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RE: How Do I Polar Align A Meade LX-50?

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Posted by on October 27, 2000 23:56:44 UTC

I have an LX50 and rough polar alignment for visual use is quite simple. First level the tripod, this is crucial and must be done every time you observe. Attach the wedge to the tripod and roughly set the latitude of the wedge with that of your observing site using the scale on the side of the wedge. Make sure you retighten all bolts on the wedge after making this adjustment. Next place the tube & fork assembly on the tripod and tighten the three connecting bolts. Now aim the scope at Polaris and center it in the eyepiece. I usually use a low power eyepiece at first and then after I have it centered switch to a high power eyepiece for better accuracy. SLIGHTLY loosen the center nut which holds the wedge to the tripod and loosen the two Altzimuth adjusting screws on the front of the wedge. Now you should be able to move the wedge slightly side to side for centering Polaris. You can adjust the DEC as needed with either the DEC adjusting knob or controller. Once Polaris is centered, tighten the center nut on the wedge and the two Altzimuth adjusting screws to lock the wedge in place being sure to keep polaris centered in the eyepiece while doing so. Now the scope is roughly polar aligned. and should track accurately for visual observing purposes.

To set the setting circles for use in finding objects by their RA & DEC. Point at a bright star preferrably near the zenith and check its RA & DEC. See what your telescope is showing for DEC and adjust it by turning the hub in the center until the DEC matches that of the bright star. Once this is set you should not have to adjust it ever again providing it is accurately set the first time and you do not knock it off its setting by accident. Now set your RA dial so that the outer row of numbers with the RA of the bright star lines up with the center mark of the fork assembly. Now you are set to to use setting circles and since on the LX50 RA setting circle is motorized you need not make any further adjustments unless you bump, turnoff, or move this setting circle while observing. All you need to do now is turn the fork assembly so that the center mark (on the fork) matches the RA of any object you wish to find. Remember however to always use the outer numbers of the RA setting circle as it is for Northern Hemisphere observers. To set the DEC just release the DEC lock and move the tube until the objects DEC matches that of the DEC setting circle on the scope. Look thru the widest field eyepiece you have when first trying to locate an object and if all this was done accurately it should be in the field of view or just outside it where you can find it by moving around with the motor drives.

If you wish to be even more accurate you can aim at a few other bright stars to check your scopes DEC with the stars DEC or check it with Polaris again. Polaris should read 89.2 degrees in DEC. If it doesn't match you may need to make some small adjustments on the wedge as the scale on the side of the wedge is rather rough but usually sufficient. Once the wedge has been properly set you should never have to adjust it again as long as your within about 75 miles North/South of your current observing site (One Degree)

After the initial time and the wedge is properly set all you should need to do for future observing sessions is level the tripod, align to Polaris in altzimuth and point at a bright star and enter its RA on the scope then your off and running. The more often you do this the quicker and easier it gets. I can do it in about two - three minutes now. This entire process is quite easy however it is more difficult to explain than it is to show someone how its done. Let me know how it works for you.

Good Luck & Clear Nights

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