Scope Doc­tor

Our equip­ment spe­cial­ist cures your op­ti­cal ail­ments and tech­ni­cal mal­adies

Sky at Night Magazine - - CONTENTS - SU­SAN WALKER

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

With Steve Richards

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