Most of the time, your SkyProdigy scope will work right out of the box.
However, it’s always good to know the best way to use the SkyProdigy mount. Also some observing locations and conditions might cause problems. Here are some tips for improving your SkyProdigy’s performance and accuracy.
1) Tripod. Make sure the three braces are fully extended and the accessory tray locked to stiffen the tripod. Check tightness of the individual leg hinge bolts at the tripod’s top. Level your tripod by using the built-in bubble level. Choose a flat location. If necessary, lengthen-shorten the tripod legs until the bubble is centered. Finally, tighten the tripod leg locks.
NOTE: Leveling should be checked after final assembly of the scope and also if the scope-tripod is bumped, tube shifted in its clamp, etc.
2) Fork arm on tripod. Make sure the single-arm mount base is fully inserted into the tripod’s mounting platform and the coupling screw fully hand tightened.
3) Telescope tube in clamp. Make sure the dovetail bar is fully into the clamp so the bar is bottomed out in the clamp. Make sure you fully slide the bar into the clamp. With the SkyProdigy 130, this is when the positioning stop on the bar touches the clamp on the mount arm.
Observing Site Considerations
1) Pick a location where you will have the most unobstructed view of the sky. SkyProdigy’s StarSense Auto needs a clear view to the right or clockwise of the starting position. It basically moves clockwise approximately 90 degrees between successive images, so it needs a clear sky between 12 o’clock and approximately 9 o’clock to be successful.
2 ) Choose a site that has no bright lights that will shine on your SkyProdigy. Streetlights and the full moon can interfere with alignments.
If you can’t find such a site, then use SkyProdigy’s StarSense manual alignment. It’s found by pressing the hand control’s Align button, then scrolling to StarSense Manual and pressing Enter. It allows you to manually point to three clear, dark areas of the sky for the StarSense camera to acquire images and build a successful alignment.
Change the StarSense Camera Capture Settings
By changing the exposure and gain of the alignment camera, you can compensate for the full moon, hazy/urban skies, suburban settings with lights, dark skies with too many stars for the camera (!) and even winds that may jar the camera while it’s getting an alignment image.
To access these predefined settings and a custom option, first enable the advanced menu by pressing Menu > Utilities > Menu Levels, scroll for Advanced, then press Enter. Next find Menu > StarSense Camera > Capture Settings and choose the one best fitting your observing circumstances. When done, realign the scope.
SkyProdigy 130 Collimation
The field of view of the SkyProdigy 130 with a 25mm eyepiece is only about 2 degrees and the StarSense camera’s field of view is only about 5 degrees. To work properly, the optical axes of both your scope and the StarSense camera must be aligned. This is called calibration and it’s done at the factory. However, over time and in use, the optics of the Newtonian SkyProdigy 130 may shift and need collimation. The calibration of the SkyProdigy is affected by this loss of collimation. The result is poor pointing accuracy or unsuccessful alignments. The cure is to collimate the 130’s optics.
To collimate the scope, see instructions in the manual as well as elsewhere in the Knowledgebase.
Once the telescope’s optics have been collimated, be sure to calibrate the SkyProdigy using that function in the hand control’s advanced menu (enabled by pressing Menu > Utilities > Menu Levels and choosing Advanced) under StarSense Camera.
It’s helpful to have your scope’s red-dot StarPointer properly adjusted and aligned with the main scope before starting to calibrate.
Solar System Objects
If there is low accuracy in finding planets and the moon as compared to other objects, check the time settings under Time and Location in the hand control menu. Update them to improve accuracy. More on this topic can be found here:
I can’t find the moon and planets with my SkyProdigy - help!
Solar System Alignment
What do you do to observe the sun during the day? Or to quickly align the scope at any time using either sun, moon or bright planets? Use Solar System alignment! Find it by pressing the Align button, then scrolling to Solar System Align and pressing Enter.
It differs from other alignment methods in not using the camera. If it’s daytime, be sure the cover is on the camera to protect it from the sun. Whenever aligning on or observing the sun, be sure your scope itself is equipped with a safe solar filter.
Once you’ve made the entries for time, site and object choice, you’ll slew the scope manually to center the planet, moon or sun in the field of view.
Since the moon and sun move at different rates than the rest of the sky, you can fine-tune tracking by pressing Menu > Telescope Settings > Tracking and choosing either solar or lunar rates.
You can add an additional alignment object (including stars) or replace one by slewing to the new alignment object and pressing Align. This will refine your Solar System align, making it more accurate.