How To Set The Equatorial Home Position

The Equatorial Home Position (EQ Home) is an important parking position to place your mount in. It’s the basis where your Go-To works from. Having an accurate EQ Home will make your life easier. It will improve your Go-To accuracy, make it easier to use finder-scopes to align as well as speeding up plate-Solving.

In this post I’m going to show you how to set the equatorial home position. In this example I’ll be using my Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro, but the instructions here will apply to any EQ mount. For this recipe you’ll need your EQ Mount and a Spirit Level.

With that said, let’s begin.

How To Set The Equatorial Home Position

Begin by assembling your mount. Spread the tripod out and fix the spreader plate if needed. You will also want to level the tripod. Be sure to remove any telescopes and counterweights you have fitted. To find the EQ home position, we want the mount to just be there on its own.

Set up the mount with no load or counterweights on it

After this is done, you’re ready to begin getting the home position sorted.

Setting The Right Ascension Axis

We’re going to begin by aligning the Right Ascension axis. It doesn’t matter if your mount has any altitude set on it. As you can see in the above photo, I’m at my altitude and this can still be done. I’ve tested this before and it doesn’t change the result. We’re aligning it parallel to the ground after all.

Unlock your Right Ascension clutch so the axis can move freely. From there, you want to prepare your Spirit Level for getting this done.

Unlock the RA clutch and begin to turn it until the horizontal position

Place your Spirit Level on the counterweight shaft and position it until the Spirit Level indicates level.

Horizontal Position on RA

From there now lock the RA clutch to fix that in place. Next we need to move over to the RA setting circle, from there we’ll make our final adjustment to the axis.

The Right Ascension Setting Circle

The setting circle on the Right Ascension Axis is basically a 24-hour clock. It’s actually like 23 hours 56 minutes as it’s based on the sidereal rate. Either way our counterweight bar is currently at a quarter turn. Which on the 24 hour clock is 6 hours.

Go to the setting circle and turn it until it says 6 o clock on the indicator arrow.

Set your RA axis to 6 o clock

Next up you can either use the hand controller or just manually move the RA axis by undoing the clutch. Either way, tighten the setting circle’s thumbscrew down so the circle doesn’t spin on its own. Once that’s all done, we now are going to turn the mount in RA, in the direction needed to put the counterweight bar down. We want to turn it (gently) until the setting circle reads 0 (midnight).

Once that’s done the Right Ascension axis is set.

Turn the RA axis until the setting circle reads 0

Setting The Declination Axis

Setting the Declination Axis is very similar to the Right Ascension axis. We’re going to use the spirit level again and you might be able to slip it in and lock it into the puck. Either way, we want to undo the Declination clutch so it can move freely, and then turn it through 90° until the spirit level reads level.

Place the spirit level into the puck
Turn in Declination until it’s level to the ground

It’s worth noting that due to the design of the puck, you might notice that one side of the puck is different to the other. So don’t be deterred. In terms of which side to put the bolts on with your puck – in my opinion it’s widely up to you. I set them to the left of the EQ6-R Pro because I can wrap wires around them to make my life a bit easier. It’s now time to move to the declination axis setting circle.

The Declination Axis Setting Circle

In a similar way that the Right Ascension setting circle is a 24 hour clock, the declination circle is a 90° gauge. It runs from 0° to 90° and then back to 0°. We’ve turned the axis through a quarter turn. A quarter of 360° (a full circle) is 90°. So go to your setting circle and turn it until the indicator reads 90°.

Move the setting circle until 90° indicated

Again now tighten the thumbscrews just enough in order to prevent the setting circle from slipping. Undo the clutch or use the hand controller to move through 90° until your declination bolts are on the side you desire and the setting circle reads 0.

Turn gently through declination until the indicator shows 0

Lock the clutch down, and you’re done!

The EQ Home position is now set

Further Thoughts

So as originally stated: an accurate Equatorial Home position makes your life so much easier for everything else. It’ll make your Go-To more accurate and streamline everything.

The EQ Home position is the first part of the puzzle. From here now you can do your polar alignment, and then your star alignment (if you’re not plate solving that is). After this, you’re done and free to enjoy your clear night’s observing or imaging.

You could also put a small marker on your mount’s RA and Declination axis so that way you can always find your way back home if required. Sometimes you lose power, or your mount might bug out and you need to turn it off and on again without parking. Be sure to set your park position to the EQ home position also.

Set The Park Position To EQ Home

If you followed my tip and put markers on your mount then this next step is a cinche. Turn the mount on, and tell your mount to park. Turn the mount off, and then just undo your clutches and re-position the axis to the home position markers. Done.

If not, then you can tell the mount to park first, then conduct the EQ Home Position steps. This way now your park position will be set to your EQ Home position.

Thanks very much for reading everyone. I hope these steps were clear and easy to follow. If you prefer to watch a video on the matter, then you can see my video on YouTube below.

Clear skies everyone, keep looking up and keep them cameras clicking.

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