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Alignment tips here...

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#326 luaprelkniw

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 09:59 PM

My apologies for posting this here, since there can be no doubt it belongs some other place.  I *know* I am mistaken in concluding info is unavailable, but I have searched on Cloudy Nights and the internet at large over an extended period for any help on this issue with no luck.

 

I have a 9.25" Nexstar Evolution.  Great scope!   My problem is with alignment.   Say I want to add a Precise GoTo, which I understand improves the alignment.  Which I need because Sky Align loses accuracy over several hours.  Last night I *really* wanted to use Spica as I hadn't used an object in that part of the sky earlier.  But it was not under Named Stars from the Database.  Deneb was also missing from the database last night.  This has happened before with Procyon (which was there last night, only useless to me, being about 10 degrees above West and behind a building) and Vega (at zenith, besides, I'd already used it.)  And others, but I can't recall at this moment which stars.

 

Why is the database so weird and random?  Why sometimes when I select a star, there appear to be maybe 75-100 to flip through, while at other times there are obviously closer to 200?  Shouldn't the top 50 or 100 *brightest* stars be there for alignment purposes at the beginning of an evening, when only a few stars are visible?  And why can't we have the Bayer designations if Celestron won't give us the common names?  I don't *know* the HD and Flamsteed numbers for most stars;  that is one reason for getting a computerised mount.

 

And then there's the Named Deep Sky objects . . . but never mind, I don't mind star-hopping and consulting DSN catalogues if only I could get the scope aligned and tracking!

 

As I said, I am certain others have had the same trouble over the years, but I just can't unearth any discussion of such issues, even peripherally. 


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#327 Procyon

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 10:15 PM

My apologies for posting this here, since there can be no doubt it belongs some other place.  I *know* I am mistaken in concluding info is unavailable, but I have searched on Cloudy Nights and the internet at large over an extended period for any help on this issue with no luck.

 

I have a 9.25" Nexstar Evolution.  Great scope!   My problem is with alignment.   Say I want to add a Precise GoTo, which I understand improves the alignment.  Which I need because Sky Align loses accuracy over several hours.  Last night I *really* wanted to use Spica as I hadn't used an object in that part of the sky earlier.  But it was not under Named Stars from the Database.  Deneb was also missing from the database last night.  This has happened before with Procyon (which was there last night, only useless to me, being about 10 degrees above West and behind a building) and Vega (at zenith, besides, I'd already used it.)  And others, but I can't recall at this moment which stars.

 

Why is the database so weird and random?  Why sometimes when I select a star, there appear to be maybe 75-100 to flip through, while at other times there are obviously closer to 200?  Shouldn't the top 50 or 100 *brightest* stars be there for alignment purposes at the beginning of an evening, when only a few stars are visible?  And why can't we have the Bayer designations if Celestron won't give us the common names?  I don't *know* the HD and Flamsteed numbers for most stars;  that is one reason for getting a computerised mount.

 

And then there's the Named Deep Sky objects . . . but never mind, I don't mind star-hopping and consulting DSN catalogues if only I could get the scope aligned and tracking!

 

As I said, I am certain others have had the same trouble over the years, but I just can't unearth any discussion of such issues, even peripherally. 

Hi there, nice scope, no worries at all, you will figure it out rather quickly. The best advice I can give you is to use the Auto Two Star Alignment instead of Skyalign and get any eyepiece with an illuminated reticle to quickly align. Try Arcturus and Denebola this whole week, can't miss them, unless they're not in your view, they're listed for sure as I aligned with these two last night. Trust me, this hand controller can do it all. Do not use Precise Go-To, you can use Calibrate Go-To once in a while though. All you need is an app like Star Tracker and locate the 2 brightest stars. 


Edited by Procyon, 27 May 2019 - 10:16 PM.


#328 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 10:26 PM

My apologies for posting this here, since there can be no doubt it belongs some other place.  I *know* I am mistaken in concluding info is unavailable, but I have searched on Cloudy Nights and the internet at large over an extended period for any help on this issue with no luck.

 

I have a 9.25" Nexstar Evolution.  Great scope!   My problem is with alignment.   Say I want to add a Precise GoTo, which I understand improves the alignment.  Which I need because Sky Align loses accuracy over several hours.  Last night I *really* wanted to use Spica as I hadn't used an object in that part of the sky earlier.  But it was not under Named Stars from the Database.  Deneb was also missing from the database last night.  This has happened before with Procyon (which was there last night, only useless to me, being about 10 degrees above West and behind a building) and Vega (at zenith, besides, I'd already used it.)  And others, but I can't recall at this moment which stars.

 

Why is the database so weird and random?  Why sometimes when I select a star, there appear to be maybe 75-100 to flip through, while at other times there are obviously closer to 200?  Shouldn't the top 50 or 100 *brightest* stars be there for alignment purposes at the beginning of an evening, when only a few stars are visible?  And why can't we have the Bayer designations if Celestron won't give us the common names?  I don't *know* the HD and Flamsteed numbers for most stars;  that is one reason for getting a computerised mount.

 

And then there's the Named Deep Sky objects . . . but never mind, I don't mind star-hopping and consulting DSN catalogues if only I could get the scope aligned and tracking!

 

As I said, I am certain others have had the same trouble over the years, but I just can't unearth any discussion of such issues, even peripherally. 

Hi,

 

Most likely the stars you were attempting to use were outside of your set Filter Limits.  Press MENU, select Scope Setup and then Filter Limits.  

 

Regarding improving alignment accuracy later in the evening, you would generally want to replace one of the alignment stars that have set in the west with a new one that has risen in the east.  Precise GoTo is a method for getting super accurate GoTo for just one object at a time.  From my book, The NexStar User's Guide II:

Improving Accuracy After Alignment
While the initial alignment is the most crucial factor for ensuring GoTo and tracking accuracy, there are some additional features to incrementally improve accuracy after the initial alignment. To summarize when to use each, add additional alignment stars or replace an existing alignment star for a permanent all-sky adjustment, use Sync for a semi-permanent adjustment to a single region of sky and use Precise GoTo for a one-time, highly accurate adjustment.

 

It then continues with the proceedure for each.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com


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#329 luaprelkniw

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 03:38 PM

Thank you very much for your reply, Michael;  that clears up a misconception I had had about Precise GoTo.   I just checked my Scope Filter limits, which are from 90 deg to 0 deg.   Spica and Deneb were around 40 degrees altitude when I looked for them in the database, so there must be another reason for their absence.  These database entries seem to appear and disappear for no obvious reason.  It wouldn't surprise me to find them back in the list next week, and other stars missing;  as I said, Procyon was there the other night when it was too low for me to use it well, but during the winter one night when it was perfectly placed, it was absent from the database.

 

It's just a frustration more than anything else, and for no logical reason that I can think of.

 

Paul


Edited by luaprelkniw, 28 May 2019 - 04:55 PM.

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#330 luaprelkniw

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 04:54 PM

Hi there, nice scope, no worries at all, you will figure it out rather quickly. The best advice I can give you is to use the Auto Two Star Alignment instead of Skyalign and get any eyepiece with an illuminated reticle to quickly align. Try Arcturus and Denebola this whole week, can't miss them, unless they're not in your view, they're listed for sure as I aligned with these two last night. Trust me, this hand controller can do it all. Do not use Precise Go-To, you can use Calibrate Go-To once in a while though. All you need is an app like Star Tracker and locate the 2 brightest stars. 

Hi Procyon.  Thanks for the advice;  I appreciate your time.

 

I choose three stars to increase accuracy, although some quick further reading now suggests that two stars may very well be as good as three for Celestron mounts.  I'll have to do yet more reading, obviously.  The great thing about SkyAlign is that it doesn't matter if the stars I choose are in the database at that point in time;  the mount has always accepted the stars unnamed.  If I use Two-Star or Auto-Two-Star, I need to specify their names from the database list, and they're sometimes missing.

 

As for Arcturus and Denebola, they're too close together for my liking, as well as being at a very high altitude in the evening sky right now from my ground latitude of 44 degrees (somewhat similar to yours perhaps?)   I prefer alignment stars around 30-35 degrees up from the horizon, and as far apart around the sky as possible.  I used to use my reticule eyepieces, but have found it easier and quicker to centre the airy disk of an out-of-focus star in the field of view whilst aligning.  I'm fortunate that I know the brightest stars for most seasons without an app, so that saves a little time (don't ask me to find them from a dark sky location, though!  I get lost in a sea of stars.)

 

I have never used Calibrate GoTo, so I may give that a go.


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#331 Procyon

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 06:10 PM

The great thing about SkyAlign is that it doesn't matter if the stars I choose are in the database at that point in time;  the mount has always accepted the stars unnamed.  

 

 

That's exactly what I used to say. One night my Skyalign would no longer work in the first 1-3 tries. It took around 10 tries that night. I too liked using Skyalign, as it was nice to sit on a chair sipping on some coffee and pointing it at any 3 bright stars.

 

Concerning apps and Auto Two Star align, I really like Star Tracker for this purpose, it may look gimmicky but I only open it for this purpose, so I just point it at any 2 bright stars and confirm their id's. This app's compass always seems to be working fine compared to the others. You also need to make sure they're available on your hand controller on that night. Best is to look for a list that contains the Nexstar Alignment Stars to know which ones you will be looking for to align with before even going out.  

 

As for Arcturus and Denebola, they're too close together for my liking

 

I'm starting to think this is a bit of a myth. It might have been the case with older technology, obviously I can't say for sure, also I only do Visual Astronomy. Unless 2 stars are VERY close I no longer care, straight lines, don't care much either for those. My alignment lasts for 3-4 hours without any issues. If I see it slipping after a few hours, I'll quickly align to a new star and remove a previous one from the initial alignment. After the initial alignment, I send the scope to say the previous star and make sure it's on or near the center of the field of view with a 12.5mm reticle eyepiece at 200x+ magnification. 

 

I use very wide eyepieces so objects always appear in the field of view when the slewing comes to a stop. I actually even find Auto Two Star a bit more accurate. If ever you find the reason why SkyAlign does not work at times, please do write it here. Cool feature, when it works consistently. Good luck and have fun.


Edited by Procyon, 28 May 2019 - 09:05 PM.


#332 luaprelkniw

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 07:02 PM

Thanks again, Procyon.  

 

I appreciate the value of apps like Star Tracker;  my problem is that even when I know the names of the stars I want to use for alignment, they may not be listed in the Nexstar mount's data base.  (I note that you mention a compass but I presume you just mean that Star Tracker correctly points at particular stars;  I agree that some of these apps don't;  when I want that function I use Sky Safari 5 Plus. I would think your SS6Pro would be at least as good?)

 

I sometimes have to scroll through the available stars in the mount's data base until I find one listed that falls in the general part of the sky I'm planning to use (it's been time-consuming.)

 

I also appreciate your mentioning that your alignments can last up to 4 hours;  that is very reasonable for any eyepiece.  If that works for your 11" it should work for my 9.25" almost as well.  I'll just keep on trying!

 

And yes . . . despite my challenges, I do have fun with astronomy!


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#333 GoFish

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 07:25 PM

SkyAlign is evil. It frustrated me to no end before I gave up on it. 

 

Though I use StarSense now, prior to that I frequently started with 1-star align (or even solar system align if Jupiter was well-placed at dusk and I was confident I had set the time and location precisely). 

 

Following successful 1-star align, then choose any star from Named Stars that you can see well, and slew to it. Then add this star as an alignment star and, voila, you have a perfectly fine 2-star alignment. 

 

The advantage of this sequence is that there is less to go wrong that would cause you to have to start completely over. Doing the 1-star align is quick and easy. Then you have lots of options on when to add the second star, and on which star (actually, any object can be used) you choose. 

 

I almost always use Polaris as one of my alignment stars with an altaz mount, FWIW. 


Edited by GoFish, 28 May 2019 - 07:32 PM.

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#334 Procyon

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 09:15 PM

 

These database entries seem to appear and disappear for no obvious reason.  It wouldn't surprise me to find them back in the list next week, and other stars missing;  as I said, Procyon was there the other night when it was too low for me to use it well, but during the winter one night when it was perfectly placed, it was absent from the database.

 

It's just a frustration more than anything else, and for no logical reason that I can think of.

 

 

If I use Two-Star or Auto-Two-Star, I need to specify their names from the database list, and they're sometimes missing.

 

Ok I see your point, sorry had quickly read it, I believe this happened to me on a very few occasions, perhaps 2 or 3 times. So I went and searched for an explanation and remember reading something that made great sense as to why it's happening. Something about a Nexstar Aligning Star not appearing on the hand controller due to being too close to Zenith, possibly because it's too close to something or on a line, not sure though. If I find that info I'll paste it here if you want. 

 

After I read that and my Skyalign incident I switched to Auto Two Star and really like it because the centering is just as good as Skyalign's, and after you're done aligning the 2nd star it will always say alignment is a success. Done. I'll try Skyalign again next time out, curious to see if it'll work, I probably haven't tried it since because I'm very comfortable with Auto Two Star.

 

Watch your location input also if you're traveling. GPS on the scope is so helpful. Definitely need to be balanced and well leveled before starting like Michael said. You will notice all these little things rather quickly. 


Edited by Procyon, 28 May 2019 - 09:39 PM.


#335 Procyon

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 09:33 PM

 

Improving Accuracy After Alignment
While the initial alignment is the most crucial factor for ensuring GoTo and tracking accuracy, there are some additional features to incrementally improve accuracy after the initial alignment. To summarize when to use each, add additional alignment stars or replace an existing alignment star for a permanent all-sky adjustment,

This is great advice. I keep forgetting to add additional stars and just go straight to replacing a star. 

 

 

SkyAlign is evil. It frustrated me to no end before I gave up on it. 

 

I almost always use Polaris as one of my alignment stars with an altaz mount, FWIW. 

True. Funny thing is, during a long 1 year stretch SkyAlign worked exactly as you think it would. Say 60/40 you'll get it on the first try, otherwise by the 2nd try, sometimes 3rd. 


Edited by Procyon, 28 May 2019 - 09:40 PM.


#336 luaprelkniw

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 09:44 PM

SkyAlign is evil. It frustrated me to no end before I gave up on it. 

 

Though I use StarSense now, prior to that I frequently started with 1-star align (or even solar system align if Jupiter was well-placed at dusk and I was confident I had set the time and location precisely). 

 

Following successful 1-star align, then choose any star from Named Stars that you can see well, and slew to it. Then add this star as an alignment star and, voila, you have a perfectly fine 2-star alignment. 

 

The advantage of this sequence is that there is less to go wrong that would cause you to have to start completely over. Doing the 1-star align is quick and easy. Then you have lots of options on when to add the second star, and on which star (actually, any object can be used) you choose. 

 

I almost always use Polaris as one of my alignment stars with an altaz mount, FWIW. 

Hi GoFish

Thanks for your comments -  it makes me feel better I'm not alone.

I use Polaris too as the Nexstar Evolution mount is alt-az.

I'm saving up for a StarSense, not because it would save me time (I don't think it would;  I'm pretty fast now when the mount chooses to co-operate), but because saving even a few seconds of bare-hand time would make a huge difference to how long I can observe in winter.  When the temps hit -15 or -20 C (like, for about 6 months per year) my bare hands can only handle a few minutes before they can't recover, even with electrically or chemically heated gloves.  I think it's my age.  Anyway, it's hard to pack up and stow the stuff, then drive home (when necessary) when screaming in agony - even I tend to lose the thrill under those conditions!  Especially when you can *see* there are beauties in the sky to look at if you could only handle the pain.


Edited by luaprelkniw, 28 May 2019 - 10:05 PM.

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#337 GoFish

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 12:15 AM

My main incentive to buy StarSense Autoalign (SSA) was for getting objects as close to dead center as possible. And for this it has worked really well. 

 

For the times when the basic SSA pointing model is not quite good enough to be dead center, SSA can add an alignment point, platesolve it’s location, then slew (nearly) exactly to the object you’re looking for.

 

Standalone platesolving apps can do this, too, but I find it more convenient to use SSA when acquiring objects for EAA observing. 

 

I’ve gotten pretty fast at centering 2 stars and aligning my CPC scope, so SSA doesn’t save me much time with the altaz. 

 

But it definitely both saves time and is more accurate than manually aligning a GEM. The standard 2+4 manual alignment for GEM’s is a slow process. I think SSA has a time advantage here and does quite well with only 4 platesolves. The ability of SSA to add 10 more alignment points is a huge advantage when you need to really nail a GoTo, like when a small sensor camera is involved. 



#338 luaprelkniw

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 09:43 AM

Thanks GoFish

 

My main incentive to buy StarSense Autoalign (SSA) was for getting objects as close to dead center as possible. And for this it has worked really well. 

 

 



#339 Dave_L

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 11:04 PM

I found the following link to be really useful. www.latlong.net/convert-address-to-lat-long.html It converts any street address to both Lat/Long and GPS coordinates. Also, if you are in the middle of a national park or somewhere without a street address, the site allows you to drop a pin anywhere on the map to get Lat/Long in decimal and also GPS coordinates (minutes, seconds). It's a nice resource.

 

The last couple nights I used Merak & Antares for my manual two star alignment and the alignment seemed spot on no matter where I pointed the scope. My rule of thumb is that a good initial alignment should include two stars on opposite sides of the sky and avoid using Polaris.

 

I am familiar with how to replace an alignment star, but would someone remind me how to "add" one or more alignment starts after a successful manual two star align? Does this help accuracy?


Edited by Dave_L, 24 June 2019 - 11:13 PM.


#340 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 11:18 PM

Hi Dave,

 

It is only possible to add additional alignment stars/points with the StarSense hand control or the SkyPortal/SkySafari apps when used with Celestron WiFi.  In those scenarios additional stars/points do improve GoTo accuracy.

 

For the NexStar hand control, you can replace alignment stars if accuracy across the sky is poor or you can use Precise GoTo (extremely accurate GoTo for a single object) and Sync (improve accuracy in the area about the Sync star) to help out.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#341 luaprelkniw

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 02:57 PM

I know this thread is practically dead, but I just learned something of interest to Canadian members.  I tried to order a StarSense from an American supplier online, and they refused my order on security grounds.  I doubt that *all* US suppliers hold to this strict policy, but obviously it can happen.  I was quite surprised, but perhaps I shouldn't be.  If I were to attempt to buy an image intensifier tube, it would be *definitely* be turned down (after all, don't most international spies pose as amateur astronomers?)



#342 junomike

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 05:09 PM

I know this thread is practically dead, but I just learned something of interest to Canadian members.  I tried to order a StarSense from an American supplier online, and they refused my order on security grounds.  I doubt that *all* US suppliers hold to this strict policy, but obviously it can happen.  I was quite surprised, but perhaps I shouldn't be.  If I were to attempt to buy an image intensifier tube, it would be *definitely* be turned down (after all, don't most international spies pose as amateur astronomers?)

Sounds like a glitch within there own website/software.

Move to another Vendor who ships to Canada.



#343 luaprelkniw

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 06:36 PM

Yes, Mike, I'll use a different vendor.  Unless I find a used StarSense at a good price (on CN for example) I'll likely purchase from a Canadian supplier.  For the majority of my astro equipment, I've found I usually save money by buying in Canada.

 

Say, that's not the photo you used previously is it?  It's a real nice display of your scopes!  (You would need a crew of helpers to point them all!)



#344 junomike

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 09:58 PM

Yes, Mike, I'll use a different vendor.  Unless I find a used StarSense at a good price (on CN for example) I'll likely purchase from a Canadian supplier.  For the majority of my astro equipment, I've found I usually save money by buying in Canada.

 

Say, that's not the photo you used previously is it?  It's a real nice display of your scopes!  (You would need a crew of helpers to point them all!)

Used this Avatar for some time now.  I have all those and a few more but only use a few as my main OTA's.



#345 Brad1943

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 09:06 PM

Sorry if this is the wrong topic, I'm not good at navigating this forum yet. Anywayz, I would like to know how to add alignment references when using Skyportal/Skysafari with Starsense. I get through Connect and Align OK, but don't see how to add alignment refs. Please enlighten me. Thanks.



#346 Brad1943

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 09:17 PM

Me again (so soon). I just thought of something else to ask. I'm using SkySync GPS, which has a coiled AUX cable + an AUX connector at the bottom of it. Would it work if I run a cable from the bottom connector to the AUX connector on the mount, instead of using the coiled cable? I'm asking because I don't really like the coiled cable. I might prefer to use a longer straight cable connected to the bottom connector. I suppose I could just try it, but don't want to risk blowing it up.



#347 Michael_Swanson

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 09:41 PM

Hi Brad,

 

From my book, The NexStar User's Guide II:

 

Adding StarSense Alignment Points with SkyPortal
• Using the on-screen arrow buttons, slew the ‘scope to your desired alignment
point. Finish the slew movement with the right and up arrow buttons to eliminate
the effects of gear backlash.
• Tap Align in SkyPortal.
• Tap Align again to acquire the alignment point image.
• After the image capture, SkyPortal will briefly display the number of stars
detected (up to 100) and confirm when the “plate” solution is complete.
• Up to 10 alignment points, scattered around the sky, can be added.

 

Regarding connecting SkySync GPS to the mount I don't think anyone has ever tried that.  In theory, it could be wired internally such that it could work, but without opening one up (and I don't have one) I can't tell you how it is wired.

 

Best regards,
Mike Swanson
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide II"
Author of "The NexStar Users Guide"
Author of "NexStar Observer List"
https://www.nexstarsite.com



#348 thundherr

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 05:03 PM

Just a couple alignment tips here.

1/ if your Nexstar does not have index pointers for getting the ota orthagonal(perpendicular to the vertical axis of the mount) make some. It's easy, and speeds up the alignment process.

2/ Most of the time, a 2-star alignment well done is just as accurate as the auto-align, and simpler to do. No lat/long entries to do, no finding North. However, if you use the 2-star method, it will NOT goto the moon/planets unless you go into the Menu, and input date/time.

3/ Best Pair is a great little Windows app for determining the best alignment stars for a given time/evening.

4/ Speaking of Alignment Stars, don't do what I was doing, and assume that the ones the scope would choose are the best ones. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. Play with it a little. For example with my N8, the old Vega-Arcturus pair is OK if you want to explore in, and around Lyra, but Altair-Arcturus gives better accuracy in, and around Cygnus, and coincidentally U Major.

5/ This is a big secret here: You DON'T have to use the goto universally! Yes, it's a great tool, but not critical. Try it the old fashioned way. Find your brighter objects with the star-pointer/finderscope. Starhop with it. Have fun. Above all, keep you sense of humor alive.

6/ That star-pointer can be replace with a magnifying finderscope relatively cheaply. No batteries to mess with, and it can help tweak a missed goto into view.

Just some tips for newb, and oldster alike. Pete jump.gif

thank you for this information.

i did not realize that the scope would not go to the moon / planets if i use the two star alignment.  

very helpful.

i thought my scope was flipping out.  LOL  

operator error.



#349 thundherr

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 05:07 PM

do you have a good recommendation for a model of magnifying finderscope to replace the small finder scope on a celestron 8se.  



#350 GoFish

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 09:56 AM

thank you for this information.

i did not realize that the scope would not go to the moon / planets if i use the two star alignment.  

very helpful.

i thought my scope was flipping out.  LOL  

operator error.

The scope will go to the Moon and planets if you use two star alignment (or one star or solar system alignments). Perhaps the information you referenced was accurate 15 years ago when it was posted. But assuming you take the time to enter location, date, and time (which should always be done IMO), then you can go to all solar system objects. 




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