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Old 18-04-2020, 07:28 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Startrek is offline
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Sydney
Posts: 2,955
Procedures for Setting Up Skywatcher HEQ5 and similar mounts

A couple of beginner members have asked me to provide assistance with setting up their Skywatcher HEQ5 mounts or similar Skywatcher mounts for either Visual use or Astrophotography
Rather than PM each one I have chosen to send a number of posts so others can use the information if they wish or choose alternative sources of information at their own discretion. Im happy to offer advice which has worked for me over the past 4 years but by no means the only way to set up your mount
Procedures for setting up the mount will be in this order -
1/Finding true south at your location
2/ Setting up Tripod
3/ Installing mount head
4/ Balancing Mount
5/ Polar alignment

1/ Finding Celestial True South using Solar Noon ( Shadow ) method

Items needed
1 metre length of 12mm diameter timber dowel with a 2mm deep 90 deg cross cut into one end using a hacksaw
2 x 3 metre pieces of 1mm string cotton type
4 x weights like a brick or paver etc...
1 x straight edge, alum angle or ruler 500mm long would be good
1 x fine point black permanent marker
1 x 300mm long Stanley or quality boat type builders bubble level
1 x PC with a planetarium software program. Stellarium is a good choice as its free and easy to use
1 x Smartphone like an iPhone

Your observing location ( approximately 1.5 sqm ) or where you will set up your telescope mount should be a reasonably flat and level area with a good view of the sun at around midday ( a paved , tiled or concrete area is preferable) At a remote site you will need to clear the ground and make it reasonably flat or level


(Setting up for your Shadow)
Erect timber dowel vertically below your preferred observing tripod position and use the 2 strings to anchors the dowel like tent guy ropes at N,S,E and W using weights to hold it in position. Use your bubble level to ensure dowel is exactly vertical at 90 deg in all directions ( very important ) The hacksaw cuts at the top of the dowel make it easy to adjust the dowel N,S,E or W

Finding Solar Noon Time

(Using your Planetarium like Stellarium )
Start your PC mid morning and open Stellarium. Rotate your cardinal point to the North position and raise view up until you see the Sun
Click on the Sun and then click on the clock , move the time forward or backward to the point where the Suns Alt/Az degrees goes from 359 deg to 0 deg or exactly bisecting the North South meridian line ( refer to top left hand data on screen for Az/ Alt deg )
Record this exact time which is Solar Noon ( hypothetical eg 12.35pm )

(Finding Solar Noon on a Website)
Most meteorological websites show Solar Noon times at or near your observing location

Marking your Celestial True South Line

Go to your observing location 10 minutes before Solar noon with your smartphone , ruler and permanent marker. The dowel should be casting a 12mm wide +500mm long shadow on the surface towards the south
At exactly Solar Noon time mark a thin line on the surface or ground from the central base of the dowel outwards along the exact centre of the shadow for at least 500mm ( be as precise as you can )

This line is marks the Celestial Meridian (True North / South )

Use this line to align your tripod front leg Nto True South and then set up your mount
I found this method far more accurate than any app or compass with magnetic declination
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