So I have some dumb questions about my CGEMii mount / EdgeHD 8 combo, with StarSense. I have gotten partial answers to my questions by looking at lots of other posts on CN, but not enough to make it fully click in my brain, so I will try to explain the concepts I don't understand. The first night I took my scope out, I did the whole StarSense Auto alignment, did the StarSense calibration, did an All Star Polar Align, then another StarSense Auto Align. It centered everything really good in the eyepiece. I am only doing visual for now, no astrophotography yet. I've taken my scope out a few more times, and I have noticed that sometimes it does not center the object quite as well in the eyepiece. For example, the other night, as a test I repeatedly did a GOTO to Rigel, Betelgeuse, and Sirius over and over again. I used the stock 40mm eyepiece the scope came with, and I removed the diagonal, using only the eyepiece inserted into the visual back. All 3 stars appeared in the eyepiece, but they were all off-center. Best way I can describe is they were to the right of center, at the 3 o clock position in the eyepiece. I went to some other stars in different parts of the sky, and same thing. The star showed up in the eyepiece, but off center by the same amount. Here are the questions I have about this whole scenario:
#1. When I am using my scope with a low power 40mm eyepiece, should I expect stars to be almost dead center if my alignment was successful, or is this asking too much and it's perfectly acceptable/normal for the stars to be in the eyepiece, just not dead center? What about a high powered eyepiece like 9mm? Do expect to have to center the star in a 40mm piece, before you pop in the 9mm eyepiece?
#2. If I am doing visual ONLY, is it good enough to point the alignment peg to North when setting up the tripod, and just do the StarSense auto align, and not worry about doing an ASPA after, followed by another auto align? How are GOTO's and tracking affected if I am not perfectly polar aligned for visual only? I have read that a "rough" polar alignment is sufficient for visual, but what does that mean? To those who do visual on a CGEM, and only looking for accurate GOTO and tracking, how far do you go to polar alight your mount? I am just trying to get a sense of how accurate my polar alignment must be, if I am only doing visual.
#3. Is it possible my GOTO's behave this way because my polar alignment is off, or do you think it has more to do with the StarSense needing to be re-calibrated?
#4. I understand that by adding additional alignment stars in the hand controller, it makes the GOTO's more accurate. That part I understand, but what I am still confused about, is does that help my GOTO's for JUST that alignment session until I power off the mount, or does this also affect the GOTO accuracy of future alignment sessions? I might be wrong, but it seems like it saves these additional alignment stars in the hand controller. Is there ever an instance where you would actually want to delete all the alignment stars and start over, or do you just leave your additional alignment stars alone once you have them saved?
#5. If doing visual only, and your polar alignment is not perfect, does the mount compensate for it somehow? Like does it track in RA and DEC, or RA only? I noticed there is a setting in the hand controller to have it track in RA, and also RA and DEC. The default is RA. Do you guys ever ENABLE the RA/DEC tracking in the hand controller, and if so, why?
One other comment I want to make is I understand so many other people's frustration with the azimuth adjustment on the CGEM, it is NOT smooth at all. When I do an All Star Polar Align, it is extremely difficult to tighten down the azimuth screws and get the star in just the right spot. The altitude adjustment isn't so bad. One thing that really, really **** me off above all though, is after I get my az and alt adjusted, and I go to tighten down the CENTER bolt underneath the tripod, the WHOLE THING MOVES and throws off my perfect, dead-center alignment!!! So, I have taken matters into my own hands, and I followed the suggestion of another CN user, and I am sanding off the paint from the surface of the mount, adding a layer of PTFE teflon I ordered off amazon to both sides, and see if that helps. Whole solution will cost under $30 by the time I am done with it. If this does not work well enough, I am going to spend the money on that expensive Starizona Landing Pad for the CGEM. I really don't WANT to spend the money, but if the teflon does not work, I will do it. If my polar alignment does not need to be super accurate for visual use though, I might not worry about it until I try my hand at astrophotography. Again, sorry for all the dumb questions, but I am just trying to get these basic concepts explained to me in a way I understand.