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How easy should Polaris be to find through Polarscope?


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Unlike many I was fortunate enough to get an hour or so of crystal clear skies last night. 

Up until now I have always roughly plonked my EQ3-2 due North and had fun with some observing. Last night however was my opportunity to try my new  HEQ5 (birthday present) and I thought I would set-up properly for the first time.

Having been given some great advice on Polar alignment in another topic (I started) I was quite confident this would not be too tricky for me, I was very wrong.

I spent the first 20 mins looking at the counterweight rod, and again nothing as the dec axis was not rotated to look through. I was just too excited and forgot everything I had read through these cloudy evenings about setting up.

Anyway I could finally see stars after about 30mins but too many to pick Polaris. I think I was in the general direction but I could not make out which one was him. Should Polaris be really obvious to me, like way brighter? 

Also it seemed that I had to tip the altitude back almost as high as it could point, does this seem right? I was basically sitting on the cold wet floor squinting up through the polarscope at maybe 10/15 stars with no clue what was what.

Deflated I resorted to manually moving the scope for 5 mins before the clouds rolled in, the night a failure.  :embarrassed:

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Should be fairly easy.

Polaris while not exactly matching Sirius, Rigel or Procyon is easyily bright enought to pick out wiithout problems and it is the only brightish one in the area. So it should stand out enough to make it obvious.

Concerning setting it up if you have the space then try it indoors.

Why just about everyone runs outside in the dark and cold and tries it all for the first time I have never quite understood. Learn as much as you can inside then take that infoirmation outside to make kife as easy as you can.

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"Also it seemed that I had to tip the altitude back almost as high as it could point, does this seem right? I was basically sitting on the cold wet floor squinting up through the polarscope at maybe 10/15 stars with no clue what was what."

The "altitude" (latitude) is set to your geographic location which would be around 52.6. The stars in Ursa Major point to Polaris. Have you downloaded Stellarium?

Peter

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Should be fairly easy.

Polaris while not exactly matching Sirius, Rigel or Procyon is easyily bright enought to pick out wiithout problems and it is the only brightish one in the area. So it should stand out enough to make it obvious.

Concerning setting it up if you have the space then try it indoors.

Why just about everyone runs outside in the dark and cold and tries it all for the first time I have never quite understood. Learn as much as you can inside then take that infoirmation outside to make kife as easy as you can.

Perhaps I was just pointing to high up....

I'm happy to try whatever I can indoors, but I did think I was at the point of trying to Polar Align.

I guess I can fake Polar Align and play with the software/hand controller indoors.

"Also it seemed that I had to tip the altitude back almost as high as it could point, does this seem right? I was basically sitting on the cold wet floor squinting up through the polarscope at maybe 10/15 stars with no clue what was what."

The "altitude" (latitude) is set to your geographic location which would be around 52.6. The stars in Ursa Major point to Polaris. Have you downloaded Stellarium?

Peter

I did have it set to 52, but by eye trying to move the polar scope into place I ended up over 70. Should Polaris be very close to 52 degrees from my location? As in that's the point of setting the latitude to that in the first place? 

Yep I have Stellarium and CdC. 

I was confident of Polaris looking up, but struggled through the PolarScope. 

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Hi there,

      its a little easier to polar align at dusk , as the sun is setting Polaris is easier to see as its one of the first stars to show . I live in Wigan and my scope is tilted roughly at 53 degrees , so yours should be around 52 ish , 

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"I did have it set to 52, but by eye trying to move the polar scope into place I ended up over 70. Should Polaris be very close to 52 degrees from my location? As in that's the point of setting the latitude to that in the first place? " - not quite understanding this. If the latitude is set correctly and it is pointing North, Polaris should be fairly obvious as it's the brightest star in that position.

Peter

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You should be about 52, so not sure how "it ended up over 70" is from.

You set it to 52, lock it all and that is the setting.

Polar scopes are notoriously difficult to see through, seems 10 years of yoga and contortionist practise helps enormously.

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52 degs is fine for Norfolk area. But a tip I often suggest is to get a laser pointer and wedge it gently in the shoe as square as possible, using a block of straight soft wood to hold it gently to the straight side of the shoe. Once you have the mount axis pointing at the pole star it's usually in the finder and/or the polar scope.

The pole star is always visible by eye on a clear night - and in the polar scope or finder it's very bright and obvious. Of course you have to do it before mounting the main scope.

Just make sure there are no aircraft around when you do it or you'll get in trouble. :)

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Hi Tony,

Have you aligned the polar scope to the mount axis? There is instruction in the HEQ5 manual and a couple of threads on here. Best to do this prior to ultimately getting the correct elevation / altitude dialled into your mount.

Ian

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  • What I find helps is to remove the polar scope competely, use the hole that's left to get Polaris centered as best you can.  Replace the polar scope and use the ioptron app to see how the polar scope shoull be oriented in the mount.

The polar scope needs to be aligned with the mount first and I assume that removing the polar scope doesn't upset that alignment.

Hope this helps.

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Please pardon my apparent blunt tone, but getting on Polaris is not difficult.

1.  Buy a magnetic compass.

2.  Call the nearest airport, or check Google to determine the magnetic declination for your area.

3.  Using the compass (with magnetic decclination applied) determine the line of TRUE NORTH.

4.  Set your tripod with the "north leg" directly point at TRUE NORTH (as determined above).  You can validate this by using the compass to check that the two back legs are lined up east/west (again, with the mag dec applied).

5.  Now, that your tripd/scope are pointing to TRUE NORTH, simply set your latitude on the latitude scale.  This will point your scope directly at the North Celestial Pole which can be at most 0.7o from Polaris.  The star that should be centered in your eyepiece is Polaris.  If you have to adjust anything, only move the azimuth screw(s) on the MOUNT, and/or only move the latitude adjustment.  DO NOT MOVE THE SCOPE RA or DEC.

Lastly, use the polar alignment scope to get Polaris in the tiny circle that is etched in the lens.  AGAIN, do not move the scope... just the mount.

Clear, Dark Skies

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I didn't find the HEQ5 polar scope to be useful until I'd arranged to DIM the

brightness of the LED significantly. It's like viewing through tomato soup. :p

There are several articles on this around... I think I ended up with a series

470k potentiometer with an integral on-off switch in the "live" LED lead.

I use a digital level to set up the azimuth (actually) fairly accurately. With the

LED at lesser brightness, Polaris tends to stand out rather well - The only

star visible at that altitude as the mount is rotated in azimuth on the tripod. 

I would echo the general idea of setting things up "as near as possible" and

before beginning the slightly fraught process of cranking the mount screws

while simultaneously looking at Polaris.

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If you may find it physically awkward, like many, to look through the Polar scope. As has been mentioned, you can turn it into a right angle unit with a bit of DIY, by using a Nikon DR-3 / DR-4 or a Canon B,  RT angle camera unit, both have circular bosses at the camera attachment end, which makes for ease of fixing to the Polar scope, with pieces of suitable tubing. There is now also a commercially available RT angle adapter, which fits SW and other standard Polar scopes, but it comes at a heavy price at over £100.  Nikon and Canon s/h units can often be found on fleebay, for in the region of £18-25, depending on condition :)

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I allways try to start setting up an hour befor dusk makes things easier with cables balancing polar aligning which you can see in polar scope long befor its dark and youre set up to have a look at early eavening object venus mercury other planets sometimes even a slender moon befor it dissapeers below horrizon

Clear skies and best of luck steve

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I don't bother with PA using the Polar Scope, the Handset has a Polar Align routine that does not need to use Polaris, from a list choose any star that's in a good position for you do a 2 star align then a Polar Align, park the scope then repeat on different Stars, its easier on the knees as you don't need to look through the Polar Scope or try to find Polaris.....

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....

I did have it set to 52, but by eye trying to move the polar scope into place I ended up over 70. Should Polaris be very close to 52 degrees from my location? As in that's the point of setting the latitude to that in the first place? 

Yep I have Stellarium and CdC. 

I was confident of Polaris looking up, but struggled through the PolarScope.

My guess is that the mount wasn't pointed North. Hence you were missing Polaris either East or West and went 'hunting' upwards until you found something else. The mount shouldn't be that far off.

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As a complete PA newbie I was struggling with this myself last night.  (HEQ5).  First make sure if you can you've dimmed the polar scope LED (as mentioned above).  Then

1) learn how to spot polaris in the sky - learn the constellations

2) with a small, light frac & red dot finder set up on the scope and roughly alligned with the polar scope axis point scope and mount at polaris

3) take scope off mount and fine tune

anyway, that's how I got there in the end

p.s. I spent half an hour last night aligning the mount under mistaken assumption that Dubhe was Polaris..

Edited by Joseki
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Hello,

i have an EQ6, so our polar scopes should be similar if not identical. My approach when setting up the telescope is:

- Setup tripod, plug EQ6 on tripod, make sure that theres enough travel for the azimuth adjustement in both directions

- Stand behind tripod and bring RA axis in line with polaris (by eye sight)

- Level tripod such that EQ6 bubble is centered (i verified with another bubble level that the EQ6 bubble level is fairly precise

- Set declination on EQ6

-> in 9 out of 10 cases i now have polaris in the field of view, if not the usually i have to adjust the azimuth a bit

Also it should be noted that at least in my polar scope the led illumination is such that polaris is the only visible star

Sometimes my polar scope is defocused and that hinders me on finding polaris, but given that my position procedure has a very high success rate, this is sorted out very quickly.

I then proceed and perform the polar alignement with the EQ Mod tool. Works like a charm!

greetings

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When I first started I found polar aligning difficult, there are a lot of stars and the polar scope is typically in a very awkward position. Now I can do it in under a minute. I am assuming as a beginner you want to polar align for visual observing. Here is how I cracked it.

All in daylight: set your right ascension elevation on your mount, this will put you in the right vicinity vertically. Set your azimuth adjustment knobs so they are equal. Then point your mount towards true north. You do not need to off by much to miss polaris in the polar scope. I used a compass for this. Magnetic north is not quite the same as true north. It is easy online to find your local difference between true and magnetic. I used a piece of wood on the ground and used the compass to point it towards true north and drew a line in pencil on the ground and used this to align the mount. This will put you in the correct vicinity horizontally. Level your tripod.

At early dusk: look through your polar scope and you should see a lot fewer stars. If you have done the above, one star should stand out very clearly and this will be polaris and it should be close to being polar aligned. There are a few different polar alignment graticules. You need to follow the instructions for yours and fine tune the position of polaris on the graticule. Only very minor tweaks on the mounts elevation and azimuth adjustment screws should be necessary for a good polar alignment. If you have illumination for your polar scope set it to a low brightness level.

Before you pack away: if you do not alter the height on your tripod legs and mark the ground where the three legs sit with a permanent marker then next time you set up is easy. Just put your tripod back on the three spots and you will only have to fine tune the position of polaris. This will only take a few seconds. Good Luck

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