Lots of great responses! Thank you. Multi-quote is a bit different than some forum software I use, so apologies if I missed anyone below!
At any rate, I believe that Telrad is an ultimate pointing solution as soon as you have a digital star chart capable of complete Telrad support. I don't use any other finders on my z12 dob for the past 10 years, even though always installing the optical one just for wide views. However, if you cannot see the Big Dipper's stars from your observing location even after good long dark adaptation Telrad will do no better than an ordinary red dot finder.
Suburban area. Most of the stars used for alignment of the Celestron Goto are visible, so I'm thiking a Telrad or Red Dot would be workable for that, especially if used in conjunction with a solid finder scope.
Any chance of a location for you?
When looking for bits like this it is often a good idea to locate a club and have a look at and if possible through a few finders. Also just see where and how they fit.
There are 4 or 5 different types, thought there were 5 but brain can only think of 4 - brain hasn't yet woken up. You are likely to find that one suits you and some you just do not get on with. I like a red dot and cannot get on with a telrad, there seems a greater number of people that are the other way round. Friend has no problem with a simple straight throiugh on his dobsonian, usually they are swapped out immediatly.
Between Baltimore and DC, US East Coast. There are a couple of clubs in the area, but most are taking a winter break at the moment. Plus, though I'm sure plenty of folks would be more than willing to help, I want to try and at least get the set up and alignment done on my own before taking my scope to a star party.
I use a cheap red dot finder. I am able to put an object within the view of 8mm eyepiece (0.4 degrees TFoV) with it. Magnifying finder is useful for starhopping to some targets, but I could live without it.
There are also some finders that use regular eyepieces, so maybe you can use one of them with long ER eyepiece.
I've seen some folks using small (50 to 80mm) refactors with short focal lengths as finders. It seems like it might be overkill for my purposes, but using a "comfortable" eyepiece would be nice. Astrophotography interests me and that seems like such a refractor would be a good option for an entry-level guide scope, but I'm still trying to find alignment stars so that is a ways off.
If your skies are dark, a Telrad is workable for most things and should be work reasonably well for GOTO alignment even with significant light pollution.
But, I assume your 6x30 is a straight through finder. My question:
Are you closing one eye when you use it? If so, I suggest opening both eyes to start with. When you do this, you will see the cross hairs from the finder with it's star field and superimposed on that is the naked eye star field and the alignment star will be very bright.
You use the controller to move the alignment star towards the cross hairs. When it pops into the field of view, it can be quite surprising because of it's brightness. At that point, you close your other eye and center the alignment star in the finder.
If the finder is aligned and you are using you lowest power, widest field eyepiece, the alignment star should be in the field of view.
The both eyes open method with a straight through finder has the advantage over a red dot or Telrad in that the straight through finder can be more precisely aligned because of the magnification and it has essentially zero parallax error. It also has the advantage that you already own it.
The actual position needed to look through the finder can be awkward, you may want to adjust the tripod height and use a chair, an adjustable chair is best.
Thanks for the tips. I had been closing one eye, but I'll try applying your suggestions!
When I first tried my Red dot stock finder I had the issue of the dot completely covering the target star.
So I purchased and installed the Celestron up-grade right angle finder 9 X 50, it has finer cross hairs in the eyepiece than the stock single cross hair8 X 50 finder, that helped a lot, then I purchased a wide angle redicel eye piece for the scope so when I aligned the finder to the scope it was very easy to then point the scope at a target and that targe then in the scopes field of view.
You do understand that the scopes field of view is considerably less than that of the finder so having the two accurately aligned to each other is important.
If you could take a picture of your scope with the finder on it and post it, that will help us help you.
The type of mounting shoe and where it's mounted on your scope will also help us guide you.
Here is a link to an online store, this is the finder scope section,
Here's a link to our host's finder scope pages,
Finder is well aligned, though I'll admit it might have a bit of parallax error. It seemed to be good finding the moon and the one star I managed to see through it!
That's for sure. The awkward mounting of the finder could contribute to the vignetting the OP experiencing with the short stock eye relief.
In addition, I should mention, that RACI finders considered not suitable for a GEM mount and a CAT combo. As most of them cannot be rotated in the rings (to accommodate the eyepiece for various RA positions) without re-alignment. A straight-through finder is more convenient on a GEM.
Thanks for the tip on RACI. I had not thought of that, but it makes perfect sense!
And a couple pictures of my set up below. Thanks again!