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A real novice question


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So, I have fixed up my 'ideal for beginners' telescope. Set it all up as per the instructions and set the right degree on the mount according to where I live. I have even been successful in using the finder scope dot to locate the moon. I understand that the mount is set so its easier to track down certain bodies by using the degrees on the other axes (although not tried this yet). All good so far - now here comes the stupid question....! If I am not supposed to alter the angle of the mount, how do I point the telescope at something that appears 'higher' in the sky? Or is that not how its supposed to work?

I have read different user guides for beginners but can't seem to get my head around this.

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I persume you are talking about an EQ mount. Once your mount is set to your latitude you no longer touch this at all. You move your scope by undoing your atitude and declination clamps and using your remote or slow motion controls to move the telescope to a different location. Do not move your mount latitude once you have polar aligned.

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ok thanks. I guess I need more practice in moving the altitude and declination, as presumably these will allow me to see 360 deg if I actually learn to use them properly!

 

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Yes by moving the ALT and DEC axis you will be able to move the scope to any position in the sky you want. As long as your mount is polar aligned by placing the centre of the polar scope over polaris your scope will follow the movement of the stars and planets to an accuracy which is good enough for visual astronomy. 

 

If it's a manual EQ scope you can then look up the ALT and DEC co-ordinates in either planetarium software or an atlas and then move the alt and dec axis to point to these co-ordinates and the object you seek should be in the eyepiece if it's set up correctly.

 

If you have a go-to mount you press a button in the controller and the above happens automatically if it's set up correctly.

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Hi.

I understand what you are going through, its difficult to get your head round it all, especially if you are a newbie.

EQ mounts take a while to set up and get to grips with. I've been there and you can get bogged down with it all,

when really all you want to do is observe.

 

I really struggled with them myself in my early days in this hobby, so much so, i actually abandoned EQ mounts

altogether and went down the Alt-az route.

 

That doesn't help you though, so here are some more resources to try and help you along.

Its from 'Astrobaby' who is well respected in all aspects of beginner astronomy.

Take a look at her website below

This page helps with alignement.....Good luck 😀🔭

 

http://www.astro-baby.com/astrobaby/help/simple-polar-alignment/

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EQ mounts are not very intuitive to use and I only use one now on my Newtonians. Once polar aligned the OTA can move in Declination and Right Ascension. Declination is basically up and down while Right Ascension mimics the movement of any object traversing in the sky as the Earth turns. Most objects appear to rise in the east, reach a highest point due south (transit), then set in the west.

 

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As a consequence my Newtonians are only used to look into the plane of the ecliptic (basically lunar/planetary). 

 

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Larger EQ mounts often have a polar scope that is used to accurately locate Polaris.

 

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Because I have a physical disability I find using a Newtonian on an EQ difficult to use pointing in any other direction than SE to SW. Hence why I only really use the Newtonian for lunar/planetary at high magnifications.

 

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The advantage of an equatorial mount is that it is easier to manually track objects at high magnifications, especially using the slow motion controls. As an object moves in the field of view due to Right Ascension the slow motion controls move the optical tube assembly (telescope) very slowly and precisely. Otherwise at high magnifications the object would rapidly move out of the field of view. At over 300x magnification objects move pretty quickly!

 

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I think a 'hands-on' learning approach to using an EQ by just physically experimenting pointing it in different directions is the best approach. 

 

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After a while it makes sense. 

 

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Edited by Nightspore
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16 hours ago, Doc said:

Yes by moving the ALT and DEC axis you will be able to move the scope to any position in the sky you want. As long as your mount is polar aligned by placing the centre of the polar scope over polaris your scope will follow the movement of the stars and planets to an accuracy which is good enough for visual astronomy. 

 

If it's a manual EQ scope you can then look up the ALT and DEC co-ordinates in either planetarium software or an atlas and then move the alt and dec axis to point to these co-ordinates and the object you seek should be in the eyepiece if it's set up correctly.

 

If you have a go-to mount you press a button in the controller and the above happens automatically if it's set up correctly.

 

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16 hours ago, Bino-viewer said:

Hi.

I understand what you are going through, its difficult to get your head round it all, especially if you are a newbie.

EQ mounts take a while to set up and get to grips with. I've been there and you can get bogged down with it all,

when really all you want to do is observe.

 

I really struggled with them myself in my early days in this hobby, so much so, i actually abandoned EQ mounts

altogether and went down the Alt-az route.

 

That doesn't help you though, so here are some more resources to try and help you along.

Its from 'Astrobaby' who is well respected in all aspects of beginner astronomy.

Take a look at her website below

This page helps with alignement.....Good luck 😀🔭

 

http://www.astro-baby.com/astrobaby/help/simple-polar-alignment/

Great, thanks, I will have a look at this link 🙂

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15 hours ago, Nightspore said:

 

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EQ mounts are not very intuitive to use and I only use one now on my Newtonians. Once polar aligned the OTA can move in Declination and Right Ascension. Declination is basically up and down while Right Ascension mimics the movement of any object traversing in the sky as the Earth turns. Most objects appear to rise in the east, reach a highest point due south (transit), then set in the west.

 

spacer.png

 

As a consequence my Newtonians are only used to look into the plane of the ecliptic (basically lunar/planetary). 

 

spacer.png

 

Larger EQ mounts often have a polar scope that is used to accurately locate Polaris.

 

spacer.png

 

Because I have a physical disability I find using a Newtonian on an EQ difficult to use pointing in any other direction than SE to SW. Hence why I only really use the Newtonian for lunar/planetary at high magnifications.

 

spacer.png

 

The advantage of an equatorial mount is that it is easier to manually track objects at high magnifications, especially using the slow motion controls. As an object moves in the field of view due to Right Ascension the slow motion controls move the optical tube assembly (telescope) very slowly and precisely. Otherwise at high magnifications the object would rapidly move out of the field of view. At over 300x magnification objects move pretty quickly!

 

spacer.png

 

I think a 'hands-on' learning approach to using an EQ by just physically experimenting pointing it in different directions is the best approach. 

 

spacer.png

 

After a while it makes sense. 

 

spacer.png

Thanks for the pics - I can now see that I have to experiment more. I find I am moving around to different positions and then not being able to reach the eye-piece! 

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The trick is don't go too deep, it seems a tricky thing to master. We all got really frustrated at some point just to find that for visual, pointing the polar axis at the Pole star is good enough. Once you have found the Pole star, look down straight down and find a visual landmark, so next time you set up you can be roughly pointing in the right direction to begin with.

What scope and mount have you got?

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Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope.

Thanks - Yeah, i'm not trying to do anything too complicated. Just trying to understand how to move around the equipment.

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I hope you don't mind me asking, do you know which one is the pole star? This is important as if you aren't pointing the polar axis towards this you'll never get the mount to track properly.

If not, download Stellarium.    http://stellarium.org/         

 

Then in the search function, move your cursor to left hand side, forth icon down and then type in Polaris and it will go to it. This should give you an idea where to look by using the brighter nearby stars to home in on it. It's not a remarkable star, magnitude 2 IIRC, but if you find that you are halfway there getting aligned.

 

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6 minutes ago, BAZ said:

I hope you don't mind me asking, do you know which one is the pole star? This is important as if you aren't pointing the polar axis towards this you'll never get the mount to track properly.

If not, download Stellarium.    http://stellarium.org/         

 

Then in the search function, move your cursor to left hand side, forth icon down and then type in Polaris and it will go to it. This should give you an idea where to look by using the brighter nearby stars to home in on it. It's not a remarkable star, magnitude 2 IIRC, but if you find that you are halfway there getting aligned.

 

I think I did, when I first set up last year. Looked towards North. Thanks for the link.

I don't mind you asking at all, I am a complete beginner and any information is useful to me. It seems like many of the 'instructions for beginners' assume a level of basic knowledge. E.g., 'boil a kettle'. Simple huh? Well that assumes I know how to fill the kettle with water, put on the lid and plug in the appliance! 🙂

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Yeah, every single one of us have been there. The times I have spent searching for stuff to find it was too faint for me to find, or so big I was looking clean through it, not even in the right area, too much magnification, not enough magnification..........the list goes on.

But when it does click and you find stuff and can just marvel at it, that buzz can go on for days.

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6 hours ago, JanieRose said:

Thanks for the pics - I can now see that I have to experiment more. I find I am moving around to different positions and then not being able to reach the eye-piece! 

 

Oh yeah, I forgot, you usually have to rotate the OTA (telescope tube) in the tube rings to enable to observe comfortably. The white scope in the pictures is a 150mm TS Optics (GSO) Newtonian. 

 

The tube itself is quite stiff to turn in the rings even when they're totally loosened, it's a bit of a PITA but it's unlikely it will fall out of the tube rings lol.

 

If I'm lunar/planetary observing for a couple of hours the scope moves gradually and incrementally towards the west as I adjust the slow motion controls to track.

 

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You can see in the above picture how I usually actually sit underneath the scope and look up into the focuser. The scope is roughly pointing south, as it points more to the south west I would occasionally stop observing and rotate the tube until I'm basically sitting underneath it. It's a bit of a rigmarole but being comfortably seated is the best way to observe for longer periods. Astronomical observation with backyard scopes is a learned skill but being relaxed and comfortable while observing is also important as it requires patience to tease finer details out of observed objects. 

 

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You'll get the hang of it after a while.

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15 hours ago, Nightspore said:

 

Oh yeah, I forgot, you usually have to rotate the OTA (telescope tube) in the tube rings to enable to observe comfortably. The white scope in the pictures is a 150mm TS Optics (GSO) Newtonian. 

 

The tube itself is quite stiff to turn in the rings even when they're totally loosened, it's a bit of a PITA but it's unlikely it will fall out of the tube rings lol.

 

If I'm lunar/planetary observing for a couple of hours the scope moves gradually and incrementally towards the west as I adjust the slow motion controls to track.

 

spacer.png

 

You can see in the above picture how I usually actually sit underneath the scope and look up into the focuser. The scope is roughly pointing south, as it points more to the south west I would occasionally stop observing and rotate the tube until I'm basically sitting underneath it. It's a bit of a rigmarole but being comfortably seated is the best way to observe for longer periods. Astronomical observation with backyard scopes is a learned skill but being relaxed and comfortable while observing is also important as it requires patience to tease finer details out of observed objects. 

 

spacer.png

 

You'll get the hang of it after a while.

Gosh, thanks for clarifying that - I think one problem is that I am still scared of using all the various parts and adjusting the scope makes me nervous. I worry its going to slip or more likely I drop it - so I just haven't been approaching it in the right way. Doh!

I will definitely try the seating arrangement, that will probably work better for me. So in your picture the mount is facing North and you have twisted the scope around to face South?

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17 hours ago, BAZ said:

Yeah, every single one of us have been there. The times I have spent searching for stuff to find it was too faint for me to find, or so big I was looking clean through it, not even in the right area, too much magnification, not enough magnification..........the list goes on.

But when it does click and you find stuff and can just marvel at it, that buzz can go on for days.

So looking forward to that 'click' 🙂

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40 minutes ago, JanieRose said:

Gosh, thanks for clarifying that - I think one problem is that I am still scared of using all the various parts and adjusting the scope makes me nervous. I worry its going to slip or more likely I drop it - so I just haven't been approaching it in the right way. Doh!

I will definitely try the seating arrangement, that will probably work better for me. So in your picture the mount is facing North and you have twisted the scope around to face South?

 

GSO Newtonians are renown for being stiff to rotate, but not all Newtonian scopes are stiff in the tube rings, so being careful certainly doesn't hurt.

 

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The top part of EQ mounts always points towards the Pole Star (red arrow). As everything appears to revolve around the Pole Star (Polaris) an EQ mount is designed to enable the telescope to track objects doing the same thing. In the picture above the mount top is pointing directly at the Pole Star and the counterweight bar is almost parallel to the ground. The telescope is facing south. Although it can face any direction including directly at the Pole Star.

 

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  • 2 months later...

I cannot add anything to the excellent replies you have had. I will second (or third?) one important point: Practice. Don't get too ambitious to start with. Find the Moon, change eyepieces to get wide field and close-ups views. Track the Moon using your mount.

 

The next step is the planets but only Mars is in the evening sky at the moment. It is too far away to show any detail to a small amateur telescope, so will just look like an orange blob even at high magnification and good focus. 

 

That's the other thing to practice: focus. It really makes a difference and will help you prepare for photography later on.

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