Skywatcher EQ Mount – Setup and Alignment Guide

HERE is a step-by-step guide to setting-up and star-aligning a Skywatcher equatorial mount (such as the AZ EQ5 and AZ EQ6 mounts that use the Synscan hand controller) in the Southern Hemisphere.  When the guide promts you to select alignment stars, please find another blog article on this website with a list of Skywatcher Southern Hemisphere alignment stars sorted by periods of the year.

SkyWatcher Mount – SynScan Alignment Stars

The SkyWatcher mounts such as the AZ EQ6 use a SynScan hand controller to control the mount and complete the initial 1, 2 or 3-star alignment procedure. 

While the SynScan hand controller offers about 100 stars in the southern hemisphere for initial alignment, the user manual does not provide a printed list of stars.  As a result, the star options you can choose from are hidden within the hand controller and not readily available for consideration.  Some parts of the sky may be blocked by clouds, trees or buildings and repeatedly scrolling through star names on the hand controller to find a suitable star can be slow and frustrating.  This list may aid in quickly finding a suitable star (assuming you have a great memory for obscure star names) or checking a star’s suitability in a planetarium app.

The linked PDF document contains a sorted list of all southern hemisphere SynScan alignment stars, in 3-month calendar groups, and 30 degrees or higher in northern sky declination.

Maleny Observatory

Brisbane Astronomical Society now has a designated observatory – Maleny Observatory.

BAS has been conducting dark sky telescope nights at the Maleny Golf Club site for the last five years. During this time our Sunshine Coast BAS members have established an excellent relationship with the golf club, Sunshine Coast Council and other users and stakeholders of the public-land golf club site.

Our Sunshine Coast members have negotiated excellent site facilities for our members, including on-site telescope storage space, external lighting controls and access to clubhouse and associated facilities. This has allowed BAS to conduct many member and public telescope nights and introduced astronomy to thousands of Sunshine Coast residents.

The high level of active astronomical use of the site, and extensive outreach to the general public, has now been recognised by the Astronomical Society of Australia with their designation of Maleny Observatory as Australia’s newest astronomical observatory.

BAS would like thank our Sunshine Coast members, in particular Ken Wishaw and John Waugh, for their efforts in establishing this facility and its observatory designation status. This now creates an excellent basis for advancing amateur astronomy on the Sunshine Coast. To that effect, BAS has just completed a first draft of a Maleny Observatory Strategic Plan which maps out our plans to improve site facilities for members and the public and to expand our community outreach effort.

BAS members are encouraged to attend our upcoming observing nights at the Maleny Observatory.

Calvert Aero Modelling Field – Directions

How to Find Your Way to the Calvert Observing Site

The location is recognised by two names searchable within Google Maps:

  • Calvert Aero Modelling Society
  • Gratton Field

If driving from Brisbane, head for Rosewood. Then take the Rosewood Laidley Rd west for 7.6km. Just after the first right-hand curve in the road look for two small bus stop shelters. Immediately after turn left into Calvert Station Road, cross the rail line and creek and immediately turn left into Bourke Rd, West. Proceed 260m to a gate entrance on the right with two white flag poles. Drive down the lane at no more than 20kph and you have arrived.

Google Maps link to Calvert location: HERE  Search Google maps with either of these terms: “Calvert Aero Modelling Society” or “Gratton Field”

Waht3Words link to Calvert location: HERE or here:

Calvert entrance gate with two white flag poles.

The Calvert site has excellent facilities:

  • Kitchen with microwave ovens, BBQ facilities, refrigerators.
  • 240v power and running water
  • Dining hall with tables and chairs
  • Toilets and shower facilities
  • 240v power is also available along the flying field awnings
  • Extensive flat mown grassed areas.
Some of the main facilities at the Calvert Aeromodelling Field.
Kitchen and dining hall area.

Online Astronomy Educational Resources

At our March 2021 meeting, BAS member Greg Newman, gave a talk on the extensive “library” of online resources for astronomy education. Options range from short videos to comprehensive pay-to-learn university programs, and everything in between. Greg’s presentation slides, and list of selected resource sites, are available here in PDF format.

Excellent introduction to astronomy is an initiative of Rice University that provides free educational materials to students world-wide.  In January 2020 Openstax published a web version of their textbook – Astronomy. This text provides an excellent introduction to many aspects of astronomy, from the fundamental science to galaxies, quasar, black holes and beyond.  This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about astronomy. Get web access to the book here.