Polar Alignment is a tedious task for beginner Astrophotographers. However, it gives you access to long exposure photography.
Imaging the deep sky is far-fetched if your scope is not polar aligned. We give a comprehensive guide on polar Alignment.
This section deals with polar Alignment using a wedge. But before we lay down the steps. Here are some basic facts that you should know about.
What is Polar Alignment?
Polar Alignment is a dreadful concept for many newbie astronomers. Although a complicated process, polar Alignment is essential for astrophotography during night-time.
With the polar Alignment, the observing process is more versatile. Despite the tedium of the process, you will have more rewards. Enhanced vibration dampening, no field rotation is the perks of polar Alignment.
Why should you consider Polar Alignment?
Polar Alignment is a huge task. Why should you bother with it? Three reasons make Polar Alignment essential:
- Polar Alignment will make the object stay within the same orientation. The orientation remains constant within your field of view.
- Tracking is along one axis in polar Alignment.
- For both short and long planetary exposure, polar Alignment is essential.
How do you polar align your Alt-Az Mount with a wedge?
Polar Alignment using an Alt-Az mount is better explained in two steps. Rough polar Alignment needed for observing. Precise polar Alignment, which is vital for Astro-imaging.
Once you have all the equipment needed for polar Alignment. Follow along for detailed guidance.
Rough Polar Alignment
Approximate Alignment is the main objective of this step. Rough polar Alignment forms the basis of the final step.
- Begin by identifying the declination axis of your telescope. You can reference the scale mentioned around it.
- Rotate the telescope until the axis is at 90 degrees. This is also called the northern or the Polaris axis.
- Now, you must adjust the angle of the Alt-Az mount. Adjust the mount so that it is in line with the latitude.
- You can refer to the latitude scale mentioned on the mount. Now adjust the same latitude with that of the observing target.
- The next step is to move the entire system. It should be pointing towards the Polaris star. Polar align the wedge using hex screws so that they are within the 5-degree mark.
- It is important to move the knobs carefully. This allows you to take note of the eyepiece view. If you find that the adjustment is not right, you can rectify without a hassle.
If you have followed the guide accurately, the star will be visible in your field of view. Your telescope is roughly aligned now.
Precise Polar Alignment
If your goal is long-exposure imaging, correct Alignment becomes essential. The first time will be time-consuming. Once you get the hang of it, it is a piece of cake.
The technique is primarily based on observation of the star’s drift. As you observe through the eyepiece, you also fine-tune the polar Alignment.
- On the hand control. Click the Align toggle. Then select Polar Align. Under this section, choose Align Mount.
- Your Alt-Az mount will now skid swiftly to a star. You will see an inquiry if you wish to center the star in the eyepiece. Center the star and hit ‘Yes.’
- The telescope will now move to a location where the star would be. This happens if you have accurately aligned the telescope.
- Then you will see another inquiring on the hand controller. It will ask you if you wish to move the wedge’s altitude and azimuth. Both the integrations will place the star at the center of your eyepiece.
- Press ‘Enter’. Now you need to make sure the Alignment is perfect. You do that by clicking Align on the controller. Click on the Display Align toggle.
- Azimuth and Altitude coordinates will pop up on the screen. The goal is to keep the number closest to Zero.
- If your alignment numbers are more than 10 arc minutes, redo the Alignment. Each attempt is sure to get you closer to the celestial pole.
- Numbers below 10 arc minutes are essential. In each axis, this will bring you closer to extended exposure imaging.
A bonus – EQ North Align
Conducting an EQ North Align enhances your pointing accuracy. The mount might retain the Alignment, but with time the accuracy is compromised.
Your telescope’s tracking might be perfect. The pointing accuracy constantly needs improvement.
EQ aligning is crucial for Astrophotographers. It is also vital when you are locating small objects on a CCD chip.
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