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Some Q’s on a Polar alignment and finding targets


Bryan_D
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Hi, I’ve been observing for only a short while, being new to the hobby. I use an entrance level scope which is Skyhawk 1145p with EQ1 mount which I want to learn on.

I deliberately chose the manual option because I wanted to really learn the night sky and I’m glad I did that. Star hopping is great fun. I’m sure however I am going about things in a slow and awkward way. I’d like ask some questions that I’ve been mulling over and check some things if I may...

firstly, am I right in saying that the main reason that you align with Polaris, is so that you will be able to keep the target in the eyepiece and track it using the fine RA adjustments as it travels along its trajectory on the celestial plane. 

Secondly, to use a targets coordinates to locate it in its “general” area ( I appreciate that the adjustment increments and pointer on my particular set-up, will not be fine enough to locate the target with pinpoint accuracy), do you always have to be polar aligned first?

Thirdly, if I’ve aligned the RDF on my scope, but am not aligned to Polaris, will that be sufficient to star hop successfully?

Any answers, advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as always!

cheers, Bryan.

 

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Hi Bryan

Good to see you here and glad you are learning the night sky without jumping directly into tech. As long as you have some reasonably dark skies you are going to have a great time. I started with a 130 newt on an eq2 with no motors.

Already star hopping! Good to hear. What are you hopping too? Do you have particular targets you are trying to see?

Pankaj is right in answering your questions, but please understand that Polar Aligning an EQ1 accurately is not really possible. If you are not using an RA motor then PA is not really needed. Just get the mount pointing north and get into the night sky. The setting circles on much higher end mounts only get you in the general area.

I find a really good sky atlas (laminated or it will go soggy) and Stellarium as a backup on a laptop if you have one. Stellarium is free and I say backup as I find laptop screens even turned to minimum brightness bad on the eyes when doing visual EP work.

I don’t know how far along the Astro road you are, but M42 the middle ‘star’ in the scabbard hanging from Orion belt should be a good target. Anything Moon of course as the crater structures and Maria are fascinating. Sorry that the planetary highlights of Jupiter and Saturn are not with us at present but you have that incredible view coming your way in the future. Enjoy.

Marvin

 

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On 22/02/2020 at 13:49, Pankaj said:

YES for your first 2 queries and a NO for the third one. PA is first step towards using tracking GOTO mounts. And its a very simple process too. There are many tutorials on how to PA.  

Hi Pankaj, thank you for your answers and help. Very much appreciated. 

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18 hours ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Hi Bryan

Good to see you here and glad you are learning the night sky without jumping directly into tech. As long as you have some reasonably dark skies you are going to have a great time. I started with a 130 newt on an eq2 with no motors.

Already star hopping! Good to hear. What are you hopping too? Do you have particular targets you are trying to see?

Pankaj is right in answering your questions, but please understand that Polar Aligning an EQ1 accurately is not really possible. If you are not using an RA motor then PA is not really needed. Just get the mount pointing north and get into the night sky. The setting circles on much higher end mounts only get you in the general area.

I find a really good sky atlas (laminated or it will go soggy) and Stellarium as a backup on a laptop if you have one. Stellarium is free and I say backup as I find laptop screens even turned to minimum brightness bad on the eyes when doing visual EP work.

I don’t know how far along the Astro road you are, but M42 the middle ‘star’ in the scabbard hanging from Orion belt should be a good target. Anything Moon of course as the crater structures and Maria are fascinating. Sorry that the planetary highlights of Jupiter and Saturn are not with us at present but you have that incredible view coming your way in the future. Enjoy.

Marvin

 

Thanks Marvin, it’s a great forum with very friendly members. I’ve learnt a lot from them already.

Thanks so much for your reply. I said star hopping, but it’s probably not quite true, as I’m more star blundering at the moment, not quite confident enough if what I am observing, is in fact the object I think it is. The reason for that, is that all I have done thus far, is see an object with the naked eye, point the scope in its general vicinity and then try it in the lens, without having even used the RDF yet? It takes quite a while as you can imagine and leaves me wondering if I actually have located the object. The weather has been really bad lately and I’ve only managed to get out into the backyard twice since I got my scope annoyingly, so not had much time to practice and experiment.

My “star hopping” has been to find an unmistakable object such as Sirius, then use it to move onto Orion, then Aldebaran, then Pleiades etc. It’s been great fun, but I want to be certain I’m accurate. I use a mobile phone app called Skywalk 2 which has been very helpful and my copy of Left at Orion has just arrived today, which I hear is a good one to have as a beginner.

I understand what you mean by saying that PA is not really necessary without a motor and with my EQ1 mount, but (I’m really going to show my ignorance here), what do you mean when you say just get the the mount pointing north?  
If I’m, for example viewing Orion as per my previous example and other objects in my Southern and South Western sky, what is the relevance?

I know that this must be a ridiculous question to you and I was tempted not to ask, but I want to learn and understand and really get the best out of my scope. 🤔 
 

 

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HI Bryan,
Pointing the scope North is a reference to PA. Typically when setting up the equatorial mount both the mount and the scope are facing the same way- north. Equatorial mounts already point North by design so you just need to be careful about the direction you first set it (tripod) up in to rough it in (compass helps). When most folks are done or start up their scope it is in a 'parked' position. Parked (or home) is an expression used to infer that the scope AND the mount are each facing the same way- North.
You are star-hopping so if your scope (and mount) are roughly pointing North then it is rough enough to be somewhat aligned. From that point on "most" of your adjustments with your hand knobs should mainly be RA. This is the result of what was meant in stating pointing North- only a RA adjustment would be needed to follow your object.
After you have done that, roughly north, you are free to use Dec as much or little as you want for viewing other objects.

new item-
The next moon cycle you can use your RDF on it to try and align it or in the evenings point it at a distant street light and align.
Star hopping is easier *if* you have a known target to move FROM. Usually you would move just a few degrees at a time. Perhaps just the distance in your viewing scope. Start out doing that and then move 2 times on your next attempt. Then try to go back to the original point to see how close you are at doing that.

Some forums here have permanent notes in them that are really good information to read over especially when you are new to this wonderful hobby.
Clear skies

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Hi Bryan

One piece of advice which is not actually related to your PA question is to keep an eye on the section on this site titled ‘Celestial Events Heads Up’.

My first few months of astronomy meant I missed quite a few things at opportune times simply because I didn’t know they were happening or what I was looking at.

A prime example is a non Astro friend called me a couple of weeks ago in a very exited state of mind begging me to go outside and look at “The amazing star that has appeared”. My first thought Super Nova! Then, calm down.... where in the sky? I asked. South West right now in the dusk.

He was amazed he was looking at Venus. I told him to continue looking lower to the horizon below Venus and he saw a faint star in the last light before night time. He had just bagged his first look at Mercury.

I would not have had my first look a week before if it had not been for info posted on here.

Marvin

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On 24/02/2020 at 01:13, jag32266 said:

HI Bryan,
Pointing the scope North is a reference to PA. Typically when setting up the equatorial mount both the mount and the scope are facing the same way- north. Equatorial mounts already point North by design so you just need to be careful about the direction you first set it (tripod) up in to rough it in (compass helps). When most folks are done or start up their scope it is in a 'parked' position. Parked (or home) is an expression used to infer that the scope AND the mount are each facing the same way- North.
You are star-hopping so if your scope (and mount) are roughly pointing North then it is rough enough to be somewhat aligned. From that point on "most" of your adjustments with your hand knobs should mainly be RA. This is the result of what was meant in stating pointing North- only a RA adjustment would be needed to follow your object.
After you have done that, roughly north, you are free to use Dec as much or little as you want for viewing other objects.

new item-
The next moon cycle you can use your RDF on it to try and align it or in the evenings point it at a distant street light and align.
Star hopping is easier *if* you have a known target to move FROM. Usually you would move just a few degrees at a time. Perhaps just the distance in your viewing scope. Start out doing that and then move 2 times on your next attempt. Then try to go back to the original point to see how close you are at doing that.

Some forums here have permanent notes in them that are really good information to read over especially when you are new to this wonderful hobby.
Clear skies

Thanks jag32266, your explanation was very helpful and it makes a lot more sense to me now. I’ll let you know how I get on. 👍

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18 hours ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Hi Bryan

One piece of advice which is not actually related to your PA question is to keep an eye on the section on this site titled ‘Celestial Events Heads Up’.

My first few months of astronomy meant I missed quite a few things at opportune times simply because I didn’t know they were happening or what I was looking at.

A prime example is a non Astro friend called me a couple of weeks ago in a very exited state of mind begging me to go outside and look at “The amazing star that has appeared”. My first thought Super Nova! Then, calm down.... where in the sky? I asked. South West right now in the dusk.

He was amazed he was looking at Venus. I told him to continue looking lower to the horizon below Venus and he saw a faint star in the last light before night time. He had just bagged his first look at Mercury.

I would not have had my first look a week before if it had not been for info posted on here.

Marvin

Thanks for the info Marvin. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on it. You’re right, the forum is a gold mine of information. Really appreciate your help and advice! 👌

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As you can see I  have only been at the Astro anvil for a few years so new like yourself. If you have any questions you want to ask people on this forum without it going on the main thread you can PM people. It’s a nice way of asking someone something if you just want that persons opinion without further comment.

Marv

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I’m very happy to say that I have it figured out now. The penny dropped for me when I realised that the mount remains stationary whilst the telescope moves. Seems so simple now.

One thing I have now noticed though, is that the eyepiece can end up in some difficult positions and the RA and Dec slow controls can end up In the way when you’re moving the scope into some positions. 
I guess it’s simply a case of having to unscrew them temporarily and then screwing them back once they’re in the clear again?

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Yes, you will have those moments as a limbo dancer. You can loosen the scope rings a little and turn the tube then tighten back up but you will need to re acquire the object in the EP. Better to find something twice and observe in comfort than be on your knees with a bad neck.

You wait till you upgrade your mount. Integral polar scope through the body of the mount means you can accurately polar align. What they don’t supply is the hi tech carrier bag to kneel on to look through it, so your trousers don’t have dirty wet knees.

The more tech, the more tape, cardboard boxes and plastic bags. Glamorous life of astronomy, once out of the dirt, stand alone in the cold, freezing whilst exclaiming to no one what an amazing thing you are looking at.

Rare breed us lunatics. Welcome to the asylum. I have a feeling you will love it, or I may be wrong and never see you on here again.


Marv 

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