8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

So you’ve purchased that lovely sparkling new telescope with Goto technology but it just will not point to the object your trying to look at. You are not the only person to be frustrated by this but you can improve the accuracy of your Goto telescope by some simple measures. In order for a Goto telescope to be accurate there are a number of things that it needs to know. Hopefully, by following these simple tips you can improve the accuracy of your Goto telescope and be enjoying the night sky and its wonders in no time.


1. Levelling


Before you even switch your telescope on the inaccuracy can start. Your telescope should be level to the ground to make best use of the Goto software. Some telescopes come with a built in spirit level, but if you don’t have that then you can use a normal spirit level. Many smartphones come with spirit level apps or can be purchased for free from app stores. Take your time getting this right, its one of the most common reasons for inaccuracy. Don’t forget to make sure that the telescope is placed on soft ground to reduce shaking when viewing. Push the telescope tripod into the ground and make sure the ground isn’t too soft or the telescope will sink over time and the telescope will keep needing to be levelled.


2. Calibrate Goto


This is usually overlooked but on Celestron telescopes you can calibrate the Goto. To do this you must put your low power eyepiece (the eyepiece you are using to first locate the object after the Goto has slewed to the object of interest) onto the telescope and have it balanced correctly if you are using an equatorial mount. Then press menu and navigate to Utilities press enter and scroll to “Calibrate Goto” press Enter. The telescope will then slew around as it calibrates the motors for the weight and balance of the telescope with your first observing lens in place.


3. Power 

Celestron Power Tank


If you are running on batteries make sure they are fresh. It’s much better to purchase a power tank so the voltage and power remains consistent throughout your observing session. 


4. Position


Find out exactly where you are on planet earth. This is easy to find on the iphone’s compass if your Goto telescope doesn’t have GPS built-in. Load the app on the iphone and it shows your current longitude and latitude at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, you can find your coordinates for free at this website by simply putting in your address or postcode. http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/geocode.


5. Time of day


You need to put in the date and time when you switch on your telescope. Use your mobile phone to find the exact time, if you can see the seconds then put them in, if not wait until the minutes change before pressing enter.


Sirius A and B Hubble photo NASA ESA.jpg

6. Choose the best stars


Goto will be more accurate if you can choose to align to stars on opposite sides of the sky and at different heights above the horizon.


7. Defocus


Do you find it difficult to accurately put a star in the centre of the field of view when you are setting up the Goto. It can be difficult to place a “dot” in the centre of a large field of view. You can improve your accuracy by making the star bigger. If you defocus the star it will change from a point of light to a loop of light. This defocused circle of starlight is much easier to place in the centre of the field of view. Once you have it centred swap to a higher power eyepiece and do the same to really have accurate placement. Remember to always refocus before swapping lenses though or you may lose where your original star was.


8. Wide field of view


Use an eyepiece with a wide field of view and or low magnification, this will be an eyepiece with a high number of millimetres on it (focal length of the eyepiece) or you may purchase a specialised wide field eyepiece (such as The Panoptic by Televue). These will help to make sure the object you are looking to find is in the field of view if the Goto telescope hasn’t managed to precisely put the object in the centre of your view.


So there you have it. Hopefully if you follow these steps those frustrating Goto moments will be a thing of the past.

Related Posts: Observing

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Part 1. Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy

Part 2. Binoculars or a telescope, which should I buy first?

Part 3. 5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

Part 4. Goto or Not Goto? That is the Question

Part 5. How to Set-up an Astronomy Telescope

Part 6. 8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

Part 7. 10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

Part 8. 5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

Part 9. Which Eyepieces Do I Need?

Part 10. 10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

Part 11: How Can I See Deep Space Objects Better?

Part 12: How Can I See More Detail On Planets?

Part 13: How to Dress for Astronomical Success

Extras: Beginner Astronomy Telescopes

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