Attn: Celestron, Meade, Explore Scientific, etc.-for several years now I have been unhappy with how unnecessarily complicated it is to set up a scope on a mount and get it aligned. I'm no neophyte, but have been active for many years and struggled for most of it with recalcitrant equipment and software. Many wasted hours that could have been spent viewing. If I had a penny for every swear word an astrophotgrapher has uttered trying to set up a scope at various star parties, I'd have much better equipment and be driving a Lambo.
I talked to a representative of a major retailer, and he responded to my complaints with " that's how we sell you more stuff". For what its worth, that is true, I bought a computer controlled mount that needed a two star alignment and have added a GPS, and a sensor that sets up the mount by taking pictures of the sky and comparing them to its own star maps. After all this, on line, and the retailer representative, both advised me to " hit the master reset before every viewing session". Which means wasting 30 minutes or more. About the time a two star alignment takes.
As far as the 'selling more stuff' comment goes, I think you vendors should all take a look at online sales websites around the USA and assess how many scopes and mounts are for sale. Probably a small fraction of the equipment sitting in dark corners in garages, unused and unwanted. Yes you made a sale, but have you really thought about it? All of these people are potential customers for better equipment over the years as they progress with this hobby. You have lost all these potential customers, as they gave up out of frustration. How many future customers have you lost, after watching their parents struggle unsuccessfully with with entry level automated mounts? You have, and are, frittering away millions in profits, not to mention doing astronomy a disservice in general.
How about a reasonably priced mount with GPS and starmap capability that doesn't need a polar alignment. How about "plug and play"? Maybe an 80MM refractor with electronically enhanced viewing? Do this for less than $1000.00, and I predict you'll have a Happy Christmas, and a much brighter future.
I am sad for you. You sound very frustrated.
If you are going to image, then a polar alignment is essential and to automate that, you would need a scope with motors to correct the altitude and azimuth or you would have to build a guider into the mount. Imagine how expensive that would be.
People don't want to spend a lot of money on stuff and adding a lot of features raises the price.
If you are visual only, here is a mount that has built in GPS, one star alignment (though the mount has to be leveled, but this is made easy in this design) and can mount two telescopes. It is over your budget, but it is one of the simplest and sturdiest mounts you can buy at the price.
I have the older version of this called the Minitower Pro. I have owned mounts costing up to $3500, and this has by far been my favorite mount ever. It is small and light, sturdy, easy to set up, has built in GPS, great pointing accuracy even with just a one star alighment, and carries two telescopes.
But you still have to level it. It sounds like you just want to put the mount on the ground, turn it on, put on your telescope, push a button, and start observing.
If you are imaging though, and you move the scope, then your life will be a bit more complicated and even when portable, very expensive mounts will still require a lot of effort to polar align.
If that is bothersome and you image, consider image intensified or EAA. Perfect alignment is not at all essential.
I took these by hand holding my cell phone to the eyepiece of my iOptrion Minitower Pro (North American) and my 12" dob (Crescent). There are no wires, no external power supplies, no polar alignment, no software processing, or any or that stuff. I only took the picture to share. I can see this view at the eyepiece.
This next picture was taken from my Bortle 8 sky. Again, just a cell phone held to the eyepiece and while the mount is Go2, it is only Alt-az so it is not a polar aligned scope. For a couple of seconds exposure time, you really don't even need that.
Sure. they are not perfect like you can do with a good mount, a careful polar alignment, a good camera, a few hours of time, and some processing, but it sure is simple.. LOL.
EAA cameras are a bit more complex, but they also don't need exact polar alignment and are much less expensive than image intensified, though they do require a bit of software work. Because the exposure times are short, it greatly simplifies things. If you want things simplified, I recommend EAA / image intensified.
So, if you are that frustrated, don't blame the consumer companies that strive to make their equipment as affordable as possible. That won't do anything to make you feel better. Consider your tolerance for things that cause you pain, and consider taking a different path.
That is why I do image intensified these days. And even taking these snapshots is more bother than I want in my life. I am mostly content to just look at these things rather than take picture of them, but I do that to share what I can see at the eyepiece. I am not particularly into using any kind of camera but other NV astronomers are getting amazing results, but again, I just want simple.
And if you want simple, consider other options that eliminate a lot of the things that frustrate you. Your post is not going to change anything, and generally if you can't change the environment, you are better off adapting to it as best as you can.
If you want really beautiful long exposure astro-photos, unless you have a permanent pier and good mount, expect a lot of frustration and even a bigger checkbook won't fix polar alignment, though it might make it a bit easier.
Edited by Eddgie, 04 November 2019 - 10:24 AM.