- Q How do I find objects in the sky?
- AThe sky is mapped out in a spherical coordinate system similar to the system of Latitude and Longitude on the surface of the Earth. On the imaginary celestial sphere, the coordinates are Declination, which is equivalent to Latitude and measured in degrees, and Right Ascension, which is equivalent to Longitude, but measured in hours. The celestial equator is a projection of the Earth's equator onto the celestial sphere. Because the positions of stars and other distant celestial objects, as plotted on this celestial sphere, change very slowly with time, their listed coordinates and star charts are only updated every fifty years. On the other hand, planets change position so rapidly that their coordinates must be obtained from current astronomy periodicals. The setting circles on your equatorial mount can be aligned with the celestial sphere to aid in finding astronomical objects.
- Q How do I find out the model number for my Sky-Watcher telescope?
To find out which model your Sky-Watcher telescope is, you will need to know the Diameter and Focal Length of your telescope, and the model of your mount. Near the focus tube you should see a sticker with technical information of the telescope. For example, if you see “D=130mm F=1000mm", the diameter of your telescope is 130mm and the focal length is 1000mm. You should be able to find the name of your mount on the assembly manual that comes with your telescope. The instruction manual will be titled “Reflector/EQ2 MOUNT", if your mount is EQ2 mount. In this particular case, the model number of the telescope is 1301EQ2.
- Q How do I store my telescope?
- AIt is unnecessary to separate the optical tube and the mount when storing the telescope. It can be stored in one unit in a clean, dry, and dust-free environment. If it has to be stored outdoors, cover it with a heavy-duty plastic cover to prevent it from getting wet. Make sure that the dust cap for the front of the telescope and the cover for the rear opening are on. Accessories should be stored separately in a box, with all their caps on. Some people do store the reflecting telescope in two parts, leaving the telescope tube up side down on the ground to prevent dust from settling down on the primary mirror. However, it is not proven that it really helps.
- Q How do I safely transport my telescope?
The telescope can be transported in 2 main parts--telescope tube and mount. Loosen the thumbscrews on the tube rings and remove the telescope tube from the mount. We suggest removing the accessories (finderscope and bracket, and the eyepiece) from the optical tube. Cover the telescope tube and the eyepiece with their caps. It is also convenient to remove the fine-adjustment control cables and counterweight rod/counterweights. Accessory tray should be removed in order to transport with the 3 tripod legs closed. The telescope can be transported in a vehicle without a problem. Padded insulation can prevent scratches on the tube but it is not necessary. The mirrors may go out of collimation after a bumpy ride but collimation would be required after transportation anyway, with or without padding.
- Q How much magnification can I use with my telescope?
Every telescope is different, but a rough rule of thumb is 30-50X per inch diameter of the objective. A good refractor may, however, use 100X/inch on bright objects, so this is not a hard rule. You can always increase the magnification above these limits, but it is pointless if you're not seeing more. This rule breaks down for larger instruments, as the distortion of the atmosphere limits practical magnification to 300X.
- Q How much power does my telescope have?
- AA telescope has three types of power and they are measured against the performance of a normal human eye. They are magnifying power, light gathering power and resolving power. All three are important but the most important is resolving power. The longer the focal length of a telescope, the more a particular eyepiece will magnify the image. However, there is a practical magnification limit of 2x per mm of telescope aperture. Using an eyepiece which gives a magnification beyond that limit is normally of little use. The amount of light that a telescope can gather depends on size of the aperture and the more light that can be gathered, the better the resolution. What you will see through your telescope will then depend on these three powers. For example, compared to the human eye, and using the 2x per mm rule, a 150mm aperture telescope will have a maximum practical magnifying power of 300x, a light gathering power of 600x and a resolving power of 0.8 arc-seconds.
- Q How do I find objects using the setting circles?
- APeriodicals like "SkyNews", "Sky&Telescope" and "Astronomy" will tell you where the moon and planets are, and the location of all other objects can be found in Star Charts. The quickest way to find objects is to learn the Constellations and use the finderscope, but if the object is too faint you may want to use setting circles. Download the PDF file to find out how to use the setting circles on your Sky-Watcher EQ3-2 (EQ3) and EQ5 (EQ4) mounts, or EQ1 and EQ2 mounts. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file.)
- Q How do I take photographs through my telescope?
- AMost telescopes can be adapted to act as lenses for single lens reflex (SLR) cameras. For the basic technique of "prime focus" photography, all you generally need are a camera body, a T-ring specifically made for your camera body (allows it to connect to a T-thread) and in some cases a combination T-adapter designed for your telescope (supplies the T-thread). This configuration, is fine for terrestrial use, or for the Moon or the correctly filtered Sun, but for fainter astronomical objects you will need to do time exposures using an equatorial mount with a Right Ascension motor to correct for the Earth's rotation. For exposures longer than a few seconds, you should use dual axis motor drives and a hand controller to guide the telescope.
- Q How do I choose the alignment star for One Star Alignment?
- AObjects with smaller DEC are better suited for One Star Alignment. With the same apparent movement in the eyepiece view, objects with larger DEC move in larger angle in R.A., resulting in less accurate measurement in R.A.
- Q How do I choose the alignment stars for Two Star Alignment?
- AGenerally speaking, choose an object close to the meridian line as the first alignment star. If you have performed manual mount calibration and are sure that your mount is free of cone error, select any star the SkyScan recommends to you as the second star. Otherwise choose two stars located at the same side of the sky which you will be doing the most observing. This improves the pointing accuracy on this particular side of the sky.
- Q How do I choose the alignment stars for Three Star Alignment?
- AThe first alignment star should be an object close to the meridian line. For the other alignment stars, choose any two objects from the list of the recommended star provided by SkyScan.
- Q Will I see objects as they appear in photographs?
- AYes and no. Bright objects like the Moon, some planets and some star clusters will show colours and features just like photographs, but faint objects are more difficult. The eye is not sensitive enough to detect colour at low light levels so even bright nebulae appear as shades of gray in small telescopes. Colour films can be exposed long enough to collect light across the visible spectrum so photographs show colours than you don't see visually.
- Q How do I polar align my telescope?
- AFor visual use, only a rudimentary alignment of the polar axis of your equatorial mount is required. First, the finderscope should already have been aligned to the telescope by centring a distant fixed object in the telescope's field and then adjusting the finderscope with its adjusting screws until the object is at the centre of the crosshairs. The angle of the polar axis should also be set equal to your Latitude. Now, with the mount approximately level, align the telescope parallel to the polar axis (ie set the Declination axis to 90 degrees), and then adjust the polar axis until the star Polaris (the "North star") appears in the centre of the field of your finderscope. This alignment is good enough for visual observation. If you are trying astrophotography, a more accurate alignment is required, and you will need a polarscope if your mount is equipped for it. For longer exposure times, the mount is usually adjusted using a very accurate star-movement measurement technique called "drift alignment."
Download the detailed information on Polar Alignment.
Download the detailed information on Polar Alignment for EQ1 and EQ2 mounts.