Meade Instruments Corporation
Telescopes · Binoculars · Microscopes

Autostar Computer Controller Instruction Manual
 Chapter 4: OBSERVING
WARNING: Never use Autostar to move a telescope to look at the Sun! Looking at or near the Sun will cause instant and irreversible damage to your eye. Eye damage is often painless, so there is no warning to the observer that damage has occurred until it is too late. Do not point a telescope or its viewfinder at or near the Sun. Do not look through a telescope or its viewfinder as it is moving. Children should always have adult supervision while observing.
Use Autostar to make observations of planets, stars, nebulae, and deep-sky objects.

Prior to making observations, it is recommended to accomplish the following procedures:


One of the easiest ways to start observing is to use the Guided Tour feature of Autostar. To use a guided tour, flip the power switch on the computer control panel to ON. Then complete the basic initialization and alignment that is required each time power is applied, as shown in ALIGNMENT.

After alignment follow the procedure on this page to search the Autostar database for a list of interesting objects in the sky based on the date, time, and location of the observing site.

NOTE: If any planets or the Moon are currently visible, they are listed first, followed by other objects such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.

OBJECTIVE: Observe using the Guided Tour menu category.
MOUNT: Alt/Az or Polar
NOTE: At the completion of alignment, the Autostar screen displays the Select Item: Object menu.


Almost all observing with Autostar is accomplished through the Object menu category. (Exceptions include Guided Tour and Landmark Survey)

[ toc ] Basic Observing Procedure

    Press MODE as necessary to return to the Select Item: Object screen. Press ENTER to chose the Object category.
  1. Use the scroll keys to move up and down within the options available as detailed in Object Menu Options and in the AUTOSTAR PRIMARY MENUS AND OPTIONS chart.
  2. Press ENTER when the desired option is displayed on the second line of the Autostar screen. This moves the menu option to the top line and the first of a list of available objects appears on the second line.
  3. Use the scroll keys to view the list of available objects. Press ENTER when the desired object is listed.
  4. Autostar calculates the position of the object, then displays the Right Ascension and Declination coordinates of that object.
  5. Press GO TO at any time when the object is listed on the first line of the screen to cause Autostar to slew to that object if it is currently above the horizon.
  6. Press the scroll keys to move through a list of available data about the object. The last listing for an object is usually a scrolling message that gives more detailed information. Press MODE at any time during this message to bring Autostar back to the object coordinates screen.

[ toc ] Object Menu Options

Solar System is a database of the eight planets (Earth is not included) in order out from the Sun, followed by the Moon, asteroids, and comets.

Constellation is a database of all 88 northern and southern hemisphere constellations. When this menu option is chosen and a constellation name appears on the first line of the screen, press GO TO once to change the second line to the name of the brightest star in the constellation. Press GO TO a second time to slew the telescope to that star. Use the scroll keys to cycle through the list of stars in the constellation, from brightest to dimmest.

Deep Sky is a database of objects outside our solar system such as nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, and quasars.

Star is a database of stars by different categories such as named, double, variable, or nearby.

Satellite is a database of Earth-orbiting objects such as the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, Iridium and Global Positioning System satellites, and geosynchronous orbit satellites. To use this option, choose an object from the Select menu, then press ENTER. Autostar scans its database to find if that satellite is expected to pass overhead within the next 6 hours. If this is the case, use the scroll keys to access a list of information about the pass, including acquisition time, location, etc. At the end of the list is an alarm. Press ENTER and Autostar automatically sets the alarm to sound several minutes before the scheduled appearance. Return to regular observations until the alarm goes off. At that time follow this procedure:

  1. Return to the Satellite menu and select the satellite.
  2. When the desired satellite is on the top line of the display, press GO TO. Autostar slews the telescope to where the satellite should appear. The motor drive stops and a countdown starts.

    NOTE: If the scheduled appearance point of the satellite is obstructed (i.e., a building, tree, or hill), press ENTER and Autostar starts to move the telescope along the expected satellite track. When the track clears the obstruction, press ENTER again to pause the telescope, then continue with this procedure.

  3. With about 20 seconds left on the countdown timer, start watching through the telescope viewfinder for the satellite to enter the field of view.
  4. When the satellite enters the viewfinder field of view, press ENTER. The telescope starts to track with the satellite.
  5. Use the Autostar arrow keys to center the object in the viewfinder, then look through the eyepiece to view the object.

Satellite orbits change and new satellites (including the Space Shuttle) are launched. Visit the Meade web site ( approximately once a month to get updated information and instructions on how to download these data to Autostar. If using orbital parameters that are more than one month old, the satellite pass may not happen at the time predicted by Autostar. To download new satellite data into Autostar memory requires the optional #505 Connector Cable Set (see OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES).

NOTE: Satellite observing is an exciting challenge. Most satellites are in low orbit, travelling at approximately 17,500 mph. When visible, they move quickly across the sky and are only in the field of view for a few minutes, requiring Autostar to slew the telescope rapidly. Best viewing is near sunrise or sunset when the sky is still dark. Viewing in the middle of the night can be problematic since the satellite may pass overhead, but not be visible since it is in the Earth's shadow.

User Objects allows the user to define deep-sky objects of specific interest that are not currently in the Autostar database.

Landmarks stores the location of terrestrial points of interest in the permanent Autostar database.

Important Note: To use the Landmark function the telescope must be located and aligned exactly as when the landmark was added to the database. Additionally, the telescope must be mounted in the same configuration (i.e., Alt/Az or Polar).

To select a landmark already in the database, choose the Select option and scroll through the list. Press ENTER to select a landmark, then press GO TO and the telescope slews to the object. To add a landmark, choose the Add option. Enter the name of the landmark. Locate and center the landmark, then press ENTER. Use the Landmark Survey option in the Utilities menu to sequentially view all landmarks entered into Autostar.

Identify is an exciting feature for an observer who wants to scan the night sky and start exploring.

After the telescope has been properly aligned, use the Autostar arrow keys to move about in the sky, then follow this procedure:

  1. When a desired object is reached, press MODE until the Select Item: Object menu is displayed.
  2. Scroll through the Object menu options until the Object: Identify screen appears.
  3. Press ENTER to search the database for the identity of the object being observed.

    NOTE: If the telescope is not pointing directly at an object, the Identify function searches for the object closest to those coordinates.

  4. If the telescope is not directly on an Autostar database object, the nearest database object is located and displayed on the screen. Press GO TO and the telescope slews to that object.

Chapter 5: Autostar Menu Functions

Related Topics:

| home | about meade | product information | dealer locator | Meade 4M |
| customer support | investor relations | dealer support |
| employment opportunities | site map |

® The name Meade, the Meade logo, and ETX are trademarks registered with the United States Patent Office,
and in principal countries throughout the world.
Copyright © 2006 Meade Instruments Corporation, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.