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POLAR ALIGNMENT IF THE POLE STAR IS OBSTRUCTED (e.g. OBSERVING ON A S-FACING BALCONY!!!) Set up your scope on the floor (assuming it's reasonably level) in equatorial mode, with a rough guess at North. Put the tube into whatever 'home' position the instructions specify, or that you have chosen. Now choose an easily recognisable bright star at mid altitude. Pretend you HAVE polar aligned, and tell the scope to go to this star. When the slewing stops lift the scope very gently and turn the mount round till the star is in the centre of the field of view and you should have a fairly good polar alignment. If you are for example videoing planets and can also autoguide, this alignment may be all you need. But you can now refine it by the drift method if you need to - see https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/accurate-polar-alignment/ This method should be quite useful for Southern hemisphere observing, where the 'south pole star' - Sigma Octantis - is difficult to find especially in light polluted skies. And of course my advice here applies if you have a North-facing balcony!


Edited by Sun
Extension of advice to southern hemisphere observers

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Another method is using the polar alignment procedure is some mounts.. my CGEM has the ASPA (All Star Polar Alignment) and it's very accurate for a start... get within a few arc minutes... 

Surely the CGEM is not the only mount with such a feature.


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The Skywatcher handsets come with a polar align feature. I haven't used it for a while but I'm sure it uses 2 different stars for adjusting both alt and az axis. Pretty accurate for goto commands.

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Good point, David. I have Skywatcher mounts now but like you had forgotten about their refinement procedures! I quite like the Skywatcher, but in my opinion no modern mount is anything like as good as the now unobtainable and now almost unrepairable Vixen Skysensor - but that's another topic!


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For visual I found north and level worked ok even on a 2000fl sct...you could drift align if you can see south and east or west..

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