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Newbs2215

New Set up for VAA

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Hi All,

We are going to be setting up for VAA over the next couple of months. However, as we are at the limited to our backyard due to spouses mobility issues, we have come across a problem.

We were going to purchase a HEQ5 Mount, to go with a Startravel 150 OTA and full guidescope system, as well as an atik infinity camera.

My idea was to control the mount from the living room, via Stellarium and then push the video feed to a separate computer with a second Monitor. This would enable me to " mess with the feed", but still allow the wife to control the scope.  I think this is a decent set up, but at no point in the night or early evening can we actually see or track Polaris. I am aware that we need to accurately Polar align the scope to get good tracking for VAA, but not being able to polar align correctly leaves us with a problem.

I was wondering if there is any hardware  changes we could make or is there a way of polar aligning without being able to see Polaris.

We have only owned Alt/Az mounts before.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Newbs2215

 

This Post was originally posted in the VAA forum, but due to no replies, I though I would copy it to the imaging section.

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I don’t have first hand experience of this, but here are my thoughts.

Firstly, I know that the newer Celestron mounts have an All Star polar alignment routine to deal with just this situation, I’m not sure if the same is available in the HEQ5.

I assume you’ll be using the mounts “Goto” function to find targets, so as long as you can get polar alignment good enough for the Goto to work, the tracking should be sufficient for your VAA needs.

You might need to spend a couple of hours on one night by the scope to get good PA(search for How to drift align?) and then you could mark the position of the tripod legs  on the ground so that you could place the scope in a repeatable position for future observing sessions. A permanent pier that you could just plonk the mount on would probably be better, but may be out of the question.

For the first “by the scope” alignment, you’ll start by setting the tripod level (not strictly necessary, but makes some of the later adjustments easier) and put the mount on top with the polar axis pointing North (use a compass or app on your phone) and set the altitude axis to your latitude from GPS. This should get you close enough to start the drift alignment procedure.  During drift alignment you’ll observe stars in different parts of the sky and adjust the pointing of the polar axis depending on the direction they move in the eyepiece whilst the scope is tracking. 

All of this shouldn’t take too long, and once you’ve done it once, you should just be able to place the tripod and mount in the predetermined position and begin the normal star alignment procedure of the mount.

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