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Equatorial Mounts - Manual?

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#1 dan533

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:08 AM

Hello to all. I am brand spankin new to astronomy and might have made a newbie mistake. I have a new scope being delivered with an equatorial mount with no goto system. Can this type of mount be used manually? If anyone has an idea about this, would appreciate a response and guidance on how to proceed or if I need to send it back for an alt/az type tripod.

#2 cdndob

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:26 AM

Welcome to CN dan533!

What scope and mount did you order?

Steve

#3 Doug D.

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:26 AM

Hi Dan - welcome to CN. It would help to know a little more about the exact mount that you've purchased. Equatorial mounts can be used manually, either motorized or not. They can also have motors and a controller for "slewing" with or without fancy electronics for GOTO. But not all equatorial mounts share all of these features.

#4 dan533

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 05:10 AM

I ordered up an Orion Skyview Pro 127 Mak-Cass. This is a non-goto setup and seems to be a Skyview Pro EQ mount. It was a package type of a deal, so I just stuck with the offering. They say that a goto system and motors can be added on at a later time.

I downloaded the manual and started reading through it and found a description of how to do an alignment and locating objects. So it is not so much mud, but I still won't drink the water . . . yet.

If there are any simple easy to follow directions, it would still be a great help.

#5 roscoe

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 06:21 AM

Hi Dan, welcome!!

I have used equatorial mounts manually since the dark ages, reaching down to give the knob a twist every few seconds or so comes pretty easy after a little practice. I have a drive on my 'big' scope now, which is a nice feature, because objects do stay centered that way, but the noise of the motor chugging along is not loud, but noticeable. GOTO systems are nice, and can be retrofitted later, if you decide you need one, but star-hopping and setting circles can be much faster ways to get there, with a little practice. Whatever works is right for you..........

#6 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 09:54 AM

Oh, my God man, rejoice in your mistake. You have blundered into an intelligent, excellent set up. First, you have five inches of aperture, which is a nice starting point, and the Orion Maks have good reputations. Second, you DO have TRACKING, which is great, you polar align the scope and you can sit and not have to tweedle away moving the scope. Third, YOU DON'T HAVE A CHEAP GO-TO UNIT, that means, you've got reliability and something that probably last for fifteen years without breaking, maybe thirty. Fourth, the mount, compared to the scope, is rather massive, and that is EXCELLENT, you have avoided the beginners mistake of not having a well mounted system. Fifth, you have setting circles, and they will do you fine.

So here's what you need. You need the widest field eyepiece you can get for this scope, which will be either a 32mm plossl (cheap ones can be gotten used for $30-$50) OR a pricey but very nice Pan Optic 24mm. Both will give you the widest field you can get with the scope, which is how you find things.

The other thing you needs is a sky map (Sky Atlas 2000) and some kind of guide book, I like Sue French's Celestial Sampler. This guide book will give you several hundred easy targets (she wrote it using a 4" refractor).

Now here's the deal: as with a ruler, you can use your setting circles two ways. For example, when you want to measure with a ruler you can start at the low end and measure something and it says 2" and you know it is two inches. But you don't have to use the ruler that way. You can put your object against the ten inch mark and see it ends at the twelve inch mark and also conclude you've measured two inches.

With your setting circles you can do the same thing. Instead of using the complicated coordinates, just look at the values on each circle as standard units the same way inches are on a ruler. Say you want to go to M57, which will show nicely in your scope. You start at Vega. You look in your sky atlas and say: ah, M57 is 2 degrees in this direction and 45 minutes in RA in this direction." You can measure the distance out on your setting circles and you will get very close. You can also star hop the way dob owners do, but the advantage of your system is that the movement of your TELESCOPE corresponds EXACTLY to the east-west north-south lines you see on your star chart. This makes it much easier to get around.

So on the whole I'd say you're in a good place with this system and I would have recommended this purchase over a cheap go-to system.

Good luck,

Greg N

#7 Patrick

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:50 PM

you have setting circles



Hi Dan and welcome to CN!

I wouldn't count on using the SVP setting circles to get around the sky. The setting circles on an SVP are pretty close to worthless...basically ornamentation. They might get a person in the general area of the sky, but won't put the scope on the object, unless you get lucky. The other part of the equation is that the setting circles can be difficult to see in the dark with only a red flashlight.

Without goto, the geometric method of locating objects will be a lot easier, and instead of looking down at setting circles, you'll be looking up at the night sky. As a general rule for newbies, learning the constellation outlines and the names of the bright stars is a great place to start observing. Then you can start locating DSO's using the constellation outlines and bright stars as guides. I think it's called 'starhopping'. :smirk:

Have fun with your new scope. The 5" Mak is a great little planetary scope and as Greg noted, it's better to have an over mounted scope than an undermounted one.

Patrick

#8 Luigi

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 01:17 PM

Starhopping is all I do. For me it's an inseparable part of the joy of observing.

#9 dan533

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 04:56 PM

Thanks for the comments. I feel some better about the scope I ordered up. I suspect that I will do a little of both star hopping and locating, especially in the beginning.

#10 letimotif

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 08:18 PM

If you haven't done so already, go ahead and download a copy of Stellarium from www.stellarium.org

It's free, and easy to use. Think of it as your own person planetarium program. You can customize it to show the night sky from your viewing location. That way it can make it easier for you to translate what's on your star charts to what you see in the night sky.

The type of telescope you will be getting has a, relatively, narrow field of view. That is why Greg suggested you get a wide field eyepiece.

The advantage of your scope is that it will provide nice, sharp views in a lightweight package that's easy to haul around and mount. If you stick around long enough on these forums you'll see folks write that the best scope for anyone is the one that's used the most. Yours should be a good scope on that score.

The drawback is that the piece of the night sky you can see with your scope is going to be narrower than that available with other types of scopes. So, you're going to need to be patient and thoughtful as you try to zero in on any particular object. Hence, learning the constellations and target stars will help you find your way around. That way, as you search for an object, you will be able to recognize the signposts along the way.

Be patient with yourself as you learn, and come back and ask questions as you go along. As far as motors and tracking, heck, most of us started out with gear like yours way back in the 20th Century. With practice it's no sweat.

#11 Bugsi

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 09:04 PM

Congratulations on your purchase of an SVP mount and the 127 Mak. Nice combination. As others have already answered, you TOTALLY do not need any go-to gear with your SVP GEM. I printed out starcharts that are posted right here on this forum, and starhopped for years with my SVP and any of several different telescopes. The great thing about a GEM for visual observing is that a quick rough polar alignment is really all you need. I just sight Polaris through the SVP hole and start viewing. It takes about 30 seconds.

I didn't see for certain if you have a single axis tracking motor or not. If you don't have the single axis drive, it can be purchased from Orion for around $85, and makes a really nice upgrade. Point your scope at something, turn on the drive, and things stay in view for hours.

The full blown GoTo system is a $500 upgrade. It's nice for finding things quickly, but finding things manually can easily account for the bulk of your fun when viewing. GoTo doesn't change how things look once you have them in your eyepiece!

I'd actually also recommend considering a small widefield scope like the Orion ShortTube 80, for some really stunning widefield views. You can quickly swap scopes on the SVP mount. I use my SVP with an Orion 150mm Mak. I had to add a second counterweight, which really adds some heft to the SVP!

Definite kudos to you for making a good mount choice first. Viewing with a cheesy mount makes any telescope view worse.

#12 dan533

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 12:43 AM

Scope arrived today! Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions. Will have to wait til Sunday and hope for clear skies to try it out.

#13 Scott99

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 10:10 AM

Starhopping is all I do. For me it's an inseparable part of the joy of observing.


me too! My equatorial mount is always in "manual" mode.

By the time others are done aligning their GOTO mounts I"ve already viewed several DSOs.

#14 JimmyK

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 04:22 PM

Greetings,

I have the same set up but the next one up, the 150mm.

The mount is pretty solid. You will have a lot of fun with the set up but I suspect that being a newbie, like me, you may quickly come to want something a bit less cumbersome that adjusts more quickly to differing positions. I just posted my mount for sale as I am going to buy a MiniTower.



I have a great piece of property, dark skies with a lil binin with all the ammeties
Re:

#15 JimmyK

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 04:27 PM

....well I hit the wrong button I guess. LOL

"cabin" a lil cabin.

Anyway the property is a good four hour drive and I don't get out there as much as I'd like so I think I will prefer the MiniTower.

Have fun and enjoy and don't forget the cool down period for this scope. Make sure you have it outside a good hour or so before your viewing session.

Regards'

JimmyK

#16 TimD

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 02:28 AM

HI Dan ans welcome! Let us know how it works out for you. It's a good little set-up..

#17 dan533

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 11:34 PM

Wouldn't you know it, since the scope arrived it has been cloudy every night. Anyway I have gotten out and peered betweeen them and surprisingly through the thinner stuff on occassion. Tonight I had a clear spot til the scope was set up. lol Tried the RA Dec and it failed miserably. The settings for Jupiter ended up in a contorted configuration so scrapped the settings and spun it where I felt it would be close. Of course couldn't check how close I was because the clouds came in and stalled. So back to the manual and figure out where I messed up in the first place. Thanks everyone for the welcome and advice.

#18 dpastern

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 12:04 AM

talk about one eyed facts. True, it takes a few minutes to align and setup a GOTO mount, but once it's done, you're generally going to be a LOT quicker at finding things than with a manual setup.

Do some of you guys simply eschew automated functionality simply because you're backwards and old fashioned I wonder?

Having GOTO is especially nice with fainter, hard to see objects. And if the OP wants to get into astro imaging later on down the track, GOTO is a boon as well.

Bashing something just because you want to be anachronistic isn't wise imho.

Dave


me too! My equatorial mount is always in "manual" mode.

By the time others are done aligning their GOTO mounts I"ve already viewed several DSOs.



#19 Luigi

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 10:10 AM

>>>Do some of you guys simply eschew automated functionality simply because you're backwards and old fashioned I wonder?<<<

Perhaps. I eschew it because I value developing knowledge of the night sky and skill in finding objects. For me, finding a difficult to see object is far more rewarding than simply seeing it after the mount has pointed to it. Let's face it, there usually isn't much to see anyway except for a barely discernible faint fuzziness. I find learning how to work a hand controller, link up a computer, and perform a sky alignment far less challenging, and irrelevant and distracting from gaining astronomical knowledge and enjoyment.

#20 dpastern

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 06:59 PM

Well if that's the case...please:

1) get rid of your CD player and go back to a turntable, I mean placing the needle in the lead in requires a delicacy that you just don't get with a CD player

2) get rid of your car and go back to a horse and cart, I mean you really don't always pay attention to the scenery in a car, whilst a horse and cart is slow enough to let you do so.

3) get rid of the microwave and normal ovens and only use a wood stocked fireplace for all your cooking needs, I mean, wood cooked food tastes better on the tastes buds.

3) get rid of your hot water system, simply use a bucket and boil your water using aforementioned fire when you want a hot shower. I mean, do you really need the convenience of a hot water tank?

4) get rid of the mobile phone, hell, if someone wants to ring you when you're out and about, they can leave a message on your home phone. Oh hang on, get rid of the messaging system on that too. They can try and ring you again when you're back at home (or give up and not try again).

I could go on and on...and on. Deliberately not taking advantage of technology that makes life easier as a user is just silly and being old fashioned.

GOTO mounts have made it a lot easier for people to get into astronomy, and that is a *good* thing. I guarantee you that if we all reverted back to your old fasioned way of thinking, the number of people getting into astronomy, and astro imaging, would be tiny by current numbers.

This isn't intended as a personal attack Luigi, I'm trying to use some solid examples of ordinary technology that we mostly take for granted, and use, instead of doing things the "old" way.

Dave

#21 rmollise

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 10:04 AM

>>>Do some of you guys simply eschew automated functionality simply because you're backwards and old fashioned I wonder?<<<

Perhaps. I eschew it because I value developing knowledge of the night sky and skill in finding objects. For me, finding a difficult to see object is far more rewarding than simply seeing it after the mount has pointed to it. Let's face it, there usually isn't much to see anyway except for a barely discernible faint fuzziness. I find learning how to work a hand controller, link up a computer, and perform a sky alignment far less challenging, and irrelevant and distracting from gaining astronomical knowledge and enjoyment.


To each her/his own. Some folks like to look. For other folks there's more joy in the hunt. Lucky there is no "right" way to practice amateur astronomy.

#22 deSitter

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 11:48 AM

Oh, my God man, rejoice in your mistake. You have blundered into an intelligent, excellent set up.


ROFL!!! I so totally agree! This was no mistake, it was the favor of the gods! And I can see all of us clambering about explaining this stuff to Dan - don't you love it?

-drl

#23 deSitter

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 11:57 AM

I could go on and on...and on. Deliberately not taking advantage of technology that makes life easier as a user is just silly and being old fashioned.


No one is claiming that GOTO is not a great thing - but I never use mine! Driven axes are of course a great help, and he should get that ASAP - but I think one should learn what is going on with an equatorial mount in order to appreciate, and troubleshoot, GOTO functions.

Dan, I would seriously consider the upgrade to driven axes with a hand paddle - it will be a great convenience in your observing. You can then further upgrade to GOTO later with their other upgrade kit. Here's the dual-axis controller kit:

http://www.telescope...roduct_id=07832

and here's the GOTO upgrade kit:

http://www.telescope...roduct_id=07817

-drl

#24 dan533

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 04:43 PM


This isn't intended as a personal attack Luigi, I'm trying to use some solid examples of ordinary technology that we mostly take for granted, and use, instead of doing things the "old" way.


Well, it may not be a personal attack, just a general one I guess. I am starting off manually so that I can learn the stars better than to just tell a computer to find something for me.

Is it better to teach a child to work through basic math formulas or to use a calculator? I am sure this argument has occured every time that a new gizmo came out to make things easier. Take our grandfathers, probably when the automatic transmission came out they rejected it and the younger crowds accepted them gladly.

This discussion should be held elsewhere since it doesn't help me in figuring out how to really use the RA/Dec.

This past week I was able to get out 3x and setting the initial RA/Dec for polaris is not a problem. The frustrating part is when going from Polaris to another DSO, the settings point me in the wrong direction. I have flipped from one Dec ring to the other with no success just in case I was using the wrong one.

I am not alone in this, as my neighbor has been scratching his head as well. He has years of experience in using altaz but we are still swimming in mud here.

I wonder if after setting up for Polaris, loosening the cam locks ruins the settings? I even called Orion today and the techs there tell me to star hop and then use a program to figure out what I am looking at. A lot of help there.

These next five nights are scrapped for viewing for me but I hope Monday will be nice and clear.

#25 deSitter

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 05:04 PM

Dan,

Align as close as possible on Polaris - go to a known object like Vega and set the RA circle to its listed RA of Vega, then read the DEC circle to confirm that you're really on the pole with your alignment. This is generally how to use circles without a drive and without constantly re-calculating the hour-angle. Find a star near the object of interest, set the RA to that star, then go to your object. Piece of cake! :)

The difficult part is aligning to the pole - does the SVP have a polar alignment scope?

-drl






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