuth adjustment. Yes, without leveling you can get polar alignment as well, but it is a lot harder, because there is nothing to start with… Especially when you cannot see Polaris at your favorite site, it is a good idea, to go to a site where you can see Polaris and prepare your mount for ‘blind’ pa, by leveling it as precise as you can, do a polar alignment as good as you can and leave the settings as they are for your next session at the ‘blind’ place. On that place point your mount roughly North with the tripod or azimuth adjuster and level again as precise as you can . Then slew to a star that you can see (preferably South) about the same latitude as Polaris. You will need to adjust azimuth to get it centered, and maybe a little tweak with latitude (because of ‘flaws’ in your bubble level), but it should be very close if you did a precise leveling... Simple one star polar alignment on a place where you cannot see Polaris! For imaging this alignment procedure together with the use of PHD will be (reasonably) ok as well.
  13. Hi all, Just wondering if anyone could help me out with a bit of weirdness that was happening last night as i was trying to polar align my NEQ6 mount. I'm using the drift alignment method found here with an exposure time of 125 seconds - 5 seconds where the mount is still in order to 'burn in' a starting point, 60 seconds slewing 'left' and then 60 seconds slewing 'right'. Often, the resulting image wouldn't be in straight lines, but rather lines with kinks in them - the image attached should help give a clearer image of what I mean. This happened when i was aligning both the azimuth and altitude axes. Does anyone have any idea what might cause this? Could it be mount damage or am I just not holding down the directional keys on my keypad properly? Many thanks!
  14. Hello, I hijacked a post from this thread: How are you guiding without dec corrections? Is this under algorithms in PHD2? I know you use the Argo Navis controller and the SiTech has a freeze declination function. I'm trying to PA the Mesu and haven't had much luck with the Polemaster. I had the routine with the Polemaster spot on with it's PA procedure and it was off by 7 arcminutes in PHD2's drift alignment. I'm going to use your procedure without the Dec corrections to see if I can get better results. I did get a better alignment with the drift align in PHD2 and the guiding assistant didn't recommend any PA corrections but my guide graph was horrible. Thanks. Mike Like this
  15. It is long time I wondered whether the mount polar scope could be used in a less tiring, but more effective way to achieve a convenient, very quick and fairly precise polar alignment (till better as 1 arcminute), than could be achieved usually, and without having to buy rather expensive devices made for this purpose. The solution I found – easily achievable and doable for the most of Astro DIYers - is to mount a small video camera attached to the polar scope eyepiece. This will allow us to achieve an excellent alignment to the celestial pole. I invented the acronym VAPA (Video Assisted Polar Alignment) to define my mount stationing method. NCP on January, 2018 NCP on May, 2021 (Stellarium) Theoretical premises In addition to the Polaris, there are two stars of mag 6.5 just around the North Pole celestial field, in Ursa Minor constellation. They are λ (lambda) and HIP 7283 (double star) As you can see the position of two stars is very interesting, in fact their RA position differs by a value very close to 135°. In addition, it is possible to see in the same field two other fainter stars whose positions are very peculiar too. If you draw a line from each tiny star to meet the NCP, you will see that these two lines define a right angle having its vertex at the NCP. (see pics below) I made this modification on my standard HEQ5 (old black 'Heavy Duty' one), but the same arrangement can be applied to any other mount that has a polar scope with removable eyepiece and sliding ring with glass reticle. Considering that the HEQ5 has a very small polar scope (its objective lens has a diameter of about 14 mm), the system will work even better on other mount models, equipped with polar scopes of much larger aperture. Polar camera construction Materials - 1 IMX 225 (or IMX322) module with 6mm lens, equipped with Video out, OSD and power supply cables (from Aliexpress) - 1 OSD menu pcb (optional) - 1 small plastic box - 1 film plastic can (135) - 1 rca panel connector - 1 coaxial power connector (3.5 mm) - coaxial cable (conductor plus shield) - some 2mm screws, spacers and bolts - 1 epoxy resin The small polar camera looks as you can see from the pictures below Making the Reticle Materials (see photos below): an A4 paper sheet on which we have printed a circle graduated in degrees 0.030 mm (30 micron) fishing wire 3 small truncated-cone springs scotch tape cyanoacrilate adhesive Construction technique - Unscrew the eyepiece and remove the three adjusting grubs of the reticle ring. - Remove the reticle ring and unscrew the threaded flange which holds the glass reticle in place - Remove the glass and reposition the flange. - Attach the ring to the centre of the graduated circle with a very small amount of vinyl glue (flange down) - Stretch (gently!) a piece of wire and fix its ends tightly (with small pieces of scotch tape) at 0° and 180°, in order to precisely bisect the circle and the ring. - Do the same thing with another piece of wire, stretching it between 45° and 225°. - Make sure that the two wires cross in the centre of the ring accurately (although extreme precision is not required). See photo below - Using a very small amount of cyanocrilate, solder the four wire ends on the ring, just where they get each other into contact. - Allow to dry. At the end of this procedure we will have created a wire reticle delimiting two couples of angles, 45° and 135° wide respectively. - From the inside of the eyepiece barrel, do insert the tiny truncated cone springs into the three grub threads, the smaller base pointing outwards from the barrel. - Replace the ring in its place with the reticle towards the polar scope objective. - Screw in the grubs until the ring is secured, but do not tighten them (see photos below) Calibrating the reticle - Adjust the eyepiece so that the reticle can get focused (use glasses if you wear them to see well at a distance!) then fix it with a drop of silicone just on the visible part of eyepiece thread. - Unscrew the locking ring of the polar scope tube and adjust the distance between the reticle and the objective so that you can see a distant object (a bright star, or a detail on the roof of a building) well focused together with the reticle. - Fix the tube ring. If there are one or more grubs around the locking ring, they must be screwed in tightly. Displaying the area of the celestial pole Materials - 1 7" 1024x600 HDMI screen - 1 RCA -> HDMI video converter - Connection cables Insert the camera nose (135 film barrel) on the polar scope eyepiece and aim the polar axis at the sky area just around the Polaris If all the connections are correct, we will see the Polaris on the screen (if we don't see it right away, we can easily find it by searching near around) together with a good number of other stars. In a Bortle 6-7 sky (as it happens in many suburban areas) we can easily find out stars up to 10th magnitude (provided the atmosphere is transparent enough). The field of view will be about 3°x 5° (see photo). Camera configuration by OSD menu The camera menu will get elicitaded pressing central button and you can do your choices pushing up, down, left and right buttons Fill in the follow parameter: Push central button to enter Main menu. Push down button to enter submenus and right or Left one to select voice: - Lens → Manual - Exposure → Shutter → 15-20 → AGC → 6 → Brightness 1 → Return → Main menu - Day/night → B / W → Return → Main menu - NR → High → Return → Main menu - Special → Defect - live DPC → On → AGC level 50-60 → Level 0 → Return - White DPC → On → -level 0 → AGC 5-7 → Sense-Up 30 → Start → Follow indications → Return → Return → Return → Save & end. Leave all other voices at default position Notice: DPC is the dead (hot) pixel control Video assisted reticle alignment This is done by grubs provided just for this task. Truncated cone springs make the operation very easy and confortable. As you find Polaris in your screen, put it at the center of crosshair. Rotating the polar axis, you can see the star will move from its initial position, so, you should screw the three grubs in and out until Polaris will stay ever at the crosshair center in any direction you can rotate the polar axis. Grubs should be secured, but they should no be tighted. Video assisted Polar alignment procedure By adjustement of Alt-Az knobs, you should: 1) put the reticle center on the right angle vertex (NCP position on current date) made by tracing two virtual lines, starting from the two faintest stars, as indicated in previous image. If you are very accurate, you can reach the NCP within a maximum error of 1 arcminute. 2) rotate the polar axis till the two brighter stars get both hidden by two crossed hairs of reticle (the pair one crossing until each other at 135°). If it doesn’t happen, it mean your mount is too much far from NCP, so you must repeat the step 1). Note: performing step 2) doesn’t be mandatory, but it will enhance alignment precision. Photos above are recorded by SharpCap (stacking), thus they don’t display the correct image aspect ratio (12:7) as you can see visually, watching your ‘on the mount’ lcd screen. In fact, SharpCap do not change aspect ratio (720x576 lines for PAL system) of native analog image captured by a video grabber (Easy Cap or similia). That is why the above image appears a bit higher as it should be. Obviously, you can align your mount with your notebook screen rather as with lcd display on the mount. To do that, you must use a video grabber device and OBS Studio to record movies or snap shot. OBS Studio is a big free software allowing make all necessary image adjustement to reach the correct aspect ratio. Below I posted an OBS Studio clip (sorry for the big amount of dinamic noise due the sudden ‘défaillance’ of my chinese video grabber … ) 2021-05-07 22-41-02.mp4 Beppe
  16. Hello Everyone I will explain my experience about that as soon as possible ... Beppe
  17. Hi guys I have a few questions I've recently upgraded to an ASI533mc pro from a DSLR. As I am living in the southern hemisphere and in bortle 6 light pollution, I don't have site of Sigma octanis to get a rough initial polar alignment and previously found that using the reticle feature on my DSLR live view with the synscan polar alignment routine, I could get quite accurate polar alignment in 5-10 minutes (180second unguided subs with around 80% keepers, I don't trust the estimates but under 2 arcminutes generally) My initial setup is usually 3 or 4 degrees out in azimuth. I had a go with phd2 PA last night without much luck, I'm assuming because my initial setup was more than a couple of degrees out. I'm happy to just use the synscan routine as I can complete it quickly enough and achieve a good enough alignment, especially now that I'm guiding, and it would seem I would have to run a few iterations of it anyway to get my initial setup close to simulate you lucky northerners with your bright polaris in the polar scope. So my question is, what is a decent piece of software with reticle live view to use with my Asi533mc pro? I currently have NINA, ASI studio and PHD2 installed and I couldn't figure out how to superimpose a reticle last night. Also, Sharpcap pro seems to be the most commonly recommended software for polar alignment. However I am using an SCT telescope and a smaller sensor camera so my field of view doesn't meet the requirements stated by sharpcap. Has anybody tried using Sharpcap pro PA at 1500mm and 945mm (f6.3 reducer) with any success? Besides drift alignment, which would take longer than the synscan routine for me, are there any other pieces of software that I should try that won't cost an arm and a leg? I'm running an HEQ 5 with a Celestron 6se using an Asi533mc pro imaging cam with an ASI290mm mini on a ZWO OAG for guiding. I'm open to suggestions for other software to use for imaging, I only installed NINA because the functionality and price point is amazing, and it gets rave reviews. Thanks in advance wonderful people!
  18. Greetings folks: When I bought my refractor the other day, (Skywatcher 90) I bought a polar alignment scope to use with it. Problem is, I've never used a polar alignment scope before and I can't see where the scope fits onto the mounting. There are no instructions with the Polar-scope to enlighten me. I've looked online, but whilst I can find plenty of info, on adjusting it, none of the texts tell me where on the mounting to put the Alignment scope. (Basic info missing as it seems they assume I should know this. ) I had an idea it could go in the finder mounting, as long as it's parallel with the Polar Axis, but I am unsure. And having to fit and remove the finder every time I set-up seems a bit of a faff! I don't want to appear stupid, but I am really struggling here, through lack of info. So could someone help me please? If I can't solve this, I will have to go back to the old method of taking sightings and then going back 12 hours later to adjust.. Takes ages! Qwwwwcher! Thanks in anticipation John
  19. Question, is my pier out of level if I'm trying to PA (with asiair pro) and both directions are moving when I adjust the alt bolts? I can't get the mount polar aligned. Mount neq6 pro Pier mounted on a concrete slab OTA c8 with .63 reducer Camera asi294mc pro Zwo OAG Thanks in advance
  20. Hi All When I use SynscanInit to help me to Polar Align, it shows me an image of Polaris against an Octans reticle (as fitted in my Polar Alignment Scope) as follows: However, when I look through my Polar Alignment Scope, the image I see is like this: It's upside down with respect to the SynscanInit view. So my questions are: 1. Is my Polar Alignment Scope fitted upside down in my mount (SW EQ3-Pro)? 2. If not, How do I read the information from SynscanInit? Should I position Polaris in the corresponding position, ie at the top of my view? Thanks in advance Mark P.S. Sorry for the huge pictures.
  21. Hi, Please please please need some help on my NEQ6, its more about polar alignment on goto EQ mounts in general probably. Please allow me to list all the things I have done because l really want to know if I have done anything wrong during my polar alignment....as my goto can't find anything . It was last night 14th oct, my first time ever with clear sky with my first ever outdoor dressed rehearsal with my NEQ6 purchased circa 4 was ago so I did the polar alignment, i.e. I levels the whole mount first (i.e. Using a spirit leveller to make sure I have the home position of the mount 99.999% correct), found Polaris somewhere in my polar scope, centred it on my reticule cross hair, used the NEQ6's altitude (so I am only adjusting the mount vertically) nob to move Polaris on to its orbit (printed in the polar scope sight) around NCP, rotated the polar scope around its RA so the Polaris circle has Polaris inside. Rotated the polar scope again so the RA clock on the mount reads polaris's last transit (a read out from my NEQ6 handset's Hour Angle reading, verified with my polar align iOS app), and finally using both my Alt & Az bolts to again place Polaris within the Polaris circle printed out in the polar scope sight. By the way, I did all of this while the mount is switched on, mainly because I need the polar scope to have the LED on, and the handset to tell me the HA of Polaris anything wrong so far? So I at that point turned off my mount, my telescope was at a strange and awkward angle. I returned the mount to the home position by disengaging both clutches of RA and Declination (i.e. Manually returning my telescope pointing straight up). i then turned my mount back on, re-entered all the date/time/long&lat...etc, then did a 2 stars alignments , chosen my 1st star (Vega) , the mount started to slew and BOOM....., only that it ended up pointing towards something completely different.....:( i was very saddened... because that whole process took my novice self good 30-40 minutes, only to find I probably did soemthing wrong. experienced SGL'ers, help me! All I want it to take some short light frames so I can start enjoy astrophotography like your guys ?
  22. After what felt like a decade my Mesu e200 was finally delivered. It is such a beautiful piece of machinery, no frills just pure functionality. I had the counter weights manufactured locally and completed the mechanical assembly, pretty straight forward. Thanks to @Jonk, https://stargazerslounge.com/profile/37161-jonk/ for providing me with the dimensions for a 16,5kg counterweight in stainless steel. I downloaded and installed SciTech.exe plus the other bits of software to make it work. The only thing I’m still uncertain about is Carte du Ciel. I’m used to Stallerium for my Skywatcher and Celestron PWI, which I love. I guess I’ll just have to get used to CDC. I need some assistance and would appreciate help. My mount is not going to have the luxury of a permanent pier, I have to move it off the balcony every time I’ve finished my session. I have a very limited view of the South (I’m in South Africa) and no view of the SCP. Despite this I can polar align to a high degree of accuracy with the Synscan routine embedded in the SkyWatcher EQ6R Pro hand controller. Having had a cursory glance at the help menu in the SciTech Polar Alignment tab and it appears that I will need to have a view of the Celestial Pole. Does anyone have advice please? Thanks Shaun
  23. In my own journey while learning this process and seeing similar areas of confusion among others, I decided to compile this FAQ. This FAQ has been put together using a combination of information from SkyWatcher manuals, my own experience and suggestions by various contributors on the forums. As most of the confusion is around the newer reticle, this FAQ deals with this in detail. Q: What is Polar alignment and why is it needed? A: Polar alignment refers to the act of aligning the Polar axis of an Equatorial mount telescope, so that it is parallel with the axis that the Earth revolves around. It makes the job of following objects across the sky much easier. Its of minor benefit to the visual astronomer but a necessity to the astrophotographer who is trying to take images of the night sky. Once a telescope is polar aligned and an object centred in the eyepiece, then assuming an RA motor is attached to the telescope, the object will stay centred. The better the polar alignment, the longer it will stay there. If no motor is attached then simply nudging the telescope around one axis will bring the object back to the centre of the eyepiece again. Q: Do I need to accurately do a Polar alignment? A: If you are a visual astronomer then its not that critical and you should be able to manage just doing a simple polar alignment by positioning the mount so that Polaris is in the centre of the reticle. But if you are doing astrophotography with long exposures then accurate polar alignment becomes critical to improve the quality of the images. Q: My reticle looks different to what is shown in the manual. A: There are 2 versions of this – the older one which has a bubble showing the location of Polaris Fig.1 and the newer one which has a clock face Fig.2. Figure 1 Figure 2 Q: How do I Polar align with the new Reticle? A: As Polaris is not located exactly at the North Celestial Pole (NCP), we can see it orbit the North Celestial Pole in a polar scope. The large circle seen in the centre of the pattern in Fig.2 is a representation of the Polaris’ orbit around the North Celestial Pole. When performing the polar alignment process, it is necessary to determine the orientation of the Polaris on the circle. The reticle is marked like a clock face with 0 at the top. Imagine this is the 12 position in a traditional clock. At the end of the initialization of the SynScan hand control, after entering the proper local longitude, latitude, date, time, and daylight-saving time, the SynScan hand controller will display the message: “Polaris Position in P.Scope=HH:MM”. Imagine the larger circle in Fig.2 as a clock’s face with 12:00 at the top, with the current time pointing to the “HH:MM”. The orientation of the hour hand of the clock represents the orientation of Polaris in the polar scope. Put the Polaris to the same orientation on the large circle to finish the polar alignment. In case you don’t use the Synscan hand controller, there are several apps available on Android and IOS which give you the position of Polaris on the clock face (such as SynscanInit for Android and Polar Scope Align for IOS). Skwatcher has their own app as well called Synscan Pro which shows the position of Polaris in the new reticle. The Polaris position also changes as time passes. The reticle displays 3 circles to represent Polaris’s orbit in the year 2012, 2020 and 2028. It also gives sub-dials at 0, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock position for year 2016, 2024 and 2032. An engraving labeled with the above years is also displayed on the right of the FOV for memo purpose. When doing polar alignment in the Northern hemisphere, the user should put Polaris on the correct circle corresponding to the present year for better alignment precision. This reticle is also covered in the SW EQ6-R manual. Q: When I position my mount in the Home position with the counterweight at its lowest point, the 0 mark on the reticle is not at the top. Is this a fault and how can I fix it? A: There is nothing wrong with your mount You just need to rotate the mount in the RA axis till the 0 is at its highest position. Now lock the RA axis and continue with the alignment process. Q: How can I ensure that the 0 is accurately positioned at the very top? A: 1) Firstly, level the mount and set it up pointing north as if making it ready for polar alignment. 2) Next use the Alt and Az bolts to centre Polaris in the reticle - i.e. put Polaris right in the centre of the cross-hairs, not on any circle. Be as accurate as you can. 3) Now using ONLY the Alt bolts, move Polaris vertically upward in the reticle from its central position until it reaches any of the circles. 4) Because you started with Polaris dead centre and moved it only vertically, Polaris is now exactly in the zero (12 o’clock) position on the circle. Now rotate the RA axis to put the reticle zero mark in exactly the same position as Polaris. Again, be as accurate as you can. 5) Lock the RA axis in this position and using a marker pen put alignment marks on the mount housing so that you can find this position again without the need to use Polaris. [Courtesy Jif001 on SGL] Q: How do I Polar align with the older reticle? A: Here is a good article http://www.astro-baby.com/astrobaby/help/polar-aligning-the-skywatcher-heq5orion-sirius-mount/ Q: How can I check if my polarscope reticle is aligned with the RA axis of the mount? A: Before using the polar scope for polar alignment, the polar scope itself must be calibrated to ensure the pattern in the polar scope is aligned to the mount’s R.A. axis. The following steps will outline how to calibrate the polar scope: This process is best done during daytime. Choose a fixed object (eg. a faraway object such as the tip of a TV antenna). Centre the reticle on the object by adjusting the two azimuth adjustment knobs and the two elevation adjustment bolts. Rotate the mount in R.A. axis for half a turn (180 degrees). Tighten the R.A. clutch after the rotation. If the object remains at the centre of the reticle in the polar scope after the rotation, then it means the polar scope has been aligned to the R.A. axis and no calibration is needed. If its not aligned, read this article which explains how to recalibrate https://www.myastroscience.com/polarscopecalibration There are also videos on YouTube that explain this process. Hope this helps. Do let me know if you have other questions (and answers) and I can add to this.
  24. Hi all, as a complete beginner, who is gradually getting some kit together, the question of which Polar Alignment App I should get for my Android phone is exercising my mind. Looking at the android play store there seems to be a myriad to choose from, which do members recommend & why?
  25. Hi there in prepping for a dark skies expedition in November last year, I discovered that the reticule in my Vixen PAS had come away from its retainers and was rattling around in the scope. I duly got in touch with Opticron (Vixen reps in U.K.) and they were happy to repair under warranty. After a couple of weeks I received delivery of the supposedly repaired PAS, only to discover that the reticule had been placed upside down in the PAS. The PAS was then sent back to Vixen UK in December, who promised that they would fix the error and ensure that the PAS was accurately calibrated. So after waiting about 4 weeks, I received a 2nd delivery of the PAS, installed the scope in my SXW mount, and set about checking the calibration again, only to discover that the calibration was off by about 30 degrees. Communicating with the rep at Vixen UK, he apologised and said that they would replace the scope free of charge. The following day he emailed me to tell me that Vixen no longer manufactured the setting circle based PAS , it has now been replaced by the new Polar Scope P-FL and that they would send me the new product instead. Quite happy with this arrangement I waited just 48 hrs to received my new all singing all dancing P-FL. This new device utilises a 3 star alignment process to achieve polar alignment. So the old PAS was swapped out and sent back to Vixen, and the new PAS installed. Familiarising myself with the new process I found that the quality of the optics in the PAS appeared to be sadly lacking. Once focused, the image of the reticule in about the centre 1/3 of the FOV was crisp, however outside of this area the image of the reticule quickly becomes blurred. The fact the other two stars involved are at the extreme of the field of view, I can only I imagine using this in the field may prove rather frustrating as you go through the iterative process for the 3 star alignment. Apologies for the diatribe, however this whole experience has led me to wonder about the quality of goods coming out of Vixen at the moment. Does this experience match with anyone else out there? Has anyone used the P-FL in the field, are my concerns needless or am I destined for more fruitless backbreaking, neck straining experiences at my PAS? Kind Regards Paul J.
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