Congrats! But you might be trying too many things at once. Tackle your difficulties sequentially:
(1) Locating objects (and enjoying them): maybe do a few nights in a row with just one of your scopes so you get good at manual or GoTo then move to the other (I'd probably suggest to get good at manual star-hopping before you switch to GoTo, but that's just my hunch). As suggested above, start by easy bright ones so it's easy to confirm them. M8 and M17 are wonderful and not hard to locate, same for M5. Returning to ones you've found is also good training… I mean, M81 is not banal to find manually.
(2) "Manually guiding": you mean tracking? That's as easy as turning the RA knob but if you're having difficulty you probably need to improve your polar alignment. Remember that for visual, all you need to do is to approximate the position of Polaris. Even though you don't have a polar scope (why not get one? the CG-4 one is cheap), just remove the polarscope caps and look through the hole. If Polaris is there, you're more than good for visual. When time comes for astrophotography, you'll have to get a lot better than this, but for now…
(3) Astrophotography: with the gear you have, start by just doing some lunar photography. Get a nice used DSLR if you don't have one, the appropriate T-Ring, and a 20$ intervalometer. I suggest using your Newton on the manual mount (the C6 needs a reducer to frame the whole moon). And shoot. The pic below has been taken with the exact same set as yours: the good ole Omni 150 on the CG4 and it's my best full-disk Moon so far. Long exposure deep-sky AP? Leave that for when your basics are solid (polar alignment, finding, framing) and you have some money for new gear (yes, I'm afraid…). Thinking of it now may be the one factor that is holding you back.
Good tips! I know I don't have the gear for AP, but just dipping my toes in the water. Yes, I misspoke, I meant finding anything by turning the knobs. It doesn't matter how much I study a star chart or picture, as soon as I'm on the finder scope I'm lost. I'll keep plugging away at it, as I learn something every time I take my stuff out. My polar alignment skill is absolute trash, but I keep breaking my knees and back trying. but the big thing for me is, that I'm having fun failing. Frustrating, but still fun.
Forgive me if I allow myself to give two more little unsolicited bits of advice on using your CG-4 because my impression is that you're suffering needlessly, and I've been exactly in your shoes:
1. Polar alignment: that's the easiest part. I used to go crazy with it to the point that I drift aligned for visual. Sheer madness. Let me emphasise it again: for the purpose of visual observation, polar alignment means "pointing your mount at Polaris". Make sure that the altitude knob on your CG-4 corresponds to your latitude, then point the "N" leg of your mount to Polaris. It's good enough like that. If you want to confirm, just peep through the hole where the polar scope should go and see if Polaris is in there somewhere (yes sometimes the alt knob is off… if so, trust your eyes not the knob). If you don't have the luxury of having Polaris in view, you need to use a compass but it's essentially the same process. Done!
2. Finding stuff manually… that's a little more difficult so some patience and practice are required. I see you have a 9x50 finder and that should be good enough for any sky. Possible causes that come to mind: (1) your finder is not RACI and you get confused as to what's where… basically you just have to turn your chart upside down (and yes, a RACI finder with a red dot make life easier I think); (2) you do not adjust for the direction you're pointing at when looking in the finder… for instance if you look East (naked eye), down is East, up is West, left is N and right is S; if in doubt, I typically try to see star patterns in the chart and recognise them in the finder's eyepiece before I move, so I'm sure about where West, North… are; (3) if Polar alignment is WAY off, star-hopping with a chart becomes difficult because your RA knob will not move your scope E-W and Dec will not move it N-S; (4) you're not yet good at figuring out practical star-hops to a target: in this case, just get a copy of Turn Left at Orion at it'll teach you. Other causes could be possible: try and troubleshoot.
Tonight, if clear, do a rough polar alignment, pick an easy hop and try to do it. Re-find M13, for instance: center your finder on bright Zeta Hercules, then move your Dec knob North until you see the iconic "fuzzy dot between two bright stars" in your finder. Get this one, and you'll be well upon your way!!
Clear skies, good luck, and apologies for the unsolicited advice!
Edited by radiofm74, 08 July 2022 - 01:28 AM.