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What if I can't polar align the night before?

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#1 ChancesFate

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Posted 28 September 2023 - 10:32 AM

Ok so I am lucky to have the annular eclipse right over my house.  The Total Eclipse I will be traveling to Texas and staying at a hotel.  So what can I do since I will not be setting up the night before and leaving my mount out unattended?  I suppose I could set up the night before, mark on ground where my mount is.  But what happens if I can't get to the same exact spot?  If it turns cloudy and I have to drive to a new spot? 

 

This will be my first total eclipse (2017 I was only able to see a partial in between clouds).  I plan on taking my esprit 100 with all my ZWO gear (asi294mc pro, yes I know mono would be better but my mono that I use on my Lunt is not a good fit for this scope) setting up a plan on my asiair pro, Then I also plan on setting up my Nikon P900 (with Thousand Oaks solar filter) to take video. 

 

 Yes I would like to get some photographs but I plan on setting both up and Leaving it alone so I can visually watch the eclipse.  I am not going to stress out over getting images, but it would be cool if I get some photos.

 

Last question:  My Lunt would not be a good scope to use for the total?  I understand that because the Lunt is HA and once it is total there will not be any ha to capture and it's not like a white filter that I can remove during Totality?  It would be so much easier if I could use my Lunt since it is on my Solar Quest mount and I wouldn't have to worry about polar alignment.

 

Thanks



#2 SkipW

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Posted 28 September 2023 - 10:56 AM

What kind of mount will you be using? I've used a daytime PA technique designed for Celestron GEMs that works fairly well.

 

You should be able to see prominences peeking out beyond the limb of the moon in Ha during totality. Total eclipses were where they were first seen, visually.


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#3 bunyon

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Posted 28 September 2023 - 11:28 AM

Exposures are very short. Aim the polar axis roughly north. It'll be fine.


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#4 SkipW

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Posted 29 September 2023 - 07:23 PM

Exposures are very short. Aim the polar axis roughly north. It'll be fine.

True. But the sun won't drift out of the frame as rapidly if it's better aligned. One less thing to bother with.


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#5 ChancesFate

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Posted 30 September 2023 - 02:10 PM

What kind of mount will you be using? I've used a daytime PA technique designed for Celestron GEMs that works fairly well.

 

You should be able to see prominences peeking out beyond the limb of the moon in Ha during totality. Total eclipses were where they were first seen, visually.

If I used my Esprit it is on the EQ6-R pro.  Should I use both scopes?   My Lunt 50 mm is on a solar quest mount which only tracks the sun and would be so much easier to set up, and it has the mono camera all ready to rock.  What would I be missing if I only used the Lunt?  The  Corona? 

As I said I would love to get pictures but I will not miss the eclipse visually by messing with my Esprit trying to figure things out at the last minute.   I mean I do know how to get photos with the esprit with my white light filter. 

 

Thanks again



#6 astrohamp

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Posted 30 September 2023 - 02:52 PM

With precise knowledge of location latitude and compass declination for same I was able to place, level, and position a GM8 and AP 600 mounts during the day for the last solar eclipse.  Nearly on top of Carbondale, IL my drift was negligible for the entire day for both visual and image capture with Eclipse Orchestraitor.

 

Practice this alignment process close to 'home' and you may find that your manual 'polar alignment' skills develop sufficiently to get the job done on the day.

 

Often for outreach I am required to set up, align, and preview bright objects before alignment stars are available.  Ernest onlookers and expectations being what they may putting up any sky object usually meets dusk expectations.


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#7 SkipW

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Posted 30 September 2023 - 04:08 PM

If I used my Esprit it is on the EQ6-R pro.  Should I use both scopes?   My Lunt 50 mm is on a solar quest mount which only tracks the sun and would be so much easier to set up, and it has the mono camera all ready to rock.  What would I be missing if I only used the Lunt?  The  Corona? 

As I said I would love to get pictures but I will not miss the eclipse visually by messing with my Esprit trying to figure things out at the last minute.   I mean I do know how to get photos with the esprit with my white light filter. 

 

Thanks again

Whether you use one, two, or no 'scopes at all is entirely up to you.

 

If this will be your first total solar eclipse I would suggest not bothering with the solar scope at all unless you can set it up and forget it.

 

Use the Esprit  (550 mm FL? How big is your sensor?) with an easily-removed solar filter to take a few partial-phase pictures, adjust the exposure if needed, then pop the filter off and take a few during totality, then replace the filter, adjust exposure, and take a few more on the way out.

 

Do not try to figure things out on game day! Practice first. Find out your filtered partial exposures, and use others' advice for exposure settings for totality. 

 

Are you planning on trying out techniques on the annular eclipse two weeks from today?


Edited by SkipW, 30 September 2023 - 04:09 PM.

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#8 Alan D. Whitman

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Posted 30 September 2023 - 04:08 PM

What would I be missing if I only used the Lunt?  The  Corona?

The corona is what a total eclipse is all about and you need at least a three-degree field of view. Prominences are nice additions but you can see them any day, unlike the corona. Binoculars will show the corona very well.


Edited by Alan D. Whitman, 30 September 2023 - 04:20 PM.

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#9 ChancesFate

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Posted 30 September 2023 - 05:03 PM

Whether you use one, two, or no 'scopes at all is entirely up to you.

 

If this will be your first total solar eclipse I would suggest not bothering with the solar scope at all unless you can set it up and forget it.

 

Use the Esprit  (550 mm FL? How big is your sensor?) with an easily-removed solar filter to take a few partial-phase pictures, adjust the exposure if needed, then pop the filter off and take a few during totality, then replace the filter, adjust exposure, and take a few more on the way out.

 

Do not try to figure things out on game day! Practice first. Find out your filtered partial exposures, and use others' advice for exposure settings for totality. 

 

Are you planning on trying out techniques on the annular eclipse two weeks from today?

I have the Esprit 100 ed Triplet and I would use my ASI294mc pro (sorry I am not technical at all but the manual says its 19.19 x 13.07mm) Yes I am going to practice before the big day using this setup and one of my asiair's'

When I look up settings to start with most of what I see are for DSLR.  I just don't know about changing the exposures once it gets to totality.   Most of the apps available are also for DSLRs' I have been busy making shirts for people coming to my house for the annular, that one will be easy with my Lunt because it is a set it and let it do its own thing.     I have not thought about the esprit for the Annular.  Soooooooo many choices!   

Thanks



#10 ChancesFate

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Posted 30 September 2023 - 05:06 PM

The corona is what a total eclipse is all about and you need at least a three-degree field of view. Prominences are nice additions but you can see them any day, unlike the corona. Binoculars will show the corona very well.

I agree that is one thing I am excited to see.  Oddly enough, I don't have binoculars. But I am hoping that my Nikon P900 can capture it I don't know how to practice for that though.



#11 foxwoodastronomy

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 08:42 AM

Chances, check out this YouTube video for how to polar align during the day by using a smartphone astronomy app.  It's an old video, but the technique is genius!   I knew about this when I went to the eclipse in 2019.  But I did not bother doing it because working in the southern hemisphere is confusing enough without adding this.  However, I am planning to use this technique in 2024.  Basically, you are polar aligning to Polaris by polar aligning to the South through the Earth.  There are other YouTube videos that describe this in a more technical manner, but this basic video is all you need to know.

https://youtu.be/ywLpFFjIc28

 

Edit/Addition:  as pointed out by Steve below, be sure your metallic tripod is not influencing the ability of the app to point correctly.  I plan to make an extension for my tripods to hold the phone away from the metal of the tripods..

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1 polar to north copy.jpg
  • 2 polar to south copy.jpg
  • 3 modified globe image copy.jpg

Edited by foxwoodastronomy, 01 October 2023 - 05:34 PM.


#12 astrohamp

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 01:48 PM

Using compass to polar align

 

There are other threads in the forums.



#13 SteveInNZ

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 04:14 PM

Before you do the polar align through the floor thing, do this check -

 

Start the ap you are going to use and put the phone down on a non-metal surface. Make sure the map display moves if you move the phone. Take the mount head or wedge or what ever you are going to use and pass it over the top of the phone. Check that the map doesn't move due to magnetic field from the device. If you have a stainless steel tripod, check that too.

 

Steve.


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#14 foxwoodastronomy

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 05:32 PM

Before you do the polar align through the floor thing, do this check -

 

Start the ap you are going to use and put the phone down on a non-metal surface. Make sure the map display moves if you move the phone. Take the mount head or wedge or what ever you are going to use and pass it over the top of the phone. Check that the map doesn't move due to magnetic field from the device. If you have a stainless steel tripod, check that too.

 

Steve.

Steve, I agree with your points.  I am planning to make plastic extensions that hold my phone away from the metal.  Thanks for pointing this out.  I missed that warning in my initial post.  I am going to edit my post and add it.



#15 SteveInNZ

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 07:33 PM

Gordon, Not just the tripod. The MSM tracker for example, can really screw things up.

 

Steve.


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#16 astrohamp

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 09:46 PM

And what if there is no service (for your phone).

 

I use a piece of wood to extend my compass away from the body of my mount(s) (and any ferrous magnetic metal) to set azimuth according to magnetic compass declination.   Altitude is a bit harder given the crude markings on most mounts.  Here a quick check with a phone app is actually useful not requiring the internet or cell tower triangulation.


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#17 dghundt

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Posted 10 November 2023 - 09:18 PM

I took a compass and digital level for 2017. Practicing at home, it worked well enough (very little drift, exposures of sun were sharp). Make sure you know the magnetic declination for your site.

#18 Cajundaddy

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Posted 11 November 2023 - 10:34 AM

In 2017 I did not want to leave my mount out on the grass so the night before I got aligned on Polaris, dropped a plumb weight from the center of my mount.  Then I ran a mason string about 10' from that point due north towards Polaris, confirmed with my finder.  I marked the position of each tripod leg and was satisfied that this would be close enough to track the sun for 2.5 hr.  Setting up in the AM was simple and the mount did track very well.  This will not work if you need to make a mad dash in the AM to avoid clouds but we were quite certain of clear skies at that point.



#19 Tech Hiker

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Posted 11 November 2023 - 08:30 PM

In my experience, cell phone compasses are unreliable, so I built a solar compass for the 2017 eclipse.  Worked great.

 

I leveled my tripod, then sat this on the tripod after squaring up the central rod with a square.  There is a disk on the bottom side that centers it on the tripod.  I used an app on my phone to tell me the solar azimuth for my location.  I line up the shadow with that azimuth.  Then I put a mark on a piece of tape on the tripod through the hole.  Then I attach the equatorial mount on the tripod and line up the tape mark with a south mark on my equatorial mount.

 

I used a flashlight for the picture to create a shadow.

Attached Thumbnails

  • solarcompass.jpg

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#20 edwyun

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Posted 11 November 2023 - 09:18 PM

This iphone app (Polar Scope Align Pro) has a good daytime polar alignment.  Just put it on a slab of wood (to get some distance between all the metal in the mount and the iphone) and then on your mount and center the cross inside the concentric circles using RA/Dec adjustments.  Worked perfectly for the annular eclipse.

 

Polar Scope Align Pro

Edited by edwyun, 11 November 2023 - 09:38 PM.

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#21 gmartin2000

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Posted 14 November 2023 - 05:52 PM

With precise knowledge of location latitude and compass declination for same I was able to place, level, and position a GM8 and AP 600 mounts during the day for the last solar eclipse.  Nearly on top of Carbondale, IL my drift was negligible for the entire day for both visual and image capture with Eclipse Orchestraitor.

 

Practice this alignment process close to 'home' and you may find that your manual 'polar alignment' skills develop sufficiently to get the job done on the day.

 

Often for outreach I am required to set up, align, and preview bright objects before alignment stars are available.  Ernest onlookers and expectations being what they may putting up any sky object usually meets dusk expectations.

So . . . what was your alignment process and what tools did you use?

Thanks much for any guidance there!



#22 astrohamp

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Posted 14 November 2023 - 09:41 PM

gmar':

 

Tools for daytime polar alignment:

A magnetic compass with declination adjustment.
A 6-8-10" or more non ferrous (not magnetic) square/parallel edge wood, plastic, other, plank, (a square edge ruler works).
Phone with inclinometer app or other with one degree accuracy (or better).
Access to Google maps and magnetic declination data (app).
Bubble level (to set tripod and mount level)

 

Method:

Position mount pointing approximately north and level.

With suitable inclinometer adjust altitude to location latitude.

Using magnetic compass adjusted for location declination rotate mount to align.

 

The details:

You want to set the mount/OTA orientation towards approximate north. A compass is good for direction help.  Even a phone app can roughly help although mostly unreliable for accurate polar alignment.

 

I use google maps location information to obtain latitude, the angle of mount elevation from the horizon.  With map located a right or left mouse click on the point of interest brings up Lat/Lon information.

 

Some mounts/tech have built in GPS that can provide the same data. 
Having this provides latitude in Hazelwood case to be about 39.8 degrees.  The level mount is set to this latitude (angle) using whatever degree scale/indicator is provided and the 'up/down' adjuster.  Another method (which I just passed on to a club member setting up their mount/scope) is to use the inclinometer app on a phone. 

 

Set the app running phone on the mount saddle plate (or OTA tube top) roughly pointing as it would north towards Polaris.  For a GEM mount the counterweight would be down and saddle 'rails' pointing towards Polaris  shown in the "A German Equatorial Mount" image here.

 

Adjust the mount altitude 'adjuster' until the phone/inclinometer reads the latitude (angle) for your location, Hazelwood case 39.8.  Remember the ground/horizontal is zero degrees.

 

I determine the azimuth setting (left/right adjuster) by first obtaining magnetic declination for the location desired using a map or on line app like this.

 

For Hazelwood it is -1 degree 49 minutes.

This value corrects compass headings to true north rather then magnetic north a compass 'needle' points to naturally.  This is one description on how to apply the correction to a compass.

 

The compass adjusted for magnetic declination is used to set mount azimuth (left/right adjuster) so it points to true north, and Polaris.  To do this locate a flat surface (plane) on the mount who's edge points towards Polaris.  A mount surface perpendicular to the OTA (which is pointing towards Polaris/north) is straight forward to use.

Place the plank/ruler end on the mount surface making sure it is flat.  Sticking out 90 degrees to one side with OTA North orientation is good. 

 

Place the compass side/edge on the opposite end of the plank/ruler (end edge) away from the mount.  This is done to extend the mount surface (parallel) and eliminate any magnetic interaction the mount may induce in the compass pointer.  The compass would now be generally pointing towards Polaris, in line with the OTA also pointing towards Polaris

 

Rotate the mount azimuth (left/right or clock/counter clockwise) to align the compass pointer to the declination marker which has been set to declination offset.  Hazleton is -1 degree 49'.  Polaris should now be visible in a finder or wide angle EP, if it was dark out that is.

 

I use my 25+yo Silva Type 16 (now probably the Silva Ranger 2.0) compass for azimuth adjustment.  An advantage is mine has square sides all four unlike the Ranger with one curved.  The near 2" dial is relatively easy to set for declination and gets me close enough for quick Outreach set up and otherwise good enough 1st alignment for solar tracking.

 

Back yard practice is a good thing.


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#23 ecuador

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Posted 23 November 2023 - 05:15 PM

This iphone app (Polar Scope Align Pro) has a good daytime polar alignment.  Just put it on a slab of wood (to get some distance between all the metal in the mount and the iphone) and then on your mount and center the cross inside the concentric circles using RA/Dec adjustments.  Worked perfectly for the annular eclipse.

 

And for those that are worried their phone compass is not up to snuff even with appropriate precautions, there is the Solar Shadow Calibration option on that tool, so you can use the Sun's shadow to "assist" your compass. It's similar in principle to the post above that uses the shadow, but requires less DIY work.





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