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By Eta Carina fan
Hi. I live in Santiago, Chile, and on a recent trip back home to the US, bought a new Explore Scientific Exos100 PMC mount, to use here for AP with my DSLR and AT72ED scope. I have the ExploreStars app installed on my iPad, and it links fine, with slewing controls working from the tablet. My problem is, despite the fact that the app displays correctly my southern hemisphere location, the mount tracks as if it were in the northern hemisphere. I cannot find a hemisphere switch on the unit (like found on my SW Star Adventurer). I have written to ES but so far, no response. I am hoping to connect with EXOS100 users in So Africa, Australia or other southern hemisphere locations, to learn directly from them how they overcame this issue. Thanks!
The topic of Polar Alignment is not at all new. Lot of approaches, automation tools are available. Yet, some aspects in all the current approaches drove me towards doing some more work. The key aspects of this approach are as follows.
Ability to do the Polar alignment without polaris sited Relatively less complexity than drift alignment Ability to address to a good extent the atmospheric refraction to finally locate correct NCP / SCP position A good starting point for amateurs who wish to graduate towards sophisticated tools and techniques Ability to quickly verify if the polar alignment is intact after one object photographed or viewed, and the equipment is being pointed to another object. This point is mentioned in light of the fact that sometimes the polar alignment gets disturbed and the next object photographed shows star trails. This is especially true if payload is tweaked for next photo imaging. What is required?
One should have a good understanding of the sky and ability to identify stars upto Mag 4.5 using star maps and basic concepts of RA and Dec. One should have Equatorial mount with ability to fine tune Azimuth and Alt adjustments. Availability of cross hair eye piece for the ability to locate the star exactly at the cross hair point. It is good to have finder scope attached and the finder cross hair is aligned with the main telescope eye piece cross hair. Please note this technique is not for the GoTo mounts which many times have Alt-Az mounts fitted with tracking motors. The GoTo alignment is done using 3 Star method.
However, there are a few mounts which are equatorial design and also have GoTo tracking capabilities with RA and Dec motors. For these mounts, it is preferred to carry out polar alignment. The only point about these mounts, is that GoTo should have ability to start the RA motor ( tracking) without doing the 3 Star alignment, in other words, bypassing the steps for 3 Star alignment.
The technique is based on the mathematics around the stellar current positions precisely computed. The technique suggests NCP or SCP alignment using specific pointing stars.
The technique relies upon pairs of stars identified such that pair has same RA or same Dec. The details about finding such pairs, are given in the next section ( Mathematics).
Try to do a very coarse polar alignment using your latitude and pointing the equatorial axis approximately towards a possible Polaris direction. This is only to reduce the iterations in the method below. There is no dependency to visually site Polaris. Step 2
Select the pair of stars of the same RA from the table 1 below. Now, while choosing the pair, please select that pair which is closest to the zenith. This will reduce the error due to atmospheric refraction of siting those stars. Choosing such pair, will get better alignment. Note that the NCP and SCP lie on the same RA contour of the pair, you have just chosen. Locate the first star of the pair in the cross hair eye piece. Loosen the DEC knob of your Eq mount. Let the RA axis not to be loosened. Further, please start the RA motor and hence the tracking. In case of GoTo capability, please ensure the tracking is On, while the 3 Star alignment being bypassed. Rotate the telescope around DEC axis such that the second star of the pair is in the Cross hair eye piece. In the first attempt, the second star almost certainly will not be at the center of cross hair eye piece. And you need corrections. At this point, take the help of the finder with its wider field of view. Identify the position of the second star whether it is below or above the finder cross hair. Adjust the Azimuth of the mount through the coarse or fine depending on how off the second star has been. o Tip : In case, someone is facing difficulty in finding which direction to move Azimuth of the mount for correction, the following tips may be of use. A simple way to determine is to locate where the second star lies with respect to cross hair. Assume it is on the lower side of cross hair. Then the correction in the Azimuth of the mount should be such that the star is moved upward. It may be noted that your finder can be either inverting or non-inverting. Now, to determine the movement, please hold the finger on the lower side in front of the primary of the finder. And slowly lift the finger towards the center of the primary to obstruct it and continue moving upward. While doing so, please observe from the eyepiece. The blackish ghost image of finger will be seen moving. If movement is lower to upward, the optics is non-inverting. If ghost image moves from up to down, it is inverting. With this small trick, you would know how to apply correction. Once the correction is done, please point the finder to the first and then second star alternately simply by rotating around Dec axis of the mount. Both stars will be seen at the cross hair. At this point, coarse polar alignment is done. Now, please use the main telescope cross hair to locate the first and then second star using Dec axis movement. If required, please carry out the necessary Azimuth correction. Again, please use the above small trick to find out more on how to apply correction. At this point, please note that at the telescope’s high power ( with cross hair eyepiece), the Dec axis is correctly tracing two stars in your pair. Note that NCP/SCP lie on the same Dec axis. The Azimuth alignment of NCP/SCP is achieved. No more touching of azimuth knob of your Equatorial mount now. Step 3
Site the pair of stars of the same Dec from the table 2 below. Now, while choosing the pair, please identify roughly the midpoint of them. Now, select that pair whose midpoint is relatively closest to the Zenith. With this, one star is relatively East ward and other one almost at a same distance but Westward. This will reduce the error due to atmospheric refraction of siting those stars. Choosing such pair, will get better alignment In case you are unable to select a pair, please read Step 4. Note that the NCP and SCP lie on the centre of the Dec circle which the above pair inscribes. Locate the first star in the cross hair of finder. To locate the second star, please lock Dec axis. But loosen the Eq axis and rotate the telescope around Eq axis. Please carry out Alt adjustments of the mount. Please use similar procedure and tricks as in the step 2. Once the two stars are in the cross hair positions of the telescope, the polar alignment is completed. Step 4 ( only if you could not carry out Step 3)
Site the pair of stars of the same RA from the table 1 below. Now, while choosing the pair, please select another pair which is off zenith. Please try to select such pair which has both stars approx same elevation from horizon, so that their atmospheric refraction is almost same. Effectively, we cancel the atmospheric refraction influence. Please note that in step 2, NCP/SCP is located to be on one of the RA lines. Now, we use another RA line with this newly selected pair. Again, for these stars to be centred, please keep Eq axis fixed and only move Dec axis ( similar to step 2). However this time, the mount corrections to be done are using Alt adjustments. Once the two stars are in the cross hair positions of the telescope, the polar alignment is completed. Mathematics
The starting point was the star catalog where the Epoch 2000 is taken as baseline. Then I selected the stars brighter than mag 4.5. I applied the corrections due to Earth Precession and also the individual star’s proper motion. With the base data was ready for today's’ star positions. Then I programmatically picked up all pairs for same RA (within 0.001 difference) and later all pairs with same Dec (within 0.001 difference).
I found mag 4.5 to be heuristically optimal. This magnitude is sufficient for visual locating these stars. Also, the number stars shortlisted from the main catalog is good enough to give sufficient number of required pairs.
The pairs located today may not be valid after say couple of years due to Earth Precession and stellar proper motion. The below two tables will need fresh computation then.
Disclaimer: I have tried few of the above mathematically found pairs from my location 19 Lat 73 Log. I use Bresser ExOS 2 mount. After the polar alignment, the tracking was tested for 10 min which was adequate for my current level of astrophotography.
At different altitudes, different latitudes, this is not tested. I believe, the method will definitely work for small exposures. It is to be validated if this method works for very long exposures.
Table 1 : Star pairs with same RA ( useful for Step 2 and 4)
First star (name)
First star HD Id
Second star ( name)
Second star HD Id
Table 2 : Star pairs with same Dec ( useful for Step 3)
First star (name)
First star HD
Second star ( name)
Second star HD
4 Xi CMaj
Ashirwad Tillu ( email@example.com), user name ( antariksha)
By Kcks Regulus Star
On the 2nd of July I closed my curtains one night before I went to bed but, before they were shut I noticed a strange multicoloured light flickering low in the sky in the northern celestial hemisphere. I Thought to myself if that is a star it looks amazing. The next night (3rd of July) I decided to take another look at this multicoloured light which was still there, Only this time I used my binoculars, I was seeing blues, greens & reds. We have all seen stars by looking up into the sky but, I have never seen a star create multi colours before. It makes you feel excited inside and you think that no one else can see this until you tell them and share the same experience together. I believe I was looking at the Capella Star which is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga and your not kidding it is bright. I cant wait to have another look tonight to see if the multi colours are still there. I would like to have taken at picture of it but I am not setup to do that just yet as I am very new to star gazing. I wish someone here can confirm what I saw and to post a picture of it would be awesome.
Nikon Prostaff 3s 8 x 42
I have a Celestron Astromaster 114 eq (114/1000mm), and I do use it whenever I can, but I'm still quite the newbie when it comes to observing.
My point is, I'd like to observe the planets, but I dont't think the standard eyepieces that came with my telescope (10 mm and 20 mm) are powerful enough for that. For reference, the "furthest" I could see were the rings of Saturn , but they were very small and faint too.
Are there any specific eyepieces you could recommend? :) And of course, any tipps and advice are also very much appreciated.
lets imagine I wasn't to see a nice DSO about 15' size and I think it should look good nicely framed with a 1 deg field of view in the EP..
Which would give the better (or higher probability of seeing anything at all ) view from a semi urban light polluted home site (e.g Bortle 6)?
a) an 100mm f/6 refractor (fl 600mm) and a 10mm EP (60 deg afov, gain 60x = fov pf 1 deg)
(and exit pupil of 100mm / 60 = 1.6mm)
b) a 200mm SCT with focal reducer to give f/6 (fl 1200mm) and a 20mm EP (60 deg afov, gain 60x = fov of 1 deg)
(and exit pupil of 200 / 60 = 3.3mm)
My gut feeling is that the SCT should give a better view just based upon its 2xaperture - but Im not sure I understand fully the maths why.
Is the larger exit pupil going to result in a better / brighter / more successful view?
Or will the view be 'roughly' the same ?
Or have I got it all wrong.....