Quick Tip #2: [N.I.N.A] – Manual Rotator

There are many times when you need to put the scope to a very specific place and orientation in the sky.

Some common cases are:

  • Multi-night projects
  • If you need to slew off to refocus on a bright star
  • Changing filters
  • For mosaics

Getting the camera back to the same location in the sky can pretty easily be done with plate solving but that doesn’t always handle the rotation.

Hardware rotators exist but they are expensive, one more thing to go wrong and can add weight, so they are not always the best solution (although if you are going for 100% automation, then they become mandatory).

N.I.N.A has a very ingenious tool that makes this super easy even without a real rotator, but it’s not super obvious unless you dig into the manual.

You can add a “Manual Rotator” in the Equipment section of N.I.N.A (it is available in the dropdown)

You still do have to connect the rotator as though you had a real one.

The way you can use this is in the Sequence window (including saved sequences) and from the Framing Wizard

In the Sequence window, you can simply set the Rotation parameter

Here, it is set to 45.2 degrees. Then when you start your sequence (you need to have Slew to target and center target enabled),

after plate solving, N.I.N.A will pop up a window and prompt you to rotate the camera. It then takes an image and compares, and lets you repeat this until you get the angle where it needs to be.

Here is the link to the official N.I.N.A documentation: https://nighttime-imaging.eu/docs/master/site/tabs/equipment/rotator/

The rotation can also be set in the Framing Wizard (very useful for multi-night projects when you load in a frame from a previous night to plate solve, or for mosaics)

Just set the rotation (or use what was in the file, or generated by loading a frame) and then use one of the options to add/replace this info into a Sequence

You might wonder if you can use this without a GOTO mount since you need to enable “Slew to target” (for those of us with older mounts or tracker)

The answer is Yes! I will cover this in another tip, but the basics are that ASCOM and .NET come with a telescope simulator (there is also the Green Swamp server). This allows N.I.N.A to “slew” the scope successfully and then move on to the rotation, so even though your scope won’t physically move, N.I.N.A believes it did

Hopefully this helps you be more successful in your imaging.

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