Circuit Description

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

Setting circles on an astronomical telescope are used as an aid to pointing the telescope at a particular object in the sky based upon the object`s celestial coordinates. However, setting circles can be difficult to use effectively and are usually not precise enough for putting objects in the telescope`s field of view. Digital setting circles, on

Circuit Description
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the other hand, can be made to be much more precise and fairly easy to use, making it relatively simple to find faint fuzzies in the sky without lots of star hopping. What are digital setting circles You`ve probably seen them in ads in the astronomy magazines: NGC MAX, Sky Wizard, and Sky Vector, to name a few. They`re hand-held electronic devices which, when coupled with encoders which precisely measure the movement of the telescope on its axes, can tell you precisely where your telescope is pointed, or can guide you directly to an object you specify. (It`s worth noting that digital setting circles do not move your telescope. Rather, they simply give you feedback as you move it yourself. ) Some digital setting circles systems interface to a PC and can be controlled by software. TheSky, Megastar, and Earth Centered Universe are examples of commercial PC software which can communicate with digital setting circles systems. All of these packages integrate a planetarium view with the system and can be quite useful on portable computers used with the telescope in the field. The project which I describe below is simply an interface between the encoders mounted on the telescope and a PC running appropriate control software. It is not a stand-alone unit it is useless without a PC to communicate with it. It is compatible with several other types of digital setting circle interfaces, including BBox, NGC-MAX, SGT-MAX, and MicroGuider...

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