The second night with my new telescope, I was fortunate enough to have clear skies. So I propped my new Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ-MD up on the rooftop patio of my apartment. Then I went to work aligning the finderscope. What next?
What followed was my first attempt at polar alignment. This is a process for setting up an equatorial mount to be aligned with the axis of the Earth’s rotation. Polar alignment is really what allows an equatorial mount to work its magic. This was all a foreign language to me, but don’t worry, if you’re just starting you’ll get the hang of it. Check out my page on Astronomy Terminology, if you haven’t already, to get a good background. The video below is a little goofy, but I found it very helpful for learning polar alignment:
So with a little trial and error, I finally had my scope polar aligned. From there I messed around with the knobs and axes of the mount, not really knowing what I was doing, until I had the Moon in my sights. I started off with the lower power 20mm eyepiece to more easily hone in on the Moon. Naturally, I held my iPhone up to the eyepiece, and here’s what I captured:
Now I was really hooked. This was by far the coolest picture I’d ever taken with my iPhone, and all I had to do was hold it up to my telescope.
However, as the night went on and I experimented with higher magnification eyepieces and smaller targets like Jupiter, I found that it became difficult to steadily hold my iPhone up against the eyepiece for a good image. That night after a little searching, I came across the Magnifi iPhone case. It looked like exactly what I needed, so I got one on order. We’ll see how it turns out!