Plan your viewing and imaging sessions ahead of time to get the most out of them. Object lists are
typically sorted by right ascension. Instead my observing list is organized in 2-hour swaths across the sky so
that nearby objects are grouped together. This minimizes needless slewing. Here's my Excel-based observing
list (click to open or right-click to download):
The list uses macros to estimate transit times across the meridian. If you're afraid of web-based
macros, simply disable them and ignore the last column.
Here are text-based versions formatted for use with telescope control software programs and handboxes:
The Gemini, Meade and ScopeDriver downloads include an additional file of double stars.
Autostar users should also download the latest Meade tours. Then you can restore the built-in tours after you erase them accidentally (like I did). Each telescope
driver above is unique, and all get "two thumbs up" (each for different reasons). You can save your lists/tours
to the Autostar and Gemini handboxes prior to your session, eliminating the need for a computer in the field. Both GCC
and ScopeDriver support Gemini downloads. Meade's Autostar utilities are used to download user tours to Autostar. Connecting cables are available from Meade dealers, Losmandy dealers (for
Gemini), or can be made for you by Turner Instruments.
Since installation of my SkyShed POD I've found much of the sky is obstructed. To keep
me occupied without sliding the dome off, I've expanded my Gemini observing list to add more targets. Most of these
came from the Intelliscope listing for my Orion XX12 Dob. Here's the expanded Gemini list (XLS and GUC files):
I recommend polar mounting and a thorough drift alignment for all imaging, regardless of exposure
time. Here's the method I use to polar-align my 10" Meade LX200 "Classic" with the Milburn wedge. For equatorial
mounts, be sure to orient the diagonal toward the pole (emulate a fork mount).