Astro-Tech - 10" RC collimation sheet

Astro-Tech - 10" RC collimation sheet
collimating an
astro-tech AT 10 RC
Your Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey-Chrétien’s primary and secondary
mirrors were collimated at the factory before being shipped.
Nevertheless, rough treatment in transit could potentially cause
the secondary mirror to be knocked out of collimation, and rough
and bumpy roads during transit to a dark sky observing site might
require periodic re-adjustments. The optical axis of the primary
mirror/baffle tube assembly is less likely to be knocked out of
collimation, but is capable of being collimated if needed.
Preliminary Collimation Check: You can roughly check the
collimation of both mirrors indoors before performing a more
rigorous star test for a final tweaking in the field. You will need a
Cheshire eyepiece to do this collimation check.
Set up your scope in a well-lit room with the telescope pointed
horizontally. Remove the lens cover and point the telescope at a
white (or light colored) wall. Remove all of the extension rings and
attach the focuser directly to the optical tube. Insert the Cheshire
eyepiece fully into the focuser using the 1.25” eyepiece adapter.
Lock the focuser drawtube firmly in place. Make sure there is a
light source directed at the 45° cutout in the side of the Cheshire.
Figure 1:
View through a
Cheshire eyepiece
(not to scale)
Reflective surface
of Cheshire
Front end of
optical tube
Viewing aperture
in center of
Cheshire eyepiece
End of focuser
drawtube (optical axis)
Surface of
room wall
mirror in its
Secondary mirror
spider vane
Reflection of the
interior of central
baffle tube; the
glare stop baffles
are visible as light
concentric rings
Matte black interior
of optical tube
Look through the Cheshire eyepiece. You will see a small black
dot within a centrally-located bright circle as seen in Figure 1,
above. The central black dot is the viewing aperture in the center
of the Cheshire eyepiece. The bright circle around the central dot
is the 45° reflective surface of the Cheshire eyepiece and the larger
black circle surrounding that is a reflection of the interior of the
scope’s baffle tube in the secondary mirror. Your room wall and
the interior of the optical tube form the background.
Concentric light-colored rings will be visible in the black circle of
the secondary mirror if your room and the light source aimed at
the cutout in the side of the Cheshire are bright enough. These are
the reflections from the glare stops machined into the baffle tube
interior. You are seeing the front of the glare stops that face the
sky and their visibility here simply shows that they are doing their
job of reflecting stray light back at the sky.
The ring of light around the entire Cheshire field, as shown in
Figure 1, is the end of the focuser drawtube (the optical axis of
the scope). You can disregard this for the time being. It will be
covered later, when checking the primary mirror collimation.
If the central black dot (the viewing aperture of the eyepiece)
appears centered in the circular reflective surface of the Cheshire
eyepiece as shown above, no further significant adjustment of the
secondary mirror will be necessary.
Secondary Mirror Collimation: However, if the black dot of
the viewing aperture appears off-center as in Figure 2, at the top
of the next column, adjust the three secondary mirror collimation
screws until the viewing aperture is centered as closely as possible
in the Cheshire’s circular reflective surface.
Figure 2:
Secondary mirror
out of collimation
(not to scale)
Front end of
optical tube
Viewing aperture is
off center in reflective
surface of Cheshire
Secondary mirror is
centered when viewed
through Cheshire
End of focuser
drawtube (optical axis)
A user-supplied 4mm hex key is required to collimate the
secondary mirror. Adjust only the three hex head screws around
the perimeter of the holder, as shown in the illustration below. Do
not adjust the central recessed Phillips-head screw in
the secondary holder. This will change the precise mirror
spacing required and degrade image performance.
Collimation screws
(4mm hex head)
As you adjust each of these screws you will need to make equal
counter-adjustments to the other two. In other words, as you
tighten one screw you will need to loosen, by an equal amount,
the other two. The opposite is also true. If a screw is loosened,
the two opposing screws should be tightened. When the process
is complete you should have equal tension on all three screws.
Only minor adjustments should be required to fine-tune the
collimation. Adjust the screws no more than an eighth of a turn or
less at a time. This will help prevent accidently putting the optics
grossly out of collimation. The force vector diagram on the next
page will show you how different adjustments affect the tilt of the
secondary mirror.
The correct alignment of the secondary mirror is critical in
determining if the optical axis (primary mirror) requires alignment.
Be certain you have properly aligned the secondary mirror before
proceeding to the next step of adjusting the optical axis collimation,
using the primary mirror collimation screws shown below.
Rear cell
Collimation screw
(2.5mm hex head,
black, recessed)
Lock screw (4mm
hex head, silver,
nearly flush with
cell surface)
Figure 3: Optical axis
out of collimation
(not to scale)
Scope in collimation
Viewing aperture is centered in
Cheshire’s reflective surface
Diffraction pattern
Rough focus
Sharp focus
Scope out of collimation
End of optical tube
and secondary mirror
are not centered in end
of focuser drawtube
Diffraction pattern
Rough focus
Sharp focus
Patterns have been exaggerated for clarity
B.- Screws 1 and 3 are
loosened; Screw 2 is
tightened; the resulting
star motion is shown by
the arrow
A.- Screw 3 is loosened;
Screw 2 is tightened; Screw
1 is tightened slightly; the
resulting star motion is shown
by the center arrow
C.- Screw 3 is loosened;
Screws 1 and 2 are tightened
evenly; the resulting star motion
is shown by the center arrow
rings, adjust the collimating screws to tilt the secondary mirror
until the shadow of the secondary is centered in the diffraction
pattern and the diffraction rings are concentric.
Always make adjustments to the collimating screws in tiny
increments, only a fraction of a turn at a time. The image of the
secondary shadow will move in the direction of the collimating
screw that is being tightened. If the secondary shadow needs to
be shifted in a direction between two screws, those two must be
tightened to make the image shift in that direction, while the single
screw on the opposite side should be loosened. As each adjustment
is made, the secondary shadow will move off center. Recenter the
star’s image in the field before making the next adjustment. You
need to keep the star precisely centered in your field of view while
collimating, which is critical to avoid false negatives.
Refer to the diagrams below, which show the direction the star
image will move when different combinations of collimating screws
are loosened and tightened. In all cases, the star image needs to
be shifted in the 3 o’clock direction. The screws that must be
adjusted depend on the orientation of the three collimating screws
in relation to the desired star movement direction.
Optical Axis (Primary Mirror) Collimation: As mentioned
on Page 1, the optical axis of the scope (the primary mirror/baffle
tube assembly) will rarely need collimation. If the optical axis does
get knocked out of collimation, however, the image through the
Cheshire eyepiece will appear to be shifted to one side within the
light ring formed by the end of the focuser drawtube, as shown in
Figure 3 above. If properly collimated, all of the light and dark
circles will be concentric, as shown in Figure 1 on Page 1.
Adjusting the optical axis will require user-supplied 4mm and
2.5mm hex keys. There are three pairs of “push-pull” hex-head
screws on the rear cell of the optical tube, as shown in the
illustration on the previous page. Each pair consists of a smaller
black screw and a larger chrome screw. These must be adjusted in
tandem. As you loosen one, tighten the other in each pair to adjust
the tilt of the optical axis in relation to the secondary mirror. This
procedure will require only micro-adjustments, if any. When properly
aligned you will see a concentric outer white circle around the
perimeter of your view through the Cheshire eyepiece and all circular
light and dark elements will be concentric.
Once the optical axis has been collimated, recheck the secondary
mirror collimation and tweak as necessary, then confirm the optical
axis collimation one last time.
Star Testing: For optimum imaging performance, perform a
star test to confirm the accuracy of your collimation. The star test
relies on your eye and an out of focus star for collimation, rather
than a Cheshire eyepiece. Seeing conditions will affect the end
result, so it is somewhat more difficult than collimating indoors.
Install all three extension rings between the scope’s rear cell
and the focuser. Using the 1.25” compression ring adapter, insert
an eyepiece directly into the focuser drawtube and visually center
and focus on a bright star at a reasonably high magnification. Do
not use a star diagonal in the system and be certain that the
focuser tension and drawtube lock knobs are tightened firmly after
focusing. Choose a star close to the zenith rather than at the horizon
to minimize atmospheric distortions.
The diagram at the top of the next column illustrates the
appearance of collimated (top) and out of collimation (bottom)
images of the star being examined. The top left image is the
diffraction pattern in a collimated scope. The center and righthand images show what the star looks like when roughly focused
and sharply focused. The bottom row of images show the same
sequence through an out-of-collimation scope.
If collimation is needed, begin by placing a bright star in the
center of a low to medium power eyepiece field (again without
using a star diagonal). Defocus the image until it is about the
apparent size of a dime or nickel held at arm’s length. This will
show the diffraction pattern, which should look like a bull’s-eye
with the circular shadow of the secondary mirror holder in the
center, as shown in the illustration in the next column. If the shadow
of the secondary is not precisely in the center of the diffraction
Repeat the collimation procedure several times, using successively
higher power eyepieces, until you are sure the collimation is exact.
Finally, after the final adjustments have been made, make sure
that all of the collimating screws are snugged down tightly and
evenly to ensure that the collimation will hold for many trips out
into the field.
from Astronomy Technologies, 680 24th Avenue SW, Norman, OK 73069
© 2009 by Astronomy Technologies
Specifications, features, and descriptions are effective 12/1/2009, but are subject to correction and/or modification without notice and/or obligation.
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