The most common cause of inaccurate results in SharpCap Polar Alignment is something moving or flexing as the mount is being rotated. For instance, if the guide scope or camera is not fixed firmly then it could shift as the rotation happens leading to wrong results. Even the weight of a dangling USB cable trailing from the camera can have noticeable effects.
See the Polar Alignment Troubleshooting page to find out how to diagnose and fix this problem.
Check the number of stars being detected – if that is low (less than 15) then try increasing the image brightness by turning up gain or exposure. If you get to maximum gain and 4s exposures and still do not have enough stars then try adjusting the star detection settings.
If you are getting lots of stars detected but still cannot make progress, check that you really are pointing within 5 degrees of the celestial pole. You can take a snapshot image and upload it to nova.astrometry.net to check.
More hints can be found on the Polar Alignment Troubleshooting page.
No. It doesn’t matter whether the mount is tracking or not when performing polar alignment. It can even be switched off. This is because you are looking at the stars that are close to the celestial pole which will hardly move over the few minutes needed to perform polar alignment.
No. The polar alignment routine in SharpCap Pro requires a view around the celestial pole to work correctly. SharpCap Pro has a built-in plate solving tool to perform polar alignment – this works if you are pointing with 5-6 degrees of the celestial pole. If trees or buildings block your view of this area of the sky then you can’t use SharpCap for Polar Alignment.