I went out on Friday night with the intent of seeing how long I could track without guiding. Typically all I do to polar align is line up the Big Dipper in the Polar scope with its orientation in the sky. This time I decided to do it more precisely.
I looked directly at Polaris and noted two stars that were either directly vertical or directly horizontal of each other in the big dipper. Then I rotated the mount and Polar Finder until those stars were either vertical or horizontal in the Polar finder.
It just seems like it is much easier to align based on points that are directly vertical or directly horizontal in relation to each other.
After I accurately placed Polaris in the small circle in the Polar Finder I rotated the scope to verify that my Polar finder was centered in my mount. It was dead on.
Then I started taking some images. I tried 2 minutes and it looked great so I went for 3 minutes and it still looked fine. Then I went for 5 minutes and it definitely started to show some star trails but honestly it was not as bad as I thought it would be.
I never attempted the All-star align simply because Polaris tracked exactly around the small Polar Finder scope all night long. The all-star alignment wouldn’t have helped because I had done the Polar Finder setup so precisely.
This is not to say that the All-star alignment shouldn’t be used. It does a great job especially when you do a true “rough” alignment with the Polar Finder. However, I have noticed that if you do an extremely precise alignment with the Polar Scope then the error tolerance in the All-star alignment is usually greater than it is with an extremely accurate Polar Scope Alignment.
Please note that this is the second Polar Scope that I have owned. I accidentally let the little piece of glass slip in the first one when I was trying to center it. Once it rotates at all you can no longer do a precise alignment in this manner and the All-star alignment will definitely be a better option.
3 minutes for an 800mm scope and a 2x crop factor camera. This is a 1:1 crop from the center of the image. ISO 800.