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computerised mounts, friend or foe?


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If you don't want to use the goto you can just slew your way there, Cap'n of the Skies!

I like both ways myself. Enjoy trying to find things with my 10 inch dob though also enjoy the goto dob under dark skies, getting to unfamiliar targets fast (not so visible under restricted horizons at home) and not wasting 20 minutes trying to find them (I am a bit of a landlubber :-o)

Edited by Luke
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I have to admit that I am one of those strange people who thoroughly enjoy the search, because in searching, many unexpected surprises add to the adventure. On many an occasion I will mount my scope o

Oh I don't doubt some, with better memories than me, can find objects sans GoTo probably quicker than I can with GoTo.  I was at a star party some time ago and suffered a GoTo fault.  Some chap came a

No goto will ever stop you learning your way around the sky. Why should it? If you ask a goto to go to Beteguese and a bright blue/white star appears I do not think there is one goto owner who just as

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I don't have a go-to scope and I can honestly say that I really have no clue about what is up there, where it is and or how to find it beyond really the major constellations and targets that I know and can eyeball first.

This is more a reflection though on the way I do things, being mainly interested in solar system imaging and stuff it's really quite simple to roughly point the scope north for tracking and then swing around to whatever the target is for the night.

Sure I realise I'm missing out on quite a bit and it is something I would like to start doing more, it's possible if I had a go-to then I may be well on my way through the Messier's by now. Maybe not, who knows.

At this time I don't see the need for a go-to scope but it is out of practicality based on my usage patterns more than anything else.

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Late to this party, apologies. To be honest, does it matter? Want to use goto? Good on you, go for it, enjoy it. Don't want to use goto? Same reply.

Enjoy the skies, that's the main thing.

+1 to that! (trendy internet banter)

No more to be said.

Edited by Kropster
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I think with this hobby the one evident surety is that there are multiple form of enjoying it ,from visual to imaging, dobs ,apos ,scts,eq , alt az, go to ,solar lunar planetary deep sky, grab n go fixed observatories ,small scopes ,big scopes,binos !!!!! Try telling anyone what is right and wrong amongst all of that is missing the point, because if you in your own way get enjoyment then good luck to you.

What this forum does brilliantly in a friendly way is spread and share and develop the enjoyment of astronomy so let's all keep it that way.

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I use whatever I find most convenient. I know my way around the sky pretty well so can find many well known objects without assistance. For much of my observing I just use simple alt Az mounts for my refractors.

That said, I also enjoy using push-to digital setting circles linked to an iPhone. These really enhance the enjoyment allowing you to go manual if you know what you are finding, or use the push to if you are looking for something trickier. Hunting around the Virgo cluster for instance is great fun and you can keep track of what you are looking at.

I also have a GOTO EQ mount which rarely gets used mainly due to setup time. I do enjoy it when I use it though, tracking on planetary observing really gets you concentrate and bring out the detail, but that's tracking and not Goto!! Under my skies it's much faster to use goto or push to to get to less obvious doubles etc so it does enhance the enjoyment

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Ehrm...

  • I never bought anything without GoTo.
  • I never used a polar scope to do a polar alignment.
  • I haven't used an eyepiece in like a year since there is a camera in the way, haha. The closest thing is a broken 5mm Plössl with no lenses, I use it for collimation among with cheshire, laser collimator etc.
  • I prefer the RDS instead of a ordinary finder since I find them awkward to use, not enough electronics in them I suppose, haha.
  • I never stargazed without my laptop and smartphone.

This might seems strange to many of you but I started this hobby very late (in 2011) and I wanted to be able to control a mount and a camera attached to a telescope remotely with a handset or a computer so I never even considered manual mount. And when I realised I didn't have to use the polar scope (it's really in a terrible neck wrecking position!) I figured what's the point of learning how to do it when I can do it in an easier way?

Nowadays though I can see myself using a Az or a dob and I have used a friends dob and to my surprise I have actually learned to find stuff in the sky and I jumped from target to target like I never done anything else before.

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Ehrm...

  • I never bought anything without GoTo.
  • I never used a polar scope to do a polar alignment.
  • I haven't used an eyepiece in like a year since there is a camera in the way, haha. The closest thing is a broken 5mm Plössl with no lenses, I use it for collimation among with cheshire, laser collimator etc.
  • I prefer the RDS instead of a ordinary finder since I find them awkward to use, not enough electronics in them I suppose, haha.
  • I never stargazed without my laptop and smartphone.

This might seems strange to many of you but I started this hobby very late (in 2011) and I wanted to be able to control a mount and a camera attached to a telescope remotely with a handset or a computer so I never even considered manual mount. And when I realised I didn't have to use the polar scope (it's really in a terrible neck wrecking position!) I figured what's the point of learning how to do it when I can do it in an easier way?

Nowadays though I can see myself using a Az or a dob and I have used a friends dob and to my surprise I have actually learned to find stuff in the sky and I jumped from target to target like I never dge to avoione anything else before.

How do you manage to avoid using the polarscope if you are doing AP? Sounds too good to be true! :laugh:

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I'm a HUGE.... HUGE HUGE FAN of computers/tech and all that they allow me to do. Without them I'd survive, but not be happy about it. To those who'd get such joy fumbling around in the darkness, trying to find there way... I'm not that guy, but I respect if not understand the romanticized nature of maps and old scopes and the toiling in the dark. I get it, but it ain't for me.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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You cant do a drift align everytime you set up....can you?

Or are we talking fixed mounts here?

Software can make adjustments for any polar alignment errors or any other errors that occur in alignment. It's one of the joys of mobile tech, mobile or fixed... Is it not?

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To a certain extent, but won't you get some field rotation if polar align is off?

I've had no problem with my setup. The mount and software can account for field rotation or all such issues I've ever dealt with thus far. With a half decent pa you can go forward with substantial unguided exposures. Using a guidecam, the software can handle most anything it encounters and keep any object dead center. It's this capability that makes tech so incredible to use.... and it's going to get even better with time.

There was a time when you required hard fought for skill to participate in AP. It was tedious and very difficult. It's almost easy enough now that anyone can do it. This fact makes those with pre-tech skills angry, understandably so. It used to take skill, time, luck, and passion to make it in the music business, but now any joe/Jane with a computer and YouTube can make it. This fact makes the end product less amazing to some. It's just the way of the world.

I'm a cycling fan. With every advance in cycling tech has come those longing for the older days of the Tour de France calling "pure". Tech is simply evolution at work, slow enough for us to witness.

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Edited by Liquid360
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I'm a new returner and decided to get an equatorial mounted vintage telescope to start me off for two reasons - I got a lot more bang for my buck but also and to me importantly, I've started with learning the ropes and finding things manually... but I have every intention of getting a goto mount in a while. I expect I'll use both... I'm loving being able to flit to something and then spend that half hour getting it right but I'm looking forward to letting the Goto take the strain and I'm certain that I'm getting a way better set up; mount and telescope this way than I could possibly have got in one go.  

Am I greedy wanting both - I like to drive my car in it's raw mode too from time to time  :shocked:

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You cant do a drift align everytime you set up....can you?

Or are we talking fixed mounts here?

:) see my post on this thread:

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/240961-frustrating-celestron-4se-setup/

I arrived at my current method through trial and error and the attempt to eliminate potential guiding errors I was suffering from at the time. If you're carefull in handling the mount the alignment is pretty good from word go. Occasionally I drift align but usually find what I start with is good enough for 10-15min guided subs.

Like Liquid indicates you can use software too. Celestron software has a polar alignment tool that works reasonably well, although sometimes for me it throws a wobbler. One day I'll work out why :)

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I'm a new returner and decided to get an equatorial mounted vintage telescope to start me off for two reasons - I got a lot more bang for my buck but also and to me importantly, I've started with learning the ropes and finding things manually... but I have every intention of getting a goto mount in a while. I expect I'll use both... I'm loving being able to flit to something and then spend that half hour getting it right but I'm looking forward to letting the Goto take the strain and I'm certain that I'm getting a way better set up; mount and telescope this way than I could possibly have got in one go.  

Am I greedy wanting both - I like to drive my car in it's raw mode too from time to time  :shocked:

Absolutely! Each method when suits.

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I've had no problem with my setup. The mount and software can account for field rotation or all such issues I've ever dealt with thus far. With a half decent pa you can go forward with substantial unguided exposures. Using a guidecam, the software can handle most anything it encounters and keep any object dead center. It's this capability that makes tech so incredible to use.... and it's going to get even better with time.

There was a time when you required hard fought for skill to participate in AP. It was tedious and very difficult. It's almost easy enough now that anyone can do it. This fact makes those with pre-tech skills angry, understandably so. It used to take skill, time, luck, and passion to make it in the music business, but now any joe/Jane with a computer and YouTube can make it. This fact makes the end product less amazing to some. It's just the way of the world.

I'm a cycling fan. With every advance in cycling tech has come those longing for the older days of the Tour de France calling "pure". Tech is simply evolution at work, slow enough for us to witness.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

'With a half decent polar alignment'......there you go.....how do you do that?

Edited by Kropster
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You cant do a drift align everytime you set up....can you?

Or are we talking fixed mounts here?

Why not? Drift alignment can be done very easily using routines like PHD2 Drift Align or D.A.R.V.

Some mounts don't even come with polar scopes (foe example, the Skywatcher EQ8 polar scope is a £100 add-on). Polar alignment can be done very quickly using the Synscan alignment routine. More sophisticated mounts (like the Paramounts) can automatically image multiple points in the sky and then tell the user how many "ticks" to rotate the Alt and Az adjustments (which have micromtre scales on them) and in which direction.

With the increasing power of embedded computing and the rise of cheap stepper motors I can see where a manufacturer could quite easily fully automate the polar alignment routine. Plonk your EQ mount on the tripod, switch it all on and the mount automatically builds a sky model using plate-solving and then adjusts the alt/az positions to give perfect polar alignment.

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Why not? Drift alignment can be done very easily using routines like PHD2 Drift Align or D.A.R.V.

Some mounts don't even come with polar scopes (foe example, the Skywatcher EQ8 polar scope is a £100 add-on). Polar alignment can be done very quickly using the Synscan alignment routine. More sophisticated mounts (like the Paramounts) can automatically image multiple points in the sky and then tell the user how many "ticks" to rotate the Alt and Az adjustments (which have micromtre scales on them) and in which direction.

I have a Paramount MX+ which, along with SkyX, makes simple work of alignment. Just do what the computer says. That simple.

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In contradiction to my earlier post, I actually got my 6se to work quite well a couple of nights ago with the addition of starsense. Whilst the targets weren't in the centre of the ep, they were close. I even got comet Lovejoy by guesstimating the co-ordinates at there it was! I think the trick is with the power supply.

I still have a hesitancy, if the computerisation goes wrong any time (eg develop a "boot loading error") as one of mine did a few months ago, yiur evenings observing is screwed up and I ended up having to send the mount off to be reflashed as the Celestron CFM wouldn't run on any of my computers.

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The polar alignment feature in the Skywatcher handset works pretty good, I do 3 iterations or when it's looks good and it's enough for guided imaging.

The way I do it.

1. I align the mount using an app showing true north, I get this as accurate as possible. I have also marked the spot where I usually have my mount in the garden so it's just to put it back where it used to be and it's close from start.

2. 2 star align (3 star might work now but it had some bugs in the older software revisions.)

3. Polar align and adjust the bolts when the software tells you to.

4. Start over from (2) two more times.

5. Do a final 2 star align.

There you have it, very easy.

Edited by Baffa
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