With SkyAlign, setting up and using a computerized telescope is faster and easier than ever before. Point the telescope at three bright objects in the sky, and the telescope tells you what the objects are. You don’t need to know the names of the stars—you can even pick the Moon or bright planets!
SkyAlign is the simplest method to align a computerized telescope, providing ease of use for beginners while retaining the accuracy demanded by experienced users.
Input the date, time, and your location (GPS-equipped telescopes obtain all this information automatically) and then point the telescope at any three bright objects. There is no need to point the telescope north or to level the optical tube as in previous alignment methods: the initial position of the telescope is irrelevant.
“We decided to test [SkyAlign] by having the telescope slew to Jupiter. It hit Jupiter dead center in the 40 mm eyepiece. Not center third of the field of view, not close to center, but dead center. We were all amazed.” – Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT)
What is Alignment?
You have to know where you are in order to determine where you’re going. That’s what aligning a computerized telescope is all about. The telescope software needs to know the exact orientation of the telescope in relation to the night sky in order to find the tens of thousands of celestial objects programmed in the hand control.
Taking the Guesswork Out of Alignment
Other methods for aligning a computerized telescope require the user to confirm what star the telescope is pointing at in order to align. If you don’t know where Arcturus or Sirius is, how can you confirm that information? The best you can do is guess. With SkyAlign, you truly don’t need to know anything about the night sky in order to enjoy it—and it’s only available from Celestron.
What telescopes feature SkyAlign?
SkyAlign technology is standard on LCM, NexStar GT, NexStar SLT, NexStar SE, and CPC telescopes.
Will SkyAlign work with German equatorial scopes, or if my alt-az scope is on a wedge?
SkyAlign is not currently available for German equatorial mounts and does not work with alt-az scopes on a wedge.
Will SkyAlign work with my older Celestron computerized telescope?
SkyAlign will work with any Celestron computerized alt-az telescopes that use the NexStar software (excluding the original NexStar 5 and NexStar 8 models). However, a new flash-upgradeable hand control with SkyAlign will be required; this will allow you to download software updates from the Celestron website. Contact Celestron Technical Support for more information on obtaining an upgraded hand control.
What steps can I take to ensure successful alignment with SkyAlign?
- Be sure to level the tripod before you start. Assumptions about the available bright stars and planets rely on a level tripod. Once the alignment is complete, GoTo and tracking are not dependent upon the accuracy with which you leveled the tripod, so “close enough” is good enough. Several Celestron telescopes feature bubble levels built into the tripod to assist with leveling.
- If you do not have a GPS-equipped telescope, make sure your time is accurate to within a couple of minutes.
- Select a city within 50 miles or enter your longitude and latitude to within one degree.
- Only stars of magnitude 2.5 or brighter are included in the SkyAlign procedure, so it is best to take a look around and select three of the brightest objects in the sky. Don’t worry about confusing planets for stars: SkyAlign also works with the four brightest planets (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars). You can even use the Moon as one of your alignment objects, though due to its size and the speed with which it moves across the sky, you would need to switch to a low-power eyepiece to center it.
- Pick stars that are far apart from each other. Keep this in mind when scanning the sky for alignment stars, and be sure at least two of the three objects are widely spaced. Only two of the objects (those with widest separation) will actually be used for calculating the model of the sky; the third provides a positive identification of the other two.
What are the steps of the SkyAlign procedure?
- Level the tripod.
- Set up the telescope in alt-az mode (mounted right on top of the tripod).
- Power on the scope.
- Scan across the sky looking for three bright points. Two of them should have wide separation, while the third should not be close to the line connecting the other two.
- On the hand control, press Enter to begin, then press Enter again when the display reads SkyAlign. The hand control will show either the current time or the time when you last used the telescope. The top line of the display will cycle through the messages “Enter if OK” and “UNDO to edit.”*
- If your scope has a GPS module, the GPS receiver will shortly lock onto three GPS satellites and update the date, time, and location; when this happens, skip to step 6.
- If you don’t have a GPS module in your scope or don’t want to wait for the GPS sync, use the Up and Down buttons (6 and 9 on the keypad) to scroll through the date, time, and location settings. If they are all correct, press Enter to accept and proceed with the alignment. If they need to be adjusted, press Undo and make any necessary corrections. You will see a short message about what will happen next; press Enter to continue.
- The display will now prompt you to center the first object. Use the arrow buttons to slew (move) the telescope to the first of your bright objects. Center the object in the finderscope and press Enter. Then, center the object in the eyepiece and press Align.
- Repeat Step 8 for two additional objects.
- The hand control will display “Match Confirmed” and ask you if you’d like to see the matches (press Enter) or continue (press Undo). If you hit Enter to see the matches, it brings up a list of the matches that you can scroll through.
* Time entry will vary depending on the mount.