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Orion EQ3 Mount Issues

Beginner EQ Equipment Mount Orion Polar Alignment Visual
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#1 a.joseph21

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 11:35 AM

I am new to the astronomy hobby and I recently bought the Orion 134mm EQ Observer telescope. I have used it a few times but I keep running into the same issue when trying to see things that are not visible to the naked eye. Polar aligning this telescope as described in the manual is basically a guess. So when I try to locate a deep sky object like the Andromeda Galaxy or lets even say Jupiter by using the RA and Dec coordinates, I never land on what I am looking for. My setting circles will always show a different set of coordinates than what I used to pan to the object. I guess my question is how do I polar align accurately without a polar scope option, and how do I calibrate my setting circles?

 

On top of this, does my tripod have to be pointing in a certain direction? Should i align one of tripods feet with Polaris as well? If there is not really any option besides aligning my mount with Polaris as best I can, then what other mount could I purchase with a polar scope, that would fit my telescopes dovetail mounting bar? Any help would be really appreciated!



#2 hyiger

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 11:48 AM

A polar scope would certainly make your life easier. Without one you can use a compass that points to true North (like on a phone) to position the mount head direction and adjust the altitude of the mount for your latitude. Another method you can try is drift alignment which I've never attempted and seems tedious but doable. If you are only doing visual then you don't have to be super accurate in the alignment anyway. 

 

I haven't dealt with setting circles in a ton of years but remember just doing a rough alignment finding an easy known object like a planet or a named bright star and then setting the circles for that object. After that it was reasonably easy to find other objects (with some star hopping involved)


Edited by hyiger, 01 October 2022 - 11:49 AM.

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#3 a.joseph21

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 12:01 PM

A polar scope would certainly make your life easier. Without one you can use a compass that points to true North (like on a phone) to position the mount head direction and adjust the altitude of the mount for your latitude. Another method you can try is drift alignment which I've never attempted and seems tedious but doable. If you are only doing visual then you don't have to be super accurate in the alignment anyway. 

 

I haven't dealt with setting circles in a ton of years but remember just doing a rough alignment finding an easy known object like a planet or a named bright star and then setting the circles for that object. After that it was reasonably easy to find other objects (with some star hopping involved)

I appreciate the quick feedback! I suppose ill give the compass method a try. I would align my RA axis to true North then correct?



#4 hcf

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 12:05 PM

For visual observing (as opposed to astrophotography) an approximate polar alignment (compass and latitude dial) is good enough.

 

Using setting circles on an eq mount can be tricky. Read up on it and watch videos like this

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=Tft-5QJgnto

 

A lot of people don't use setting circles on EQ mounts to find object. They use "starhopping". Another item to google and search in these forums.

 

My advice would be to try to get the most out of your scope before you decide to upgrade. You can see a lot with the scope you have. The weak point is mount/tripod, you might want to keep the legs unextended for more stability and get a chair of appropriate height.


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#5 hyiger

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 12:19 PM

I appreciate the quick feedback! I suppose ill give the compass method a try. I would align my RA axis to true North then correct?

You align the mount head (or center of the RA axis) to true north. If you put your scope into the home position, example: https://www.myastros...om/homeposition and if you are reasonably polar aligned you should be able to see Polaris in your field of view with a low-power eyepiece. It won't be in the center but off to the side. Now imagine a clock face with the North celestial pole in the center and Polaris on the edge of the clock face. You can use an app like Polar Align Pro to tell you where on that clock face Polaris currently sits. You can then adjust your mount so Polaris is in the "proper position" on the clock face. Polaris isn't exactly on the North Celestial pole but "orbits" around it as the Earth rotates. 

 

I think though that just having it roughly aligned with a compass is good enough. 


Edited by hyiger, 01 October 2022 - 12:20 PM.

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#6 a.joseph21

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 12:41 PM

You align the mount head (or center of the RA axis) to true north. If you put your scope into the home position, example: https://www.myastros...om/homeposition and if you are reasonably polar aligned you should be able to see Polaris in your field of view with a low-power eyepiece. It won't be in the center but off to the side. Now imagine a clock face with the North celestial pole in the center and Polaris on the edge of the clock face. You can use an app like Polar Align Pro to tell you where on that clock face Polaris currently sits. You can then adjust your mount so Polaris is in the "proper position" on the clock face. Polaris isn't exactly on the North Celestial pole but "orbits" around it as the Earth rotates. 

 

I think though that just having it roughly aligned with a compass is good enough. 

Again thank you for the feedback and I will be testing these methods the next time I go out with the scope! I appreciate it!



#7 a.joseph21

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 12:41 PM

For visual observing (as opposed to astrophotography) an approximate polar alignment (compass and latitude dial) is good enough.

 

Using setting circles on an eq mount can be tricky. Read up on it and watch videos like this

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=Tft-5QJgnto

 

A lot of people don't use setting circles on EQ mounts to find object. They use "starhopping". Another item to google and search in these forums.

 

My advice would be to try to get the most out of your scope before you decide to upgrade. You can see a lot with the scope you have. The weak point is mount/tripod, you might want to keep the legs unextended for more stability and get a chair of appropriate height.

Thank you for the link, I will watch that video here today. I appreciate the advice a lot! Thank you!



#8 vtornado

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 01:02 PM

For visual there is no need for a polar scope.

 

Level the mount.

Point the RA axis to true north.

Set the latitude scale to your latitude you are done.

 

If you want slightly more accuracy, set the declination to 90 and find polaris in the main scope. Center it by adusting the

latitude, nudging the tripod feet, or if your scope has it the azimuth adjuster knobs.

 

If you are setting up on the drive, or deck in the same place once your scope is polar aligned you can place some

small marks for the tripod feet, and you dont have to repeat the above exercise.

 

Using the setting circles is challenging on small scopes.  One is the circles are small and it is hard to determine

exactly what mark they are pointing too.  And also sometimes the circle is "picked" up by the scope when you

slew it so the reading remains the same even though it should be changing.  Watch for that with a red beam

flashlight while you are moving the scope.

 

Also realize that if your RA setting is correct for one object and you view for a long time, the circle is no longer in the

correct place.  You have to re-adjust the circle to read correctly for the current object before you make the next hop.


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#9 Celerondon

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 01:47 PM

I agree with hcf but I will go further with the tip about finding objects.  No one uses the setting circles on small mounts for finding objects because, even with perfect polar alignment, it is not practical.  The text, markings, and small diameter of the setting circles on small mounts limit the resolution that they can achieve.  So, when people say that a quick approximate polar alignment is good enough, we do not mean for finding objects.  Instead, we mean that an approximate polar alignment is good enough for visual observation and moderately accurate tracking. 

 

If you don't already have it, I suggest that you install Sky Safari or similar software on your phone or tablet and learn the sky.  A copy of the Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas always stays with my grab and go telescope.  Pay special attention to the constellations and asterisms.  If you have not already done so, learning the Summer Triangle, Orion, Big Dipper, and giant "W" of Cassiopeia will turn your brain/mount combination into a fair GoTo system that slews quickly but has poor accuracy, at first!  When I am looking for the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), even in the city, I first spot the broken W of Cassiopeia.  Then I look for the bent conical arc of stars that defines the Andromeda constellation to the right (from my point of view), of Cassiopeia.  Then I know that the unbroken part of the Cassiopeia W and bright Mirach (beta And) point towards the galaxy.  Voila, next I am informing the person besides me that this object is different from all of the others that they see above them because it is not part of our Milky Way home galaxy.  Most of the time M31 is visible without a telescope or binoculars.  When it is visible, I also get to tell them that it is the most distant object that they have ever seen with their naked eye. 

 

Where I see a giant W or a cone of stars, you may see mountains and a witch's hat.  Either way, if you learn some star patterns then your carbon-based GoTo system will be up and running.  With winter coming, plenty of celestial landmarks will be available earlier every evening.  If you live in the northern hemisphere and know the constellation Orion and its brightest stars, then it is easy to imagine a giant circle of stars, and constellations arrayed around bright pinkish Betelgeuse.  If you start with Rigel in Orion and continue clockwise, you will see in succession, Sirius, Procyon, Pollux & Castor, Capella, and Aldebaran while also cruising through the six constellations that dominate northern winter skies.  The summer triangle provides a similar sky map foundation for the months that just passed.  

 

This is the foundation that many of us used to get into star hopping.

 

Enjoy!


Edited by Celerondon, 01 October 2022 - 01:50 PM.

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#10 a.joseph21

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 01:48 PM

For visual there is no need for a polar scope.

 

Level the mount.

Point the RA axis to true north.

Set the latitude scale to your latitude you are done.

 

If you want slightly more accuracy, set the declination to 90 and find polaris in the main scope. Center it by adusting the

latitude, nudging the tripod feet, or if your scope has it the azimuth adjuster knobs.

 

If you are setting up on the drive, or deck in the same place once your scope is polar aligned you can place some

small marks for the tripod feet, and you dont have to repeat the above exercise.

 

Using the setting circles is challenging on small scopes.  One is the circles are small and it is hard to determine

exactly what mark they are pointing too.  And also sometimes the circle is "picked" up by the scope when you

slew it so the reading remains the same even though it should be changing.  Watch for that with a red beam

flashlight while you are moving the scope.

 

Also realize that if your RA setting is correct for one object and you view for a long time, the circle is no longer in the

correct place.  You have to re-adjust the circle to read correctly for the current object before you make the next hop.

Very useful information I really appreciate it! Perhaps I will try some of this tonight. Any suggestions on finding fainter deep sky objects without a Goto system?



#11 hcf

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 01:58 PM

Very useful information I really appreciate it! Perhaps I will try some of this tonight. Any suggestions on finding fainter deep sky objects without a Goto system?

There is a limit of how faint DSOs you can see with your scope (or any scope for that matter). But there are enough DSOs that you can see with your scope to keep you busy. It is good to try open clusters and brighter globular clusters. For fainter objects you need more aperture or darker skies.

 

Two things I recommend to people starting out.

1. Download and learn the night sky using Stellarium (free on laptop/desktop). You can use it to plan your observing.

2. Get the book "Turn Left At Orion" (used copies from ebay are fine). This will give you an idea on what you can see with smaller scopes and how to find them in the night sky. This gives you a target list to go after initially.

 

Good luck !


Edited by hcf, 01 October 2022 - 06:14 PM.

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#12 a.joseph21

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 02:06 PM

I agree with hcf but I will go further with the tip about finding objects.  No one uses the setting circles on small mounts for finding objects because, even with perfect polar alignment, it is not practical.  The text, markings, and small diameter of the setting circles on small mounts limit the resolution that they can achieve.  So, when people say that a quick approximate polar alignment is good enough, we do not mean for finding objects.  Instead, we mean that an approximate polar alignment is good enough for visual observation and moderately accurate tracking. 

 

If you don't already have it, I suggest that you install Sky Safari or similar software on your phone or tablet and learn the sky.  A copy of the Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas always stays with my grab and go telescope.  Pay special attention to the constellations and asterisms.  If you have not already done so, learning the Summer Triangle, Orion, Big Dipper, and giant "W" of Cassiopeia will turn your brain/mount combination into a fair GoTo system that slews quickly but has poor accuracy, at first!  When I am looking for the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), even in the city, I first spot the broken W of Cassiopeia.  Then I look for the bent conical arc of stars that defines the Andromeda constellation to the right (from my point of view), of Cassiopeia.  Then I know that the unbroken part of the Cassiopeia W and bright Mirach (beta And) point towards the galaxy.  Voila, next I am informing the person besides me that this object is different from all of the others that they see above them because it is not part of our Milky Way home galaxy.  Most of the time M31 is visible without a telescope or binoculars.  When it is visible, I also get to tell them that it is the most distant object that they have ever seen with their naked eye. 

 

Where I see a giant W or a cone of stars, you may see mountains and a witch's hat.  Either way, if you learn some star patterns then your carbon-based GoTo system will be up and running.  With winter coming, plenty of celestial landmarks will be available earlier every evening.  If you live in the northern hemisphere and know the constellation Orion and its brightest stars, then it is easy to imagine a giant circle of stars, and constellations arrayed around bright pinkish Betelgeuse.  If you start with Rigel in Orion and continue clockwise, you will see in succession, Sirius, Procyon, Pollux & Castor, Capella, and Aldebaran while also cruising through the six constellations that dominate northern winter skies.  The summer triangle provides a similar sky map foundation for the months that just passed.  

 

This is the foundation that many of us used to get into star hopping.

 

Enjoy!

Thank you very much! All great things I will keep in mind. I know a little about the night sky and I suppose I did a rudimentary form of star hopping last night without success. However, I will continue with all the advice you and others have provided and try to implement it when I go out next! Thank you again!


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#13 vtornado

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Posted 01 October 2022 - 02:38 PM

One of the easiest deep sky objects to find is the double double in Lyra.  It is a double star and each double also has a double. It is just off of vega. Also in vega is the ring nebula.  It is roughly between two bright stars.  It is difficult but not

impossible to find in suburban light pollution.  It is small.  Find it with your lowest power eyepiece,

center it and switch to medium power.

 

Download sky safari or stellarium to a phone or tablet.  It will be very helpful in finding things.

 

VT


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