Smartphone Polar Alignment

Smartphone Polar Alignment

You can use your smartphone’s planetarium app to quickly polar align your mount.
Spencer R. Rackley IV demonstrates this easy technique using an equatorial wedge,and the SkEye app.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

15 Responses to Smartphone Polar Alignment

  1. Kevin Moderow says:

    Great job, Spencer.

  2. Luis Francisco Calle says:

    Pretty useful… greetings from Lima-Perú !!

  3. Calvin Farrow says:

    I tried this the other night. Didn’t. Work so well due the the magnetic interference. Seem like a good idea. But there is always a workaround.



  5. Raymond Isbill says:

    Gonna try this later this week and try tracking the sun with my motor drive. It helps if you go into the app settings and increase the Telrad and EQ grid opacity for daytime use.

  6. Sergey Volkov says:

    Unfortunately, this is not an exact method

  7. Greg Neilson says:

    Sadly, it doesn’t work. I was really excited to try this out, but as soon as I put the phone near that big hunk of metal that is the wedge, SkEye complains about the "unusual magnetic field" and the field shifts about 30 degrees off true. I need to move about half a metre away before it reads correctly again. Magnetic compasses just don’t work properly when you put them close to large ferromagnetic objects.

  8. crescentmoon54 says:

    Terrific …. great job of explaining!!!

  9. Curtis Reynolds says:

    My bigger question is… you had the phone flat on the wedge…. isn’t that going to make it 90 degrees to the axis? ie pointing at the celestial equator, not one of the poles?

  10. David Haviland says:

    Worked – about the third time I’ve tried it independent of the eclipse. Keeps the object – in my case the Moon – in view for a good 5 minutes or so without constant adjustment much like a Dob. Naysayers are expecting too much from this. Idea is to get a rough polar alignment, not necessarily a precise one. It takes practice but I’ll tell you that SkEye works a bit better than Sky Safari in this capacity.

  11. Dr. Mayur Patel says:

    Which application are you in this demonstration?

    By the way…. Nice techniques…

  12. Carl Lovre says:

    Brilliant! So simple. I’m always thinking north pole. It never occurred to me to use the Sky Safari app to look through the Earth at the south pole. Just awesome! I will be using this method.

  13. Zamboni Josiah says:

    Utterly brilliant!

  14. Garnett Leary says:

    This will have to be tested. I mean thoroughly. The reason I’m skeptical is how metal from tripods and optical equipment interfere with GPS locating ability. If you place an IPhone under a tripod you will notice your true north needle go out of sync. I’m interested in the results anyone get with this. Please post your results.

  15. Gary C says:

    This is pretty good. One of the guy over on Cloudy Nights posted this to someone in the Southern Hemisphere who is trying to get a good polar alignment, at least for visual, so all they need to do is align to the North Celestial Pole.

    If you’re doing only visual stuff, it should be relatively accurate. I’m just wondering how well it works on a standard EQ mount. I’ll have to try this.

    Thanks for sharing this.