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Polar Alignment Please help

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Ok, I have just purchased HEQ5 Pro mount, I do not yet have a telescope as I am still deciding what to go for. In the mean time I have been trying to understand Polar Alignment but after reading so many different opinions I dont know what to belive and an totally confused. As far as I can tell I have the reticule aligned properly, the cross hair stays over target when I move the RA 180 degrees. So what next? Do I need to find the Polaris transit times for my location(dartford kent) or not and if so how? Also could someone please explain in laymans terms how to set up the date/circle wheels and will I need to do this everytime I use the telescope? My head is hurting and a lot of the excitement at getting this mount has gone! Please help.


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Take a look here Astro Babys HEQ5 Polar Alignment

You dont really need to do the alignment process with the date and time coircles at all - you can simply move the RA axis so that Polaris appears in a 'clocl' position which is given by the Syancan controller.

ie during Synscan aligbnmnet it will give you some data which says 'CLOCK POSN = 7:30" you just look through the polarscope and rotate the RA axis of the mount until the POlaris target marker is at the 7:30 position (imnagine it a clock face) and then your done. Use the Alt/Az bolts to get the mount head aligned so that polaris falls into the target circle and your done.

There are other ways of doing it - I just posted earlier about the hour angle method.

If you use date circles you set them and leave them alon - they need resetting every year usually or as often as you like to keep them accurate but even the date circles will be a close guess as they are not super accurate.

If your observing it doesnt make much difference - if your imaging you'll have to do drift alignment anyway and I have no idea how to do that from a practical standpoint.

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Sorry if this is a dumb question but i am trying to get my head around this being a complete newbie. If I point the mount towards Polaris and i use the altitude levers to achieve the desired latitude(51 degrees at my location) and get a rough polar alignnment what happens when I start tracking a planet or star and need to make fine adjustments using the altitude levers again? Won't the mount be out of alignment again? Or by using the synscan goto I won't Use the altitude levers?

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Polar alignment is the alignment of the axis through the mount to be parallel with the Earth's axis.

The Earth's axis points at a spot near to Polaris referred to as the North Celestial Pole. So you "point" your mount at the NCP using the altitude and azimuth adjustment bolts.

When you have a scope on the mount, you loosen the clutches and rotate it to position it. This page shows what I mean .... Astronomy Boy: Animated Equatorial Mount Tutorial

In other words, once the mount has been polar aligned with the bolts, you leave them alone.


Edited by MikeP
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Thank you also for your reply and useful link. If I am understanding now(hopefully) the alt and azi levers are only needed for polar alignment and once this is achieved the telescope is positioned using the Ra and Dec axis? Hope I have got this right.

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Yes, in theory you only need to use these adjustment screws to fine tune the mount in polar alignment. Once aligned you release the locks on both dec and RA axis swing the scope to the object you want and then lock them off again.

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