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Thread: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

  1. #1
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    Default Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!



    I didn't write a real first light report, because it mainly consisted of learning how to polar align an equatorial mount manually, which is new to me (I've only ever used my CGEM before this). Well, alignment was quick and easy this time. The rest of the evening consisted of fiddling around, using a combination of star-hopping and trying to make more sense of the setting circles to find objects. Pleiades was easy...easy to find with the naked eye, and the setting circles made sense when my scope was pointed at it. I'm pretty sure I got close to M31, but it was pretty close to our neighbor's Christmas lights, so it's difficult to say

    And those dang setting circles! I know they're hardly accurate with most amateur scopes, but I'd love for them to at least make more sense to me, so I can point my scope and be somewhat close to what I'm looking for. Sometimes they seem to make sense, and I feel like I'm starting to "get" it, then I'll try out some different coordinates and I'm suddenly lost again. I've watched several videos on Youtube and read several articles, but I feel like I'm missing something. I think it's one of those things that will make complete sense when I finally understand, but it's just not clicking yet and it's frustrating.

    Well, until next time, I guess :-/ Wish me luck!
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    Congrats on the Second Light!

    Don't worry, the setting circles will click.

    Wish I could offer some advice, but alas, I have no IQ for EQ.

    I can alt/az with the best of them, but that other business is beyond me.
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    Nice to have first light. I used to know how to do use setting circles as I had a reflector on a EQ mount but it was more years ago then I care to admit . No fancy computer apps either.
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    There are a couple of things that helped improve the accuracy of using the setting circles of my Astroview 6 mount.

    1. I obtained a precise polar alignment using the polar scope.

    2. I used the coordinates of the star that was real close to the object I'm looking for. For example, in LP backyard there no easy way to star hop to M11, the Wild Duck Cluster. Therefore, I used the coordinates of Altair and then dialed in the coordinates of M11. Sure enough, M11 was at the edge of the FOV of my low power eyepiece. Similarly to find M5 i think I use the Arcturus. This time is was not in the FOV but it was just outside. It took adjusting the RA a bit and it was there.

    I don't know if you came across this article from Astro Tom's website but to me it gives the best explanation on how to use the setting circles. It comes easier with practice.

    Setting Circles
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    Congratulations on your first light.

    There is a trick to setting circles. On most mounts, the RA setting circle does not keep up with the tracking movement of the mount. The result is that, every time you want to use it, you must first re-set it to the current coordinates of the mount.

    So, let's use the Pleiades as an example. The RA coordinate is 3h47m. The fact that it is an easy naked eye object makes it a good choice to set your setting circle. Aim the scope at the Pleiades and then set the RA circle so it reads 3h47m. (Might as well check the Dec setting circle at the same time, but it doesn't need constant adjusting.) Now, you can use the setting circles to find another object by its coordinates.

    However, if you spend half an hour admiring the Pleiades, the mount will have moved 30 minutes of RA. Depending on the geometry of the mount, the setting circle will now read either 3h17m or 4h17m, which is wrong and totally useless. So, before you can use it, you have to re-set it to the current coordinate (3h47m) again.

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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    Your experience is exactly how Sky and Telescope describes the usefulness of setting circles in the first paragraph of this article, lol: The Setting Circles on Your Telescope - Sky & Telescope . These things were obviously invented before the digital era and may be up for a redesign now that many cell phone apps can give you the hour angle of an object instantly.

    Here's a thought about using hour angles instead that just came to mind that will work with my RX-7 (not sure if the setting circles are similar to yours). I see 2 scales on the movable RA setting circles going from 0 to 24, one clockwise and one counterclockwise. The counterclockwise one can be used for hour angle. Put the tripod in the home position (RA axis pointing toward Polaris) and the OTA in horizontal position pointing West. Set the counterclockwise scale to 6 hours. If pointing East is easier to work with, set it to 18 hours instead. Then look up the hour angle on SkEye and there you go, no re-adjustments necessary for any target.

    You can set the scale during the daytime after leveling the tripod first, then using the level on the OTA. Leveling and polar alignment are necessary of course before you can use it with any chance of luck. If your scope has a deviation (not uncommon with Newts, also depending on collimation), you may need to re-adjust it once you have an object located but that would be a one-time thing.

    I have not tried this but it should work I think. If anyone can debunk this method please speak up, I don't mean to add to the confusion or give wrong advice. Altogether I agree with the Sky and Telescope assessment, it is hard to use with many points of failure and not accurate. Alt/Az is much easier with a cell phone app in hand.
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    KeithBC is correct, after viewing the object, re-set the coordinates to move on to the next object. Using KeithBC example of M45, after viewing it and you now want to go another object nearby like M1, the Crab Nebula. I would re-set the Da and RA for M45 and then dial in the coordinates for M1 and M1 should be in or very near the FOV of a low powered eyepiece. Then when finished admiring the Crab, re-set the coordinates of the Crab and then move onto another close object like the Rosette, M42, or objects in Gemini etc. The setting circles may not be accurate enough to now go to the opposite side of the sky. In that case I would find the star near that object. Dial in its coordinates and find your object near that star. Then go to nearby objects using the setting circles.
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    Yes well done , it does take a while to get used to polar aligning I've still got a long way to go before I feel comfortable
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    Default Re: Second light with my new 6" Newtonian reflector - Very slow progress!

    I don't have setting circles for my Z10, however, I did use them on my second scope - a 4.25" Edmund Scientific reflector, where they were pretty useful. I think there is a bit more of a challenge using them on an alt/az mount then a gem. I think Keith and Henk have nailed the issue on the head, pretty useful advice.
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