Re: Questions about "goto" telescopes

From: Thomas Fly (
Date: Wed Jun 09 2004 - 22:57:52 EDT

  • Next message: "Superbird A - 10 June 2004 UTC"

    Hi Ed,
    I've got about a 1 year-old 10" Meade S/N.  At low power, it has a nice wide
    field of view, and as you point out, represents an amazing amount of bang for
    the buck- except for the American made optics, the rest is made in China (or at
    least the mount & mechanics are):
    You can certainly point the thing this way or that manually, but I never use
    mine in that mode, unless I'm doing some kind of calibration.  A small
    lawn-mower battery will run the thing essentially forever.
    I find the built-in satellite tracking software totally worthless, at least for
    tracking the ISS.  It starts out pointing in the right direction, but then
    "tracks" into the ground, when it should be tracking into the sky!!!
    GOTO, however, works great, once you figure out what "German North" really means
    (Meade's documentation leaves a lot to be desired, at least in some areas), and
    get the scope tweaked up correctly, so that the optical axis is closely parallel
    to the R.A. axis, when the declination is as close to 90 as you can get it (the
    documentation at least is precise about the alignment procedure).
    There's also a "high accuracy" mode, so that if you're trying to find Neptune,
    for example, the scope will first GOTO a reasonably bright nearby star, let you
    center that, then it'll move to center the dim object you're trying to find.
    My WorldView program:
    has the guts of what's necessary to precisely compute the positions of
    low-orbiting satellites (I haven't implemented the high-orbit variant of SGP4),
    and the protocol for communicating with the telescope in software is well
    documented, so "before long" I expect I'll get around to writing a Java program
    that will be able to accurately track low earth-orbit satellites:
    Of course, "tracking" geosynchronous satellites is mostly just a matter of using
    some decent software (e.g., Rob Matson's SkyMap, or Bill Gray's Guide 8) to
    figure out where they are in the first place.
    As far as I know, the Autostar controller doesn't "do" altitude & azimuth; nor
    to my (limited) knowledge does the firmware support altitude & azimuth.
    Needless to say, specifying altitude & azimuth would be the most convenient way
    to command a telescope to follow a low earth-orbit satellite, such as the ISS.
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