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Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:26 am

Hi everyone, I'm new here and I have a new telescope, the Skywatcher 130. I've just about worked out how to polar align it, at least through the guide scope. It has a basic motor drive attached, but according to the instructions, it says it will keep the scope steady 'If all 4 buttons are depressed'. The instructions are very basic and I think that's probably an error in translation? Surely I don't have to sit there holding down all 4 buttons? There are 2 2x and 2 4x buttons, which correctly move the scope slightly. If I press down nothing, I can feel the motor wheel moving very slowly, so assuming that I'm polar aligned correctly and I press nothing, it should keep the image centred?

I tried it just now with the moon, but it did drift after a while... but the moon would do that after about 10 minutes right?

I'm trying to get it steady to take some slow-shutter-speed photo's of the sky. So far I'm getting streaks or just generally bad images (the moon probably isn't helping).

Apologies for the long question, my basic question is just about the buttons, if I'm polar aligned correctly, I shouldn't need to hold down the motor buttons?

Re: Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:45 pm

We would really need to know which mount you have. (There must be half a dozen different mounts for the 130) From your description I'm going to assume it is the motorised EQ-2. If that is the case, then 'no' - once you have aligned the mount and found your object it will automatically track. (I can't imagine what the instructions are trying to say!)

You are right that the moon will move in relation to the background stars. The alignment will only track the stars, not the moon or planets. However, that movement is very slow. Typically it might take an hour or more for a centred moon to completely go out of the field of view. If the moon moves out of view in 10 minutes that would indicate that your alignment is not precise enough. That would also explain the streaky stars on your images. Polar alignment is not easy to do, but it will get easier, and more accurate with practice.

Have you adjusted the mount to the correct postion for your latitude?

Re: Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:29 pm

Thanks Aratus. It does sound like I'm on the right track but just need to align more accurately. It is indeed the EQ-2 mount and the motor drive is very basic but seems to do the trick. I think the instructions are just badly translated, the wheel is spinning very slowly with no buttons pressed, so it looks like it's working fine. The moon didn't completely go out of view in 10 minutes, but it had drifted from centre, so I guess I wasn't too far off.

I've set my latitude to 52 degrees (I'm in Nottingham in the UK). It sounds like I'm doing it right but as you say, need to practice and get more accurate.

I was really hoping to get some nice photo's of the whole sky but I only have a standard camera and it's not picking much up, even on a 60 second exposure. I can get the brighter stars, but not much more.

Re: Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:37 pm

Farflame wrote:I was really hoping to get some nice photo's of the whole sky but I only have a standard camera and it's not picking much up, even on a 60 second exposure. I can get the brighter stars, but not much more.

Hi and welcome.
It's quite usual for images 'out of the camera' to show very little.
If you use photo editing software such as Paint.net (free and simple), the GIMP (free and more complicated) or Photoshop (expensive but comprehensive) you should be able to drag some detail out of it.
Than you can start considering using stacking software to get even more.

Re: Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:11 am

Thanks. I hadn't thought of photoshopping it. I'm fairly handy with a paint package so I'll examine some of the shots to see if there are details that I hadn't noticed. There are some tutorials around explaining how to alter hue etc to get a better view, so I'll give it a try :)

Re: Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:01 am

Farflame wrote:Thanks. I hadn't thought of photoshopping it. I'm fairly handy with a paint package so I'll examine some of the shots to see if there are details that I hadn't noticed. There are some tutorials around explaining how to alter hue etc to get a better view, so I'll give it a try :)

Here's a good place to start
https://www.awesomeastronomy.com/tutori ... -photoshop

Re: Skywatcher 130 Motor Drive.

Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:35 pm

Farflame wrote:
I've set my latitude to 52 degrees (I'm in Nottingham in the UK). It sounds like I'm doing it right but as you say, need to practice and get more accurate.

I was really hoping to get some nice photo's of the whole sky but I only have a standard camera and it's not picking much up, even on a 60 second exposure. I can get the brighter stars, but not much more.


There are lots of ways you can fine tune a polar alignment, but you need to weigh up the time spent aligning and the time spent observing. Try to level the tripod as much as you can first. One of those small 'bubble' levels will do. Nottingham is more like 53 degrees North, so I would try that rather than 52.
Try that, and see how you go. There is also 'Polaris offset' and 'drift alignment' procedures but you don't want to spend time on that unless you really have to.

Photo of the whole sky require something like a fish-eye lens. A normal lens will see far less of the sky. A 60sec exposure of the sky will in itself give streaky stars. Depending on the field of view something like 20 sec is better. What kind of camera are you using? You may need to open the aperture and/or increase the ISO setting to get a brighter image.
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