For an equatorial mount to work properly, it must be polar aligned to the celestial pole. For Northern Hemisphere observers, this means aiming the polar axis toward Polaris, the northern pole star.
For Southern Hemisphere observers, the pole star is the faint Sigma
Octantis. You need not be too precise—unless you are taking photographs, getting within 5 degrees of the pole will be fine.
To polar align a fork mount, place it so the fork arms, which parallel the polar axis, aim due north (true north, not magnetic north)—or due south in the Southern Hemisphere. Level the top of the tripod, then adjust the tilt of the wedge so that the angle between the ground and,the fork arms equals your latitude, For example, an observer in
New York, which is at 40 degrees latitude, would tilt the wedge to a 40-degree angle. There may be a scale on the mount to help set the angle, or you. can use a protractor. This, angle needs to be set only once—on subsequent nights, simply aim the fork arms toward the pole star.
For a German equatorial mount, the procedure is the same, but you aim and tilt the mount's polar-axis housing.