Meade Instruments Corporation
Telescopes · Binoculars · Microscopes

Magellan Telescope Computer System Instruction Manual
 I. Introduction
IMPORTANT NOTICE! Never use a telescope or spotting scope to look at the Sun! Observing the Sun, even for the shortest fraction of a second, will cause irreversible damage to your eye as well as physical damage to the telescope or spotting scope itself.

This equipment has been tested and found to comply with the limits for a CLASS B digital device, pursuant to Part 15 of the FCC Rules. These limits are designed to provide reasonable protection against harmful interference in a residential installation. This equipment generates, uses, and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions contained in this manual, may cause harmful interference to radio and television communications. However, there is no guarantee that interference will not occur in a particular installation.

If this equipment does cause harmful interference to radio of television reception, which can be determined by turning the equipment off and on, the user is encouraged to try to correct the interference by one or more of the following measures:

  • Reorient or relocate the receiving antenna.
  • Increase the separation between the equipment and the receiver.
  • Connect the equipment into an outlet on a circuit different from that of the receiver.
  • Consult the dealer or an experienced audio television technician.
NOTE: Connecting this device to peripheral devices that do not comply with CLASS B requirements, or using an unshielded peripheral data cable, could also result in harmful interference to radio or television reception.

The user is cautioned that any changes or modifications not expressly approved by the party responsible for compliance could void the user's authority to operate this equipment. To ensure that the use of this product does not contribute to interference, it is necessary to use shielded I/O cables.

I. Introduction

The Magellan Telescope Computer System offers an electronic package that permits the location and observation of thousands of deep-sky objects as well as all of the major planets. Features include:

[ toc ] A. Features

  • Celestial Navigation: Steer your telescope to any selected object using the distance display window. As you move the telescope, the distance to the object is continually updated. When within 1°, bars replace the distance meter, and shrink until the telescope is centered on the selected object.

  • Two Star Alignment: Point your telescope at two bright stars selected from the named common star database, and Magellan calculates an alignment solution that directs all subsequent movements of your telescope for fast, accurate object location. No need to level the telescope or input time, latitude, and longitude!

  • 12,218 - Object built-in Library: Select an object from either the Messier catalog, the complete NGC catalog, or the complete IC catalog. Use the STAR catalog to find bright stars, multiple stars, named common stars, and planets from Mercury to Pluto.

  • Liquid Crystal Display: Show information on a large, two-line, 32 character, red back lighted screen. Illumination is variable from bright to none in 16 levels.

  • Battery Operated: Power Magellan with a single 9 volt transistor radio battery for hours of computer-assisted observation time.

  • Digital readouts on both axes: Read the coordinates (RA and DEC) where your telescope is pointing, displayed to a precision of 5.3 arc-minutes (0.09°).

  • RS-232 Communications: Connect Magellan to Epoch 2000 (or other compatible programs) and display your telescope's position in the sky directly on the computer star map.

[ toc ] B. Principles of Operation

The Magellan system is quite simple in its basic operation. All telescopes have two axis rotation that are perpendicular to each other. By rotating the telescope on these axis the user can point to any object in the sky. On some telescopes like the Dobsonian, the telescope axes are basically aligned with the surface of the Earth. This is referred to as and "Altazimuth" (Altaz) configuration. Telescopes with clock drives, like the Meade Starfinder Equatorial, have the axes of rotation such that rotation about the celestial pole is possible. This is called a "Polar" configuration.

Magellan is a sophisticated microprocessor system that is programmed to understand the relationship between the moving sky and the Altaz and Polar configurations of a telescope. For the Magellan to operate properly, it must have information about where the telescope is pointing. This is done by installing encoders on both telescope axes of rotation. These encoders tell Magellan which direction an axis is moved and how far. The encoders divide the rotation into 4,096 reference points for a complete revolution. These encoders are installed according to the installation procedures supplied with the Magellan unit, and are designed specifically for your telescope.

Now that Magellan has the capability to determine various positions of your telescope, it needs to know how these positions relate to the sky. This is where alignment of the telescope is very important. Alignment is the process of telling Magellan how to relate telescope positions with actual sky locations. Once alignment is complete, Magellan knows where in the sky you are pointing and can direct you to new objects or identify objects you find. Alignment is basically accomplished by showing Magellan the location of two objects in the sky. The alignment objects (stars) are the brightest and most easily identifiable in the sky. Once you become familiar with the location of these objects alignment will become simple. This process is described in detail later.

Magellan will allow you to find objects too faint to be seen with the naked eye. One additional technique offered by Magellan is called "synchronizing." This is a method used to improve the accuracy of your telescope after it has been aligned. Alignment will not always be perfect and can have small variations that will be multiplied as you sweep long distances across the sky. These inaccuracies can be eliminated in a local area of sky by "synching" on a known object in that vicinity. This will help Magellan to improve its accuracy for other objects in the neighborhood and will permit you to very accurately find hidden objects by "synching" on a bright neighbor.

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