First light: AVX. A NEWBIE'S PERSPECTIVE
Posted 24 August 2013 - 06:56 AM
I have a Stellarvue 102ED on my AVX. Folks may have seen that my first AVX arrived dead and wouldn't turn on. The replacement is just fine.
My goal was to try this out in my yard last evening on Saturn and a few double stars before the moon came up. I carried out my Autozone battery, my chair, my little table, my star atlases, flashlight..then the mount (heavy...) Then fetched the scope and mounted it. By this time I was sweaty as this was 75 yards from the house. Then I did chores until it started getting dark.
I put the mount down roughly facing north and set the lat to 42 which is where I'm at, as I'd read that polar alignment is not necessary with this mount and I wanted to try two star alignment. Upon firing up the unit, I did a solar system align as the ONLY thing visible was Venus at the time. It slewed to the general area of Venus and I thought that was very cool (remember I haven't even seen an EQ mount in action before.) I followed the procedure to align by aligning in the finderscope, then the EP. Then I tried to slew to Saturn, which was not visible yet, and left to change into warmer clothing, took a phone call etc and came back to see Saturn being tracked in my EP. By this time I'm thinking I'm a pro.
As I increased magnification things got tougher to keep centered so I decided to try a two star align as by this time it was getting dark. I couldn't figure out how in the world to do a two star align. It kept asking me to "cancel venus" or "unsync." I guess at that point I realized even though I read the manual 40 times, I should have read it 50 times. I figured the only way out was to shut the controller off, so I cut power for a minute or so and rebooted. To my dismay I had to re-set the time and go through the setup again (this was unanticipated and kind of a pain.) I did the two star align, but this time my total lack of star knowledge was apparent as I chose some cool sounding star, the telescope slewed and there in my finderscope were 30 stars. Which one was my alignment star!? I chose a more familiar star, aligned, then chose another familiar sounding star and the telescope slewed until it was pointing at the ground. Hmmm. Another star to align worked, I think Vega if I'm correct? Then two calibration stars which I had to use a star chart to confirm were the right stars. This was now getting frustrating but I think I was OK with it as I attribute it to the learning curve.
Then I did some of the "Sky Tour" which was neat. It found M110 which I'd never seen before, very, very faintly I might add. I went to a few more objects, then the greatest thing happened. My 11 year old son and 9 year old daughter came out and my daughter said "Woa!!!! Look at that!!! Was that like a million bucks Daddy?" I let them play with the hand controller and they thought it was the coolest robotic thing they'd ever seen, and both of them, my daughter especially, were floored looking at tiny Saturn. Even though they'd look briefly before in the telescope, they could sit on my observing chair and look at Saturns moons too while the scope tracked, which made their experience much better, and mine since I didn't have to "nudge" ever minute, which I ABSOLUTELY HATED DOING on an alt-az grab and go mount.
I had some real challenges getting objects to slew into the center of the EP. I think the illuminated reticle of the finder helped, but I think I might need a reticle EP to help?? I'm sure I'm off by doing something wrong otherwise. I'm not sure if I'm off center in the EP after a slew if I can use the arrows to center the object and does a series of these "corrections" add up to a very poor accuracy in slewing?
And finally, I'm just curious how some of you folks handle all this equipment! I'm physically fit and pushing 50, but man, that was hard work. I think tonight I'll carry the mount without the weight attached? Man, it's a lot of work. I may also pick up a grill cover so I can leave it out over night rather than haul it in in the dark. It was WET with dew quickly so my wet manuals and EP's and feet and chair kinda was a bummer.
As a wrap up, and I do hope some newbie finds something of value here, I would certainly recommend this mount especially at this price they're promoting it at. I have a lot to learn obviously, but the joy of finding objects with the controller, and the tracking of objects it well worth it to me. I had a grab and go, and while it was quicker, I hated having to keep nudging. I just need to figure out the logistics of getting all this gear out and keeping my spine intact.
As a final note, the AC adapter for this mount does not attach very securely as it doesn't have a screw collar like the 12V adapter. I'm lucky to have power out near the barn where I put the scope, but the plug fell out twice on my dry run in the basement so I chose the 12V connector. Even spreading the pin in the female end didn't help and inadvertently hitting the cord dislodged the AC cord. I'm using the 12V car starter for $49 from Autozone and it worked for 3-4 hours no problem. Time will tell if it will hold up all night long.
Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:40 AM
First the AVX has a real time clock. It seems to need turning on and once it's on you don't need to set the time. The control is somewhere in the menu system.
A simple planisphere is a good idea to help with working out which stars are currently visible. At present I'd start with Arcturus in the early evening as it's obvious and bright, then maybe one of the Ursa Major stars or Rasalhague. It may be different for you, I'm in the UK so at a different latitude.
I think that a reticle EP helps a lot with aligning, I use a home made one which doesn't have illumination.
I have seen all sorts of little trolleys for moving things about, from things such as the scope buggy that allows the mount to be moved fully assembled to the sort of trolley you can get from a DIY store.
Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:56 AM
if you have a computer, you can download a free program called stellarium and add virtual telescopes and eyepieces to simulate the view through that. you can also flip the image horizontally and/or vertically if needed. i am using my 50mm guidescope with a 32mm eyepiece as a finderscope, so it's easy for me to verify the star i'm looking at by confirming what i see through the eyepiece is what i see on the screen.
i use a laptop, so it's easier for me to "look up" new stars. if you use a desktop it might be a little harder, but as you use the same stars for alignment, you'll be able to memorize the patterns around your commonly used stars.
you can also use stellarium to see the star positions when you think you'll be viewing (you can set the time), so you can plan ahead and see what stars you can use for alignment.
anyway, enough about stellarium. you can probably do the same thing with star charts (i bought a large star chart, but i haven't really looked at it yet).
as for re-alignment, you can do a new 2 star alignment stars by replacing your aligned stars/planets. you select and slew to a named star first, then go to align->aligned stars, and replace. you can use the up/down buttons (6 and 9, not the slew buttons) to cycle through the stars you want to replace (so you can add a 2nd star for alignment if you only started with one. it'll ask you to center the star like you did in the alignment process. the only thing that it doesn't do is give you that list of the brightest stars. and you can't hit the back button to cycle through the list to the next brightest one. if you want that, you have to power down and select 2 star alignment.
for the time, if you go into the settings and turn the RTC on, you shouldn't have to re-input the time; just hit enter. if the time is off, you can hit back to edit it. your location data should be saved already.
when you use the hand controller to center objects in the eyepiece, i don't think it updates the sky model in the mount or anything like that. the only way it updates it is if you add/update alignment or calibration stars. maybe also if you sync.
an illuminated eyepiece will definitely be good for the scope as it will help you center your stars accurately and consistently (although you're initially centering it in the finderscope, that's just to get it in the fov of the main scope. the important thing is to center it well in the main scope).
oh, and about the AC adapter. there are 2 different AC adapters. the cheaper one celestron "recommends" is for visual use. it doesn't have the screw collar. there is another AC adapter that does have the screw collar, and can be used on the VX (it's the 5 amp adapter for the CGEM and CGE PRO). That one is the one you should get if you plan on doing astrophotography, although both will work according to celestron. if you are just doing visual, then it may not be worth it to spend another $60 just for an AC adapter.
just hang in there...i think things should get easier as you get used to using the mount and familiarizing yourself with the night sky
Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:24 AM
Do you folks leave your scope out after a late night and cover it or carry the whole shebang back in??
Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:34 AM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:43 AM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:46 AM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:19 AM
Stellarium is also available in idevices. For free, it's pretty awesome. If you want to control the mount wirelessly, SkySafari is the way to go- but I would hold off on that.
The real benefit of GOTO is the ability to look at many more objects in an evening than you otherwise could have.
As for leaving the mount out, that depends on the security of where you are and what the weather is. The mounts are made to survive dew. The scopes need to dry out. The basic reason the home observatory exists is the problem you have just found with carry-out and retrieve. Your kids may be just the right size to move a dolly, thought.
Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:23 AM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:55 AM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:35 AM
I also ordered the AC adapter with the screw mount. Pricey but I wanted to be safer than sorry.
Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:43 AM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 04:56 PM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 05:42 PM
Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:12 PM
For a power supply, I use car jumper that I got as a gift from O'Reilly Auto Parts. I can run for 3 or more sessions before charging. I never an AC adapter for the reason you have already found out. I image with mine and can't afford the power coming loose when I am imaging or aligning the scope.
A reticle eyepiece is a must for accurate alignment. The only time I don't use a reticle to align is when I use a DSLR with backyard EOS to replace the reticle.
It took me a few sessions to get the 2 stars + 4 calibration stars + polar alignment down. After a few times it should become second nature. To help identify some of the obscure stars during alignment, I use Sky Safari on my Iphone.
I am glad your mount is now working for you. Have fun with it.
Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:22 PM
Posted 25 August 2013 - 03:28 PM
Learned quickly to move the avx around without the OTA or weight. When I do that even I can lug it around without needing to join a Gym.
Nice mount. Now all I need to learn is the stars so that when it slews to an alignment star I know which one its wanting out of 30-40 stars in the FOV.
All in all I like mine but then I am a noob so.......
Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:11 PM
Posted 26 August 2013 - 12:05 PM
Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:14 PM