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Hello everyone, I'm wondering if I could get some help, sort of ripping my hair out a little.
I have the EXOS2 PMC-8 and last night I used Sharpcap to Polar align, I set the mount up as usual and adjusted until Sharpcap said excellent Polar alignment.
So my next step was to do a 3 star alignment I was using a program called Explorer Stars to achieve this, so when I asked the mount to slew to the first star it was way off even in the finder scope, is that normal? So I used the controls to get the star in my FOV and centred it, it was the same for the next two stars way off. so I did the same.
I finished the 3 star alignment and when I asked the mount to find an object the object was not centred it was bottom right of the quick photo I took.
I've made sure all the information is correct by setting my Longitude and Latitude and also made sure my time is correct, the mount is balanced and level and pointing North. I think I'm doing something wrong somewhere.
Also may I ask should my counterweight bar be parallel with the mounts front leg? I have two little arrows on the mount that should be pointing at each other when in the home position but when they are the counterweight bar is pointing to the right quite a fair bit.
I'm new to all this only been doing it for a few months so a lot of things are quite confusing.
Thanks in advance Bill.
Question, is my pier out of level if I'm trying to PA (with asiair pro) and both directions are moving when I adjust the alt bolts? I can't get the mount polar aligned.
Mount neq6 pro
Pier mounted on a concrete slab
OTA c8 with .63 reducer
Camera asi294mc pro
Thanks in advance
Beginner here who is really struggling! Apologies in advance if this is long! I only began pointing my camera up about two months ago. I have a Canon T7i. Last week my Star Adventurer Pro arrived and the frustration began. I’ve watched countless videos and know what I’m “supposed” to do - but it seems to all go out the window when I’m fumbling in the dark. I realize these questions are probably silly, but I can’t seem to find an answer online. I’ve only had three clear nights so far to practice and there’s been some improvement, but I’m way off! A pole master and/or guiding is not in the budget right now.
Polaris - tripod pointing north. Level it properly. Set altitude. Look through and see so many stars and they look almost equally bright. How do you know you’re on the correct star? Last night I went out at dusk (can’t see Polaris from my yard so I have to lug everything to a different location) and that helped tremendously, as it was the only star there. But that’s not practical long term... can’t always head out that early. Should I get a laser pointer? Any other tricks or tips?
PA - last night was the first time I had even marginal success. With 0 up and 6 down, I used an app to get the correct position of Polaris. I was not perfect, but close, which was a huge improvement in itself for me! I set up my camera with a Rokinon 135mm lens, balanced it, moved it to roughly the position I wanted to shoot, checked my PA and it was slightly off so I readjusted. Some time goes by and I’m noticing anything over 15 seconds has very noticeable trailing. Polaris is way off when I look in the scope. My axis is obviously turned to position the camera and I had no idea if I’m supposed to be repositioning Polaris to where it should be on a clock face - ignoring where the 0, 3, 6 and 9 are actually showing - or to realign to where it would be in relation to the numbers. I hope that makes sense! I ended up positioning Polaris where roughly 9 would be (as it was shown on the app by this time) and ignored that the number 9 was in a totally different position in the scope. Still could not get any images over 15 seconds without trailing. I’m sure my polar alignment wasn’t perfect when I started - before it all went totally to hell - but I really thought I was close and should’ve been able to get longer exposures. Any help or advice appreciated! It’s so frustrating when you go through your checklist and think everything was done correctly only to realize you screwed up bad somewhere.
Balance - thoroughly understand and am able to properly balance my camera and counterweight. But I am certain that I was throwing my balance totally off when I would loosen the clutch underneath and rotate the actual camera to point in a certain direction. How do you compensate for that? The idea of moving everything back to “home” position and starting over can’t be right! Lol
Anyone who stuck with me this long - thank you!!! This is completely new and overwhelming - yet very excited to learn. I don’t have the gear to get the amazing pics I see here, so trying to learn with what I do have before investing any more money. Have recently purchased the tracker, ordered a new tripod and bought two Rokinon lenses. Hubby has had enough! Lol
Equipment - canon T7i, Star Adventurer Pro, relatively inexpensive tripod until the Star Adventurer one arrives, have only tried using my Rokinon 135 lens. Need to master that before I attempt anything heavier. I also have an intervalometer.
Last suggestions needed - clip in filters? Which are a must? I have photoshop and Lightroom but see so many other programs. What should I consider getting down the road for post processing?
I have an HEQ5-Pro mount, which has had relatively few outings. I also have a problem with polar alignment. I've watched all the videos (slight exaggeration - but lots) and I totally get the idea. I have a practical mobility problem in that I struggle to get myself into a position where I can look through the polar scope with any degree of comfort. I've bought a right angle prism device but still struggle really hard. It's a massively frustrating problem which is stopping me enjoying my hobby and, effectively, precluding me from starting imaging. Any hints, tips or pointers that can help and don't involve getting on my knees would be gratefully received.
In my own journey while learning this process and seeing similar areas of confusion among others, I decided to compile this FAQ.
This FAQ has been put together using a combination of information from SkyWatcher manuals, my own experience and suggestions by various contributors on the forums. As most of the confusion is around the newer reticle, this FAQ deals with this in detail.
Q: What is Polar alignment and why is it needed?
A: Polar alignment refers to the act of aligning the Polar axis of an Equatorial mount telescope, so that it is parallel with the axis that the Earth revolves around. It makes the job of following objects across the sky much easier.
Its of minor benefit to the visual astronomer but a necessity to the astrophotographer who is trying to take images of the night sky. Once a telescope is polar aligned and an object centred in the eyepiece, then assuming an RA motor is attached to the telescope, the object will stay centred. The better the polar alignment, the longer it will stay there.
If no motor is attached then simply nudging the telescope around one axis will bring the object back to the centre of the eyepiece again.
Q: Do I need to accurately do a Polar alignment?
A: If you are a visual astronomer then its not that critical and you should be able to manage just doing a simple polar alignment by positioning the mount so that Polaris is in the centre of the reticle.
But if you are doing astrophotography with long exposures then accurate polar alignment becomes critical to improve the quality of the images.
Q: My reticle looks different to what is shown in the manual.
A: There are 2 versions of this – the older one which has a bubble showing the location of Polaris Fig.1 and the newer one which has a clock face Fig.2.
Q: How do I Polar align with the new Reticle?
A: As Polaris is not located exactly at the North Celestial Pole (NCP), we can see it orbit the North Celestial Pole in a polar scope. The large circle seen in the centre of the pattern in Fig.2 is a representation of the Polaris’ orbit around the North Celestial Pole. When performing the polar alignment process, it is necessary to determine the orientation of the Polaris on the circle. The reticle is marked like a clock face with 0 at the top. Imagine this is the 12 position in a traditional clock.
At the end of the initialization of the SynScan hand control, after entering the proper local longitude, latitude, date, time, and daylight-saving time, the SynScan hand controller will display the message: “Polaris Position in P.Scope=HH:MM”. Imagine the larger circle in Fig.2 as a clock’s face with 12:00 at the top, with the current time pointing to the “HH:MM”. The orientation of the hour hand of the clock represents the orientation of Polaris in the polar scope. Put the Polaris to the same orientation on the large circle to finish the polar alignment.
In case you don’t use the Synscan hand controller, there are several apps available on Android and IOS which give you the position of Polaris on the clock face (such as SynscanInit for Android and Polar Scope Align for IOS). Skwatcher has their own app as well called Synscan Pro which shows the position of Polaris in the new reticle.
The Polaris position also changes as time passes. The reticle displays 3 circles to represent Polaris’s orbit in the year 2012, 2020 and 2028. It also gives sub-dials at 0, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock position for year 2016, 2024 and 2032. An engraving labeled with the above years is also displayed on the right of the FOV for memo purpose. When doing polar alignment in the Northern hemisphere, the user should put Polaris on the correct circle corresponding to the present year for better alignment precision.
This reticle is also covered in the SW EQ6-R manual.
Q: When I position my mount in the Home position with the counterweight at its lowest point, the 0 mark on the reticle is not at the top. Is this a fault and how can I fix it?
A: There is nothing wrong with your mount You just need to rotate the mount in the RA axis till the 0 is at its highest position. Now lock the RA axis and continue with the alignment process.
Q: How can I ensure that the 0 is accurately positioned at the very top?
A: 1) Firstly, level the mount and set it up pointing north as if making it ready for polar alignment.
2) Next use the Alt and Az bolts to centre Polaris in the reticle - i.e. put Polaris right in the centre of the cross-hairs, not on any circle. Be as accurate as you can.
3) Now using ONLY the Alt bolts, move Polaris vertically upward in the reticle from its central position until it reaches any of the circles.
4) Because you started with Polaris dead centre and moved it only vertically, Polaris is now exactly in the zero (12 o’clock) position on the circle. Now rotate the RA axis to put the reticle zero mark in exactly the same position as Polaris. Again, be as accurate as you can.
5) Lock the RA axis in this position and using a marker pen put alignment marks on the mount housing so that you can find this position again without the need to use Polaris.
[Courtesy Jif001 on SGL]
Q: How do I Polar align with the older reticle?
A: Here is a good article http://www.astro-baby.com/astrobaby/help/polar-aligning-the-skywatcher-heq5orion-sirius-mount/
Q: How can I check if my polarscope reticle is aligned with the RA axis of the mount?
A: Before using the polar scope for polar alignment, the polar scope itself must be calibrated to ensure the pattern in the polar scope is aligned to the mount’s R.A. axis. The following steps will outline how to calibrate the polar scope:
This process is best done during daytime. Choose a fixed object (eg. a faraway object such as the tip of a TV antenna). Centre the reticle on the object by adjusting the two azimuth adjustment knobs and the two elevation adjustment bolts. Rotate the mount in R.A. axis for half a turn (180 degrees). Tighten the R.A. clutch after the rotation. If the object remains at the centre of the reticle in the polar scope after the rotation, then it means the polar scope has been aligned to the R.A. axis and no calibration is needed. If its not aligned, read this article which explains how to recalibrate https://www.myastroscience.com/polarscopecalibration There are also videos on YouTube that explain this process.
Hope this helps. 🙂
Do let me know if you have other questions (and answers) and I can add to this.