Ugh, setting circles. The setting circles on my CG-5 are crap and I never learned how to use them. I had someone tell me one time that they were more ornamental than functional! Unfortunately, I've never really learned to use a star atlas either, which is probably why I have such a hard time finding objects with the Alt-Az mount today.
I like my manual CG-5 so much because it makes finding DSOs simple. The RA knob moves the OTA 10 Minutes RA per turn and the Dec knob moves the OTA 2.5 degrees Declination per turn. So I just line up on a nearby star with a known address, turn the knobs the right number of rotations to compensate for the address change, and I'm looking at the new target. For example, to target the NGC 6939 cluster, I would first center Vega in the eyepiece then jump to NGC6939 with 11-1/2 RA knob turns going east and 8-3/4 Dec knob turns going north. Very easy as long as I know the starting and ending coordinates. I keep a long list of DSO and star addresses.
Creating my DSO list with addresses when I started in the late 1990's took some time, but was easy enough. My main challenge was identifying stars near the target at night. A planisphere and dim little red light helped with that. The phone apps today can easily identify the stars and provide their coordinates, but I don't like using the phone because the screen messes with my dark adapted eyesight. I even glued 2 extra red filters over my red flashlight to keep it super dim.
Yes, I've heard that many setting circles on mounts are too small to be useful in the field. But even if they were much larger, I would still not like them. Too much math and futzing around for my taste, especially in the dark.
Your method of locating objects is unusual, maybe unique. I don't think I've heard of anyone else doing it this way. It sounds something like carrying around a telephone book to keep track of people's addresses ... except you would write the telephone book yourself in advance. It would work, but maybe not the most efficient technique since GPS is built into our phones now.
Nowadays we can have a good chart system downloaded to our phones. SkySafari Pro is probably the best. Most of the time I use SSP on my iPhone. I can easily switch to all red on the phone, and set the display brightness to the dimmest level. This is good enough for most objects. Try it. You don't need the absolute deepest level of dark adaptation for maybe 95% of the objects up there. (I've observed about 2000 DSO.) I think many amateur astronomers have some sort of fetish about achieving perfect dark adaptation.
If I want to observe really dim fuzzies, I place a piece of Xtra Dark Cling filter on the phone. AFAIK, this is the best filter for display devices in astronomy. Too bad they don't sell it anymore.
Edited by Sarkikos, 18 October 2021 - 08:09 AM.