Stargazing - Common Techniques - Setting Circles

Setting circles are angular measurement scales that can be placed on the two main rotation axes of some telescopes. Since the widespread adoption of digital setting circles, any classical engraved setting circle is now specifically identified as an "analog setting circle" (ASC). By knowing the coordinates of an object (usually given in equatorial coordinates), the telescope user can use the setting circle to align the telescope in the appropriate direction before looking through its eyepiece. A computerized setting circle is called a "digital setting circle" (DSC). Although digital setting circles can be used to display a telescope's RA and Dec coordinates, they are not simply a digital read-out of what can be seen on the telescope's analog setting circles. As with go-to telescopes, digital setting circle computers (commercial names include Argo Navis, Sky Commander, and NGC Max) contain databases of tens of thousands of celestial objects and projections of planet positions.

To find an object, such as globular cluster NGC 6712, one does not need to look up the RA and Dec coordinates in a book, and then move the telescope to those numerical readings. Rather, the object is chosen from the database and arrow markers appear in the display which indicate the direction to move the telescope. The telescope is moved until the distance value reaches zero. When both the RA and Dec axes are thus "zeroed out", the object should be in the eyepiece. The user therefore does not have to go back and forth from some other database (such as a book or laptop) to match the desired object's listed coordinates to the coordinates on the telescope. However, many DSCs, and also go-to systems, can work in conjunction with laptop sky programs.

Computerized systems provide the further advantage of computing coordinate precession. Traditional printed sources are subtitled by the 'epoch year, which refers to the positions of celestial objects at a given time to the nearest year (e.g., J2005, J2007). Most such printed sources have been updated for intervals of only about every fifty years (e.g., J1900, J1950, J2000). Computerized sources, on the other hand, are able to calculate the right ascension and declination of the "epoch of date" to the exact instant of observation.

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Other articles related to "setting circles, setting circle":

Digital Setting Circles
... Digital setting circles (DSC) consist of two rotary encoders on both axis of the telescope mount and a digital readout ...
Stargazing - Common Techniques - Setting Circles
... Setting circles are angular measurement scales that can be placed on the two main rotation axes of some telescopes ... Since the widespread adoption of digital setting circles, any classical engraved setting circle is now specifically identified as an "analog setting circle" (ASC) ... coordinates), the telescope user can use the setting circle to align the telescope in the appropriate direction before looking through its eyepiece ...

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