Friday, August 01, 2014

three things

I spent a few hours with Wayne on the Observing Pad, with his Sky-Watcher EQ SynScan mount.

First I helped him with polar alignment using the polar scope and its "simple" reticule. I wanted to show him the alternate method using the calendar and clock rings but thought better of it. I went through the process, lined up with Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, demonstrated how I would do it, and had him follow my lead, and corroborate my steps.

He showed me an app on his smartphone but I wasn't sure if it was correct. I chose to ignore it. We briefly discussed the "hour angle" feedback the hand controller gave during initialisation. I fired up SkyTools and made a chart that simulated the field of view in the polar scope. We were confident with our alignment with the North Celestial Pole.

In advance of building the sky model, we went to the "home" position. I.e. OTA atop mount and pointing to NCP. And, right away, I didn't like it. The RA was off a bit. It was obvious standing north of the mount and noting the position of the counterweight bar. There was a slight angle. I adjusted it to be straight down. Then I checked the Declination—off a bit too. Wayne pointed out that these new positions did not match his "custom" index marks, lines he had recently made with a black marker. Well, I conjectured that when he had done it before, perhaps the mount wasn't level. Regardless, I thought we had a better starting position. He made new marks.

Onward to the 2-star alignment. We reviewed the basic procedures, discussed the need-to-know named stars. Joked about Nunki. "Where's that," Nicole asked? Bright star in the handle of the Teapot. And for Wayne, I clarified where Alderamin was.

The first try was not good. But I wasn't surprised, having selected stars on the same side of the meridian, and fairly close to boot.

We tried again and saw immediately that stars on other sides of the meridian worked quite well. The go-to was bang-on. Yeh. I summarised:
  1. a good polar alignment process
  2. proper home start position
  3. 2-star alignment with stars widely separated, one on each side of the meridian
We played and practiced and tried different things. The rig was working well. Wayne was happy. Me too.

Yikes. The new long OTA can make for collisions now. I interrupted a couple of slews to avoid a crash. I wondered if the mount could be programmed for this issue... Limit settings? In the meantime, I urged Wayne to employ caution.

I encouraged Wayne to investigate alignment star selection. Perhaps there was more information in the user manual. Or maybe a software app. I was guessing.

The sky was still not good.

I let him be. I was tired. And sore from the morning yard work.

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