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I'm relatively new to the whole telescope thing but have done my research and was fixed on getting the Orion skyquest XT8i or XT10i. By spending that much money, I didn't like the idea of purchasing it online from their website without seeing it in person (and not having the reassurance of being able to take it back) and looked for stores in the UK that would supply them. After plenty of research, it seems like they don't exist anymore and they are only in the US? Is this right or could anyone help me?
(I've looked at the Sky-watcher 250PX/200PX flextube skyscan goto but it is significantly heavier and the noise of the goto mechanism sounds like a table saw so that's put me off of it...)
Any help would be much appreciated,
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.
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.
Is anyone on here signed up for the SkySafari and SynScan beta testing to natively support IOS? If so how has it been going?
I thought the recent email exchange between Skywatcher support and myself might be of interest, as there appears little information available on this feature.
Regarding "Alignment Sharing", please see the description below.
## Alignment Sharing
Alignment data is stored in each individual app instance. This means if you performed alignment using one app instance, only it will have the newly created alignment data. If another app instance connects to the same mount, it will not have access to the new alignment data.
The alignment sharing feature (**Utility > Alignment Sharing**) allows one app instance to send a copy of alignment data to another app instance. For it to work, the devices running the app instances must be on the same local area network (eg connect to the same Wi-Fi network). The sending instance turns on **Share my alignment**, while the receiving instance turns off this option. The receiving instance should then see the shared alignment data appear in a list. Loading alignment data overwrites the previous alignment data.
You can use the Alignment Sharing to transfer the alignment data to another device after completing a Star Alignment. For example, you have done and successfully complete 2-Star alignment with your smartphone and then you can use the Alignment Sharing function to share the alignment data to the SynScan Pro App Windows program which is running on your PC. Then you don't have to do the alignment again to control the same AZ GOTO mount with the Windows SynScan App because it has the same alignment result as your smartphone has.
If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know.
SynScan App Team
On Wed, Jun 24, 2020 at 1:22 AM Gavin Cox wrote:
I have just seen you have updated the Synscan app firmware to 1.19. I have this installed on a Win PC and Android phone and use it to control a AZ GOTO mount running the latest firmware using the Synscan Wifi Dongle.
There looks to be some new functionality under the utility menu called 'alignment sharing', but I can't find any documentation in the help files on this?
Please can you detail how it can be used? If both my phone and PC are connected to the SynScan WiFi hotspot and I perform an alignment on my phone will the app on the PC recognise this too (or vice versa)?
I've literally just signed up so I'm totally new here and excited to learn from all you professional astromaster...
I'm not sure if this is the right place to post so I do apologise if not...
I'm after a skywatcher eq3 pro goto mount for my celestron astromaster 130eq every website i go on they are out of stock and not available for a couple of months 🙄 does anybody know a stockist that has these in stock? I've only been in the astrophotography hobby 4 weeks so I've got lots to learn...
Thank you for your help