iOptron iPolar Electronic Polarscope

Take the strain out of polar alignment with the iOptron iPolar Electronic Polarscope

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£199
Price correct at time of review
ipolar-with cable

Price: £199.99
Field of View (FOV): ~ 13-degrees
Included Adapter: Selectable when purchasing depending upon mount type
Resolution: ~ 30 arcsec
Alignment Precision: 30 arcsec
Interface: Mini USB2.0
Software: iPolar Software
Supplier: Altair Astro
Tel: +44 (0)1263 731 505
www.altairastro.com

Whether you are a visual astronomer or astro imager the one thing when using an equatorial mount is to ensure the R.A. axis is aligned and parallel to the earth’s rotational axis, known as polar alignment.

Advertisement

Normally to do this means getting down and looking up through an inbuilt polar scope and aligning the pole star in the correct position in its inbuilt reticule.

This can be tedious and as one gets older it is also a little uncomfortable, especially to your knees. This is where the iOptron iPolar Electronic polarscope comes into its own and takes the strain out of polar alignment.

iPolar-parts
Paul Money

Set up

The iPolar seems a simple set up and at first glance there is not much to look at, but it is what it achieves that is the important aspect.

ipolar-with cable
Paul Money

On purchase you have to choose the adapter that allows the unit to be attached to the mount and this varies depending upon your chosen mount’s manufacturer.

Along with iOptron mounts, there are adapters for most of the popular mounts on the market so ensure you check out and choose the correct adapter before purchase.

In our case we were using a Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 and the adapter chosen also covers CGEM and NEQ6 mounts.

This adapter is installed at the top of the mount replacing the front cap and it is affixed in place by two tiny grub screws, fortunately the correct Allen key is supplied in the package.

iPolar-mount adapter
Paul Money

A secondary adapter then slots into it and is set in place with a silver screw before finally slotting the iPolar camera in place and locking with the plastic screw.

iPolar-secondary adapter
Paul Money

A slot in the secondary adapter allows access to the camera mini usb interface where the supplied cable is attached ready to link up with your PC or laptop.

Software

The iPolar software is downloaded from the iOptron website and runs on Windows Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10, 32bit or 64bit with no information on availability for other platforms.

Once installed, connect up the camera which is plug and play and it was quickly detected and installed with no fuss.

Launch the application and you find a simple screen where you can connect to the camera.

On first time running you have to calibrate the rotational axis but as long as you don’t remove the camera this can be a one-off procedure.

Once done, as the software plate solves the field of view on the fly then a red circle appears on the screen showing where the pole should be, and a red cross indicates the current position of the mount axis.

iPolar-screen1
Paul Money

All you need then do is adjust the mount via its alt az knobs until the cross lies over the circle.

iPolar-screen2
Paul Money
iPolar-screen3
Paul Money

As it gets closer, the image becomes highly magnified adding to the accuracy of alignment. Once done you are aligned and can then perform the usual star alignment and away you go.

iPolar-screen4
Paul Money
Advertisement

We found that we could go from a rough polar alignment giving 30 seconds untrailed stars to 120 seconds unguided exposures with our Equinox 80ED refractor by using the iPolar, so an immediate improvement and ideal for anyone wanting an easier way to polar align their system.