Why Your Telescope Mount is More Important than the Scope

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A mount is a structure that holds a telescope in place and allows it to shift around for accurate focusing. There are five different types that both amateur and expert astronomers can use. These include the handheld, the alt-azimuth , the equatorial, the equatorial fork and the Dobsonian mount. However, there are also other different types, which are used for radio astronomy dishes and really large scopes.

Many people may not know this, but having a telescope is one thing, but without the right mount, it may be next to useless. So what should you do?

You need to buy a good one. You can attach a scope to any, but you want the right type that stabilizes the scope without blurring the view. Buy the most expensive telescope and attach it to the wrong mount and you would have wasted time and money.

Technically, you need to spend more cash on the mount than the telescope. Later on, you can upgrade also the telescope.

Choosing the right model

There are a few different types available and picking the right one requires a bit of knowledge. Let us take a look at the five different types.

Handheld

Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars

You can use handheld binoculars to see astronomical objects in the sky, such as the moon, stars, and comets. You can also be able to view planets, such as Saturn and Jupiter although they will appear small. Quite nice hand held optics is for example Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binoculars with Tripod Adapter.

You can attach your binoculars to a camera tripod for a better view. But, a telescope attached to a good tripod will definitely give you a much better view of the planets and other astronomical objects.

The Dobsonian Mount

Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 PLUS with Dobsonian mount

The Dobsonian telescope was invented by Jonh Dobson and the idea behind his invention was to create a simple telescope that could be used to view deep sky objects. The Dobsonian mount is a simple model that is created from simple readily available materials and it can be adjusted manually. It has a wide-field view and therefore, you can be able to observe moving deep sky objects as they remain in view for longer because the telescope reveals a lot in the sky at night.

However, if you are not sure of the Dobsonian model, do some research online and find out more about it. There are many astronomy amateur clubs online that share information and you may just find some good answers to your questions. Read our review of Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 PLUS with Dobsonian base.

The Alt-Azimuth Mount

Celestron Heavy-Duty Altazimuth Tripod

The Alt-Azimuth model allow the tracking of objects in all directions. That is North, South, East, and West. It also allows tracking of objects on their azimuth. However, not many objects move in perfect East or West, or North or South lines.

Most change directions in an angular way, which requires you adjust the scope as the objects move across the sky. This means that you need to adjust it in all the cardinal directions at the same time. It is possible. But, it can become a frustrating and tedious process, especially at higher magnifications.

The Alt-Azimuth mount although can be adjusted manually to track astronomical objects in the sky, since the tracking is done by hand, it is inconsistent.

The Equatorial mount

The equatorial model is the ideal for an amateur astronomer. There are different kinds, but the most commonly used is the GEM (German Equatorial Mount).

The equatorial model features a huge counterweight that is used to counterbalance the telescope’s weight allowing the scope to swivel easily.

Another equatorial model that is quite popular with amateur astronomers is the Equatorial Fork. The mount much like the GEM is automated and you only need to align the scope properly to be able to track an object. Good example is Orion 9024 AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope.

So which mount is right for you?

Given the many varieties of models that are available, it safe to say that any should work for you whether you are an advanced or amateur astronomer. However, the key thing is to focus on the mount more than the telescope. Because you can always upgrade the telescope. But, if you have a unstable mount, then you are wasting your time.

The Fork Mount and the German Equatorial are some of the best in the market because they are long-lasting and their performance is pretty great. So some amateurs tend to go for either one. However, it is really up to you what you choose.

However, keep in mind that if you go for the German Equatorial mount, you need to follow certain instructions to get the coordinates and alignment right. Once, you have learned how to work it properly, you will be able to observe whatever you want in the night sky. You will also be able to attach upgrades or better telescopes to your mount perfectly as you have done before.

Read how to choose your first telescope.

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