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Stuart & Lanie

Help Needed To Use Telescope

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I know what you're all thinking, 'this has been done 1000s of times'... 'why doesnt he do a search' etc etc.

Basically, I bought my now wife an equetorial mount last Christmas and it's the biggest, most expensive dust collector i've ever seen!

So now I want to grab the bull by the horns and get to use it. The way it's going, it'll be on ebay, and I dont want to admit defeat!!

I've done alot of reading, alot of night sky vieiwing. Not getting very far (haha). So this is a pure selfish thread where im looking for details, links, tips.

Ok, what do I already know.

I know that you have to have a knowledge of the night sky before you start. We now have a fairly decent knowledge but (for now) simply want to gaze at the moon for the time being.

So firstly, I have to align my equetorial (sorry if im spelling this wrong) correctly, yeah? All I keep reading it 'point it to the northern star'. Can someone explain this to me please? The northern star is easy to find. So why when we're pointing at it, arent we getting it? Am I missing something simple? I'm picking up a level base in 3 places on the eyepiece tray and one leg pointing north..

People always say to add something like a telrad finder. If I shell out for this, how easier will it make things?

Once we get the alignment correct, is it plain sailing from there?? Is this the hard bit?

Any help please. If you suggest anything, please use detail and explain it as simple as you can.

(If this thread winds you up as you've seen thousands of them, please just ignore me! Im purely after replies so I can latch onto someone and ping specifics back and forth)

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

Stuart & Lazy (I mean Lanie)

:smiley:

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Hi - First off, you don't need to set up the EQ mount to observe anything. The mount is designed to mimic the Earth's movement (the effect of the drifting stars across the night sky) but is not needed to find an object but just to keep it in view once aimed at it.

Second, you may not be seeing Polaris in the scope due to the finder scope not being aligned properly. During the day, aim the scope at a distant object at least a 1/4 mile away, then scan the area till the object appears in the field of view. Center the object in the FOV and then align the finder scope cross hairs on the object. Once the finder scope is aligned, you can start the polar alignment or just go out and find an object with the finder scope and then view it in the scope. Without the mount being aligned, you will have to keep moving the scope's FOV to keep the object in view.

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it might help if you advise which scope you are using too?

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We should be able to get you up an running in no time. First of all knowing exactly what kit you have, is it a motorized one with goto, or a manual one? Maybe post a picture of it if youre unsure of model?

I know that you have to have a knowledge of the night sky before you start. We now have a fairly decent knowledge but (for now) simply want to gaze at the moon for the time being.

So firstly, I have to align my equetorial (sorry if im spelling this wrong) correctly, yeah? All I keep reading it 'point it to the northern star'. Can someone explain this to me please? The northern star is easy to find. So why when we're pointing at it, arent we getting it? Am I missing something simple? I'm picking up a level base in 3 places on the eyepiece tray and one leg pointing north..

People always say to add something like a telrad finder. If I shell out for this, how easier will it make things?

Once we get the alignment correct, is it plain sailing from there?? Is this the hard bit?

First of all, you need no knowledge to enjoy the stars. The knowledge slowly builds up as you go along. I basicly only knew the Big Dipper when I first took my DSLR out for wide fields. If you want to plan your viewing a bit you should really download the free and excellent program Stellarium from www.stellarium.org. There you can enter your location and time and see what's available in your sky at any given time.

The EQ mount's polar axis should point towards the celestial pole (the pole-star is very close to this point). You only need to do a rough pointing for visual use. Exact alignment becomes vital first when you start photography.

post-26290-0-84115400-1353055123_thumb.j

You won't need a Telrad in the beginning, but if you get serious, its a bit more intuitive to use than a regular spotting scope.

Alignment is the hard part if you're going to image stuff with a motorized mount. The hard part for you I would guess to be finding specific objects you're unfamiliar with, and know what to expect. It can take people a few tries to find their way around some objects, and once they find them they can get underwhelmed, after having fallen for the pictures in the ads, expecting hubble class visuals.

The hard bit would also be to stop yourself from overspending once youre well and completely hooked :)

Really looking forward to hearing how you get along.

EDIT: I forgot to add, if you want an excellent book on the subject of visual observation, and what to expect, Turn Left At Orion is the recommended by the community.

Edited by VigdisVZ
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Hi Stuart & Larnie,

Welcome to SGL - It can all be a bit daunting at first, but well worth the effort and you'll find loads of good tips/advice here and throughout the web.

It would be useful to know what mount and rig you are using as it will vary a little between scopes - but the basics are the same and there are some really good guides on youtube that got me started. Try searching for polar align on youtube.

I particularly like this one

which is very relaxed/non daunting.

Hope it helps - Jake

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Stuart (I assume you are Stuart as a wifes name probably isn't Stuart), don't get me wrong but a location (town) in your signature would be very useful. For all you know someone within 200yds of you could be a member here and able to show you how to set it all up.

It does happen I bought an eyepiece once and when asking for the address found they were 7 minutes away, we didn't bother with the postage and I got a coffee.

Another thought is that several clubs run workshops to show people how to set up and use their scopes. One close to me does it if you contact them and arrange it and donate them £5. Another is Guildford who I think run them on a regular basis if you are down that way. So options could be available based on where you are.

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So firstly, I have to align my equetorial (sorry if im spelling this wrong) correctly, yeah? All I keep reading it 'point it to the northern star'. Can someone explain this to me please? The northern star is easy to find. So why when we're pointing at it, arent we getting it? Am I missing something simple? I'm picking up a level base in 3 places on the eyepiece tray and one leg pointing north..

People always say to add something like a telrad finder. If I shell out for this, how easier will it make things?

:smiley:

Two things leap to mind.

One is that you're point the wrong axis at the pole star. There are four axis of rotation on an equatorial; altitude, azimuth, right ascension and declination. If you can see an equatorial being set up it's easy, if not it can look like some horrendously complex Heath Robinson contraption.

Second possibility is that the finder scope might not be aligned with the scope itself.

As for visual observation aligning the mount isn't too important I'd guess the second problem but either way I'd suggest either telling us where you are or getting in touch with a local astronomical society. It's much easier to have someone show you the set up on these things than following manuals or videos.

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I went through a similar phase in the past & tend to agree with people saying just point it at obvious things like the moon and bright planets without aligning ( check finderscope aligned as above if you need to) and get the wonder of those before worrying about technicalities too much.

That should give you both the motivation to get into it more, or if it does not you know it's not the hobby for you.

And yes for more specific advice always quote the scope you have and your location.

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Hi, Best advice that I can give is to find your nearest astronomy club and pay them a visit, it will be extremely unusual if there isn't someone there who will gladly help you out. If you give your location and anyone is near they will give you details. Sometimes no amount of reading etc will help as much as a demo.

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I soooo get your predicament, believe me we've all been there, nobody is born with the knowledge and experiance. It can also be very frustrating, you feel like your wasting your time, fiddling about, not getting anywhere, and then giving up after 3 hours, having observed nothing!!! If its any concellation, it will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better and one day it will just click and all will have been worthwhile. I spend hours on the web, while the wife watches the soaps, there's loads of instruction out there especially on youtube.....keep at it :grin:

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Remember that none of us were born with the skills necessary to do many things in this life. When starting on something new it all seems perplexing but after a little while we wonder what was so hard. Have a look at some of the videos mentioned above and if there is something you don't quite get come back to us, one way or another we'll get you up and running and then you will be in a position to pass on your new found skill.

Good luck.

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All questions are welcome - even the golden oldies :)

Align the finder with the main tube in daylight - it's much easier - use an object a mile or two away - the further the better (eg a pylon tip or church spire). Use a low power eyepiece first (say 20mm - 25mm) - then refine the accuracy by re-aligning it with something like a 10mm or 12mm.

It's not actually the scope you will be aligning with the pole star. It's the mount axis you'll be pointing at the pole star. But check it with the scope fixed in the home position. One leg needs to be pointing roughly north - use the azimuth bolts to move the mount sideways and the altitude bolts for up down to refine. Set alt to the lattitude at your observing site.

You'll be able to use the finder and the eyepiece to make these adjustments - but make sure the RA and Dec are locked off in the home position whilst you do it. Once on the pole star - lock off the alt/az and ensure the tripod stays put throughout the session. You should now be polar aligned and you can use the RA and Dec axes to move the scope around the sky to point at stuff. You should only need the RA to track an object (or an RA motor) - with small tweaks on dec now and then. :)

Edited by brantuk
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A big BIG thank you to everyone who's replied! I'l go through all the replies when I get an hour or so (currently in work)

Hopefully some of you will stick with me (us) through our silly questions now, which is exactly why I created the thread!

Just scanning through...

We've got a Celestron Astromaster 130A (non-motorised).

We're living in Cardiff, soon to be Newport (South Wales) but heading back up the Valleys soon when we eventually save for a house...

Thanks again!

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Hi - First off, you don't need to set up the EQ mount to observe anything. The mount is designed to mimic the Earth's movement (the effect of the drifting stars across the night sky) but is not needed to find an object but just to keep it in view once aimed at it.

Second, you may not be seeing Polaris in the scope due to the finder scope not being aligned properly. During the day, aim the scope at a distant object at least a 1/4 mile away, then scan the area till the object appears in the field of view. Center the object in the FOV and then align the finder scope cross hairs on the object. Once the finder scope is aligned, you can start the polar alignment or just go out and find an object with the finder scope and then view it in the scope. Without the mount being aligned, you will have to keep moving the scope's FOV to keep the object in view.

Hi Mr Q. Thanks for your reply!

So basically the finder scope (small lense mounded 90 degrees to the eyepeice, yeah?) may need calibration? a) Why isn't this factory set and B) is there a posibility to make it worse if having a bash myself?

I understand the EQ mount and that id need to constantly have to adjust once a target has been 'locked in'. This is due to the earths rotation, yeah?

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All questions are welcome - even the golden oldies :)

Align the finder with the main tube in daylight - it's much easier - use an object a mile or two away - the further the better (eg a pylon tip or church spire). Use a low power eyepiece first (say 20mm - 25mm) - then refine the accuracy by re-aligning it with something like a 10mm or 12mm.

It's not actually the scope you will be aligning with the pole star. It's the mount axis you'll be pointing at the pole star. But check it with the scope fixed in the home position. One leg needs to be pointing roughly north - use the azimuth bolts to move the mount sideways and the altitude bolts for up down to refine. Set alt to the lattitude at your observing site.

You'll be able to use the finder and the eyepiece to make these adjustments - but make sure the RA and Dec are locked off in the home position whilst you do it. Once on the pole star - lock off the alt/az and ensure the tripod stays put throughout the session. You should now be polar aligned and you can use the RA and Dec axes to move the scope around the sky to point at stuff. You should only need the RA to track an object (or an RA motor) - with small tweaks on dec now and then. :)

This is exactly what we're after! What eyepeices to use when aligning the finder etc..

So it is fair to say the lower mm the eyepeice, the bigger the 'zoom'? How does that work?

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Yes, shorter focal length eyepieces give greater magnification. To calculate maginification, divide the focal length of the scope by the focal length of the eyepiece. So a 10mm eyepiece gives 100x magnification in a scope with a focal length of 1000mm. If the scope had a focal length of 650mm, the same eyepiece would give 65x magnification.

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I totally understand your confusion. I am only a few months into all this and have learnt so much from the nice people on this forum. I also realise that it is quite a steep learning curve, but you don't have to learn it all at once. Can't give much tech advice but a couple of observations (very punny):

Don't expecct "Hubble" type views, most deep space objects will be faint smudges. The buzz comes from realising what you're actually looking at, and how far and long it has taken that light to get to you. Absolutely boggling!

Also take every opportunity to get out and have a look. Don't worry too much at this stage about the fine tuning. Opportunities are few and far between (You'll be in Wales :shocked: )

Don't worry if you don't find your targets first time. They will be there for a loooooong time!

Enjoy your scope, and best of luck

Jason

(Turn Left at Orion is an excellent book to help you find your way around and what objects actually look like in your scope)

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Yes - that's correct on magnification. When you initially use the 25mm it will be relatively easy to align, but when you swop to the 10mm and adjust focus you may well find the object on the edge of the fov - or even gone totally out of view. This happens without moving anything because you are narrowing down the are of sky of interest by increasing magnification.

But once realigned with the higher power you will increase the accuracy hugely - making other objects easier to locate :)

(make sure object is as near as possible to the center of the finderscope view and the eypiece view and they will stay well aligned together)

Edited by brantuk

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