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Here we have Messier 3 again. Not as good as this attempt from a while back, but then again, I was kinda tired this evening so I didn’t take too many exposures. This is a stack of about 50 exposures (10 seconds each), handpicked from the whole viewing session. The sky was pretty light polluted (as is always the case in this area of the world), but there was no Moon to add to the light misery. Telescope was still the Celestron NexStar 5SE with a GPS module and a light pollution filter.

But… this was the first time I had my mount EQ aligned and “wedge aligned” as well when looking at a globular cluster. Because I had the new firmware installed, things changed some. I must say it is a lot easier, so I’ll explain the steps below for your entertainment.

I also got one of these, so I can take the telescope everywhere. It’s really nice to have a Celestron Power Tank instead of a mains AC-DC adapter like I used to have:

EQ aligning the telescope just starts out as usual. You can use my description here to get started. It still just starts with the usual EQ North Align (if you happen to live in the Northern hemisphere of course).

After a successful EQ North Align you can leave the starfinder on to continue with an Align Mount. This used to be called a Wedge Align, but this menu item is no longer available in the new firmware. Align Mount lets you align the mount on any object, so there’s no reason to align the wedge on Polaris anymore. How convenient!

From the alignment menu, choose Polar Align – Align Mount.

You will then have to perform the usual align (first a rough alignment with the starfinder, then centering the object with fine control) with the last object you used in the auto two star EQ North align.

Now comes the tricky part, because you will have to move the mount and the mechanical wedge tilt adjustment to re-center the object. As the hand control says: DO NOT USE THE DIRECTIONAL BUTTONS FOR THIS!

If you’ve never done this before, it might take some getting used to. When I was 12, I had a really simpe telescope without any motor control, so I had lots of experience with manually finding objects. I even managed to follow airplanes and catch the occasional satellite with nothing but manual control! Anyways, you’re gonna have to do the same to do an Align Mount. It’s not that hard, because the object is pretty much centered already. Just gradually move it into the red dot in your starfinder. It doesn’t really matter if you first move the telescope tripod or adjust the wedge tilt screw first:

When you’ve got the object dead center in the eyepiece of your telescope, hit ENTER and your telescope is now aligned even better than a standard EQ North Align. You may still have to use Precise GOTO, which is one of the best features of the NexStar telescope. It helped me find this comet and even the faintest objects. Be sure to check out Precise GOTO, because it’s such an eye-opener once you understand how it works and it means the difference between frustration (when the object you’re hunting for doesn’t show up) and success, when that faint object appears in the middle of your eyepiece, even in impossibly light polluted areas such as Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, badly light polluted

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] That’s M81, first time I found it in this light polluted town. Also the first time I polar aligned my Celestron NexStar 5SE. I highly recommend polar aligning your scope, especially when you’re gonna do astrophotography. Why? Because a polar aligned telescope only turns on one motor (i.e. more precision) and the photos don’t rotate from one frame to the other. But because the alignment procedure is quite involved and not well documented in the manual (or on the internet for that matter), here’s what to do if you too live on the Northern hemisphere. PS: This is the absolute minimum. We’ll cover an additional wedge align in another post. […]

  2. […] my CHDK modded Canon PowerShot. But for my ISS photo I didn’t want the streaks, so I first polar aligned my NexStar 5SE, synced it to Albireo in the constellation Cygnus (always a nice double star to watch) and then […]

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