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EQ Mount Daytime Alignment?

beginner eq equipment Meade moon mount observing
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#1 Splodger

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 05:51 PM

Hi,

I’m pretty new to observing and my primary interests are the moon and planets. I have a new setup arriving shortly - Meade LX85 150mm f/12 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo EQ. I’ve never used an EQ Mount before, and even though I’ve done my homework, the one thing (so far anyway) that is vexing me is daytime alignment.

As you know one of the great things about observing the moon is that it can often be done in the daytime. I was keen then to find out how to align the scope so that it will remain locked onto and follow the moon. Having thoroughly read the manual (and done a thorough search) I found no reference to aligning to the moon, which I was able to do with my previous, simpler Alt Az Mount.

I emailed Mead and was told stars are needed for an alignment.


Please know that I’m certainly not complaining about Meade or their Customer Service in any way shape or form.

That said, even though it’s not going to be any great hardship to track her with the handset before the stars come out, I would be pleased to know if there were a way to do it.

Thanks.



#2 homerdt

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 06:58 PM

At least they got back to you. I myself have not heard of a way to align during the day.


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#3 jdupton

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 07:16 PM

Splodger,

 

   I am not familiar with the firmware / hand control for the Meade LX85. Does it support a "one star alignment" method where you can align using a single star? If it does support a one star alignment, I can describe how I align my Orion / SkyWatcher mounts in the daytime. It doesn't allow precision GoTos but does work well enough to keep the Sun, Moon, or Venus in view for up to 10 or 15 minutes at a time while observing. GoTo operations will be hit or miss unless you have a wide field of view. They can get close but are not exact.

 

 

John



#4 Astro-Master

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 07:59 PM

If you have a back yard that is safe, set up your mount at night and leave the mount covered up when you're done for next time, just bring in the scope.  Just be careful not to bump the mount, and it should remain polar aligned.


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#5 Splodger

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 08:33 PM

Splodger,

I am not familiar with the firmware / hand control for the Meade LX85. Does it support a "one star alignment" method where you can align using a single star? If it does support a one star alignment, I can describe how I align my Orion / SkyWatcher mounts in the daytime. It doesn't allow precision GoTos but does work well enough to keep the Sun, Moon, or Venus in view for up to 10 or 15 minutes at a time while observing. GoTo operations will be hit or miss unless you have a wide field of view. They can get close but are not exact.


John


John,

Yes, it does support 1 Star alignment. I would be glad to learn your method.

Many thanks

#6 PatrickVt

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 08:37 PM

The best you can do in daytime is level the mount, pointing north, and set your lattitude.  This should track the moon reasonably well until nighttime and the stars begin to appear.  

 

Patrick


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#7 jdupton

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:01 PM

Splodger,

 

   Here is how I set up my Orion (/ SkyWatcher) mounts for daytime use on the Sun, Moon, and planets. I use my smartphone running a "Level" App and "Compass" App which can measure pretty accurately. The Level App has a resolution of 0.1° (although actual accuracy is surely much worse). If you don't have a smartphone, a digital level / inclinometer such as those sold by Harbor Freight can be used.

  • Set up the tripod, and carefully level it.
    Normally, careful leveling of a tripod is a waste of time as the normal GoTo alignment process of most mounts will take any leveling error into account. However, for this method, we do not want any interaction at all between the altitude (up and down) adjustments of the mount and its azimuthal (left and right) motions.
     
  • Place the mount head onto the tripod with the RA axis pointed roughly north. 
    You can usually get to within 5° or much better by using a "Compass" App on a phone. Tighten any bolts or screws between the mount head and the tripod as usual.
     
  • Mount the telescope onto the mount.
    Use your normal method as you would usually do after adding the counterweights (to keep the telescope from swinging wildly in case the RA clutches don't hold).
     
  • Balance the telescope as usual.
    Ensure the telescope is well balanced in both RA and DEC.
     
  • Put the telescope / mount into the "Home Position".
    Home Position is with telescope parallel to the RA axis, and counterweights down. Use your phone level to make sure the counterweight bar is pointing down and not skewed to the left or right.
     
  • With the telescope in the Home Position, place your phone on edge along the top of the telescope tube.
    Use the altitude (elevation) adjustment control of the mount to change the vertical pointing of the telescope to match you Latitude. For me here at 30.6° north latitude, I adjust the altitude screw on the mount so that the phone level app shows 30.6° as exactly as I can.
     
  • Now, rotate the telescope in RA only (not DEC) until the counterweight bar is horizontal.
    Place your phone level app on edge along the counterweight bar and make small adjustments until it is as level as you can make it. Lock the RA axis.
     
  • Next, place the phone level along the (now) top of the telescope tube.
    The tube is still pointed north. What was the side of the telescope tube is now the top since you rotated the RA by 90° in the step before this. With the phone oriented lengthwise along the top of the tube, loosen the DEC axis clutches and rotate the telescope in DEC (only) until it once again reads an angle equal to your Latitude. Lock the DEC clutches again.
     
  • Finally, loosen the RA lock and rotate the telescope in RA back to the Home Position.
    Once again, use the phone level app to verify that the counterweight bar is pointed down and not slanted left or right.

     
      At this point, the telescope should be in a true Home Position as accuratly as possible. In addition, the mount should be fairly accurately set to your Latitude (to within 0.1° or so, not counting any Cone Error).

  • Now you are ready to power on the mount. Do so.
     
  • Initialize the Hand control by entering the information it needs.
    Enter or confirm the Latitude, Longitude, and elevation above sea level (if asked). Be as accurate as possible.
    Enter or verify the date and time as accurately as possible. Be especially careful entering the time. Get the exact time from the GPS in you phone. Enter it to within a few seconds if you can. (An error of 30 seconds in time can throw off alignments as much as 0.1 degree adding to the errors we will normally have with this procedure.)
     
  • After initializing the Hand Control basic data, start a One Star Alignment.
    Pick any star the mount may suggest and let it Go To that star's position. Something in the vague vicinity of you target will help but it should at least be on the same side of the meridian as your ultimate target.
    Do not bother trying to see the the alignment star the Hand Control picked. Do not use the hand control manual slew buttons. Simply confirm the star alignment without moving the mount. Let the mount think it nailed the One Star Alignment.
     
  • Now pick the daytime object you wish to observe and do a GoTo operation to it.
    If the Time, Date and Location information you entered were accurate, the mount should get to the right region of the sky. It will not likely be on target. If you were trying to observe the Moon, it may not even be in the finder. You could be 5° to 10° away. That's OK. Don't despair.
     
  • Now, put the hand control down and do not touch any of the Hand Box controls.
    Do not unlock the RA or DEC axes. The next step will use only the azimuth (left right) adjustment of the mount head on the tripod.
     
  • Using only the azimuth control screws of the mount, try to adjust the mount to get closer to the target.
    You can make an adjustment of the azimuth screw and check the pointing of the scope. You should be able to get the target (like the Moon) into the field of the finder.

     
      The altitude adjustment of the mount should already be close since you set it to within 0.1° (or so) using the phone level app. It is usually best to leave that adjustment alone. The adjustments you make to the azimuth are correcting for not having a very accurate way to point the mount due north when you first set it up.
     
      When adjusting the azimuth screw for the mount, you may not be able to center the target exactly in the finder much less the eyepiece. Just adjust it so that it is as close as possible.

  • Now, lock down the azimuth adjustment screws.
     
  • Center the target using the Hand Control.
    Pick up the hand control and use the slow motion slew controls to center the target in the finder and eyepiece.
    Perform a Sync Operation if your Hand Control / Mount / Firmware have such a command.

     
   You should now be aligned well enough to find and track other daytime targets. I have used this method to set up in the daytime for planetary occultations and solar events such as eclipses, transits and such. I usually only have to make small adjustments as the object slowly moves out of the field of view. If all the steps are done carefully, I usually only need a slight adjustment every 10 to 15 minutes on planets or the Sun. The moon needs slightly more frequent nudges since it is moving with respect to the solar rate at a rate of roughly 1/2° per hour unless you can enable a "Lunar Tracking Rate" in your hand control menus.
  
   I hope this makes sense. I typed it up rather quickly. If you spot an error or typo, let me know and I'll correct it. I can also edit for clarifications if I left you confused on some points.
  
  
John


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#8 Splodger

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Posted 16 May 2019 - 09:52 PM

Splodger,
 
   Here is how I set up my Orion (/ SkyWatcher) mounts for daytime use on the Sun, Moon, and planets.

  John


John, Good lord! Thank you so very very much. I’ll put this into action once the clouds break and report

#9 Phil Sherman

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 06:53 AM

I have no doubt that John's procedure works but you might want to search this forum for "daytime mount alignment". There was a paper written about this some years ago that just uses a level and the mount's hand controller to do the alignment. When I use this procedure, I do the final azimutth adjustment by doing a goto to Venus, which should be visible in your scope during the day. I don't use Venus when it's close to the sun. The moon can be used as an alternative to Venus when the planet isn't a safe target but the moon is too big to accurately set the azimuth.

 

Very few EQ mounts have a flat surface in the right place to accurately determine when the mount is in the home position. This makes it very difficult to get the counterweight shaft "vertical" to set the home position,


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#10 Splodger

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Posted 17 May 2019 - 07:58 PM

Polar Scope Align Pro $1.99

 

Thanks everyone for your help! I plan on learning the methods you detailed.

 

That said, I'm not exactly technically minded, so I'll go the easy route if I can find one. I found a very handy app for the iPhone which which helps with using a polar scope, and also daytime alignment without a polar scope. Not sure if there is an android app, but if you have an iPhone you can check it out here.



#11 Nippon

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Posted 18 May 2019 - 10:57 AM

If your mount needs to be aligned before it tracks in RA just lie to it. Pick an alignment star from the menu, it should only give you stars that are above the horizon, when it stops just push align. Next send it to the Moon which it should get close to and center it with your RA and DEC buttons to center it and enjoy. If it has solar system align just pick the moon, center it and push align.


Edited by Nippon, 18 May 2019 - 10:58 AM.

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