Telescope Startup/Shutdown Procedure

This startup/shutdown sequence should be followed everytime you observe with the telescope. In particular, the telescope should be parked at the end of the night before it is powered off, or it will lose it's initial positioning.

This list is only a reminder. It is assumed you know how to perform each of the steps correctly. If not, get someone who does know to teach you!

The sequence assumes you are driving the telescope with the handset. If you are using the computer to control the telescope, the steps are the same, but most of the handset commands can be issued directly from the computer.

Start up

  • Remove and store plastic cover from telescope (Note, telescope does not usually have cover on any more)
    • Leave blue snout on front of telescope, or lens cap on telescope if in place.
  • Start the dome opening
    • Decide whether you want the lower slit open or not. With the slit up, you can observe zenith to 30 degrees altitude. With the slit down, you can observe 65 degrees to the horizon. If you want to leave the slit down, pull the chain on the slit as it opens to disengage the catch.
    • If the dome doesn't move/open, check that the dome controllers are in "local" mode
    • Once the dome is completely open
      • Remove the lens cap from the telescope, if on, and store
      • Remove the cap of the finder scope, if on, and store.
  • Start the log-book, with the time you opened the dome
    • A complete log is very important for recording the use of the telescope, and justifying funding in the future
  • Log onto the computer with your Physics login (optional)
  • Power on telescope with the slide switch on telescope base
    • Wait until telescope handset says "TELESCOPE / OBJECT LIBRARY" (~20 seconds)
  • Home the telescope
    • Slew the telescope so it is roughly due south at 0 declination (if not already there)
    • Press "mode" on the handset until the display shows "1) SITE 2) ALIGN"
    • Press the down arrow key to select "3) HOME". Press enter
    • Press the down arrow key to select "1) FIND". Press enter
    • The telescope will move slightly in RA and DEC to find it's limit switches.
    • The handset won't beep when it's finished. Wait until it says "Home sync complete"
    • If the handset says "Home seach failed" the POINTING WILL NOT WORK. Try again, moving the telescope to due south, 0 degrees dec. Try cycling the telescope power...
  • The telescope now knows where it is, and will slew straight(ish) to a star
  • Check/update the Siderial time the telescope has stored.
    • Press "MODE" on the handset until the display shows "LOCAL" and "SIDE"
    • The time on the telescope handset is only good to a few minutes every month, and needs updating regularly to keep it in sync.
    • The clock on the wall shows LOCAL time to within a few seconds. Remember to adjust for DST to get UTC
    • Use the computer to check the network time; , which will give you the UTC to within 0.4 seconds. Alternatively
  • Edit the UTC on the handset if appropriate
    • Hold down "Enter" on the "LOCAL" time
    • Use E/W buttons to go left/right, and type in the time
  • Slew the telescope to a known bright star, to check and refine the pointing
    • Pick a star from the list in the Meade manual with a few hours of the meridian and dec>0
    • Slew to the star from the handset by pressing "STAR" and then the three digit number. "Enter" and "GoTo"
    • Centre the star in the eyepiece (try to get it in the central 20% of the field, at least)
    • Hold down "Enter" on the object information, and you should see "Coordinates Matched"
    • The telescope coordinates are now more refined and pointing will be more accurate.
  • Focus the telescope and the guider on the star
    • Slew to a brightish star (3--6) near the zenith, if possible
    • Check that you can at least see the star in the main telescope and the guider -- if not, fix the pointing before trying to focus
    • If the motor focuser is not on the main telescope, get the focus close by turning the focus knob (marked "focuser") on the back of the telescope
      • Before turning the focus knob on the telescope (thicker knob), make sure the mirror tension screw (thinner knob with spring) is backed off enough, and there is some play in the tension spring
    • If the motor focuser is on the main telescope, get the focus close by holding down "focus" and pressing the up or down arrows on the handset -- you should hear the motor whir
    • Refine the main telescope focus with the crayford focuser holding the eyepiece.
    • If the motor focuser is on the guide telescope, focus using the handset (TBC strapped to the side of the eastern telescope fork)
      • Put the focuser into "manual" mode by pressing and holding the central button (it will cycle through options)
      • Press the "in" and "out" buttons to bring the star into focus in the eyepiece
  • You are now ready to observe!


For normal observing, make sure the telescope is in "POLAR" mode in the "1) TELESCOPE -> 2) ALIGN" menu
  • Slewing to objects with the handset
    • Press "Mode" until the display shows "TELESCOPE / OBJECT LIBRARY"
    • Select either "M", "Star" or "CNGC"
    • Now type in the number of the object you want to observe, noting that:
      • Solar system objects are "Star 90X", where "X" is the number of the planet (i.e. Jupiter is 905)
      • The moon is not listed in the handset, you will have to slew manually
      • Venus (902) is not reliable from the handset -- the ephemeris is too old!
      • The NGC catalogue in the handset is not complete
    • Press "Enter" to bring up the object information - check you have the right one
    • Press "GoTo" and the telescope should slew to the object
  • Centre the object in the eyepiece
    • Choose the "CNTR" speed on the handset (2nd bottom button on the left hand side)
    • After a slew, you may have to select "FIND" and then "CNTR" again, as it seems to forget it's selection...
  • When the object is centred, press and hold "Enter" to sync the telescope coordinates to the object
For looking at church steeples / Didcot chimney when it is cloudy
  • Put the telescope in to "LAND" mode via the "1) TELESCOPE -> 2) ALIGN" menu. This turns off the telescope tracking
  • Manually slew the telescope to point at a church steeple with the N/S/E/W keys. Remember the image is inverted


  • Park the telescope
    • Go into the "1) TELESCOPE -> 3) HOME" menu on the handset
    • Select "2) PARK"
    • The telescope will slew to it's known home position
    • When the slew has finished. turn the telescope off via the slider switch
      • Note that parking the telescope DOES NOT turn off the drives!! This is very silly, but the way the telescope works. You must turn off the telescope, or it will continue to track!
    • The telescope is now in a defined position, and will know where it is when it is turned on next
  • Put the lens caps on the telescope and finder scope (if used)
    • These are usually left off these days
  • Close the dome
    • REMEMBER! if the lower shutter is down, pull the cable to release the catch, or it will make a very loud bang!
  • Rotate the dome so the slit is pointing south-west (line up the black tape markers)
  • Turn off the power to the dome and slit
  • Make sure you have completed the observing log
  • Log off from the computer, if you logged in
  • Check the telescope is turned off!
  • Generally tidy up for the next observer
  • Turn off the lights, and lock the doors
-- FraserClarke - 07 Dec 2016
Topic revision: r7 - 07 Dec 2016, FraserClarke
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