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oymd

Help with Polar Alignment on AZ-EQ6 Pro!!

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Good evening everyone

Tonight was the first time I tried to setup my mount in EQ mode. 
 

since getting the mount a little over a month ago, I’ve been using it in Alt-Az and in push to mode. 
 

the sky was relatively clear tonight, but I really struggled with PA!!

i set the altitude to 51, which is where I am in London. 
 

the manual advises to pint the mount north, which I did. I could barely see Polaris in the sky, as light pollution in Zone 3 where I live was terrible. 
 

for the life of me, I simply could not work with the included polar scope?!

for starters, the angle is impossibly difficult to get a comfortable view. I literally sat on the ground in the garden to be able to look through the polar scope. 
 

the manual mentions to chance the altitude arm to get Polaris into view? But isn’t it already set at 51? If I change that, why did I have to set it to 51 in the first place?

also, the two AZ knobs that rotate the mount in the horizontal axis cannot be moved, as the mount is fixed with the large bolt that screws in from underneath the tripod into the mount base. Should I release that when polar aligning?

i released everything, but still could not get Polaris into view on the Pilar scope. Reason being, with the naked eye, I thought I saw ONE star which should have been POLARIS. 

But once I looked through the polar scope, there were at least 4-5 stars showing up, and I did not know which one I should adjust to?

also, once I turn the mount on, all I see are the markings and the view is just RED. The sky and stars disappear? 
 

also, the 3,6 & 9 o’clock markings are offset, and not correctly positioned like a clocks face?

I spent a good frustrating 2 hours tonight in freezing cold, and felt really really disappointed that I could not go beyond STEP ONE. 

I would sincerely appreciate some help!!

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I have an AZ-EQ6 GT Pro & find the polar scope to be very frustrating. You can change the level of illumination on the Synscan handset Utilities Menu (Polar Scope LED option) and consider getting a right angled adapter like this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/adapters/astro-essentials-right-angled-eyepiece-for-polar-scopes.html (I made my own using a Neewer DLSR Right Angle Finder from Amazon & a plastic plumbing end cap, which works after a fashion).

I still find it very difficult to get a good polar alignment, but once I think I've got it & have done a 2-star alignment, I fine tune it using the procedure in section 11.3 of the Synscan manual ("Polar Alignmeent without Polar Scope"), where having done a 2-star align you press "Menu" & then "Alignment\Polar Alignment" & follow the prompts to fine tune the altitude & azimuth on the mount.

I agree that having to rotate the RA in order to orientate the polar reticule is very awkward... I think that's where I get most of the error... but once you've got it close & have gone through the 2-star align & fine tuned the alignment as above, you should be ok.

I've not had any problems with the Azimuth bolts - remember you have to slacken one off before you can adjust the other... There's no need to loosen the central bolt!

Regarding the setting of the Altitude to 51 deg... I think that will only give you an approximate starting position & hence the need to use the polar scope. It will also vary a bit, if you haven't got the tripod level to begin with.

To make sure I'm aligning on Polaris, I've sometimes resorted to fitting my scope / finderscope & telrad on the mount, so I could be sure I was aligning to Polaris & not some other star...

You will also need to check (preferably in the daytime) whether the polar scope reticle is aligned ok, using something like a distant aerial to check position (as per section 3.4 of the Mount manual).

Cheers
Ivor

 

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 A right angle adaptor is good as it has a normal position and a magnified view too. It helps immensely to prevent you getting your knees dirty in the higher latitudes like anywhere in the UK. However the best thing if you use a laptop is something like a PoleMaster. I can get polar aligned and spot on within 2 minutes with mine. It even works just around dusk when you can't see Polaris withe your naked eyes due to the sky still being light. The PoleMaster has adaptors for all sorts of mounts.

There is another one, which I haven't used, the Ioptron iPolar which also has adaptors for different mounts. You don't even need to see Polaris with that one as it does plate solving in the vicinity of Polaris.

Again though there is a cost decision here and if you want to use a right angle scope then that it fairly cheap and you don't need a computer. If you are going down the astrophotography route then I assume you would have a computer in the field then the electronic polar alignment option is the way to go.

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Good advice so far. I’d only add a couple or three points.

If you only want to do visual or short-ish duration photo-exposures then polar alignment with a polar scope is adequate.  

Somewhere in the manual it describess how to check and polar align using the handset during the star alignment stage. I’ve never done that but it might be worth checking out. 

When I first bought my mount my polar scope reticule was quite badly misaligned w.r.t the RA axis of the mount. I had to centre align the polar scope reticule. Here’s a nice video showing how to do that. It’s for an Orion mount, but it’s exactly the same principle on an AZ-EQ6. 

I now nearly always polar align using plate solving with my computer controlling the mount. But sometimes 
I just want to set up without the computer to do some visible observing. So being able to quickly polar alighn is a useful skill IMO. Good luck. 🙂 
 

 

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2 minutes ago, Ouroboros said:

Good advice so far. I’d only add a couple or three points.

If you only want to do visual or short-ish duration photo-exposures then polar alignment with a polar scope is adequate.  

Somewhere in the manual it describess how to check and polar align using the handset during the star alignment stage. I’ve never done that but it might be worth checking out. 

When I first bought my mount my polar scope reticule was quite badly misaligned w.r.t the RA axis of the mount. I had to centre align the polar scope reticule. Here’s a nice video showing how to do that. It’s for an Orion mount, but it’s exactly the same principle on an AZ-EQ6. 

I now nearly always polar align using plate solving with my computer controlling the mount. But sometimes 
I just want to set up without the computer to do some visible observing. So being able to quickly polar alighn is a useful skill IMO. Good luck. 🙂 
 

 

by plate solving I assume there is a camera involved?

 

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1 hour ago, oymd said:

by plate solving I assume there is a camera involved?

Yes.  In my case I use a small guide camera on a finder scope.  The camera is connected to my MacBook. The mount is set to the home position with the guide camera looking at the pole.  The software (KStars/EKOS) takes an image of the sky around the pole. It rotates the mount by a few degrees a couple of times and takes pictures. The software plate solves the three images and works out where the mount is pointing. Using a live image I adjust the mount to point at the celestial pole.  

Several similar systems are available on Windows and Mac that work in much the same. 

Sounds easy, but there’s a learning curve to climb.  Depends what you want to do. Long duration exposures require good polar alignment. Frankly if you just want to do some visible then learning to polar align with the mount is the easier climb I’d say. 

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Thank you all for your advice on this. 
 

since the weather has been terrible these past few days, I have setup the mount on the tripod inside the house and have went through the steps to familiarise myself with the PA. 

I just want to go over one specific point, as it has been advised in multiple posts above otherwise?

With the mount on the tripod, and with the central locking bolt that screws into the bottom of the mount from underneath fixed to the mount, and accessory tray fitted, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MOVE THE MOUNT using the 2 AZ knobs? The mount is completely FIXED?

To move the mount in either direction using the 2 AZ knobs for getting Polaris into its correct position in the polar scope reticle  , I HAVE TO UNDO THE CENTRAL LOCKING BOLT. 
 

The posts above advise that the central bolt need not be undone?

what am I doing wrong?

Edited by oymd

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28 minutes ago, oymd said:

Thank you all for your advice on this. 
 

since the weather has been terrible these past few days, I have setup the mount on the tripod inside the house and have went through the steps to familiarise myself with the PA. 

I just want to go over one specific point, as it has been advised in multiple posts above otherwise?

With the mount on the tripod, and with the central locking bolt that screws into the bottom of the mount from underneath fixed to the mount, and accessory tray fitted, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MOVE THE MOUNT using the 2 AZ knobs? The mount is completely FIXED?

To move the mount in either direction using the 2 AZ knobs for getting Polaris into its correct position in the polar scope reticle  , I HAVE TO UNDO THE CENTRAL LOCKING BOLT. 
 

 

Yes,  Set up the mount on the tripod and tighten everything up, once it's all stable and solidly positioned loosen the central bolt, do your polar alignment and retighten the central bolt.

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Yep, seconded. Something I do too when first setting up the mount is that I go around the legs pulling them outwards, lifting them off the ground slightly. This makes sure the legs are fully splayed, for want of a better term.  It’s annoying when, after aligning to Polaris, you tighten the central bolt only to see one of the legs shift outwards a bit and misalign the mount slightly.  

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33 minutes ago, Ouroboros said:

Yep, seconded. Something I do too when first setting up the mount is that I go around the legs pulling them outwards, lifting them off the ground slightly. This makes sure the legs are fully splayed, for want of a better term.  It’s annoying when, after aligning to Polaris, you tighten the central bolt only to see one of the legs shift outwards a bit and misalign the mount slightly.  

lol

:)

That exactly happened 30 minutes ago when I setup.....

As i was about to start PA, clouds kicked in, and its complete cloud cover now.

CO suggests it will be clear again at 1am, so i left the righ setup, went in to get some work done, and hopefully will carry on later tonight!

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Good luck. I decided I was too tired to set up tonight. Plus it’s only intermittently clear and it’s blowing a bitterly cold wind.  

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If you're just viewing, you don't need to be exactly polar aligned. I use a compass and get it slightly east of north. For solar you can't do much else. I agree, the polarscope is in a terrible position and usually not aligned. I tried adjusting one once and just lost one of the little screws.

I owned a Celestron CG5 years ago. I found the polar alignment routine excellent. As Skywatcher now own Celestron this feature should be in your handset. You just use a normal eyepiece and the handset tells you what to do. 
 

Nowadays I image so I use a Polemaster the iPolar is even better. Both need a computer but it's very quick and you can still use the handset to move the RA axis as required. I takes all of 5 minutes to run the process. Excellent if you move your mount a lot.

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I must strongly disagree with the loosening of the central bolt to polar align, this is not correct procedure! I am surprised so many people are agreeing with this method!

I suspect the reason you are not having success with the 2 AZ bolts is because you are not loosening one side before adjusting the other.  So for example if I wanted to rotate the mount left slightly, I would first loosen the left knob, then the right one  would push the mount left is it tightens again.

Edited by scitmon
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3 hours ago, scitmon said:

I must strongly disagree with the loosening of the central bolt to polar align, this is not correct procedure! I am surprised so many people are agreeing with this method!

I suspect the reason you are not having success with the 2 AZ bolts is because you are not loosening one side before adjusting the other.  So for example if I wanted to rotate the mount left slightly, I would first loosen the left knob, then the right one  would push the mount left is it tightens again.

I have went as far as completely undoing the 2 AZ bolts, to the point they might fall off. With the central bolt locked, trying to rotate the mount on its central axis is impossible. It is rock solid.

Anyways, here's my experience tonight.

I think I managed to PA. Finally.

I laid out a big picnic blanket on the patio floor....and covered the central part with a large garbage bag. Then used 3 pillows from my living room layered on the floor to be able to kneel comfortably and look up the scope. I THINK the star I PA'ed to was Polaris, as it was the brightest. Not bright at all, but the most obvious.

Just as I completed that, the clouds started to set in.

Now, I forgot where I put the manual. The ED80 was in a transverse horizontal position in the DEC axis, so as to open the window of the polar scope.

I then went through the handset menu, and chose 3 star align. The slewing was in the COMPLETE WRONG DIRECTION.

So, I thought my starting position must have been wrong.

Turned the mount off, and rotated the ED80 and DEC axis in a way so that the scope was pointing towards Polaris. Not sure if that is the correct position. Anyways, mount back on, and went through alignment. 

Now the SLEWING MADE MORE SENSE, and I was comparing against the sky app I have on my mobile, and it made sense.

The issue is, being a newbie, the star alignment asks you to choose a star, and the mount slews to it, and you are asked to center it in the eyepiece? But other than VERY BRIGHT STARS like Capella or Sirius, how am I supposed to know which star is the correct one in the eyepiece? When the mount slews to the star I choose, I see at least 3-4 stars in the eyepiece, and non of them stand out.

THe options I was given today were Algeiba, Dubhe etc...When the mount slews there, there isn't ONE PARTICULAR SUPER BRIGHT TARGET?

I also have a Celestron 8SE, and alignment on that is MUCH MUCH simpler. I chose 3 bright stars ( I have no idea what those 3 stars are ), and the alignment would decipher which is which, and alignment is done.

Why does Skywatcher give me a star's name, and do a rough slew to it, and then expect me to know which one in the eyepiece is the named star?

Unfortunately in my garden I have no view of the WESTERN sky, so the super bright Sirius, Rigel etc are not available to me.

Possibly the only star in the sky that I am confident of is CAPELLA, and I barely see it above the house.

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That’s the nature of it I’m afraid. You have to know at least some of the brighter stars. They’re usually noticeably brighter through the eyepiece so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. 

If I can’t obviously identify the star I quite often view and centre on the alignment star through the finder scope first. That pretty much makes it certain that the alignment star is visible.  I then align more accurately through the main telescope. Of course this requires the finder and main scopes are both centred on the same point in the sky. I make sure they are before I start. 

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Incidentally if you’re intending to view or image only one part of the sky you only need align on one star in the region of interest. 

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8 hours ago, scitmon said:

I must strongly disagree with the loosening of the central bolt to polar align, this is not correct procedure! I am surprised so many people are agreeing with this method!

I suspect the reason you are not having success with the 2 AZ bolts is because you are not loosening one side before adjusting the other.  So for example if I wanted to rotate the mount left slightly, I would first loosen the left knob, then the right one  would push the mount left is it tightens again.

Correct or not if it’s not loosened off at least a bit then adjusting AZ is simply too stiff - and, yes, I am loosening one side off first. 

I normally eye ball Polaris as I tighten up the central bolt to make sure it doesn’t shift, and compensate a bit if it does. I do the same with the alt adjustment. 

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Having a star atlas like Sky & Telescope's Pocket book, or an program like Stellarium can help learn which stars are where... I often check on Stellarium which stars are likely to be visible from the back garden before starting to set up. As @Ouroboros says - using the finderscope helps to roughly locate the alignmnet stars first is a great help too.

You can also get an eyepiece with an illuminated reticule too if you wish, to ensure you get the alignment-star in the centre of the field of view.

Cheers
Ivor

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18 hours ago, oymd said:

With the mount on the tripod, and with the central locking bolt that screws into the bottom of the mount from underneath fixed to the mount, and accessory tray fitted, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MOVE THE MOUNT using the 2 AZ knobs? The mount is completely FIXED?

I found things improved markedly when I put a thin film of grease on the mount/tripod mating surfaces.  This made smooth adjustment of the azimuth much easier.

My mount seldom comes off the tripod so this works fine but if you have to remove the mount head every setup/take down an alternative might be a PTFE washer cut from a flat sheet?

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Thumbs up to an illuminated reticule eyepiece. 

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