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Simple Telescope Drift Align Method

Simple Telescope Drift Align Method

This procedure has helped me take suitable unguided exposures up to 5 minutes with my Canon Digital Rebel and Orion ED80 APO refractor. The APO is mounted to my Meade 12" LX200. Note that this polar alignment procedures works with the setup I have: LX200, 1.25" Diagonal, 2X Barlow, and 9mm Illuminated reticule eyepiece. The basic concept still applies to different variations, but you may have to move your telescope in azimuth or altitude in the opposite direction. In this case, just make sure you write it down for future reference! I have documented the drift align method as I use it. I hope it is helpful for you as well.

 

Accessories:

Meade Plossl 9mm Illuminated reticule eyepiece

2x Barlow

1.25" Diagonal


Part I: Initial Setup

1. Telescope points toward the south (note: telescopes on German Equatorial Mounts point to the north).

2. Level the wedge using bubble level.

3. Set the wedge to the observers latitude. Latitude for major cities can be found here.

4. Do a rough polar alignment on Polaris the North Star. In my case, I eyeballed it! GEM owners get to use the polar alignment viewfinder!


Part II: Alignment on a southern star (azimuth)

Find a bright star near the intersection of the meridian and celestial equator.

Refer to diagram below for A, B, & C:

A. Using the hand controller, push the N & S direction key until the star moves parallel to illuminated line.

B. If the star drifts to the right of the line, turn azimuth control knob toward eyepiece end of the telescope. Adjust the opposite way if the star drifts to the left of the line. Continue making the appropriate adjustment until the star holds to the line for several minutes.

C. If the star drifts perpendicular to the direction in A, then the telescope tracking frequency needs to be adjusted. It should be around 60 Hz. Set this through hand controller. A lot of trial and error is needed here.


Part III: Alignment on a western star (altitude)

Find a bright star near the western horizon close to the celestial equator.

Refer to diagram below for A & B:

A. Using the hand controller, push the N & S direction key until the star moves parallel to illuminated line.

B. If the star drifts to the right of the line, turn latitude angle control knob toward the east. Adjust the opposite way if the star drifts to the left of the line. Continue making the appropriate adjustment until the star holds to the line for several minutes.


Repeat the steps in Part II & III above until the star stays centered on the line for several minutes. Perform this same procedure when the telescope is moved or when there is too much drift during exposures.

 

Orion 5mm Ultrascopic Illuminated Reticle Eyepiece

Orion 5mm Ultrascopic Illuminated Reticle Eyepiece

 

 

Orion Shorty-Plus 2x 3-Element Barlow Lens

Orion Shorty-Plus 2x 3-Element Barlow Lens

 

 

Orion 2

Orion 2" Enhanced Mirror Star Diagonal

 

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    Questions or comments? Please email me at: ray@shoregalaxy.com.

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