Finding the pole

The whole procedure for setting up an equatorial mount is covered in your telescope's instruction book and in How to Use a Computerized Telescope. Here I'll only give a few pointers.

If your telescope is computerized, I don't recommend letting the computer help with polar alignment. In my experience, a small error in this procedure can easily turn into a long wild-goose chase. Instead, do the polar alignment with the finderscope. It's easy to get within half a degree of the pole on the first try.

First, make sure you can point your telescope exactly parallel to its polar axis. Don't trust the 90° mark on the declination circle; check its accuracy. (I was once frustrated by a telescope that was about 2° off without my knowing it.) If you have a German-style equatorial mount (with counterweight), there may actually be a polar-alignment finderscope built into the polar axis; if so, you're truly fortunate.



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