Some Basic Information on Polar Alignment
Melbourne telescope retailer OpticsCentral has an informative Blog page outlining the basics of what polar alignment of an equatorial mount is seeking to achieve, and why it is important for observing and astrophotography.
It is worth spending 5 minutes reading this explanation just to get your understanding of the task clear before tackling your telescopes electronics and alignment screws. Click HERE to go to the OpticsCentral Blog page.
How to Setup a Basic Non-Computerised Equatorial Mount
Melbourne telescope retailer, OpticsCentral, has an excellent introduction to setting up a non-computerised equatorial telescope mount.
These basic mounts can be a nightmare for novice users. However, this 10-step guide provides a clear explanation sufficient to get most novice telescope users roughly aligned with the south celestial pole. Click HERE to go to the OpticsCentral Blog page.
Our plan is to create a suite of instructional videos for the main items of equipment BAS has available to members to rent. From there we will progress to other mounts and telescopes commonly used by our members. These videos will provide the basic information to get started with tasks such as set-up, star alignment and common operational tasks.
Skywatcher – Star Adventurer Tracking Mount
Learn how to align the Star ASdventurer with the South Celestial Pole to allow log-exposure astro-photography.
Star Adventurer – Southern Hemisphere – Quick Polar Alignment
How to get the Star Adventurer quickly alighned towards the south celestial pole, even in day light.
Finding Deep Sky Objects with SkySafari
Using SkySafari to find more deep-sky objects by making sure your telescope is pointing exactly to the spot where your target object is located.
Canon PowerShot G5X Astrophotography
An introduction to automated and manual mode astrophotography with the Canon PowerShot G5X camera.
For a link to Canon Digital Photo Professional mentioned in the video Click Here
Some Instructional Videos for Celestron Telescopes
We have scoured the Web and YouTube to find what we think are the best instructional video for Celestron GoTo telescopes. The following are our pick to get you started with initial telescope set-up, star alignment and updating locations, date and time information. For telescope beginners we recommend beginning your learning journey using the hand-controller rather than a WiFi connected mobile device – assuming your Celestron telescope was actually supplied with a hand controller. Once you are familiar with these initial steps you could then move on to control via WiFi.
Step 1. Align the Red Dot Finder with the Telescope
The Red Dot Finder does not look particularly important, however it is an invaluable tool you are likely to utilise again and again in an evening’s observing. So, your first step when setting up your telescope is to make sure your red dot finder and telescope are co-aligned and aiming at the same target. The process to do this is most easily done before dark when you can clearly see a distant tree or power pole that you can point the telescope to and then align the red dot finder to. Click on the video below to learn how it’s done.
Step 1A. Align an Optical Finderscope with the Telescope
If your telescope uses an optical finderscope (typically a small refractor scope) you will need to align its filed of view with that of your telescope. Click on the video below to learn how.
Step 2. Inputting your Location, Date and Time into the Telescope Hand Controller
If you take your Celestron telescope to a new location you will achieve better star alignment if you tell your telescope where it has now been placed on Earth. But don’t get too hung-up on the need for super accurate GPS or place location accuracy – 50km this way or that way won’t make much difference. But, if you do need to update location, date or time information the following video explains the process.
Step 3. Align the Telescope with Three Stars
Your task now is to help your telescope determine the accurate position of three stars. Your telescope then uses the position of these stars to allow its internal computer to calculate the location of every other object in its 40,000 object database that will be visible tonight. Getting this task completed accurately is vital for your telescope to be able to subsequently slew to a database object and have it immediately visible in the eyepiece.
During this alignment process you may find it easiest to use the longest focal length eyepiece you have, often this will be a 25mm eyepiece. The longer the eyepiece focal length the larger the patch of sky you will see and the easier it will be to find each of the alignment stars when the procedure asks you to centre a star in the eyepiece. The following video explains the Three Star Sky Align process.
The All In One Video
This video covers most of the same material explained in the Steps 1,2,3 videos above. However, this video might also prove useful to you as the presentation is very clear and thorough.
Setting up a Celestron NexStar Evolution Telescope using the SkyPortal WiFi App
If you have a Celestron NexStar telescope and wifi mobile device (a tablet is better than a phone has the larger screen is easier to use) you can perform all your initial scope setup and star alignment steps vis the Celestron SkyPortal App.
Melbourne telescope retailer OpticsCentral has a Blog page detailing how to use the SkyPortal App to complete the initial telescope setup and alignment.
Click HERE to go to the OpticsCentral Blog page.
Youtube has an assortment of videos, often years old, on Skywatcher telescope setup. Unfortunately we can offer no link to any video that is particulalry informative and accurate.
However, the Skywatcher USA website does list a comprehensive set of user manuals for the wide range of Skywatcher telescopes and electronic control systems. Click here to find a manual for your telescope: https://www.skywatcherusa.com/pages/user-manuals
As suggested above for Celestron telescopes, practice, and become competent completing a star alignment procedure using the hand controller supplied with the telescope. Once familiar with that process you are more likely to have success using wifi mobile device control options. At the telescope beginner stage, mobile device control options typically introduce too many additional opportunities for tech failure and frustration. So start with the hand controller first.
The typical star alignment process requires you to:
– Align the finder scope, or red dot finder, with the main telescope optics. (See instructional videos above.)
– Insert an eyepiece into your telescope – but choose your eyepiece with the largest mm number on it, often 25mm. The bigger the number the wider the field of view aqnd the easier it become below to find and align on specific stars.
– Enter the latitide and longitude of your location. For anywhere within a 100km radius of Brisbane, these might be sufficient:
- Latitude -27.469770 (south) and Longitude 153.025131 (East) or
- Latitude 27° 28′ 11.172” South and Longitude 153° 1′ 30.4716” East
– Time zone relative to Greenwich, for Brisbane GMT +10
– The current time (daylight saving does not apply here)
– Then select the Two Star Alignment option.
- You may need an app on a mobile device to help you identify and locate visible bright stars. The telescope hand controller may suggest stars you are not familiar with.
– Slew the telescope finderscope, or red dot finder, to center on the required star in the finder. The hand controller will instruct you on what button to press when centred. Then center the star in the telescope eyepiece. Then press the required button as instructed.
– Then repeat the process with the second star.
How to Polar Align Computerised Equatorial Mounts, such as the EQ5 go-to, HEQ5, NEQ6, in the Southern Hemisphere (without a polar scope)
Once you have completed the typical two or three star initial alignment of a SkyWatcher style equatorial mount (such as the EQ5 or 6 mounts), some additional alignment fine tuning is required to accurately align the polar axis of the mount with the South Celestial Pole and the rotational axis of the Earth.
Melbourne telescope retailer, OpticsCentral, has an excellent Blog page covering this topic and providing clear step-by-step instructions.
The guide assumes you have completed an initial tree-star alignment. It then steps you though each process to nudge the altitude and azimuth axies of the scope toward the South Celestical Pole. Once completed, your accurately polar aligned telescope is ready for very accurate pointing to objects and extened exposure astrophotography.
Click HERE to go to the OpticsCentral Blog page.
SkyWatcher Mount Setup Guide
Alignment Star List
The SkyWatcher SynScan hand controller uses a set of reasonably prominent stars for performing the initial 1, 2 or 3-star alignment procedure. The setup procedure has specific requirement for the relative position and seperation of sats used in 2 and 3-star alignments. It may save time and frustration by consulting the list of alignment stars in advance and noting a few combinations that are appropriate for a specific night. This may safe time and frustration at the scope and get you observeing more quickly. Find the list of alignment stars, sorted into groups by time of year, HERE.
Another excellent tool for locating alignment stars is the SkySafari Planetarium App. This powerful app can download specific lists of alignment stars for many of the most common mount brands. Find instructions on the BAS News page HERE.