making astronomy accessible to all

This brief tutorial explains how to polar align a typical equatorial trpod.

Level Your Tripod

Place your mount on to your tripod and use the bubble level as shown in the picture to level the tripod.

Setting Your Altitude

Once you have levelled the tripod you will need to set your mount to the correct altitude.

Ensure the equatorial mount is facing North as shown below

Locating The Polarscope

The Polarscope is located within the RA axis of the equatorial mount

Inside The Polarscope

The polarscope view above shows Polaris at its highest point in the sky.
Note: The image is inverted

This reticule comprises of Cassiopeia and the Plough, these etchings are merely a guide and you cannot see these constellations within the field of view of the polarscope

Simply rotate your mount until the etchings align with the angle of the constellations are in the night sky.

Polar Alignment Methods

Method 1

To help you angle the mount more accurately, you can use the free Polar Finder software. You can find out more information

Method 2

Use the Date and Time Setting Circles

Polaris marker should now be at the bottom of the field of view of the polarscope.
Align the index marker shown so that it is directly on top. This index marker is fixed and used to indicate the position of Polaris for future alignments.

Align the RA circle to 0 and rotate the date circle to 31st October. The circles and mount are now setup and ready to be used to polar align the mount.
The current position indicates the highest point of Polaris in the sky

Using universal time, rotate the RA axis until the current date aligns with the current time.

Polaris is now in the correct position to allow the mount to be polar aligned by using the alt-az controls.

Once you have polar aligned your equatorial mount, you are ready to place your telescope on to your mount

Further Reading

» Polar Alignment (simple alignment from Astro Baby)
» Polar Alignment (detailed procedure from Starizona Instruments)

Article by Gavin Lacey

Mid-Kent Astronomical Society
Website by and © Delta Consultancy Services