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AntHart

How do ‘you’ polar align?

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Hey :) 

Quick Question about polar Alignment and what you guys use..maybe even a poll??

A dedicated camera like the QHY or iOptron? - OR - Sharpcap/software based using the guide/main scope.

Whats the pros and cons of each 

Open to all ideas 👍🏼

 

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Sharpcap PA , quick and easy inexpensive, utilise equipment I already have no further purchase required using my guide cam in a qhy miniguide scope .

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Posted (edited)

PoleMaster. I can be aligned within a minute, no need for guesswork and to re-check during the session. Usually achieve sub-arcsecond alignment. My guiding is spot on, no need to check with PHD2 drift align etc. Easily the most worthwhile investment in terms of my equipment.

Edited by SyedT

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Visual through the polarscope.  Gets me within 10' almost always and within 5' (which is enough for PHD2) most of the time.

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Another here with Polemaster

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Visually using the Polarscope, but then I’m a visual observer and that gets me plenty accurate enough. I would likely drift align my permanent setup if I needed better.

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Another with Polemaster.👍

Peter

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I used to do it looking through the polarscope but since I fractured my knee 3 1/2 years ago kneeling on that knee was certainly not an option in the aftermath and so I bought Polemaster, it's brilliant, no more kneeling and craning the neck in awkward positions. 

Carole 

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Using the polar scope on my AZEQ6 has always been good enough with PHD2 for imaging.

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iPolar for me, a very quick and accurate process. Definitely recommend.

Cheers,
Steve

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I use a polemaster camera, but I prefer to use it with sharpcap software..

I also prefer to drift align in phd2 which gives me far better results than sharpcap or polemaster software,  but takes far longer to do

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Yet another vote for Polemaster... 👍

I use my EQ6 on a wheeled pier in my POD, (to be able to also use a large DOB), so I have to polar align frequently.

I had already installed the newer type of polarscope with the newer graticule, and then added a right angle eyepiece to save my poor old neck (52 degree Brit's  latitude, ouch..)

That made it much easier, but it still took valuable "clear sky" time to get it reasonably accurate.

With the Polemaster however, it's so much quicker, easier, and more accurate.

I know I could have saved money by using Sharpcap and an existing AP camera, but the polemaster is permanently fitted in place , pointing at Polar North at all times, just needing the software to be fired up.  Even during a session with something already centred in the main scopes field of view.

I must admit though, this is with a permanent Obsy setup, with a PC already all plugged in and ready to go at all times.

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Sharpcap for me, which is excellent. I modified and old 8x50 finder to use for it which is mounted onto main scope.... Didn't spend anything at all on that. I have 2 Altair cameras and each one came with 1 year free sharpcap pro licence so I dont even have to pay for that for the time being. 

I have also owned and used a polemaster which is also very good.  If I didnt already have the bits lying around to make up and attach a small scope to use with sharpcap (and have a spare camera to use in it) I would have bought another polemaster I think.

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Sharpcap with guide cam for me; couldn't see the point spending any money on a Polemaster.

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Posted (edited)

Although I am a commited fan of Polemaster, I confess I've never used Sharpcap for Polar alignment. 🤓

When you use Sharpcap to Polar align, do you have to slew the main scope or guide scope to point at Polar North ?

Or does it work  by prompting the neccessary manual adjustment of the RA axis by detecting any drift of whatever stars the scope happens to be pointed at ?

 

 

Edited by Astro-Geek

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Astro-Geek said:

Although I am a commited fan of Polemaster, I confess I've never used Sharpcap for Polar alignment. 🤓

When you use Sharpcap to Polar align, do you have to slew the main scope or guide scope to point at Polar North ?

Or does it work  by prompting the neccessary manual adjustment of the RA axis by detecting any drift of whatever stars the scope happens to be pointed at ?

 

 

You point the scope (has to be a short FL scope for necessary FoV) at the NCP or close to. Latest sharpcap version will work within 7 degrees of NCP. 

Sharpcap then platesolves the image the scope is seeing, needs about 5 stars minimum to do the solve.

The you rotate the mount in RA about 90 degrees and platesolve another image there.

Sharpcap then knows where the mount is aligned to, relative to the NCP, and then highlights a random star on screen and gives you an arrow and a target on the screen. You need to move the highlighted star along the arrow to the target using the altaz adjusters. 

Edited by CraigT82

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+1 for Sharpcap.  It works in a few minutes.  Don't need to buy any extra hardware.

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Hmmmmm

This also works on the “freeware” V2.9 version.....

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I have an iOptron iPolar which I have used on my Star Adventurer with a home made 3d printed adaptor. I have also used Sharpcap with my main scope and ZWO 178mc with my AZGti. 

In my view, the iPolar interface is better than Sharpcap but for a tenner for a license you can't go wrong I guess. 

 

 

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I use the iPolar as it came with the mount. I've never done a visual polar alignment, but I wouldn't want to be craning my head to look through the scope. The iPolar is dead easy to use, just align a cross within a circle. I haven't used it enough yet to see how good alignment is. Also, using a DSLR which is not Canon or Nikon, and not yet guiding, does mean I don't have an image readily available for plate solving.

Ian

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I use Polemaster to get close (I have tried Sharpcap and got very similar results to Polemaster) then I use drift alignment in PHD2 to get spot on. I only have to do this once at the start of each season. (Obsy based)

I found that both Polemaster and Sharpcap to be quite sensitive to the seeing whereas drift alignment isn't - but it takes a good bit longer. I usually dedicate a night of poor seeing/clouds etc to getting polar aligned and double checking focus on guide scope and all software properly working and taking a full library of darks, flats and bias then I ready to rumble when good conditions appear.

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3 minutes ago, Skipper Billy said:

both Polemaster and Sharpcap to be quite sensitive to the seeing

Yes I know what you mean Billy. Getting the red and green indicators aligned (in Polemaster) when the atmosphere is bouncing around is challenging.

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Posted (edited)

+1 for the PoleMaster.

I had it on my Astrotrac, which is a capable tracker and to get great results you need an accurate polar alignment. I bought the polarscope and let's say it was less than optimal....

With the Polemaster, you can have your rig polar aligned withing 5 minutes after your first sighting of Polaris and have a few cups of coffee before astro darkness.

I now use this same Polemaster on my iEQ30Pro. I use it with a laptop, but there is an Android version of the SW as well.

Having said that, iPolar and Sharpcap will work too.

For my permanent set-up in the backyard, I do a traditional drift align. But that is only needed once every year or two years. 

 

Edited by Annehouw

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