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MYT Visual
Richard S. Wright Jr.'s Blog

At only 34 lb., the Paramount MYT brings truly portable imaging to the Paramount family. But with the optional WiSky Wi-Fi adapter, the MYT also makes a very capable and easy to use mount for visual astronomy.

"Back in the day" when I only claimed to be a visual astronomer, I had an LX-200 and I'd go through the one or two star alignment routine. Often the object would not be in the field of view with say a 10mm eyepiece, but I'd pop in a 24mm or 30mm eyepiece and I'd see the object off to the side a little bit. I could use the hand controller to slew slightly to re-center the object and then go back to a higher power view if I wanted. I think most visual observers have similar experiences.

Paramount MYT setup for visual use.

How does the MYT stack up to this experience? Well, let's see.

On a recent visit to my dark sky site, I setup the Paramount MYT for visual use only with my trusty old Takahashi FC-76 and put in a (gasp!) eyepiece. I recorded the whole process on video (coming soon'ish), and timed the setup with a stopwatch app on my iPhone. Ground to eyepiece, I was done in 6 minutes and 6 seconds, and this included being very careful about making sure the mount was as level as I could get it. I connected with the iPad only, homed the mount and slewed to the sun to do a very rough alignment just to make sure I was more or less north within a few degrees.

Anticipation!

  

TheSkyHD's Polar Align button.

After dark, I ran the new polar alignment wizard that is available in the newest updates to TheSky Mobile for iPhone/iPod Touch, and TheSky HD for iPad.  (They're of course also available in TheSkyX Pro.)

TheSkyHD's Polar Align button.

The polar align button only shows up on when a Paramount mount is selected (other mounts have their own built-in alignment routines), and is also only visible after the mount has been homed.

 

Step one tells you to make the mount as level as possible, and point it more or less north(ish).

Adjust the altitude of the polar axis.

You really should have done this already, likely when there is sufficient light to be messing about with tools and such.

 

Step two tells you to adjust your altitude based on your current latitude. You do this by adjusting the altitude adjustment settings on the mount.

Adjust the azimuth of the polar axis.

When the wizard is finished, it tells you to slew to a bright star (bright only so you can easily pick it out amongst other stars in the field) and center it using only the mount's altitude and azimuth adjustments.

No slewing with the buttons on the app! The app clears the mounts sync before this step so that any internal offsets in right ascension and declination are zeroed out. You will find both the altitude and azimuth need to be adjusted slightly. The altitude is most likely off slightly as the tick marks on the mount are only so finely spaced, your leveling job is only so close, and your scope may will have some tilt on the Versa-Plate. In fact, your scope will have some offset in both ra and dec, and this is one of the reasons why this method is no more or less accurate than using a polar scope to align the mount (a more detailed report on why this is so is in the works...). 

Mount synchronization.

After carefully centering the star or planet (Capella when I ran this experiment), sync the mount on this target with the sync button.
 You will get a friendly little "are you sure" message as well. Note in this screen shot, you can of course do this in the daytime using a bright planet (if you can find it!).

My purpose tonight was to see truly just how usable this felt compared to my experiences years ago. Now, this was a bit of a wide field setup, a 600mm scope, and I had a 23mm eyepiece in. Throughout the night (I was also imaging on a mount in my dome) I'd return and slew around with my iPad to find different objects. I setup a field of view indicator and moved the sky chart to show where the object actually was in the field of view (roughly) after the slew. Every time the object was in the field, albeit not necessarily in the center. This is exactly the same experience with the MYT that I had known when I was more actively doing visual observing... except it actually took a lot less time to setup!

I've included a couple of screen shots from the iPad as well showing how the alignment errors (normal with all uncorrected polar alignment routines) appeared in the eyepiece. Many objects were dead on in the center of the field as well. If it had not been visible, I could have easily popped in a wider eyepiece and centered it up.

TheSky HD field of view with telescope controls.

Yes, of course I'm going to try this next with a larger and longer focal length scope ;-)

Although my case of the imaging virus is terminal at this point, and with no hope of recovery, there are a few things that I think do look better in the eyepiece than in a camera. The moon for example, or star clusters (globulars are my favorite). The dynamic range of these objects cannot (yet) be matched by a computer monitor. Galaxies and faint fuzzies... they never thrilled me, and they always look better with a camera in my opinion!

Still, now with the Paramount MYT, I can easily bring a mount to my club's astronomy outreach events that I also use for imaging. Or at star parties with guests we can do some visual observing and when they go to bed early (whimps...), I can pop in a camera and do some imaging the rest of the night. The Paramount MYT really is the best of both worlds!

Richard


Posted 12-18-2014 8:29 AM by Richard Wright

   

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