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Any hints to help star hopping using equitorial mount?

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Finally a, mostly, clear night last night and so spent a couple of hours outside with my new telescope.

As the moon was bright I sheltered behind the house and looked north-west(ish) at Cassiopeia. I think I have now worked out how to polar align the scope with Polaris and can reasonably use the red-dot-finder to locate a given star, centre it with a 32mm EP and then zoom in with others.

Because of the moonlight I decided to spend some time trying to work out how to star-hop using the RA/DEC controls. I read on a thread here that there is a "double-cluster" between Cassiopeia and Perseus if you follow the line between two of the stars in Cassiopia. I have binoculars and could just about make out something that could have been the cluster between the constellations. However I was having a lot of trouble getting the scope to get to that position when starting from a star in Cassiopeia. In the end I just loosened the RA/DEC controls and manually pointed it in the general direction of where I though the cluster was, but by that time the moon was over the roof of the house and the sky was too bright to see much.

Does anyone have any tips about how to best move between stars using an equatorial mounted telescope.



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Hi Dag

Dunno about modern Equatorials cause i gave up using em donkeys ago (to lazy to set em up), but loosening RA/Dec and manually hauling it around the sky was what i used to do.

Cant see it doing any harm they always used to have clutches in them.

Regards Steve

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Cassieopea points to two good objects. Both "halves" of the W shape. The "sharper" one points to M31 and the wider "V" points to the Double Cluster. Just follow the line down with your finderscope, moving it down bit by bit and look through the eyepiece - you'll need a wide-ish angle to see the cluster in all its glory. 25mm at least, or longer if you have one.

Once you've got it, you'll be able to spot it time and time again. It's a very nice sight indeed.

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Equatorial mounts seem unwieldy to begin with but they become instinctive fairly quickly. Sometimes I find it awkward manoeuvring my EQ mount when things are almost overhead and near the meridian, not to mention getting crick in the neck when staring vertically up through the finderscope. I tend to leave those sorts of objects until they are placed better in the sky.

I always unbolt all the clutches to swing the scope around until I am within a degree or so of where I want to be. Then I lock it down and use the fine controls to home in.


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Hi again,

My finder-scope is the red-dot-attachment that came with my scope but I am not finding it very accurate. I think the binoculars are going to be more useful in working out roughly where to point the scope.

So perhaps loosen the RA/DEC and use the binoculars/red-dot-finder to get near. Then tighten up the RA/DEC a little and then nudge the scope using my 32mm EP until what looks like what I think I want to look like appears in view. Then lock down the controls and then just use the RA to keep the object in view.

Which is sort of what I did last night, certainly for Andromeda (M31).

Thank you for the comments so far.


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Use the 'both eye's open' method with a finderscope. Then you can see the crosshairs from the finderscope 'imprinted' on the real background sky and just point where you want to look then lock the scope. Very effective. A little more difficult for very faint objects tho.

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I do understand your difficulty. A newtonian scope that shows an image upside down and back to front on a mount/tripod that feels like it's got a life of its own, doesn't necessarily make for a relaxed viewing experience. :)

The red dot finder on your scope if I remember correctly is one that you cannot adjust the brightness and in my opinion is too bright to use. A Telrad red dot finder would be a better choice but both these devices require a dark sky to point the scope in the right direction as you have got one eye looking through the finder and the other is hopefully able to locate the object in the sky. When the moon is up, some deep sky objects can be difficult to find using this method of relying on your eyesight alone. An alternative I found useful, was a right angled finder as this helps to magnify the target area and also ensures that the image viewed is not inverted, though it will remain back to front (what's really on the left will appear on the right and vice versa) Remember, these pieces of kit can be removed and attached to any scope you intend to get later on.

For me I use both the above which is my preferred way of finding along with a good star map. This will cover all eventualities that the night sky might throw at you both now and in the future.


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Thank you for the extra advice.

Now could someone explain what the "both eyes" method is?

I've just been squinting through the red-dot-finder with a single eye open.

Using two eyes, what should I be focusing on?


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