How To Polar Align A Telescope During The Day | A Complete Guide




How To Polar Align A Telescope During The Day

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You can align a telescope during the day using a smartphone, a protractor, and a smartphone, the sun or a polar scope, and a compass. However, care must be taken when polar aligning during the day as the UV rays from the sun can cause serious damage to the eyes.

Aligning a telescope so that it is level and parallel to the earth’s axis of rotation is called “polar alignment.” It will allow you to see much more than if your telescope was not aligned.

In this article, we’ll walk through steps for polar aligning a telescope during the day.

How To Polar Align a Telescope During The Day

Before we dive into this topic, it is important to note that polar alignment during the day often uses the sun. So, it is important to take some precautions to avoid damaging your eyes or your telescope.

You will need to get some certified solar filters for your telescope to use this technique. The filters will help to protect your eyes from the sun’s intense rays.

And, if you have a computerized telescope, you will also need to get a solar filter for the finderscope.

I am going to discuss various methods to polar align a telescope during the day. Let’s get started…

Polar Aligning with a Smartphone

Sky and telescope joined forces to create the Planetarium app, which is available for iPhone and Android. The app uses the phone’s internal compass and accelerometer to align your telescope with the sky.

There are several more apps, but you’ll need to make sure they show an equatorial grid, such as the Telrad or the Crosshair field of view.

You’ll need to install your mount facing north in the rough direction. Attach the scope to the mount but take off the lens cap.

This should be positioned at a right angle to the polar axis of the mount, allowing you to set your phone on a level surface. 

Turn the brightness on your smartphone’s screen to the maximum. Attach your phone to the lens cover with duct tape or elastic bands.

Use anything other than metal to join the phone, as this will disrupt the telescope’s magnetic features. The screen of your phone should face up. 

Turn the altitude and azimuth adjustments on your polar axis. As you change the settings, the equatorial grid shown on your phone’s screen will change.

The North Star will line up with the southern celestial pole, but it will also appear to move in a clockwise direction relative to Polaris.

When you’ve properly polar aligned your telescope, the view of the planetarium should be centered directly behind the crosshairs or inside the Telrad circle.

Using a Smartphone and a protractor

A 360-degree protractor is required for this technique. Attach this to the tripod flange and align the 0/360 line carefully with the available alignment hole.

Make sure the protractor and the center of the flange are perpendicular at the same time.

Look for a sun-tracking app with your smartphone. The best iPhone app is Sun Seeker, while Sun Tracker works on Windows and Sun Surveyor on Android phones.

This application may be used to observe the sun’s movement throughout the day, but it is best done in the morning or evening.

Make a radius with your protractor and a ruler placed on top of it, following the route of the sun. Attach the pins in a clockwise direction along the radial line you obtain.

When checking for parallelism, adjust your tripod on the spot until when the radius and pin shadow are overlapping or parallel. Attach the equatorial mount to the scope using high-strength bolts and a nut on each side. You’ve now focused the azimuth on the north.

Locate the latitude of your current location with the GPS app on your phone. You’ll also need a smartphone inclinometer program.

This app allows you to use your smartphone as a level. Before using it on your telescope’s saddle, level it on a flat surface. To adjust the mount’s slope to correspond with your latitude, change its inclination accordingly.

Using a Polar Scope and a Compass

Set your mount on a level surface. Be sure it faces North. To be sure you’ve completed this stage correctly, use a spirit level and a compass.

Accordingly, adjust the GPS coordinates in the controller of your mount to determine your current position and local time. Now, the polar scope reticle of the telescope must be aligned.

Remove both dust caps from the two ends of the Right Ascension axis. Change the declination axis and lower the countershaft bar position.

You are going to use this to look through the polar scope.

Determine the bisection angle on the RA axis using a compass. This is the distant line you’ll see on the horizon.

Adjust the telescope mount’s inclination and altitude changes. You’ll need to turn the latitude screws, turn the altitude and azimuth knobs.

You will aim the polar scope at the horizon if this is done correctly.

Polar Scope
Astromania Polar Alignment Scope for EQ-5

Astromania Polar Alignment Scope for EQ-5

Product Benefits:

  • Polar finder designed for quick and accurate alignment with the North Celestial Pole.
  • Improved sighting and precision alignment, ideal for long-term astrophotography.
  • Threads into the mount’s housing along the Right Ascension axis, with a reticle for easy Polaris alignment.
  • Ensures accurate tracking and slow-motion control for your telescope mount.

SUUNTO MC2 Navigator Mirror Sighting Compass

SUUNTO MC2 Navigator Mirror Sighting Compass

Product Benefits:

  • Advanced compass designed for serious hikers, offering precise directional measurements.
  • Balanced for Northern Hemisphere with quadrant scales; operable in low light.
  • Features sighting hole, notch for accurate bearings, declination adjustment tool, and a clinometer.
  • Made in Finland, ideal for outdoor navigation activities; no batteries are required.

Using the Sun

In most cases, the sun will be visible during the day. So it is often simple to check your telescope’s polar alignment.

However, looking directly into the sun is extremely harmful to your eyes. This technique should only be attempted with adequate expertise and the proper equipment.

For this, you’ll need a solar filter, a telescope, some white paper, an equatorial mount, a compass, a handset, or a computer.

The first step is to determine the magnetic north with your compass. The north leg will be in the correct position when it faces north.

The mount must be aligned with the counterweight and the northern leg. The better your alignment is, the more straight it will be. The closer you get this to true north, the better.

Point the scope towards the sun using your computer or handset. If you’re going to be out and about during the day, remember that your finder might get wet.

If it does, make sure it’s properly protected with a cap. It’s also crucial not to leave this unattended. A solar filter is required to protect your eyesight and equipment.

To shift the head’s position, use your telescope’s altitude and azimuth bolts. If you must change the Right Ascension or Declination adjustments, do it slowly and gently. Center the sun in the field of vision.

Set the telescope up in such a way that the sun is centered. To do this, use the ground shadow of the telescope or allow a small amount of light in.

After the mount has been secured to the tripod, tighten it down. Keep track of your target and its movements. If it moves north or south, you didn’t properly polar align it.

Polar Align FAQs

Final Thoughts

Polar aligning a telescope during the day is quite challenging, but it is not impossible. As we have discussed above, it’s crucial that you have the right equipment and take the necessary precautions.

Be sure to center your target in the field of view and make small adjustments until it is properly aligned. With a little practice, you’ll be able to get the most out of your telescope during the day.

Here is some more information on Can you Polar Align without Polaris?

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