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Stargazing Help is needed in understanding my telescope

  1. Feb 17, 2013 #1
    Hey, I'm trying to start learning about astronomy with my brother's old telescope and I need a little help in getting started :).
    Firstly, what my textbook tells me is that the declination scale shows a scale of numbers which go from zero to nine and then back down to zero again, however I thought that declination was measured in degrees or arc-seconds? What do these numbers mean?
    How do I know what right ascension I am looking at in the sky? So, I've just set the declination to 90 degrees. I'm lining the polar axis of my telescope to be parallel with the Earth's axis by pointing it towards North, after adjusting for my specific latitude, how do I know my right ascension? Can I find the right ascension by pointing at an object with a know right ascension? Really, I don't think I understand right ascension...
    My guide talks about a 'horizontal axis', for example; 'loosen the horizontal axis lock and turn the telescope so it is directly aimed at Polaris'. What does this term mean?
    Where should my counter-weight be pointing when I am looking at the sky?
    Thanks for any help you can give!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2013 #2
    Re: Noob astronomy, help is needed in understanding my telescope

    For useful help contact you local amateur astronomer club. They can help you so much better hands on than anyone can do over the internet.

    Also your questions are basically impossible to answer without more information (maker and model and preferable illustrative pictures) but I'll try my best guesses though. First it looks like you got a equatorial mount of some kind.

    Hard to tell without more information. My best guess is that scale is probably the latitude scale used in the first step of polar aligment. It's probably measured in tens of degrees with one degree increments. This has nothing to do with declination though and most scopes lack a useful declination scale.

  4. Feb 17, 2013 #3
    Re: Noob astronomy, help is needed in understanding my telescope

    Thanks for your help :) x
    If it sheds more light on things: it is placed on an equatorial mount, it is called the StarLight 80 refractor telescope and it's a Meade.

    Best x
  5. Feb 17, 2013 #4


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    Re: Noob astronomy, help is needed in understanding my telescope

    The horizontal axis of the mount is the part you rotate so the polar axis faces north [toward polaris]. Then you adjust the polar axis so it points upward at the same angle as your geological latitude. The declination of objects in the sky does not change, the right ascension changes by the hour. Every 24 hours the earth completes one revolution, causing the right ascension of all objects in the sky to also complete one revolution.
  6. Feb 18, 2013 #5
    Re: Noob astronomy, help is needed in understanding my telescope

    Seems like the scope has disappeared from the Meade homepage without a trace, not even a manual.

    However from pictures it looks like the mount is a EQ-1 clone so any tutorial for a beginners german equatorial mount should help.

    Some examples:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  7. Feb 18, 2013 #6
    Thanks so much :), all questions are now nicely answered xxx
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