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  • Lakshmi Anish

How things went downhill because I did not understand, rather, forgot how High Precision works

Our first event with a 20-inch telescope, Anish was all busy setting up the 20-inch scope. I decided to set up the Meade 8-inch Schmidt-cassegrain – which I have literally been setting up and using every other weekend, should have taken me max 30minutes alignment et al.. setting up and using every other weekend, should have taken me max 30minutes alignment et al.. While fixing the scope on the mount, Anish suggested I use the green laser pointer in place of the finder scope - I should have said NO, cause I have never used a laser in place of a finder scope ever, but good sense didn’t prevail and I agreed (Anish was not going to be free to help me – don’t know why that thought too didn’t occur to me). This is when it all started (the beginning of the dominos effect for me that day... sigh!) I tried and tried, and I could not align the eyepiece with the laser. I had lost so much time that it had begun to get dark. I decided to do away with the laser and go with the finder scope instead (at last some sense came into being). Well, it still took me a while to get this alignment on track (the moral here is always try to align the eyepiece and finder scope while there is some daylight, simply cause its easier, especially when you are at a location where there is absolutely no other source of light (cause we had turned off the few lights that was at the camp site). Once the two-star alignment was done, we viewed a few planets. When Anish got sometime during tea break, he did come check on my little adventure – I do not recollect the exact conversation, but I believe he put the scope on high precision (his intention was only to help me). I know and have used high precision, not very often, but while on our private viewing time we have used it and Anish has discussed or should I say explained at length how it works and how easy it would be to find specially deep sky objects.

Now, I didn’t know the scope was set at high precision, I tried to find the Andromeda galaxy and it kept going to Mirach and I thought I had not aligned the scope right. I tried to manually track Andromeda galaxy but in vain. Well, I gave up on Andromeda galaxy and decided to go after M1 or the Crab nebula. Guess what, every time I hit M1 it would go to the star Elnath. Then at last I decided to manually move the scope and find the crab nebula, I found it, but what happened was once I hit enter and since it is a GOTO mount the scope assumed the Crab nebula (which I physically found and hit enter) to be Elnath and moved away from Crab nebula.

By now, I assumed I had not aligned the scope right. So, again started with aligning the finder scope with the eyepiece, then the two-star alignment at least a couple of times. It was nearing dinner time and I was losing out on my patience (Astronomy as such needs a lot of patience, which I am bad with, but trying to get there) and more so because I was so busy trying to get this scope find these deep sky objects I missed out viewing on ALL the objects that everyone got to see through the 20-inch up until dinner time and was feeling miserable about it.

During dinner, Anish pointed out what I was doing wrong and how to go about using high precision again, but by then I had given up – not very proud about this, but nevertheless.

The bottom line here is understanding what high precision is and how it works.

  • This is a feature available exclusively only in a Meade select few telescopes (thankfully we have one in our inventory).

  • This is not a mandatory available feature, but one can turn it on or off.

  • High precision mode is simply going to a nearby bright star and doing a sync, i.e., it is no different to doing a manual sync before going to a target.

  • So, what one needs to do is say if you want to find the Crab nebula, enter M1 in the scope search, the scope will go to the nearest bright start in this case it will be Elnath. Now, if you check the hand control, it will clearly say is Elnath at the center of your eye piece, once you hit enter here, then it will take you to M1. You see, it’s that simple. (Yes yes, now I can say it’s simple).

Hopefully next time when I plan on using high precision things will work out smoothly.

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