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Topics - Mark Dominguez

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Hi everyone,

I've been looking around the internet trying to find an answer to a question I have regarding GOTO equatorial mounts. I own an iOptron SmartEQ Pro with a small, light refractor typically mounted on it. This mount comes with two alignment procedures, a "one star align" and a "multi-star align". The former only uses one star to align the mount, while the latter can use many stars. I believe, in doing my research prior to making my purchase, that many GOTO mounts feature similar routines.

What I would like to know is this: how does the use of one star and multi-star alignment impact GOTO pointing (the ability to accurately slew to and point at a target in the sky) and tracking performance (the ability to keep the target centered in the eye piece)? Or, put another way, how does using more stars impact GOTO and tracking performance? Assume a "normal" amount of polar alignment error for a beginner. My instinct is that the more stars added to the mount's internal pointing model, the more accurate the GOTOs will be. I have no intuition yet on how it would impact tracking, though.

This leads to a few more follow up questions:
What is the purpose of a one star alignment if two (or more) star alignment is naturally better (assuming it is)?
Does the quality of the internal pointing model impact the tracking performance (the ability to stay centered on a target) on a GEM?
Can a high quality pointing model (with, say, six well-centered stars) compensate for less than stellar polar alignment or collimation of the scope and the mount's polar axis? Either w.r.t. GOTO accuracy or tracking performance?

Hi I have an obsession 12.5 which I love. Retirement is beckoning and I am thinking of upscaling to a 16 inch new moon telescopw. Would the financial outlay be worth the gain in aperture? If I went ahead, the 12.5 would be my travel scope. I would want the 16 inch to be sited at home in Dunedin (NZ). Any opinions would bw welcome. Regards Larry.

Light Pollution Topics / Buying a home in reasonably dark skies?
« on: December 24, 2017, 04:27:54 AM »
Hi all,
In a couple of decades, I will be done my medical fellowship and probably move back to my home state, Pennsylvania.  What is a reasonably dark skies place where you do not forfeit living more than an hour drive from a place like state college?  I climbed in philly where light pollution was dreadful and have no plans on moving back to Philly.  I am interested in a home with a plot of land (possibly 3 acres) so I can construct a permenant pier with an obs.  How many people here bought homes based on dark heavens?

Light Pollution Topics / Fracking & Light Pollution in PA
« on: December 24, 2017, 01:01:33 AM »

Toward the end of this two minute movie, an ugly view, looking east from Cherry Springs.

Then there is the Chicago-sized lighting dome in North Dakota:


General Astronomy & Observing / New Zealand Observatory overnights
« on: December 23, 2017, 11:00:09 PM »
I need to catch about 35 Caldwell Objects that may be observed just from the southern heavens.  I figure New Zealand is a fantastic place to test.

Does anyone have some information about how to catch some southern sky time with an observatory bed and breakfast, or borrow/rental of a eight to twelve inch dob while I'm there?

Any hints about travel/observing from New Zealand?


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