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Help!!! Polar alignment!


alis80b
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I am sorry if I am posting this in the wrong section.

 

Am I being a complete idiot!? I think I probably am!! I have tried three times now (for hours and hours) to get my HEQ5 mount polar aligned and I just can't do it!! 😫

I've been watching videos on YouTube but no success! I can see Polaris in the sky but I can't find/see it through my polar scope (I know you have to drop the weight bar thing and spin the mount round in a certain way, which I did). I spent a few hours today in the daylight looking through the polar scope and making sure it was calibrated by wiggling the little screws, but I don't even know if I did that right!!? I've probably made it worse! 

 

I went out tonight and pointed it north and towards Polaris, I even reduced the LED light on the polar scope, as I read that it can help to see it!? Nothing!!! 

 

It's doing my head in as it was a really clear night tonight and all I got was another photo of the moon and some rubbish shots of M42 with star trails!!!

 

Can anyone direct me to an idiots guide/video. I was trying to read the manual but I hate reading and it doesn't make sense to me!! 😂

 

Also can you tell me what I need to do in what order? I feel like a missed a step out. Do I need to set the number dial things up before I try to polar align?

 

Sorry! I don't know why I can't do it and it's really annoying me!!!! Also sorry for my lack of correct terminology, I'm not up on it yet! 

 

Arrrgghhh!! 

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Hi

Have you got the reticule centred properly ?

Try this video, as its the first thing to do before trying to polar align.

It only needs doing once so when you've done that you'll be halfway there.

 

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i always found the polar scope on the mount a pain to use too, not easy at all to see through and you only need to be a little bit off and you`ll see nothing,

looks like you have tried setting it up in the day light so that is good, when you take the cap off the front of the mount can you see the hole in the axis  ? i say that as some mounts need the Dec axis rotating 90 degrees for the hole to line up and allowing you to see all the way through, if that is ok try focusing the polar scope on a very bright star first, it should be a lot easier to see. failing all that do what i did and get a guide scope and camera and the free download of Sharpcap 2.9, that has a great polar alignment tool, very easy to use.

once the covid restrictions are out of the way i find it easy for someone local to pop round and visually show how to do stuff, loads of knowledgeable people that are always willing to help in the local area.

stick with it as it`s a very frustrating hobby at times but worth it in the end.

 

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Also Alison, conditions were pretty poor last night. Poor transparancy and seeing and masses of dew.

When i came in last night and put my kit away i actually poured some water out of the tripod try.

 

Polaris is Mag +2 and from my Bortle 6 / 7 home location (i'm guessing yours is much the same) on a poor

night with a bit of wispy high cloud it appears rather faint.

And through a Polarscope with its pretty poor optic its actually quite hard to see, especially if you are not comfortable,

and having to contort yourself into an awkward position. And my mediocre 53 year old eyes make it even harder.

 

I think your best option is first to get the reticule centred as in the video, then set your mount up before dark.

If you can try and get the mount pointing north with the polarscope pointing towards the celestial pole.

Try to memorise where the pole star is in the sky as it never moves.

Use a compass if you need to and set your mounts latitude to 53º. 

Once it gets dark and you have some adaptation to the night, you should be able to see polaris (its faint) 

in your polarscope, and then get it centred with the Alt + Az adjusters.

Then you can use the app 'Alt-az align' on your phone to get it in the right position in the reticules clockface circle.

Once you've done it it will quickly become a much easier operation.

 

 

Edited by Bino-viewer
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honestly finding it can be a real pain to find, as Rob said it is faint and the field of view on the polar scope is tiny.

i tried aligning once at a dark sky, took my almost an hour as so many stars visible, after another two hours of poor guiding and imaging someone pointed out that i was not pointing at Polaris at all. we live and learn, another good reason for a permanent mount

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H Alison,

Firstly, Rob raises a good point, make sure the dec shaft is in the right orientation so the hole in it allows you to see through the polar scope. If its wrong you wont see anything. I also find the red LED in the polar scope too bright it swamps polaris if on full, I turn the LED off.

 

Secondly, Alignment routines, I second the above suggestions.

 

Third, if you still cant get polaris in the polar scope, Find polaris with your eye, then sight along the top of the RA axis and adjust it roughly to point at polaris using the alt and az adjusters, then look through the polar scope.

 

Fourth and more importantly at the moment where your getting used to the kit -

For visual and a bit of lunar imaging your mount can be roughly polar aligned. Exact, bang on, sub minute of an arc polar alignment is for when you start long exposure imaging of deep sky objects. Clear sky time is too valuable to be messing with accurate alignment when it ,s not necessary

 

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12 hours ago, Bino-viewer said:

Hi

Have you got the reticule centred properly ?

Try this video, as its the first thing to do before trying to polar align.

It only needs doing once so when you've done that you'll be halfway there.

 

Ahh thank you. I did follow some instructions from some other videos but haven't seen this one so will have a look. 😊

 

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12 hours ago, red dwalf said:

i always found the polar scope on the mount a pain to use too, not easy at all to see through and you only need to be a little bit off and you`ll see nothing,

looks like you have tried setting it up in the day light so that is good, when you take the cap off the front of the mount can you see the hole in the axis  ? i say that as some mounts need the Dec axis rotating 90 degrees for the hole to line up and allowing you to see all the way through, if that is ok try focusing the polar scope on a very bright star first, it should be a lot easier to see. failing all that do what i did and get a guide scope and camera and the free download of Sharpcap 2.9, that has a great polar alignment tool, very easy to use.

once the covid restrictions are out of the way i find it easy for someone local to pop round and visually show how to do stuff, loads of knowledgeable people that are always willing to help in the local area.

stick with it as it`s a very frustrating hobby at times but worth it in the end.

 

Thank you for your replies. I feel a bit better now. 

I just couldn't understand why I couldn't see it in the polar scope and it was annoying me. I think the Sharpcap suggestion is a good one. I was planning on getting a guide scope and camera at some point. Anything to make life easier.

 

I definitely want to see if I can arrange someone to come and help me when lockdown allows. I am more than happy to pay for their time. I had a Zoom session with an astrophotographer (which was great) to get me started but it's much easier to learn when someone shows you. Maybe the lockdown rules in March will allow it when you can meet one person outside for recreational purposes, not just exercise. Fingers crossed!

 

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11 hours ago, Bino-viewer said:

Also Alison, conditions were pretty poor last night. Poor transparancy and seeing and masses of dew.

When i came in last night and put my kit away i actually poured some water out of the tripod try.

 

Polaris is Mag +2 and from my Bortle 6 / 7 home location (i'm guessing yours is much the same) on a poor

night with a bit of wispy high cloud it appears rather faint.

And through a Polarscope with its pretty poor optic its actually quite hard to see, especially if you are not comfortable,

and having to contort yourself into an awkward position. And my mediocre 53 year old eyes make it even harder.

 

I think your best option is first to get the reticule centred as in the video, then set your mount up before dark.

If you can try and get the mount pointing north with the polarscope pointing towards the celestial pole.

Try to memorise where the pole star is in the sky as it never moves.

Use a compass if you need to and set your mounts latitude to 53º. 

Once it gets dark and you have some adaptation to the night, you should be able to see polaris (its faint) 

in your polarscope, and then get it centred with the Alt + Az adjusters.

Then you can use the app 'Alt-az align' on your phone to get it in the right position in the reticules clockface circle.

Once you've done it it will quickly become a much easier operation.

 

 

Thanks. Yeah, I thought it was clear (as in clouds) but maybe that would explain it a bit.

I will definitely watch that video and follow your steps. I did most of them so maybe am just missing something.

 

It's all so complicated, but easy I guess... when you know what you're doing!?! 😫

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8 hours ago, Nightspore said:

One of these 90 degree right-angle finders is invaluable for me.

 

gEXKJBsl.jpg

 

 

TS Optics

Ahh thank you. I'll look into that 😊

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6 hours ago, Alec said:

If you want to take away all the messing about QHY pole master works a treat. 

Thank you! I'll have a look into that. Definitely up for making my life easier! 😂

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7 hours ago, philjay said:

H Alison,

Firstly, Rob raises a good point, make sure the dec shaft is in the right orientation so the hole in it allows you to see through the polar scope. If its wrong you wont see anything. I also find the red LED in the polar scope too bright it swamps polaris if on full, I turn the LED off.

 

Secondly, Alignment routines, I second the above suggestions.

 

Third, if you still cant get polaris in the polar scope, Find polaris with your eye, then sight along the top of the RA axis and adjust it roughly to point at polaris using the alt and az adjusters, then look through the polar scope.

 

Fourth and more importantly at the moment where your getting used to the kit -

For visual and a bit of lunar imaging your mount can be roughly polar aligned. Exact, bang on, sub minute of an arc polar alignment is for when you start long exposure imaging of deep sky objects. Clear sky time is too valuable to be messing with accurate alignment when it ,s not necessary

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

I turned the LED right down but maybe need to turn it off completely.

 

I could see Polaris with my eye and thought I'd got it pretty lined up but no look. I'll go through the alignment routines again. I don't think the conditions last night helped. By the time I gave up and had come inside I could barely see Polaris in the sky at all and it wasn't even that cloudy.

 

This is my main problem! I want to get straight in there and take some deep sky images! 😂

I don't actually want to take pictures of the moon or look at anything (I didn't even have the power on my mount turned on to do that). This is the 3rd time I've gone outside trying to set up so I could get at least one half decent photo of M42, just as a starting point to work on. It was the one thing I wanted to do and I can't. It's so annoying!! 

 

I'll get there. Maybe I'm just trying to run before I can walk! 😫

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1 hour ago, alis80b said:

Ahh thank you. I'll look into that 😊

 

You're welcome. It also has zoom settings which can be useful. The main advantage is that I don't have to lie on the floor to sight Polaris.

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If you set your gear up in the same spot, find Polaris naked eye and follow it down to the ground and make a mental note of something that you can relate to as a land mark for it. That way when you set up in daylight you can point the mount towards that and be in the ballpark to start setting up when it gets dark. Polaris isn't that bright, mag 2 IIRC, but it is about the brightest star in that patch of sky. Don't worry, it will just all click one day.

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Also don`t trust the altitude marker on the side of the mount, they are way off usually and just there for show from my experience,

regarding the pole master, they are good idea but if you were thinking of getting a guide scope and a guide camera i`d certainly go down that route, a cheap second hand guide scope and camera will be a lot less money, one less cable, and of course also be useful for imaging, also when used with sharpcap 2.9 the results are just as good when polar aligning.

sorry if i`ve upset anyone that has a Pole master L.O.L.

someone on this site might even have a guide scope and camera if you put a wanted post when your ready but they are not expensive.

 

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Ok... I’ve gone to the dark side and ordered a Pole master!! 🤦🏼‍♀️
 It’s my birthday at the weekend so thought I’d treat myself. I seem to have been doing that a lot lately since starting this hobby! 😂

 

I was watching lots of reviews and videos on it last night and it just seems sooooo much easier!! I know it’s a one trick pony and it’s probably cheating a bit but as you can tell i’m all for an easy life!! 
Thank you so much for all the comments and help. I think I will still learn how to polar align manually anyway as I don’t like things to beat me. Maybe in the summer though when it’s a bit warmer and when I can get some help when we’re out of lockdown! 😊


 

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I bought a polemaster last year and it has made polar aligning so much easier and much more accurate. I bought it as my back has been playing up over the last few years and bending to look through the polarscope was getting to be agony. I rate it as one of me best buys. 

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1 hour ago, Glafnazur said:

I bought a polemaster last year and it has made polar aligning so much easier and much more accurate. I bought it as my back has been playing up over the last few years and bending to look through the polarscope was getting to be agony. I rate it as one of me best buys. 

Ahh! That’s good to know. 
I also have back and knee issues so maybe it will benefit me in more ways than one. 
It’s arriving tomorrow!! Fingers crossed for some clear skies 😊

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On 24/02/2021 at 11:40, alis80b said:

Ok... I’ve gone to the dark side and ordered a Pole master!! 🤦🏼‍♀️
 It’s my birthday at the weekend so thought I’d treat myself. I seem to have been doing that a lot lately since starting this hobby! 😂

 

I was watching lots of reviews and videos on it last night and it just seems sooooo much easier!! I know it’s a one trick pony and it’s probably cheating a bit but as you can tell i’m all for an easy life!! 
Thank you so much for all the comments and help. I think I will still learn how to polar align manually anyway as I don’t like things to beat me. Maybe in the summer though when it’s a bit warmer and when I can get some help when we’re out of lockdown! 😊


 

Good choice, nice bit of kit and makes it so much easier. 

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