Chapter 4 of Michael Swanson’s “The NexStar User’s Guide II” is entitled Alignment and is the chapter that made me want to buy the book and read it cover to cover. Readers of the blog know that I struggled with alignment for my NexStar 8SE (Solving alignment problems with the Celestron NexStar 8SE) and Michael’s online resources were helpful in resolving some of them, or at least narrowing the problem. I even held off buying the book because he said Guide II was coming and I should wait over Guide I. Then I managed to solve most of the alignment issues, and so when his book arrived, I didn’t devour the whole book right away. I just cruised through the Alignment chapter. Then this past summer, I went back and re-read everything in order.
Here are some highlights from Chapter 4:
Backlash compensation (P.87): A great element for those of us with slightly older scopes whose mounts are no longer “factory fresh”. » Read the rest
So I posted earlier that my astronomy season has kicked off, and I’m good to go. With the news that Jupiter was in opposition this week (the closest it will come to Earth all year, hence LOOK NOW for your best view), I thought, “Well, yeah, I want to set up”. And because it’s a PLANET, not some dark sky object, I can do it from my backyard.
So on Tuesday, I was in a hurry to set up before Venus disappeared behind a house, and I wanted to show my wife and son, so I set up the scope on our deck. Anyone who knows scopes knows a deck is a bad idea unless it’s cement. Otherwise, they jiggle if anyone walks. Hard to get vibrations out, but whatever. Anyway, got it set up, quick solar system alignment on Venus, good to go, showed the family, all good.
Then I did a quick sky tour, realigned on Procyon and Capella, not bad, and then I started doing a quick sky tour while I waited for Jupiter to come up over a house. » Read the rest
I had one of those handheld telescopes when I was a kid, and I tried to look at the stars, but well, that went about as well as you think it might have gone. I couldn’t see diddly except for the moon. And even then, I never saw ridges. Then five years ago, I bought a real telescope (Celestron NexStar 8SE below) and attempted to embrace my new hobby without a lot of success.
I’m not a star-hopper kind of learner
Now, I’m going to deal with a giant issue right upfront to get it out of the way. I tried a variety of scopes both before and after I bought my scope, and it was very clear when I was done that I had bought the right scope and mount for me. Easy setup, good value for money, a few steps above entry-level, and a computerized scope to help me get going. » Read the rest
So I’ve been fighting through my astronomy challenges with my scope (Celestron 8SE), mostly with the support of a guy in one of the forums on a site called Cloudy Nights (i.e. when you have clear nights, you go outside; when you have cloudy nights, you can go online!). He’s super knowledgeable, and while he’s not active in the forum anymore, he’s been giving me fantastic suggestions on things to improve my approach.
Tonight, I went to what I consider level 3. Level 1 would be standard stuff. Level 2 would be the tweaking and adjustments I’ve done up until now.
Level 3 i.e. tonight was to check to see if the rate at which the mount slews left / right and up / down is set correctly. Or more accurately, if there is enough tension to stop it from playing too much when aligned. How did it go?