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StarGazingSiouxsie

Could you help me, please, with my confusion regarding which time zone I should input to my Star Sense hand controller.

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Posted (edited)

Hi 

I am having a few issues with the accuracy of my Star Sense gotos. Nothing major - stars & DSOs are more or less centered but planetary gotos typically appear at the edge of the eyepiece. 

In my diagnostic effort to improve things I want to start with basics and ensure I have the correct time zonme selected on my Star Sense (SS) hand controller  (HC)

I live in Virginia USA which runs on Eastern Standard Time if the clocks have not gone forward, and Eastern Daylight Time if the clocks have gone forward. This is also known as Daylight Savings Time (DST) and is in force right now. 

I currently have my SS HC set to 'Eastern Time -5' with DST set to 'Yes'. I believe that is the correct setting for me but I want to be 100% sure.   

What's confusing my poor Neuro A Typical brain is UTC.

All the interactive astronomny sites I use - EG Stellarium - say that I am in UTC -4. They nevert mention whether Daylight Saving Time is in force or not. 

My SS HC gives me the option of inputting UTC -4 with or without DST. I have experimented  with inputting UTC -4 with DST set to 'Yes' and if I do that the Side Real time clock (as accessed via the NexStar HC, it's not on the SS HC) is out by 1 hour.

Like I said, I am virtually certain that I have my time zone input correctly - otherwise why would they even have an option for Eastern Time -5, with or without DST? It's just the UTC issue that's throwing me.

So if you live in the EST zone or if you otherwise know for sure what time zone I should be inputting to my SS HC, please let me know, thanks.

I feel a bit silly asking all this; but, then again, I'd feel even sillier if I DID have my time zone input incorrectly.........

Thanks :) 

 

Siouxsie 

Edited by StarGazingSiouxsie

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This might sound obvious and I’m sure you’re all over this but the issues you describe are not likely to be as a result of being an hour out, if you were an hour out stars and DSO’ s would not be centered or even in the fov, in fact what you’re describing confirms that you’re inputting correctly. What ep are you using to find the planets, if you’re starting with high mag then it will be at the edge of the fov, I don’t think any GoTo would get it centre 

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I have seen reports that the performance of Starsense in calculating planetary positions is poor. I have experienced this myself. A year or so ago I noted it was poor at centering Saturn, and last time I got my C8 + Starsense out I recentred the camera and the setup found various objects with impressive accuracy - except for Mars which was way out and I had to use the red dot finder to locate it.

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The tracks of the planets are not "Fixed" like the stars, they "speed up" and "slow down" relative to the Earth.

So their position is dynamic and most mounts only have an approximate position at any time.

So don't use a planet as an Alignment object, only stars.

As others have said, if a GoTo a star is close then your settings are correct.

Michael

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On 02/10/2020 at 02:57, Jiggy 67 said:

This might sound obvious and I’m sure you’re all over this but the issues you describe are not likely to be as a result of being an hour out, if you were an hour out stars and DSO’ s would not be centered or even in the fov, in fact what you’re describing confirms that you’re inputting correctly. What ep are you using to find the planets, if you’re starting with high mag then it will be at the edge of the fov, I don’t think any GoTo would get it centre 

Hi 

Thanks for your reply. What you say makes sense.

 

I think I overthink a lot of this. My A brain (I'm Neuro A Typical) thinks things like "what if my time zone is incorrect and that other evening when I calibrated my Star Sense camera was the reason it was about 15 degrees out. I recentered (recalibrated) the camera and all is good now but that is actually because the recentering compensated for the off set of your time zone being out" 

Typically in average seeing conditions I use 12mm - 25mm eyepieces for the gas giants. For some reason my planetary gotos are to the left of the edge of a 12mm eyepiece and right on the edge of an 18mm.  

I might try and make more use of Star Sense alignbment references to tighten up my gotos in cvertain section of the sky.  

( Btw, Good to see a Citeh fan on here. Citeh are my second team, I've always liked them. My first team is West Ham, for my sins. Born & bred in East London but now living in USA. I'm just glad I got to enjoy some games at Upton Park before it was all knocked down :( )

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8 hours ago, michael8554 said:

The tracks of the planets are not "Fixed" like the stars, they "speed up" and "slow down" relative to the Earth.

So their position is dynamic and most mounts only have an approximate position at any time.

So don't use a planet as an Alignment object, only stars.

As others have said, if a GoTo a star is close then your settings are correct.

Michael

Thanks. That fact would also account for why doinmg additional plate solving (AKA Star Sense Alignment References) don't make a great deal of difference in areas of the sky were the planets live. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

My first team is West Ham

I'm with you Siouxsie, come you COYI.whufc.png.827533f5ec9f31c309845355294dc425.png 

Claret and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.😉

I always use my Telrad finder to line up the Planets, even if starsense goto does not get there.

Edited by Mick H
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55 minutes ago, Mick H said:

I'm with you Siouxsie, come you COYI.whufc.png.827533f5ec9f31c309845355294dc425.png 

Claret and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.😉

I always use my Telrad finder to line up the Planets, even if starsense goto does not get there.

Hi Mick!! 

Great that you're a Hammer, too. We must have done something very wrong in a previous life!! hahah 

That 'Thanks' emoticon I gave to your last post is actually a scale model of the mummified WHUFC FA Cup from 1980!! hahah The last thing they won!!

Spooky, I was literally just looking at Telrads when you posted. I think I will get one, they seem very popular. I like that they're not magnifierd and give a true orientated FOV.

So you have this issue, too - Star Sense providing reasonably accurate star & DSO gotos but a bit off on the planets?

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

So you have this issue, too - Star Sense providing reasonably accurate star & DSO gotos but a bit off on the planets?

Yes I have that sometimes, but I just bring the planets back with the Telrad, maybe I should use up my ten user alignments more.

And yes Telrad or Rigel Quick finders are great, better than the red dot thingy.

Edited by Mick H
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Does having the tripod well levelled make any difference?

I might have incorrectly convinced myself it does - but I find things are much closer to the centre if I spend a few more seconds making sure the spirit level dot is well centred rather then just getting it roughly level.

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3 minutes ago, globular said:

Does having the tripod well levelled make any difference?

I might have incorrectly convinced myself it does - but I find things are much closer to the centre if I spend a few more seconds making sure the spirit level dot is well centred rather then just getting it roughly level.

Yes you are right globular, but not as critical as location time and date.

Well thats what I have found, but I get my tripod as level as I can.

And some nights are perfect and others not so, maybe I rush to much before the clouds come rolling in. 😉

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22 minutes ago, Mick H said:

not as critical as location time and date

I control it with SkySafari Pro rather than the StarSense Handset so it gets the location, date and time automatically from that.

As you say some times (most times) perfect and occasionally just a little off.

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1 hour ago, globular said:

Does having the tripod well levelled make any difference?

I might have incorrectly convinced myself it does - but I find things are much closer to the centre if I spend a few more seconds making sure the spirit level dot is well centred rather then just getting it roughly level.

Probably due to my A brain and probably just bcus I'm a fusspot, I spend a lot of time makinbg sure my tripods are level. I use the bubble levels built into the mounts as a guide but try to fine tune with a spirit level. I also ensure the OTAs are spirit level true before starting my alignment. 

The Evolution tripods have the bubble l;evel visible even with the mount installed. On Cubble though, the bubble level on the tripod is obscured once his mount and OTA re on which is a bit of an oversight on Celestron's part IMO.

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Posted (edited)

Sorry to hijack your thread @StarGazingSiouxsie but can I check that I'm doing roughly the right thing with my Evo StarSense?

I tend to:
* level pretty accurately
* [ location, date and time from SkySafari - happens automatically ]
* StarSense auto align
* goto a bright star (if I'm going to be viewing Mars then I pick one near to Mars - it's easy with SkySafari - you just tap it on the screen)
* Use Hyperflex zoom lens on 21mm and make sure the star is visible (it always is)
* Zoom in and centre the star, ending up on 7.2mm setting.  If no centring needed stop here.
* Calibrate on the centred star and let StarSense re-auto align.

Job done and it stays aligned all night. 
Total elapsed time 5-10 minutes or so (longer if I've slowed the slew speed to reduce noise for neighbours if >10 pm)
But that's not to say everything is always bang in the centre.  They are always in the EP view (15mm+) but some small centring adjustment is often needed.  Once centred the tracking keeps everything bang on - I'm really impressed with it.

Am I doing this all wrong / missing anything important / doing too much?

Edited by globular

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, globular said:

Sorry to hijack your thread @StarGazingSiouxsie but can I check that I'm doing roughly the right thing with my Evo StarSense?

I tend to:
* level pretty accurately
* [ location, date and time from SkySafari - happens automatically ]
* StarSense auto align
* goto a bright star (if I'm going to be viewing Mars then I pick one near to Mars - it's easy with SkySafari - you just tap it on the screen)
* Use Hyperflex zoom lens on 21mm and make sure the star is visible (it always is)
* Zoom in and centre the star, ending up on 7.2mm setting.  If no centring needed stop here.
* Calibrate on the centred star and let StarSense re-auto align.

Job done and it stays aligned all night. 
Total elapsed time 5-10 minutes or so (longer if I've slowed the slew speed to reduce noise for neighbours if >10 pm)
But that's not to say everything is always bang in the centre.  They are always in the EP view (15mm+) but some small centring adjustment is often needed.  Once centred the tracking keeps everything bang on - I'm really impressed with it.

Am I doing this all wrong / missing anything important / doing too much?

Sounds like a perfect sequence  to me.

You can add Alignment Reference points if you wish after your intial SS Auto Align. You can then save the alignment + alignment ref points as a new, custom alignment called a User Auto Alignment.

You save it by going to MENU>>>STARSENSE>>USERAUTOALIGN>>SAVE

You load it by going to ALIGN>>USERAUTOALIGNMENT

You can then calibrate on your star and then load the saved User Auto Alignment when you are prompted to relalign

I picked up that tip from Michael Swanson, author of several books about our equipment.

I am also using a Svbony reticle eyepiece (20mm and 12.5mm) which I find is helping me a lot in centering stars. Great quality, great price.

People will tell you that you only need to calibrate the SS camera once, assuming it's not bumped or knocked around, but I have found recalibrating everytimne I set up is helping a lot with goto accuracy and it onlly takes a few minutes. I'm a great believer in solid careful preparation.

Edited by StarGazingSiouxsie
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5 minutes ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

but I have found recalibrating everytimne I set up is helping a lot with goto accuracy and it onlly takes a few minutes. I'm a great believer in solid careful preparation

+1 on that

Many thanks for your help.

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11 hours ago, globular said:

* Calibrate on the centred star and let StarSense re-auto align.

I never do this each time. It only calculates the offset between the tube axis and the camera axis, which shouldn't change each night unless you move the camera mount itself. Redoing it each time doesn't hurt of course, but does take a little time that I don't think is necessary. I get objects in the 40mm eyepiece almost every time... unless I've clumsily bumped into the scope in the dark.

When doing this calibration, I think the most important part is to always finish the last movement of the scope using UP and RIGHT (depending on how you've got the "goto approach" settings in the handset). Otherwise the motor backlash can thrown your careful centering off a bit.

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I have not found my Starsense setup to be sensitive to levelling of the mount.  To level the SE mount accurately is a bit of a faff and involves removing the mount from the tripod and placing the bubble level on the machined flat surface.  I never bother for the backyard concreted area and just carry the whole assemblage outside and set it down, with two of the legs extended by 2cm to offset the slope of the concrete.

Likewise I only recalibrate the camera when the offset becomes annoying.  If you take several minutes re-centering the camera every time you use the outfit, it IMHO defeats the object (time and effort saving) of having the Starsense in the first place.  You might as well save yourself £300 and do a two-star align with the regular Nexstar- it 's not as though doing a 2-star algn is a great hardship.

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I use a small level because the bubble in my EQ3-2 and EQ5 where not accurate I would check with a level as well to make sur your bubble is accurate.

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I put bubbles on the mount itself, and also on the tube to level it before aligning, but to be honest I rarely check use them now. As Geoff said, I don't think it matters that much.

 

image.png.8c1260c96e66b9e7bbb8f4536099098d.pngimage.png.6be3b48d91f6cf452478088d528312c3.png

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Since I have been using my level and taking care to get a good polar alignment the accuracy of the mount has increased.   I was having trouble before where I would hit the first target but gradually the targets after would be further and further out of the FOV now I can do 3/4 hour sessions and the targets are always in the FOV I may have to centre them but they are not out of the FOV.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, wookie1965 said:

Since I have been using my level and taking care to get a good polar alignment the accuracy of the mount has increased.   I was having trouble before where I would hit the first target but gradually the targets after would be further and further out of the FOV now I can do 3/4 hour sessions and the targets are always in the FOV I may have to centre them but they are not out of the FOV.

I suspect that levelling the tripod is much more important with EQ mounts where polar axis aligment is central than on altaz mouns like I use.

However, I have grown up with the 7Ps rule as now part of my DNA - Proper Planning & Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance. 

I probably take at least 30 minutes getting all my stuff levelled, calibrated and aligned each session because it helps me relax knowing I've prepared as best I can and allows my A Typical brain to relax a little. 

Edited by StarGazingSiouxsie
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11 minutes ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

I have grown up with the 7Ps rule as now part of my DNA - Proper Planning & Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance. 

Siouxsie, can you buy West Ham and run it probably pleeeeeeeeeeease? 😉

I usually also take my time setting up, just sometimes I just cannot wait and thats when things go wrong.

Leicster 0 West Ham 3 😀

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SCTs take a good while to cool before optimal use - so taking your time to set up won't actually cost you any real usage time anyway.

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