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Bit hard astro-greenie


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Hello all! Greetings from the woolly wilds of the south central US. I had an interest in astronomy when I was younger (12) and my father, in his infinite wisdom, bought me a microscope. So at 42, I'm picking it back up. I am so in love! The night sky has proven to be most cathartic and I will never give it up again. I started by just doing a few lunar photos the end of July, then the Perseids in mid-August. That was when I really became hooked. Just going out and laying under the stars and staring at the dusty bands of the Milky Way was magical. I hadn't done that since I was a kid. Why do we forget? Tragic. So then I ordered binoculars and a planisphere. A month later I picked up an old model of the Celestron Celestar 8" SCT. I named her Teena (shortened from Athena) and we are on our way! If I can get my head wrapped around polar alignment, we'll be unstoppable!




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Many thanks for the warm welcome! My husband was an RAF brat, but calls Cambridgeshire home. Have visited a few times and although it's much warmer here, they are both quite green! Loved Wales when last over, having dipped my toes in the Atlantic at Fishguard. Unforgettable. Thanks for letting a yank hang out and if there's anyone who knows how to do manual polar alignment with an SCT on a wedgepod, I"d be eternally grateful! The Cassegrain crew seems lost without computers! LOL! Cheers, all!

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Hi  A_Nonnie_Mouse and welcome to SGL to you and Teena, lovely countryside you have there, also with nice dark skies I expect.

A quick Polar align without a computer out in the field, Hmn:

A must have is a bubble level / red torch / compass. Set your scope and mount oriented due North, check that your tripod is level and your scope is also correct for vertical and horizontal alignment. You will now need to locate the Pole star and Ursa Min, in particular its two further major stars Kochab and Pherkad, they are fairly prominent, but if you are not sure of their location, find Ursa Maj, (Big Dipper / Saucepan ) taking a line through the centre of the base of the saucepan  out through the opening, points in the direction of Kochab, which is the brighter of the two stars  a short distance away and quite close together, forming part of the saucepan of Ursa min. With binoculars you should be able to see the line of the whole the Constellation back to its major star Polaris, but with dark skies you should have no problem.

Now you have that part sorted, there is one major thing to remember. A line taken from Polaris to Kochab passes near enough through the NCP at a distance of some 43' from Polaris. You can use your main scope for this, if you have a cross hair eye piece ,or your finder scope if fitted. So you will need to gauge the 43' or 3/4 of a degree in your field of view. 

To do this you require to calculate what your field of view ( FOV ) is for the eye piece you are using and this can be done from home. Using a stop watch, place any bright star on the Eastern edge of your field of view and time how long in seconds it takes to cross through the centre of the FOV and disappear at the Western edge, dividing the time by 4 will give the answer in arc minutes ( ' ) multiplying by 60 will convert this to arc seconds ( ” ) do this three times and calculate the average for accuracy, useful when using star maps and making scale star hopping circles.

A quick set up would be to angle your forks to point to Polaris, bringing it into view in the scope, adjust your mount to centre the star on the cross hairs, now look to the sky and observe the orientation and the relationship of Kochab with Polaris, you need to create, near enough, the same angle with the horizontal cross hair to mimic what you see in the sky. Then using your scopes Alt/Az adjustment only, move Polaris in the correct direction in its relation to Kochab, so it is about 43' along the line away from its original position, you should be able to gauge how far this is, from you experiments with ascertaining your FOV, you should now be very near the centre of the NCP.

Just a note for reference here. If your skies are nice and dark you should be able to make out the stars Ursa Min 5 and 4 marked on most maps as Flamsteed No's, they curve in an arc from Kochab back towards Polaris. Flamsteed 5, the closest to Kochab, is to all intents and purposes in a direct line, passing through the centre of the NCP to Polaris. lining your cross hair with this should give even better results. I am able to see Ursa Min 5 on good nights in a light polluted skies with averted vision.

This has taken far longer to explain, than it does in practise, just pointing your scopes forks at Polaris will do for general flitting about the skies for quick observations of numerous targets. If you want accurate Polar aligning procedures, then I refer you to Astro Baby`s web site, other than that if you want to entertain Astrophotography and very accurate star tracking, then research the subject of Drift Aligning, enjoy the forum :)


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Thanks, John. Will print off your instructions and take with me once the Evil Orb has subsided a bit. The few times Teena and I have been out, we've just lined up to Polaris in the finder scope (will be upgrading this to telrad or Polar scope in a few months) as we are learning to star-hop together. I've ordered the adapters for my Canon but AP is not foremost on my radar. Learning the sky, mastering the SCT, and having some well-deserved fun is where I am at the moment. I have the rest of my life to learn this, to love this. I want to savor each moment of it. I also just rehabbed an abandoned 60mm I found at Goodwill. Will keep long enough to master the EQ mount, then gift it to a kid at a star party somewhere. 

Thanks, all for the welcome and I hope to earn my keep 

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...... I had an interest in astronomy when I was younger (12) and my father, in his infinite wisdom, bought me a microscope. So at 42, I'm picking it back up.......

Hi and welcome to SGL - That is one odd looking microscope!! :D :d Glad that you found us and hope that you enjoy your time here.

Look forward to seeing you around :)

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