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Common Problems with Alignment on the NexStar GT Telescopes

This list summarizes several potential problems that can prevent you from aligning your NexStar 60/76/80/102/114/4/130.  Additionally, be sure to download a copy of the NexStar Alignment Guide so that you can not only get an alignment, but you can get a good alignment.

  • Insure you are using a reliable power source for your scope - click here for more details.
  • Your scope might be mounted backwards in the tube ring (does not apply to the NexStar 4 GT).  The tube ring should be oriented such that the bolt that holds it closed is on the top.  Then, when facing the side where the hand control cable attaches to the fork arm, the front of the optical tube should be pointed to the right.  Note that on the N76/114/130, the front of the optical tube is the end with the opening.  Refer to your manual; the pictures are correct, even if it didn't come that way from the factory!
  • The hand control may have the wrong model selected.  Incorrectly setting the model will result in the scope missing the alignment stars by a significant, but consistent amount.   Then after you manually center the stars, all GoTos will miss by a significant but consistent amount.  Even if you go back to one of the alignment stars the scope will miss.   If this sounds like your scope, the model may be set incorrectly. 
    • With all but the "original" GT hand control (see the next bullet for that older model), press the Menu button, select Utilities, and scroll to Select Model and press Enter.  Scroll up or down to display the correct model and press Enter.
    • If you own the original GT hand control (easiest to identify by the lack of a Quick Align option), do not select the model of scope from the menu in the GT control.  If you do your scope cannot be aligned properly.  To correctly set the model of scope, simply access the menu, scroll up to Model Select, choose Custom and enter the correct encoder numbers for both "AZM" and "ALT".  Enter 0726559 for the NexStar 60 and 80.  Enter 1059334 for the NexStar 114 and 4.  Again, note that this only applies to the old GT hand control without the Two Star and Quick Alignment options.
  • If you have the original GT hand control, do not store and use locations (longitude/latitude) if you are in the Eastern Hemisphere - Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.  There is a problem with the original GT control that prevents using stored locations with an east latitude.
  • Be sure you are entering the date in mm/dd/yy format.
  • If you have the original GT hand control, don't bother using military (24 hour) time, you must still set PM/AM anyway.  With any NexStar scope, if you are aligning after midnight, entering 0130 will still require you to change the PM to AM.
  • Watch for double key entries - they are common with the original GT control and can cause problems, particularly when entering longitude and latitude.
  • If you are not in North America, you will need to select a time zone.  In the original GT control, these are not the usual offset from UTC (GMT), but instead you should refer to the time zone charts in the manual (24 - offset from UTC).
  • If you are new to astronomy, it will be important that your scope points accurately to the two alignments stars, otherwise you might center on an incorrect star.  To assure accurate pointing during auto-alignment, level the tripod (use a small level in the accessory tray), then point at Polaris (the North Star), then lower the optical tube to the level position (it is best to use a set of marks as described in the NexStar Alignment Guide).  Click here for a table and all-sky chart of the 40 NexStar alignment stars so that you won't be fooled by an incorrect star.
  • Occasionally the alignment procedure will be completely off-track.  If your scope doesn't point anywhere near what you think is the correct star, you are best off pulling the plug and starting over.

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