Finding Telescope Alignment Stars

Frustration often rules when you are just starting to learn the sky and get your new electronic mount set-up and properly aligned.  One source of frustration can be finding, and correctly identifying, specific alignment stars.

Every telescope mount manufacturer seems to use a different list of stars that can be used for an initial 1, 2 or 3-star alignment of their mount.  The names of stars can be another source of frustration as some manufacturers use different star names – many of which are obscure stars you may never have heard of.

However, the SkySafari Planetarium App can help reduce these frustrations.  The app allows you to download a list of all the alignment stars specific to most common mounts – Argo Navis; Celestron; Meade LX200; Orion Intelliscope; Sky Commander; Skywatcher Synscan, and Vixen Starbook.

Once loaded into your device it becomes a simple click, or two, for SkySafari to show you exactly where to find specific alignment stars.

How to Download and use Alignment Stars List in SkySafari

Open SkySafari and click “Observe” on the main menu. Then click “Observing Lists”.

Click “Import from Online Repository”.

Click to select the alignment star list that matches your mount.

The list of alignment stars will now be saved to your SkySafari Observing Lists in your mobile device.

When you are ready to do a mount alignment, open SkySafari and click Observe, then click Observing Lists and your set of alignment stars will be available for you to click on and open (such as for the Skywatcher Synscan).

Once you have clicked a list and opened it, you can sort the list by perhaps star name or magnitude, to make it easier to find desired alignment stars.  Stars that are currently visible are displayed with illuminated text (others are below the horizon).

To find the current location of an alignment star, click its name and then center to place it on the sky map.

The alignment star you are trying to find should now be easy to identify on the app map and in the sky.

Another approach to finding alignment stars is to have SkySafari display all available guide stars for you mount simultaneously on a sky map.

As explained above – click Observe on the main menu and then click Observing Lists.  Open the Skywatcher Synscan Alighnment Stars list, for example, and then click Actions and Settings.

Then click the Highlight Objects button on the top menu of the star list.

Click the x in the top-right to close this screen and display the Star Map.

The star map makes it obvious that SynScan Alignment Stars have been predefined by Skywatcher so that there are multiple “pairs” of stars the required 10 to 30 degrees of seperation for use in a two-star alignment.  The star map makes it very easy to then accurately locate the correct stars in the telescope eyepiece. 

The same procedure can be followed in SkySafari for alignment stars for multiple other brands of telescope mount.