Owners of newtonian or dobsonian telescopes know that proper collimation (alignment of the primary and secondary mirrors) is essential for getting the best views through the telescope. This is something that is often done before every observing session. What owners also know is that this can be a real pain. The adjustment knobs are located at the bottom of the primary mirror, which is a long way from the eyepiece, where the laser collimator tool is. So you have to look at the laser collimator screen, go make a tweak to your primary mirror knobs, and then go back to the laser collimator screen to see what effect that had.
However, if you use a StarSplitter Video Astronomy Solution in conjunction with a laser collimator, all of a sudden you can collimate your telescope using video!
First set-up the starsplitter with the laser collimator shooting down the straight-through port of the StarSplitter and the video camera on the right-angle port. Tweak your secondary mirror adjusters to put the laser spot on the center of the primary mirror. This is usually marked by a small ring on the primary mirror (see pictures at right).
Once the secondary is aligned to the primary, the laser beam should be reflecting back to both the collimating tool, and the video camera. You'll see two offset laser spots on the screen. One is the reflection of the outgoing beam off the beamsplitter, and the other is the return beam from the primary mirror. When you adjust the knobs on the primary mirror you'll see that one spot moves while the other stays fixed. You can position your TV or computer so that you can watch the video screen while you make adjustments to the primary mirror. Simply adjust the primary mirror knobs until both laser spots are on top of each other and you've successfully collimated your telescope! As the video to the right shows, you can literally collimate your telescope in seconds and it is potentially more accurate.
The adjustments for your telescope may be located on the back of the primary mirror, a long way from your laser collimator.
Attaching a laser collimator to a StarSplitter Video Finderscope Solution can speed the process of collimating your newtonian or dobsonian telescope. Here the laser collimator tool is on the straight-through port and the video camera is on the right-angle port.
Start the collimation process by adjusting the secondary mirror to put the laser beam on the center spot of the primary mirror. This is done by looking down the telescope tube.
The beamsplitter in the StarSplitter forms two images of the laser beam. When these two spots are brought together, it means your primary mirror is perfectly collimated. You can watch the video feed in real time and see what effect your adjustment of the primary mirror is having.
Video of how long it takes to collimate the primary mirror on your newtonian or dobsonian telescope using a laser collimator and a StarSplitter Video Astronomy Solution.
I have been excited about space since I was young, and have been involved in astronomy for over 20 years. I have built 4 of my own telescopes and continue to design and experiment with new instruments and accessories.