Our equipment specialist cures your optical ailments and technical maladies
Flexibility problems give me trouble polar aligning up my Sky-Watcher 150P EQ3-2 Pro SynScan. Is there an auto align setup compatible with my mount?
Polar aligning an equatorial mount using a polarscope does require a certain amount of body contortion leaving you in an uncomfortable position for making intricate observations and adjustments. Sadly, the Celestron StarSense AutoAlign, which would be a solution, is not compatible with your mount. However, there are various solutions in the form of add-ons for your mount.
If you can take a laptop computer outside with you then there are two great ways to take the physical pain out of alignment. The budget route is to fabricate a small bracket using a plastic pipe to attach a cheap webcam to the eyepiece of the polarscope and observe the orientation of Polaris using the live view from the webcam. However, a much better method that is very simple to implement and requires no fabrication is to use the very popular QHY PoleMaster electronic polar alignment system which as a bonus will give you increased accuracy. Both of these solutions can be operated from a much more comfortable position with the laptop placed conveniently next to the mount.
If you don’t have a laptop outside with you, then you could consider fabricating a bracket to attach a standard camera right-angled finder attachment to the eyepiece of your polarscope. The Seagull 1x-2x Right Angle Finder or the Neewer Perfect 1x-2x Right Angle Viewfinder could be used to improve the viewing angle by allowing you to look down through the polarscope rather than up. This must be a common problem and the very design of a standard tripod is at odds with wheelchair use. The ideal solution is to install a fixed pier at home as this has the minimum footprint of any support structure. A fixed pier has the added advantage of providing a very substantial base for your mount and if you use an equatorial mount in particular, setup time will be greatly reduced.
If this option is not available because you observe elsewhere and you require a solution that can be quickly assembled and dismantled then a portable pedestal mount would give you a greater degree of access than a standard tripod. If you can find one on the secondhand market, a TAL or Antares Portable Pedestal Mount would be suitable. Unfortunately, although good, these portable piers are not readily available, but you could get a welding shop to make one up for you based on photographs from the internet.
I’m a wheelchair user and I struggle to get to my telescope eyepiece because of the tripod legs. Any advice? JON NOBLE
You can use the Seagull 1x-2x Right Angle Finder to make the polar aligning less of a physical strain
A fixed-pier tripod would be an ideal setup for wheelchair users, allowing easy access to the telescope eyepiece