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Solar System Align

Introduced with NexStar hand control version 4 (first included with the CPC) and available in all newer versions, Solar System Align is available in alt-az mode (scope mounted directly on the tripod) and equatorial mode (scope mounted on a wedge).  Solar System Align is designed to provide excellent tracking and GoTo performance during daytime use.  Now you will be able to actually GoTo the Sun (with appropriate filter), Moon, planets and bright stars for daytime viewing.


  • Power up the scope.
  • Press ENTER to begin, use the Up and Down buttons (6 and 9 on the keypad) to scroll to Solar Sys.Align and then ENTER again.
  • The hand control will show either the current time or the time when you last used the scope.  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 3 GPS satellites and update the date, time, and location.  If you become impatient waiting for a GPS link, or if you don't have a GPS module in your scope, 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 adjusted, press Undo and make any necessary corrections.
  • The display will now prompt to Select Object.  By pressing the Up and Down buttons (6 and 9 on the keypad) you can select from the Sun, Moon or planets that are currently between 15 and 70 degrees above the horizon.  Note that to include the Sun in the list, you must first access the Menu button (UNDO back to the "Press ENTER to begin alignment" prompt), select Utilities and then Sun Menu.  This is a one-time setting and will be stored for future use.  Note that you must have a safe solar filter or cap the scope and use a "sun finder" to safely use the Sun as an alignment object!
  • After you press ENTER to select the solar system object you wish to use for alignment, use the arrow buttons to slew (move) to the that object.  Center the object in the finderscope and press ENTER.  Then center the object in the eyepiece and press ALIGN.
  • If you are only interested in viewing the object you aligned on, you are finished.  If you would like accurate GoTo and tracking that to view other objects, continue with the next step - you may be surprised how easily planets and bright stars are to see in the eyepiece during the day!
  • To provide accurate GoTo and tracking across the sky, use the hand control's normal GoTo for any object that can be seen in the daylight and use the NexStar Re-Alignment feature to replace the "Unassigned" star with that object. 

Additional details:

  • As with all the new NexStar alignment methods, Solar System Align does not care where the optical tube is pointed at the beginning of the alignment.
  • To get better tracking and more accurate GoTo while still relying on a single alignment point, be sure to level the tripod before you start.
  • If you do not have a GPS-equipped telescope, be accurate to within a couple of minutes when entering the time.  Also, either select a city within 50 miles or enter your longitude and latitude to within a degree or two.
  • If you use Re-Alignment to replace the unassigned star, you may not use the same object you aligned on originally.  In other words, if you first alignment on Jupiter, you cannot replace the "Unassigned" star with Jupiter.
  • Be sure to center the objects with the same final movements as the direction of the GoTo Approach.  For example, if the scope normally finishes a GoTo with the front of the scope moving right and up, you will center all three objects in the eyepiece with the right and down arrow buttons (the up/down arrows reverse at slew rates of 6 or lower).  For more details on this, refer to my book The NexStar User's Guide or the other general alignment guides found here on my web site.

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Michael Swanson
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