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Another newbie with Q's and a Skywatcher 130P Package.


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Hi all,

My wife bought me a surprise Xmas present of the above telescope package last year, 2009. I've always been interested in astronomy (got that from my Grandfather) but this is the first time I've had a 'scope.

I've been lurking around here for a month or so while I got to grips with the thing, which hasn't been easy given all the cloudy nights lately, but now I think I've answered my "stupid boy" questions and I'm left with the ones that may need some external help.

The package I have is the above 'scope on a Synscan AZ GOTO mount. I've bought a mains power supply as the "battery pack" option supplied was, erm, lacking, plus I've been reading a few books to get myself up and running and purchased a UHC filter as Nebulae are something I really fancy a look at.

To cut to the chase the questions I have are these:

1. After I level the mount using the built-in bubble gauge I do a two-star allignment: Betelgeuse and Polaris generally. If I then ask the mount to slew to the Orion Nebula say, it's generally off by a fair amount. Tonight for instance, I did exactly the above with 25mm EP, 2x Barlow (what's that with a 650mm focal length? Erm, 52x mag?) and I couldn't see anything. Now, remember that I have (or had actually) see the nebula so I didn't know what to look for, but when I scanned around a bit with the scope, not far, I saw a faint blue cloud surrounding a group of three stars. Well, three bright ones that I could make out. Q: Is this level of "inaccuracy" normal or does it stem from the mount not being level, 1st allignment start not being exact centre etc?

2. Right, question two (bored yet?!). Now I was by no means underwhelmed with my view of the nebula (I'm assuming it was Orion now I come to think of it) but I expected more variation in colour. No, not like the processed photos you see all the time, but something, well, not so early-70s Ford Escort blue. Is this a result of the filter I was using (a Baader UHC from Green Witch)? Should I be using the filter to track down the nebula and then remove it? Is it the wrong filter?

3. I think this is the last one. Auto tracking. OK, mine is not an equatorial mount, but the manual (such as it is) does mention auto tracking, and being able to choose the tracking rate (sidereal, solar or lunar). I assumed that after a successful alignment your chosen target, I've been trying to look at Mars quite a bit (oh, 4th question thought of), the scope should be able to remain there or thereabouts with it in the fov. OK, I can accept planets with their own orbits to fit the bill now I think of it, but the Orion Nebula? I had to remember to drag it back into sight using the manual controls. Am I doing something wrong with the tracking setup? Sidereal tracking was defnitely selected but when I looked at the coordinates it was showing, they were flickering but not actually changing. Again, am I expecting too much?

4. Definitely the last one: Mars. It's a bit tricky to get anything from isn't it? Should I be looking to invest in some filters to see the details better? Again, it moves out of the fov so quickly it's tricky to actually get a steady view of the disk. I think that I should be aiming for a mag of about 200x for Mars. Is this about right?

Right, that's it. Sorry about the long post but after standing outside most nights that have had breaks in the cloud since the New Year, I think I want to optimise the chances of me getting some good viewing in when there's a break in the clouds.

I got snowed on tonight. It was "just one more look at that nebula before that cloud comes over". Wasn't paying attention.

Anyway, thanks if you've got this far!

Stuart

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1. After I level the mount using the built-in bubble gauge I do a two-star allignment: Betelgeuse and Polaris generally. If I then ask the mount to slew to the Orion Nebula say, it's generally off by a fair amount. Tonight for instance, I did exactly the above with 25mm EP, 2x Barlow (what's that with a 650mm focal length? Erm, 52x mag?) and I couldn't see anything. Now, remember that I have (or had actually) see the nebula so I didn't know what to look for, but when I scanned around a bit with the scope, not far, I saw a faint blue cloud surrounding a group of three stars. Well, three bright ones that I could make out. Q: Is this level of "inaccuracy" normal or does it stem from the mount not being level, 1st allignment start not being exact centre etc?

When I had the same set-up I usually found I had pretty good accuracy, but that the particular two stars I used had a big influence on this. Try using other pairs of stars, and you should hit on a pair which 'just work' (Perhaps someone here knows a way of knowing in advance which pairs will work better?). Also, the mount needs to be dead level - it might just be worth using another spirit level to be sure the one on the tripod is accurate!

2. Right, question two (bored yet?!). Now I was by no means underwhelmed with my view of the nebula (I'm assuming it was Orion now I come to think of it) but I expected more variation in colour. No, not like the processed photos you see all the time, but something, well, not so early-70s Ford Escort blue. Is this a result of the filter I was using (a Baader UHC from Green Witch)? Should I be using the filter to track down the nebula and then remove it? Is it the wrong filter?

For the Orion nebula you're probably better without a filter. But regardless, you're going to see no colour. You really need a scope of at least 10 inches aperture before you'll even start seeing hints of colour.

3. I think this is the last one. Auto tracking. OK, mine is not an equatorial mount, but the manual (such as it is) does mention auto tracking, and being able to choose the tracking rate (sidereal, solar or lunar). I assumed that after a successful alignment your chosen target, I've been trying to look at Mars quite a bit (oh, 4th question thought of), the scope should be able to remain there or thereabouts with it in the fov. OK, I can accept planets with their own orbits to fit the bill now I think of it, but the Orion Nebula? I had to remember to drag it back into sight using the manual controls. Am I doing something wrong with the tracking setup? Sidereal tracking was defnitely selected but when I looked at the coordinates it was showing, they were flickering but not actually changing. Again, am I expecting too much?

Yes, it sounds like something's wrong: once a target is acquired the scope should follow it automatically.

4. Definitely the last one: Mars. It's a bit tricky to get anything from isn't it? Should I be looking to invest in some filters to see the details better? Again, it moves out of the fov so quickly it's tricky to actually get a steady view of the disk. I think that I should be aiming for a mag of about 200x for Mars. Is this about right?

Filters would help, and a good starting point is here: http://stargazerslounge.com/primers-tutorials/38541-primer-planetary-filters-guide.html As I mentioned above, Mars shouldn't be moving out of view - the scope should follow it. Is something preventing the scope from moving? Could your power supply be too drained or something?

Ian

EDIT: PS welcome to the forum!

Edited by Breakintheclouds
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Thanks for the replies.

I'll try alignment with some different stars after using a spirit level on the mount.

I'm a bit worried about the auto tracking now though. When I go to the tracking settings on the handset, the sidereal tracking rate has ">>" next to it, I believe showing that that one is selected. Solar and Lunar do not have these chevrons next to them. As I said, moving to the next option in the menu, "Auto-Tracking" shows a set of coordinates with the seconds flickering, but not actually moving.

I'm powering the mount with a new Maplin mains to 12V power supply so the mount has plenty of power. Everything is free to move. I can slew the 'scope manually with no problems.

Can anyone suggest anyone to call to go through these issues? My wife bought the 'scope from Telescope Planet and they haven't been the most efficient company I've worked with,

Thanks

Stuart

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I'm a bit worried about the auto tracking now though. When I go to the tracking settings on the handset, the sidereal tracking rate has ">>" next to it, I believe showing that that one is selected. Solar and Lunar do not have these chevrons next to them. As I said, moving to the next option in the menu, "Auto-Tracking" shows a set of coordinates with the seconds flickering, but not actually moving.

If the mount was tracking an object at the time the coordinates will stay the same if the HC was displaying RA and DEC. These coordinates are fixed points in the sky and do not change regardless of where that particular object is.

Peter

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After a quick discussion with Lee from Green Witch, who is a really helpful guy despite the fact we didn't get the 'scope from him, I reaslised that the auto-tracking coords were in RA and Dec. Good idea about dialing the lunar rate. If I can hear it move, or eventually see it, it probably indicates that there's nothing physically wrong with the mount.

It's all pointing to shoddy leveling and star alignment isn't it!

Thanks for all the help here people.

Stuart

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I've a celestron nexstar goto, and have found lots of tips on getting better alignment, and other sites (boo!) about improving alignment. I think the systems are similar. Some of the best ones that worked for me were

1) tweaking the backlash settings - this essentially reduces the "play" in the gears the the motor. This is probably best done in daylight looking at a distant object as it will probably take an hour

2) working out which direction your scope approaches an object when using goto, and then when aligning your scope approach your alignment stars in the same direction.

3) centering your alignment star defocus so that the star fills as much of your view as possible, it's easier to put it on the center then

4) I use an auto-two star align, selecting two named stars and find that it's more accurate than pointing at 3 random bright stars

5) if you have a "sync" function use it to improve accuracy in a particular area of the sky...you'll need to know a few stars and constellations to do this. So for example if you want to look at aome objects close to orion, I slew to and then sync to (for example) rigel. This tells the scope exactly where rigel is and allows it then to accurately find nearby objects, such as m42

6) concentrate on easy to spot objects until you're confident in the alignment (I hate it when you ask the scope to pick out some galaxy that looks fantastic in sky at night magazine, only to be presented with a completely black field of view) - after aligning i always tell it to go to a star that I know just to check if it's getting it right

7) sometimes it gets it completely wrong and heads off in the total opposite direction....switch it off and back on again and start again

The first few tmes out I did have trouble finding things, but found that trying different alignment techniques, centering objects differently, and concentrating on easy to spot objects at first I've improved my hit rate. Often the object isnt placed dead centre, but it's within the field of view. Also if you're looking for a bright object and cant see it in the field of view, try defocusing, and sometimes the out of focus object will creep into the edge of the field of view so at least you know you're close

...so that's question 1....now, what about the rest....

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Hey, a few simple things to try which you probably have tried but worth checking is:

1) make sure you enter the longitude and latitude correctly using multimap or a GPS

2) Ensure you enter the date in MM/DD/YYYY and not DD/MM/YYYY as I made this mistake once or twice in the beginning.

For alignment stars, I try to use Sirius and Aldebaran if the alignment let me or I use starry night 5 on my laptop to find star names which I dont know.

As for the autotracking option in the handset, this works one of 2 ways, if you set the goto up OK, then if you manually moved it to an object without using the goto then you use this option to track that object.

According to the instructions, you can use the autotracking option without the goto setup, but the scope have got to be level and pointing north before u move the scope to the object, but I have not had much luck with that yet option yet. Hope this helps.

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Thanks guys for all the replies. Some good points there WayBig.

I'm reckoning that I'm currently not being precise enough with my setup regarding the Goto and tracking.

Oh, and a little aside about the Orion Nebula: after careful research with Equinox 6 it turns out that I found The Trapezium! How Newbie is that. Can't find the biggest Nebula out there, and then mistake Trapezium for it! Once I found out though I was really excited! Now I want to see it again. Damn these clouds.

Stu

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Oh, and a little aside about the Orion Nebula: after careful research with Equinox 6 it turns out that I found The Trapezium! How Newbie is that. Can't find the biggest Nebula out there, and then mistake Trapezium for it! Once I found out though I was really excited! Now I want to see it again. Damn these clouds.

Stu

I'm sure you know this but the Trapezium is at the heart of M42, the Orion Nebula - the nebulosity surrounds it. If you are using too much power (like I did when I first started out ;)) you don't see the rest of the nebula, just the 4 Trapezium stars - some DSO's are much larger than newcomers to the hobby expect them to be !.

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I'm sure you know this but the Trapezium is at the heart of M42, the Orion Nebula - the nebulosity surrounds it. If you are using too much power (like I did when I first started out ;)) you don't see the rest of the nebula, just the 4 Trapezium stars - some DSO's are much larger than newcomers to the hobby expect them to be !.

Indeed. This is exactly what happened! Just waiting for a break in the clouds to rectify my mistake.

Stuart

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hey stu just thought id post to say im also in bromley, well more orpington to be exact and I have the same scope package as you, but im also a newbie i have managed to only get the scope set up on 2 occassions since having it and only once did i try to get the goto set up which I think I managed successfully. Would love to go out with you 1 evening in the future, unfortunately I don't drive at the moment though.

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Just thought I'd say that after I made sure I set things up properly (used a proper spirit level etc.) things worked fine tracking-wise. The only thing I'd say is that occasionally when I had to use the slew controls to centre an object, the tracking seemed to stop or become inaccurate. However if I used the slew controls again, the tracking kicked back in. This probably happened about 3 times in a 3 hour session so not much to worry about.

Looks like it could be a clear night tonight (Friday 19th Feb) so I'm seriously considering NOT going for beers after work so I can get some quality 'scope time in. Is this wrong?

Stuart

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  • 2 years later...

Hello,

Stumbled across this post as I'm trying to understand the auto tracking on my new 130p.

I align the scope and go to an object, but I don't think the scope is tracking it? Unless its moving so incredibly slowly I can't tell....

When I go on auto tracking in the setup menu it displays stationary coordinates as u describe above. I'm on sidereal rate too.

The manual is t very good and just infers it should track by itself once aligned. Do u have to turn tracking on or should it do it itself??

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