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NexStar Evolution 8" + SSA Alignment Issues

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#1 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 06:47 PM

Hi Guys, I am a new owner of a Nexstar Evolution 8 Telescope and Star Sense Auto Align Camera and am hoping to get some advice with the alignment. 

 

First I tried the manual alignment using the Nexstar HC and pointed the scope at 3 bright stars. After several failed attempts I was finally able to get it to 'complete alignment' only once out of 15+ attempts. After slewing towards a few different objects, nothing was even remotely visible in my eye piece.

 

I then bought the SSA Camera as I thought this would help improve accuracy and make aligning easier and faster. still no luck. 

 

1) All firmware is up to date
2) Time/date/location is correct I think? I am using the SS Hand Controller. For the location, I enter in my GPS coordinates for a cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ontario Canada. The coordinates for the cottage on google are Longitude: -79.467100 Latitude: 45.028670. In the SS Hand Controller, I enter in Long: East 79 46' 54", Lat: North 45 03' 01" as there is no " - " option.

3) I have tried on multiple clear and moonless nights with at least 1000+ stars visible with the naked eye

4) I have all the essential dew covers / heaters for the lenses.

5) I am starting with the scope level to the horizon (pointing towards the North part of the sky) and there are no visible obstructions

 

Using the SS Hand Controller and the Auto Align, I enter in all the essential 'Time, Date, Location', the scope scans the skies for stars. I am seeing multiple coordinates appear on the screen (see file attached) and then after about 20-30 minutes I get “The alignment is not good enough for pointing the telescope, please try another alignment”.

 

I am not sure if there is something wrong with my mount or camera? Is it usually this complicated? When I bought both my scope and camera the firmware was out of date by 6 years and I was told by Celestron that apparently my equipment had been sitting on a store shelf for that long. I have been at this for over a year now and haven't been able to see anything other than the moon and planets so you can imagine how frustrated I am feeling at this point. 

 

I have emailed Celestron and am waiting for next steps. Most of the support I have gotten from them has been vague and lots of trial and error. 

 

Any advice or insight is much appreciated. Also if you can recommend any other tools or apps that will help me to find deep sky objects and centre them in the eye piece that would be amazing. 

 

Thanks,
Madeline


Edited by maddy_andromeda, 07 December 2021 - 06:50 PM.


#2 Bean614

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 06:53 PM

First, you MUST use Degrees, Minutes, Seconds!!  You can't use Decimals!!  Get rid of Google!  Either convert those decimal numbers into the required format, or get a FREE GPS App for your phone.



#3 Bean614

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 06:59 PM

Next, since you have an Evo mount, with Built-in WiFi,  why are you using the Hand Controller?   Read the Manual for the Evo and for the Starsense.  It will answer most of your questions,  and corre t mistakes you've already made. Then, come back here with more questions, and gazillions of CN members will be waiting to help.



#4 Notdarkenough

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 07:00 PM

Congratulations on the excellent scope! Well, once you can use it! Have you tried using SkyPortal/SkySafari-iOS/Android app instead of the Hand Control for your alignment, or with CPWI on a laptop? Knowing if the problem exists regardless of Evolution connection method will help us find a place to start. 

 

And, just to check, you have the NexStar+ and StarSense Hand Controllers, right? I don't know what this problem involves yet, so these posts might sound  condescending; I am sorry about that.

 

Mike 



#5 skaiser

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 08:07 PM

When using the auto align with starsense, the controller should display a couple of messages ( locating, solving, solved) for each position it moves to. If it will not solve for a image location and you know it’s a clear view, then there is probably a error in your initial settings.

The starsense is pretty robust in solving sky locations if the base settings are correct.

Also important.

The fork arm should be on the left side of the optical tube For correct balance, position the telescope so that you can read the “Evolution” nameplate
good luck



#6 GoFish

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 08:22 PM

Hi, Maddy. Welcome!  Congrats on a nice instrument. 
 

Try entering your longitude as West. Negative longitudes are west, positive are east. 
 

Oh, and never use the 3-star automatic alignment. Instead, use 2-star auto. Just as accurate and more reliable. You will just need to learn a bright star or two. Hint: Polaris is a great alignment star and is always visible. 



#7 Bean614

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:23 AM

Hi, Maddy. Welcome!  Congrats on a nice instrument. 
 

Try entering your longitude as West. Negative longitudes are west, positive are east. 
 

Oh, and never use the 3-star automatic alignment. Instead, use 2-star auto. Just as accurate and more reliable. You will just need to learn a bright star or two. Hint: Polaris is a great alignment star and is always visible. 

"Oh, and never use the 3-star automatic alignment."....?????

 

Really?  Why is that?  Is there a fact-based reason for that?



#8 MickTaurus

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:58 AM

Hi Guys, I am a new owner of a Nexstar Evolution 8 Telescope and Star Sense Auto Align Camera and am hoping to get some advice with the alignment. 

Hi Maddy, Just remember when you have hopefully got round to doing a three star auto alignment using StarSence that you calibrate StarSence to your scope.

 

Simon has done a good video found here:

https://www.youtube....h?v=Mc2iEwc-i-s

 

Good luck.



#9 Notdarkenough

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 08:05 AM

An excellent resource for Celestron NexStar owners is the NexStar Resource Site: https://www.nexstarsite.com/

 

Mike


Edited by Notdarkenough, 08 December 2021 - 02:41 PM.


#10 GoFish

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 09:11 AM

"Oh, and never use the 3-star automatic alignment."....?????

 

Really?  Why is that?  Is there a fact-based reason for that?

It does not add accuracy and is expensive in terms of time spent getting aligned. It fails to solve frequently, based on my own personal experience. It’s possible benefit, if not for the frequent failures to solve, would be that it places less demand on the user to be able to identify a few bright stars. 
 

To be clear, my comments are not related to doing a StarSense autoalignment, which is what the OP should use now that she has the SSA. My comments are relative to the 3-object autoalign manual process using the NexStar handsets. 


Edited by GoFish, 08 December 2021 - 09:15 AM.


#11 Bean614

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:01 AM

It does not add accuracy and is expensive in terms of time spent getting aligned. It fails to solve frequently, based on my own personal experience. It’s possible benefit, if not for the frequent failures to solve, would be that it places less demand on the user to be able to identify a few bright stars. 
 

To be clear, my comments are not related to doing a StarSense autoalignment, which is what the OP should use now that she has the SSA. My comments are relative to the 3-object autoalign manual process using the NexStar handsets. 

"It does not add accuracy and is expensive in terms of time spent getting aligned."

 

Well, Michael Swanson (whose books are referenced above by 'Notdarkenough') has stated several times, and in these Fora, that the 'SkyAlign' 3-Star is the Most Accurate Alignment Method to use with NexStar Alt/Az Go-To Mounts.

   Having owned EVERY Nexstar Alt/Az Go-To Mount ever made, several times over, I would agree with his assessment.


Edited by Bean614, 08 December 2021 - 10:06 AM.


#12 GoFish

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:53 AM

I have not seen any references stating that SkyAlign (SA) adds accuracy vs Auto Two Star Align (ATSA) for alt-az mounts. On the contrary, all that I have seen written, including Swanson’s web site, states that the 3rd star in the SA method is used to identify the first two objects selected by the user. Two objects (usually but not necessarily stars) are then used to create SA’s sky model, same as ATSA. 
 

I recognizethat SA could theoretically do a slightly better job if the method evaluated the 3 chosen objects and selected the “best” 2 to create the model. But it isn’t 100% clear if SA actually does this. And even if it does, it would only be an advantage if the user made a poor choice of their 2 ATSA objects. 

 

The bottom line is that both methods ultimately use 2 points to define the sky model. They just go about acquiring those 2 points in a different way. The SSA, however, is an entirely different animal and appears to do more robust sky modeling. 
 

I welcome corrections to my understanding if I’ve got this wrong. But I won’t be engaging any further because I would only be repeating what I’ve already written flowerred.gif

 

 


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#13 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:06 PM

First, you MUST use Degrees, Minutes, Seconds!!  You can't use Decimals!!  Get rid of Google!  Either convert those decimal numbers into the required format, or get a FREE GPS App for your phone.

great thanks, noted! 



#14 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:15 PM

Congratulations on the excellent scope! Well, once you can use it! Have you tried using SkyPortal/SkySafari-iOS/Android app instead of the Hand Control for your alignment, or with CPWI on a laptop? Knowing if the problem exists regardless of Evolution connection method will help us find a place to start. 

 

And, just to check, you have the NexStar+ and StarSense Hand Controllers, right? I don't know what this problem involves yet, so these posts might sound  condescending; I am sorry about that.

 

Mike 

Hi Mike, thanks for your response. I have tried using the Sky Portal app many times. I only updated the firmware recently and tried with the SS HC only, so will try again with the Sky Portal app + the new updated firmware. I do have both the NexStar+ and StarSense Hand Controllers. Will let you know how it goes.

 

I am most definitely a beginner. This is my first scope and I am realizing that I jumped in deep here, I had no idea what I was getting into at the time. I am really passionate about this and motivated to learn. I appreciate the patience and do apologize if my questions come across a bit "A,B,C" so to speak. On that note, what is CPWI?

 

Thanks, 

Madeline



#15 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:19 PM

When using the auto align with starsense, the controller should display a couple of messages ( locating, solving, solved) for each position it moves to. If it will not solve for a image location and you know it’s a clear view, then there is probably a error in your initial settings.

The starsense is pretty robust in solving sky locations if the base settings are correct.

Also important.

The fork arm should be on the left side of the optical tube For correct balance, position the telescope so that you can read the “Evolution” nameplate
good luck

This is great tip! Thank you! I will keep a close eye on how well it is able to solve the image relative to the clarity of the night sky where it is imaging. I believe I have the fork arm correct, and evolution is legible. 



#16 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:36 PM

Hi, Maddy. Welcome!  Congrats on a nice instrument. 
 

Try entering your longitude as West. Negative longitudes are west, positive are east. 
 

Oh, and never use the 3-star automatic alignment. Instead, use 2-star auto. Just as accurate and more reliable. You will just need to learn a bright star or two. Hint: Polaris is a great alignment star and is always visible. 

Interesting.. good to know. When you say 2-star auto alignment, are you referring to the alignment that is done using the Nexstar HC (without the StarSense camera)? Or Is that done through the SS camera when calibrating? or another way? I apologize, I am a bit confused and just learning my way around the terms here. 



#17 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:42 PM

Hi Maddy, Just remember when you have hopefully got round to doing a three star auto alignment using StarSence that you calibrate StarSence to your scope.

 

Simon has done a good video found here:

https://www.youtube....h?v=Mc2iEwc-i-s

 

Good luck.

Yes I was able to get past the three star alignment only once on my very first attempt and then the calibration failed for me. I have seen many of Simons videos now, and have watched this specific video probably about 10 times lol. They are great, I just feel it would be helpful if he had a more detailed version and covered troubleshooting as well. 

 

Thanks for the help!


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#18 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:44 PM

An excellent resource for Celestron NexStar owners is the NexStar Resource Site: https://www.nexstarsite.com/

 

Mike

Thank you Mike, yes I have purchased the book and am reading through a second time now to see if I have missed anything on alignment. I agree it is a very useful resource!



#19 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:48 PM

It does not add accuracy and is expensive in terms of time spent getting aligned. It fails to solve frequently, based on my own personal experience. It’s possible benefit, if not for the frequent failures to solve, would be that it places less demand on the user to be able to identify a few bright stars. 
 

To be clear, my comments are not related to doing a StarSense autoalignment, which is what the OP should use now that she has the SSA. My comments are relative to the 3-object autoalign manual process using the NexStar handsets. 

Sorry just read this! Ok got it .. that's what I thought you were referring too. I will try the two star alignment, to see how it works compared to the three-star. Thank you



#20 GoFish

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:56 PM

My bet is every method will work fine once you are out of Kazakhstan (at the 79th east meridian) and back home in Ontario.



#21 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:57 PM

My bet is every method will work fine once you are out of Kazakhstan (at the 79th east meridian) and back home in Ontario.

hahaha! I sure hope you are right. I will keep you all posted. I am learning so much, thank you guys :) 



#22 Rac19

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 07:15 PM

Have faith that StarSense AutoAlign works well, once you get the hang of itsmile.gif. I have always found the hand controller (HC) user interface difficult to use and eventually went to Celestron's CPWI software which has a much easier to use Windows graphical user interface. CPWI reads the time and location from the computer, which solves one problem.

 

To move to CPWI right now would probably just add to you list of things that you need to learn all at once, but perhaps keep it in mind for the future.

 

Once you have the location and time correct and start with the 'scope in correct position (direction and index marks), the process should take only a minute or so. You might try a StarSense Manual Alignment which allows you to point to areas if the sky free of obstructions (tress, buildings etc) to save time. The manual alignment points can be saved and used for User AutoAlign in tge future.



#23 Notdarkenough

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 07:30 PM

It is an excellent rig, I started with this scope too! I have learned that when using my Evo, the tiny little starting details almost always are where the problems live. I still reread the manuals, and even the Quick Start Guide it should have come with. As for manuals, they only live on the Celestron website, so download a manual for each component, i.e. Evolution has a manual, StarSense has a separate manual, EdgeHD has a manual, standard XLT C8s have a different manual, and optics maintenance and cleaning is worthwhile also. 

 

CPWI is a free planetarium app (available on the Celestron Software website) developed by PlaneWave Inc and now run by Celestron- hence CPWI. It is a Windows program for easy control while using a laptop, like when imaging. 

 

I started doing visual-only observations for a year before I decided to try imaging. Each version of astronomy, visual vs imagery (EAA somewhat bridges the two, check out the EAA forum; lots of Evo 8 owners in there!) requires a different skill set and specialized equipment. I recommend using your eye at first. Additionally, there is nothing like seeing Saturn and Jupiter for yourself, and the Evo 8 excells in Lunar and Planetary work. It does well with DSOs as well, but they require a solid alignment to find those faint gray blobs by eye.

 

If I were starting again, I would begin in the day. Find an object a good distance off and go through the Quick Start one step at a time. I used the HC at first until I could learn how to get stable WiFi connections. Honestly, the first month I used it I just loosened the clutches and kept it manual.

 

Lastly, do you have and astronomy club nearby? The Evo 8 is hugely popular and finding in-person help is very common and very beneficial. If you want more reading, Amazon has a super-cheap rental deal on a user's manual for the Evo and SkyPortal https://smile.amazon...7?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Make sure you update us as you go so future readers can follow your solution.

 

Mike



#24 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 07:42 PM

Have faith that StarSense AutoAlign works well, once you get the hang of itsmile.gif. I have always found the hand controller (HC) user interface difficult to use and eventually went to Celestron's CPWI software which has a much easier to use Windows graphical user interface. CPWI reads the time and location from the computer, which solves one problem.

 

To move to CPWI right now would probably just add to you list of things that you need to learn all at once, but perhaps keep it in mind for the future.

 

Once you have the location and time correct and start with the 'scope in correct position (direction and index marks), the process should take only a minute or so. You might try a StarSense Manual Alignment which allows you to point to areas if the sky free of obstructions (tress, buildings etc) to save time. The manual alignment points can be saved and used for User AutoAlign in tge future.

Wow, cool! I will keep that in mind down the road, I can see how using the CPWI would save time and be easier. 

 

When you say start the scope in the correct position, should I continue pointing at the North part of the sky? Or is any part of the sky fine as long as there are no obstructions and the scope is level (with the index marks lined up)?

 

I have not yet tried a StarSense Manual Alignment, but will add that to the list of things to try. Thanks again! I do have faith :) 



#25 maddy_andromeda

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 08:12 PM

It is an excellent rig, I started with this scope too! I have learned that when using my Evo, the tiny little starting details almost always are where the problems live. I still reread the manuals, and even the Quick Start Guide it should have come with. As for manuals, they only live on the Celestron website, so download a manual for each component, i.e. Evolution has a manual, StarSense has a separate manual, EdgeHD has a manual, standard XLT C8s have a different manual, and optics maintenance and cleaning is worthwhile also. 

 

CPWI is a free planetarium app (available on the Celestron Software website) developed by PlaneWave Inc and now run by Celestron- hence CPWI. It is a Windows program for easy control while using a laptop, like when imaging. 

 

I started doing visual-only observations for a year before I decided to try imaging. Each version of astronomy, visual vs imagery (EAA somewhat bridges the two, check out the EAA forum; lots of Evo 8 owners in there!) requires a different skill set and specialized equipment. I recommend using your eye at first. Additionally, there is nothing like seeing Saturn and Jupiter for yourself, and the Evo 8 excells in Lunar and Planetary work. It does well with DSOs as well, but they require a solid alignment to find those faint gray blobs by eye.

 

If I were starting again, I would begin in the day. Find an object a good distance off and go through the Quick Start one step at a time. I used the HC at first until I could learn how to get stable WiFi connections. Honestly, the first month I used it I just loosened the clutches and kept it manual.

 

Lastly, do you have and astronomy club nearby? The Evo 8 is hugely popular and finding in-person help is very common and very beneficial. If you want more reading, Amazon has a super-cheap rental deal on a user's manual for the Evo and SkyPortal https://smile.amazon...7?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Make sure you update us as you go so future readers can follow your solution.

 

Mike

That's great to hear! Yes, it is those tiny little details that are so easy to overlook, especially at first. I do have the manuals for the Evolution and the Star Sense, I will look into the other manuals as well. Thanks for mentioning that. 

 

Cool, I just started following the EEA forum on here. Another great suggestion! I am focused solely on observing right now and getting that solid alignment is the main goal so I can see those tiny grey blobs!!! (My driving motivation right now) 

 

I am a member at the RASC here in Toronto, and have had a few members offer to help. It has been a bit of a challenge with covid, hoping I can connect with others there in person soon.

 

I will absolutely keep everyone updated on my solution. Thanks again for the help, I have a lot of reading and practicing to do now  meditation.gif

 

One last question.. What are my chances of the alignment working with the moon in the sky? Should I bother trying? or just wait for the next new moon?




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