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Thread: How to polar align my HEQ5 pro mount.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    5

    How to polar align my HEQ5 pro mount.

    Hey all, hope you're all well.

    I'm hoping someone can help me because I'm tearing my hair out!!

    I recently bought a HEQ5 pro mount & seem to be unable to polar align correctly. I tried reading the instructions but they were no help whatsoever. I then went on to youtube and found a video tutorial which I thought had helped.

    Here is what I did to align it :-

    1 - Set the scope to the start position. [Upright with scope bracket at 90 degrees]
    2 – Adjusted the altitude to my current latitude.
    3 – Unlocked the RA lock, then rotated the RA axis until Polaris was facing directly down in the polar scope & locked again. Once this was done, rotated & locked the time circle to zero.
    4 – Used the Polarfinder program to confirm the time of Polaris’ transit [The point when Polaris was facing directly down, exactly like when I adjusted the RA axis in the polar scope] for my location. Once known, I aligned the date & time circles using this data. [On the time circle, used the numbers on the top ascending to the left for the northern hemisphere & the numbers on the bottom ascending to the right for the southern hemisphere.]
    5 – Unscrewed the thread on the inside black circle of the polar scope to adjust it so that the white line aligns with zero on the date circle.
    6 – Now rotated the Ra axis until the current date & time matched up. To check the position of Polaris is correct, used Polarfinder for the current position.
    7 – Used the altitude & azimuth adjusters to fine tune the alignment so that Polaris is off centre of the NCP in its marker on the polar scope.

    I understood this & followed the instructions but when I rotated my right ascension so Polaris was at the bottom of my polar scope, it was about 180 degrees the wrong way round from the one in the tutuorial. This meant that once I had adjusted it to the current date & time my scope bracket was at about the 6 o'clock position & so I couldn't fit my scope on or else the legs would have been in the way.

    I've been tearing my hair trying to work out what went wrong & i'm at a loss. So I'm desperately hoping someone can tell me :-

    If this means the polar scope itself is incorrect & if so, can I fix it or does it have to be returned?

    Or, is there something I've overlooked/done wrong &/or is the tutorial wrong?

    I hope someone can help as I'm really hoping to get the scope set up a.s.a.p. so I can get some photos of the M101 supernova!

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,275
    I've imaged for nearly 60 years now and never used a polar alignment scope. Much preferred drift alignment (google it) even though one of my mounts did have a polar alignment scope.

    I don't see your problem however. Your telescope isn't used for the alignment process. Once done you then install the scope. No conflict arises for most of the sky, certainly not for M101 unless it is near its lowest point under the pole, then the scope may hit the mount or tripod but that is the worst time to try and image it since it will be very low and distorted by the atmosphere. In any case it has nothing to do with polar alignment.

    You first align the alignment scope to the correct RA angle by date and time as when Polaris is at its lowest point and the mount therefore upside down. Once aligned this need never be done again. Now when setting up to use the mount adjust the date/time circle for your date and time with the RA circle locked at 0 hours (keep in mind Daylight time for all of this!). This moves the reticule for the correct position for that date and time but doesn't move the alignment scope or mount, just rotates the reticule. In fact the mount can be turned any which way you want for this step. It only is upside down for the initial alignment of the scope to the mount's RA circle. Now look through the polar alignment scope and adjust the azimuth and altitude to put Polaris on its mark on the reticule. Lock those down. You are now polar aligned never having put the scope on the mount. NOW you put the scope on the mount. That can be done with the mount at any convenient position. You never need the telescope on the mount until AFTER all polar alignment is done.

    How perfectly the initial alignment of the scope to the RA circle is will control how accurate your final alignment is. Drift alignment can be used to check this for if after scope polar alignment you find by drift alignment one or both axes are not tracking right you know you didn't do something quite right. A quick nudge as indicated by the drift on both axes will finish the job and get you accurate enough for a 30 second to one minute exposure without guiding at a 500mm focal length, maybe longer. Guiding will be necessary for anything much longer than this or alignment and stacking of many short exposures. Easy with most any imaging software.

    Rick

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    5
    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for the advice.

    I might not have explained myself properly, I'm not using my scope for alignment. As you said "You first align the alignment scope to the correct RA angle by date and time as when Polaris is at its lowest point and the mount therefore upside down." When I do this, my mount isn't upside down, it's at the 2 o'clock position.

    The reason I mentioned my telescope is that when I have aligned & set my RA for the current date & time, then my mount is upside down so that when I put the scope on, the tripod is in the way. This the reason I believed my polar scope was out.

    I was under the impression that once I had aligned my scope for the transit of Polaris & set to zero on the RA, when I inputed the current time & date my mount plate would be on top so that I can track along the Equatorial axis. Maybe I'm wrong & I've made a mistake but it just seems I've done it correctly & that my polar scope is out.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,275
    Quote Originally Posted by Astronut1982 View Post
    Hi Rick,
    The reason I mentioned my telescope is that when I have aligned & set my RA for the current date & time, then my mount is upside down so that when I put the scope on, the tripod is in the way. This the reason I believed my polar scope was out.
    Why try to put the scope on with the mount upside down? Once date and time are set you are free to rotate to any position. 0 hours is only precisely upside down once a day. It can be any position depending on date and time.

    I was under the impression that once I had aligned my scope for the transit of Polaris & set to zero on the RA, when I inputed the current time & date my mount plate would be on top so that I can track along the Equatorial axis. Maybe I'm wrong & I've made a mistake but it just seems I've done it correctly & that my polar scope is out.
    Again, 0 hours can put the mount in any position depending on the date and time. 0 hours just means that at 0h 0m 0s sidereal time a star whose RA is 0 hours will be on the meridian. Sidereal time is different than watch time, its day being about 4 minutes shorter due to our orbit about the sun. So when Polaris is transiting varies with the date and time as well as your location. For me, tonight, Polaris transits at 4 a.m. At 4 p.m. it would be under the mount. 6 months from now it will transit at 4 p.m. This isn't 0 hours however as Polaris is at 2h 46m 53s or 2h 31' 49" using J2000 coordinates. Precession since year 2000 accounts for the difference. 0 hour stars would transit 2 and a half hours earlier.

    You really need to find help from a local club. The learning curve for astrophotography is very steep. You have many things to learn which hands on help of members will help you with shortening the climb.

    Note that polar alignment has little to do with pointing accuracy of today's computerized mounts. Once you do a two star alignment it will point very accurately no matter how bad the polar alignment. Long time exposures will have rotation of the field but by limiting exposure time to 30 seconds or so even a scope many degrees off the pole will track accurately enough the images can be aligned into something usable for showing the SN you want to image.

    For 10 minute exposures you do need to be within a couple minutes of the pole which I never could achieve with a polar scope. Drift alignment can do this easily however. My observatory scope is aligned to within about 10 seconds of the refracted pole and I can't even see Polaris as it is behind a pine tree's trunk.

    Using setting circles visually where tracking accuracy is unimportant, I would just plop the mount down look to see it's polar axis was pointed about at Polaris. Pick it up and set it down again if it wasn't. Took 30 seconds. I had no trouble finding anything in the sky with this alignment. It would be far worse than yours using the scope with Polaris anywhere in the scope's field of view no matter how wrong you set it. In other words while tracking accuracy needs good polar alignment pointing reasonably accurately doesn't. If you find the scope pointed west when the object is somewhere else then you don't have the RA set to your location and date and time. Polar alignment has no significant bearing on this.

    Rick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    1
    I am having the same problem with that type of mount.My recticule is a mirror image of what should show according to my polar align app.Unfortunatley I am follically challenged and therefore do not have the fall back of hair pulling.Was your problem solved eventually?

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