The perfect alignment

Last night we were entertaining the wonderful Year 9 students at Pascoe Vale Girls College and their parents and their siblings. It was great to see over 50 of you there! The skies were perfect too, we had a very clear night and were able to get everyone through a look at Saturn, the Jewel Box Cluster and a globular cluster. I was also inside keeping everyone busy on Stellarium and the Solar System.

Before I talk about achieving the ultimate alignment, just letting you know of our episode on Visions, the University of Melbourne webcast. Have a look and let us know what you think.

Let me run you through the alignment process from last night. It worked so well everything was found very quickly, if not straight away!

Start with the focal reducer in and the 40mm objective. This will give you the widest field of view.

Step 1: get out a compass and find North, then place the telescope facing North and the control panel facing South. Smart phones are not necessarily the best compass. Don’t place the compass on the telescope, all that metal is sure to cause some interference!

Step 2: using a builder’s level placed on the fork, extend each of the legs until the bubble is in the centre (telescope is aligned). Check lots of different directions! It is amazing how a slope in the ground can go unnoticed. You could also try a circular level and not have to worry about moving it around.

Step 3: Place the telescope in the home direction, facing North and level with the horizontal. (again use that builder’s level)

Step 4: Use the 2 star alignment, but here comes the important part:

  • pick the two stars in the North of the sky and near as possible to the horizon.
  • Last night we chose Procyon and Arcturus
  • centre them in the main telescope

If you are unsure of which stars to choose, you can download a program that calculates the best stars for you!

Best Pair II or AstroPlanner will do the calculations for you.

If you have any further hints or ideas on getting the best alignment, please let us know!

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2 comments on “The perfect alignment

  1. Pingback: Staff Night at Pascoe Vale Girls | Telescopes in Schools

  2. Pingback: Introduction to 3 New Schools | Telescopes in Schools

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