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The Camel

SW London newbie - EQ problems

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Having acquired a second hand 9.25" Celestron OTA on a SynScan EQ5 mount last week, I was eager to get it up and running. My other 'scope is a Meade ETX 105AT - very portable, reliable and easy to use. Never used an equatorial mount before so was interested to find out how the set-up worked. Oh dear. A week later, less hair, more blood pressure and still no success.

Sky-Watcher manuals are clearly written by people who understand the concept and function of a German Equatorial Mount for people who understand the concept and function of a German Equatorial Mount. If you fall outside that category there is only one word I can offer - "doom". I am not a knowledgeable amateur astronomer, I dabble and enjoy the night skies immensely but, as a professional editor for 20 years I do better when it comes to understanding how to write clearly. Sorry Sky-Watcher, "null points".

I digress - I have had a warm welcome from many people on this site and much encouragement and I am very grateful. Struggle as I have with this concept of polar alignment I appear to be getting nowhere, and getting there quite quickly too. A number of forum members suggested Astro Baby's site: "Polar Aligning ... for Idiots". At last, something I can get my head round. It is an excellent site but did it help? Sadly not.

Read the site thoroughly, printed the pages, read them again; got out the mount and spent an hour or more struggling to get nowhere because of two problems which brought my hopes crashing down again.

Astro Baby says first get the reticle aligned and this can be done on a distant object during the day, a star is not needed. Just as well: I had tried at night and could hardly see the reticle (yes, I did take off the end caps!) only the star. So, back to the day: try as I might, I found this impossible. My EQ5 "bottoms out" around 30 degrees on altitude adjustment so whatever I look at has to be humungously tall if it's a long way away. A pylon across the park doesn't even come close. There is nothing. Close up it doesn't work because if I draw a dot on a piece of paper and stick it on the top window of my house then the focus from a point in the garden which meets the 30 degree angle I am no better off - if the dot is in focus then the reticle isn't, and vice versa. Plus the focusing ring was very loose (now cured with PTFE tape). Slight movements of the eye/head cause significant movement of any object in the polarscope eyepiece so not sure how I can centre it, swing the mount through 180 degrees, and still know I'm looking in the same spot. I am probably doing something terrribly wrong but I can't figure what it is. And I still don't know if my reticle is aligned. [sigh]

Second, Astro Baby has a good section on "Setting the Scales" - I sort of understood this until I read "Remember to compensate for Summer Time or Daylight Saving Time and use GMT if your (sic) in the UK". My brain melted at this point because Surrey is in the UK and it is BST at the moment. This appears flatly contradictory. Are we talking just the UK or the GMT zone and why isn't BST relevant in the UK? No, I'm hopelessly lost.

If the site had said "Remember to compensate for Summer Time or Daylight Saving Time but, if you are in the GMT time zone - such as in the UK - then use GMT only and ignore Daylight Saving" - this would have been clearer. But life ain't like that so I am back to square one with a bit less hair and a great deal more stress than I had yesterday. With the Meade, I have always had to "punch in" the BST/GMT element in the hand controller for the scope to point in the right part of the sky. The EQ5 mount leaves me utterly confused, this level of stress isn't healthy at my advanced years, and an OTA which sits on the living room floor is just a waste of space (if you'll excuse the pun).

Sitting here now, looking at the mount fills me with dread rather than excitement and I find this very sad. I don't work during the summer break (education-based) so I've literally spent the best part of 5 days trying to sort this out and got nowhere. When something is blindingly obvious to you it can often be very difficult understanding why it is not blindlingly obvious to everyone else - knowledge is a wonderful thing, the lack of it slightly more stressful. I am undoubtedly being denser than the typical neutron star but this mount simply defeats me. I do get the concept that it is the mount that has to be aligned and not the scope but that provides me with neither solace, nor (it would appear) ability to progress. The expectation was considerable a week ago and the looks of disappointment from my children now painful. Barring the house and car, the Celestron is the most expensive single item I've ever purchased. My late dad said the best lessons are the hardest - they also appear to be the most expensive.

My apologies for any boredom induced by the inordinate length of this piece. The devil is in the detail and just writing "I have an EQ5 mount - please help!" doesn't quite capture the torment.

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Perhaps this thread might help you?


It's for the HEQ5 rather than EQ5 but it may help slightly, who knows?

I enjoyed your post, for what it's worth! Polar alignment the first time is incredibly hard, I found, despite various articles dotted around the interweb. I found it quite hard to follow Astrobaby's article, too, primarily because I felt it was pitched above my knowledge level at the time. (Not saying that's true for you, just what my experience!)

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The videos from Astronomyshed on youtube are really good. The five part "Complete Mount and Scope Setup" should help.

Part 1. http://www.youtube.c...re=results_main

Parts 2-5 are on his youtube page near the bottom.

Feature length so you may need some popcorn :) but it covers everything (his is the EQ6 but the set up for the EQ5 will be pretty much the same.


Edited by alexog

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Where abouts in Surrey are you? I'm in Esher so might be able to help if you can't get it sorted...

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