Moon Phases displays the date and time of the next Full, New, 1st Quarter, and 3rd Quarter Moon.
Meteor Showers provides information on upcoming meteor showers (i.e., the Persieds, the Leonids, etc.), dates of the shower, and when it reaches maximum. Note that meteors are fast moving objects that cover large areas of the sky and are usually best observed with the naked eye.
Solar Eclipse lists upcoming Solar Eclipses, including the date and type of eclipse (total, annular, or partial), and the location and time of the first and last contacts of the Moon's shadow.
Lunar Eclipse lists upcoming Lunar Eclipses, including the date and type of eclipse (total, partial, penumbral).
Min. (Minimum) of Algol is the minimum brightness of the dramatic eclipsing binary star system, Algol. It is relatively close at a distance of 100 light years. Every 2.8 days during a 10 hour period, Algol undergoes a major change in apparent magnitude as one of the two stars passes behind the other. The combined magnitude of the two stars thus dips from +2.1 to a minimum of +3.4 halfway through the eclipse as the second star is hidden. Autostar calculates minimum magnitude time at mid-eclipse.
Autumn and Vernal Equinox calculates fall or spring equinox of the current year.
Winter and Summer Solstice calculates the winter or summer solstice of the current year.
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The Glossary menu provides an alphabetical listing of definitions and descriptions for common astronomical terms and Autostar functions. Access directly through the Glossary menu or through Hypertext words embedded in Autostar.
A hypertext word is any word in [brackets], usually found when using the Autostar Help function or reading a scrolling message such as a description of a planet or star. Press ENTER whenever a hypertext word is on screen and Autostar directly links to the glossary entry for that word.
To access directly from the Glossary menu, use the scroll keys to scroll through the alphabet. Press ENTER on the desired letter Scroll to the desired entry, then press ENTER to read the description.
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The Utilities menu provides access to several extra features within Autostar, including a countdown timer and an alarm. The Utilities functions include:
Timer selects a countdown timer. This feature is useful for things such as astrophotography and in tracking satellites (see Satellite). To use the Timer, press ENTER, then choose Set or Start/Stop.
- Set: Enter the time to be counted down, in hours, minutes, and seconds, then press ENTER.
- Start/Stop: Activates the timer set previously. Use the scroll keys to toggle between ON and OFF. When ON is displayed, press ENTER to activate the timer. When the timer runs out, four beeps sound and the timer is deactivated.
Alarm selects a time for an alarm signal as a reminder function. To use the Alarm, press ENTER, then choose Set or Start/Stop.
- Set: Enter the time of day for the alarm to sound, in hours, minutes, and seconds, then press ENTER.
- Start/Stop: Activates the alarm set previously. Use the scroll keys to toggle between ON and OFF. When ON is displayed, press ENTER to activate the alarm. When the alarm time arrives, Autostar beeps. Press ENTER to deactivate the alarm.
Eyepiece Calc calculates information about an eyepiece for the specific telescope to which Autostar is connected.
Brightness Adj adjusts the brightness of the display using the scroll keys. When complete, press ENTER.
- Field of View: Scroll through a list of available eyepieces. When an eyepiece is selected, the field of view is calculated.
- Magnification: Scroll through a list of available eyepieces. When an eyepiece is selected, the magnification is calculated.
- Suggest: Autostar calculates the best eyepiece for viewing, based on the telescope and the object being viewed.
Contrast Adj adjusts the contrast of the display using the scroll keys. When complete, press ENTER. This feature is usually only required in very cold weather.
Battery Alarm sounds when the batteries are nearing replacement. If not desired, use the scroll keys to change the display from YES to NO. Press ENTER and the reminder beep is deactivated.
Landmark Survey automatically slews the telescope to all user-defined landmarks with a short pause at each location. Press ENTER to start the survey. While a slew is in progress, press any key to skip that object and go to the next landmark on the list. To observe a landmark for a longer period, when paused on the object, press MODE to stop the survey. Press ENTER to restart the survey at the first object.
Sleep Scope is a power saving option that shuts down Autostar and the telescope without forgetting its alignment. Press ENTER to activate the Sleep function and Autostar goes dark but the internal clock keeps running. Press any key, except ENTER, to re-activate Autostar and the telescope.
Park Scope is designed for a telescope that is not moved between observing sessions. Align the telescope one time, then use this function to park the telescope. Next time it is powered up, enter the correct date and time - no alignment is required. Pressing ENTER causes the telescope to move to its pre-determined Park position. Once parked, the screen prompts to turn off power.
NOTE: When the Park Scope option is chosen and the display prompts to turn off the telescope power, Autostar is unable to be returned to operation without turning the power off and then back on.
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The Setup menu primary function is to align the telescope (see ALIGNMENT). However, there are numerous other features available within Setup. These options include:
Date changes the date used by Autostar. This function is useful to check events in the past or future. An example would be to set the desired date and then check the Select Item: Event menu for the sunset time or moon phase on that date (see EVENT MENU).
AUTOSTAR MENU FUNCTIONS
Time changes the time entered into Autostar. Setting the correct time is critical for Autostar to properly calculate locations and events.
Daylight Saving is used to set the status of Daylight Savings time.
NOTE: Daylight Savings Time may be referred to by a different name in various areas of the world. Check local time to be certain.
Telescope accesses the telescope options, including:
- Telescope Model: Selects the model of telescope connected to Autostar.
- Focal Length: Changes the focal length (in millimeters - mm) of the telescope. To change the focal length, type in the new numbers, then press ENTER.
- Az Ratio and Alt Ratio: The Az (Azimuth) ratio and Alt (Altitude) ratio refers to the gears installed in the telescope motors. Do not alter these numbers.
- Mount: Choose between Alt/Az mount or Polar Mount. A polar mount requires that the telescope be physically polar aligned.
- Train Drive: Trains the altitude and azimuth motors to locate objects with more precision. This function is very important to accomplish the first time Autostar is connected to a telescope. Be sure to follow the procedure described in TRAINING THE DRIVE to insure accurate tracking.
- Tracking Rate: Changes the speed at which the telescope tracks targets in the sky.
- Sidereal: The default setting for Autostar; sidereal rate is the standard rate at which stars move from east to west across the sky due to the rotation of the Earth.
- Lunar: Choose this option to properly track the Moon over long observing sessions.
- Custom: Allows entry of user-defined tracking rates.
- Reverse L/R: Reverses the functions of the left and right arrows (i.e., the right key moves the telescope to the left).
- Reverse UP/DOWN: Reverses the functions of the up and down arrows (i.e., the up key moves the telescope down).
NOTE: The reverse functions above are useful for observers in the southern hemisphere (i.e., South America, Australia, Africa, etc.)
- Calibrate Motor: If the telescope motors appear to have a problem, use this option to retest the motors before doing a Reset. This option is also used if Autostar is moved between telescopes to match Autostar to the telescope.
- High Precision: If High Precision is turned on, when looking for a faint celestial object (i.e., a nebula or galaxy) Autostar first slews to a nearby bright star and requests ENTER to Sync. Center the star in the eyepiece, then press ENTER. At that point the telescope has a high precision alignment to that part of the sky and it then slews to the originally requested object.
Targets switches between Astronomical targets and Terrestrial targets. If Astronomical targets are selected, the telescope tracking motor is activated. If Terrestrial targets are selected, the tracking motor is turned off.
Site provides access to the Site options including:
- Select: Displays the currently selected site. Use the scroll keys to cycle through all available sites. Press ENTER to select a new site. Up to six sites may be stored.
- Add: Adds a new observing site to the database.
- Delete: Deletes a stored site from the database.
- Edit: Edits a selected site, including: the name, latitude, longitude, and time zone. Time Zone refers to the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone shift. Users west of Greenwich, England use - hours, east of Greenwich use + hours. For the United States, look up the time zone shift in the table.