Astrophotographyis one of the most exciting sides of astronomy. The awe of unlocking thesecrets of the deep dark vastness of space is beyond exhilarating, and theability to capture the view forever takes the experience to a higher plane ofdelight. Using the best telescope mounts for astrophotography will ensure youmake the most out of your astral photoshoot session.

You can’trely on your tripod to take a nice shot of the sky, due to earth’s rotation.You might think you snapped a perfect shot of a celestial object only to findout it appears blurry on the photo. Therefore, a good quality mount is anabsolute necessity for space photography.

So, in today’s article, I will make you familiar with some brilliant telescope mounts that you can consider for astrophotography. Besides, I will also make you acquainted with the technical know-how that will come handy while choosing a mount.

Best Telescope Mounts for Astrophotography

MountMount typePayload capacityObjects in databaseSaddle typePeriodic error correctionMount latitude rangeTotal unit weight
Celestron Advanced VX Computerized MountsComputerized GoTo electronic mount30lbs40,000+Dual (Vixen/Losmandy)Yes7-77 degress50lbs
Orion AstroView EQ Mount & EQ-3M Motor Drive KitManual equatorial mount12lbsN/AVixenNo18-63 degrees29lbs
Orion 9055 Min-EQ Tabletop Equatorial Telescope MountManual equatorial mount7lbsN/A1/4″-20No9-62 degrees11.15lbs
Sky-Watcher EQ6-RComputerized GoTo equatorial mount.  44lbs42,900+Dual (Vixen/Losmandy)YesN/A40lbs
Sky-Watcher EQM-35Computerized GoTo equatorial mount.  22lbs42,900+VixenYes15-65 degrees40lbs

1. Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount

Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount 91519
  • Advanced VX Equatorial Head - Tripod - Accessory Tray - 1 x 12 lbs counterweight - NexStar+ Hand Control - DC Power Cable (plugs into cigarette lighter socket) - 2-Year Warranty
  • The most compact and portable of Celestron's German equatorial mounts offers the same rigidity as our larger mounts with minimal flexure and an improved industrial design
  • Holds a maximum instrument capacity of 30 lbs

I’m going tobe totally honest here, Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mounts are frownedupon by many astrophotographers. The contempt mainly comes from the mount’sexcessive backlash during autoguiding. The bearingless declination axis in thismount worsens the backlash situation. That said, this mount is still a finepick to get started.

The tripodin this mount is steadier than most of the mounting setups you would find inthis price bracket. Paired up with the Celestron NexStar hand controller, Celestron’smuch-acclaimed star navigation system, the mount has the potential to deliversome striking photos of the cosmos.

Many woulddeem 30lbs of payload insufficient, but for a beginner level astrophotographymount, I would say it’s quite generous. The mount weighs 50lbs itself, whichgives it the rigidity I was talking about earlier. The intuitive motor motionsmake for precise tracking of objects and help to avoid load imbalance.

The mount boasts an impressive dual saddle plate that makes it compatible with Celestron CG-5 and CGE dovetail bars. This design trait allows you to switch between two different types of dovetail bars and enjoy the best of both worlds. You can use any optical tube of your choice with this mount that falls within its load support range.

Specs

  • Mount type: Computerized GoTo electronic mount.
  • Load capacity: 30lbs
  • Tripod included: Yes
  • Objects in database: 40,000+
  • Dovetail type: CG5/CGE
  • Manual slow-motion controls: No
  • Mount slew speeds: 9
  • Mount latitude range: 7-77 degrees
  • GPS: No
  • Wi-fi: No
  • Periodic error correction: Yes
  • Saddle type: Dual (Vixen/Losmandy)
  • Total unit weight: 50lbs

Features

  • Dual saddle plate:  Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mounts pack dual saddleplates that allow the mount to attach itself to Celestron CG-5 and CGE dovetailbars.
  • Dual axis encoder motors: Celestron Advanced VX ComputerizedMount motor drives feature dual axis encoder which generates enough power toneutralize minor load imbalance problems.
  • Improved latitude range: Celestron Advanced VX ComputerizedMounts come with a larger latitude range than its preceding models. You can usethis mount ranging from 7 to 77 degrees of latitude from any corner of theplanet.

Pros

  • Enoughpayload capacity for amateur astrophotographers.
  • Programmableperiodic error correction system to reduce tracking inaccuracies.
  • Comprehensivedatabase with information regarding 40,000+ space objects.
  • Hightorque motors to tackle load imbalances.

Cons

  • TheGoTo operating software needs frequent recalibration.

2. Orion AstroView EQ Mount Drive Kit

Orion AstroView EQ Mount & EQ-3M Motor Drive Kit
  • A value-packed combination of the Orion AstroView Equatorial Mount and EQ-3M Single-Axis Telescope Motor Drive
  • The smooth-moving, sturdy AstroView mount provides a robust equatorial support system for any telescope weighing up to 12 lbs.
  • The precision EQ-3M mini-motor attaches to the AstroView Equatorial Mount for automatic, motorized tracking of celestial objects

If you are on a budget and looking to get your first astrophotography mount, you can’t do much better than selecting Orion AstroView EQ Mount Drive Kit. This model is an upgrade to the previously released Orion AstroView mounts and offers more payload capacity than its predecessors. 12lbs might not look much, but it will do for a refractor scope setup.

For theprice you would be paying for this mount, you can’t expect to ask for a GoTosystem. What this mount does have, is an impressive tracking motor that willmake sure your target does not go out of sight. The slow-motion control cablesalso prove beneficial when you are tracking an object across the sky.

The mount head of this item features a handy dovetailattachment saddle that enables the mount to easily take on different telescopeswithout the aid of any other apparatus. You also receive an 8-inch dovetailplate, so no worries if your telescope doesn’t have any. The hinged centralsupport stabilizes the tripod properly. 

The EQ-3M motor provides untroubled traction to eliminate thehassle of having to repeatedly adjust the mount to keep the target in thescope. You can regulate the tracking speed with the 8x handheld controller. Thepolar alignment scope makes it a walk in the park to align the scope as itfacilitates smooth aligning of the right ascension axis with the Polaris.

Specs

  • Mount type: Manual equatorial mount
  • Load capacity: 12lbs
  • Includes tripod: Yes
  • Manual slow motion controls: Yes
  • Mount latitude range: 18-63
  • Wi-fi: No
  • GPS: No
  • Periodic error correction: No
  • Sadddle type: Vixen
  • Total unit weight: 29lbs

Features

  • Mini-motor with smooth trackingability: Uponconnecting the EQ-3M mini-motor on the mount, you can track any celestialobject without your telescope’s viewing range uninterruptedly.
  • Latest mount head design: The mount head incorporates a moderndesign to accommodate swift placement of telescopes without the help ofadditional tools.
  • 8-inch dovetail plate:  The mount ships with an 8-inch long dovetail plate, whichwould be quite a productive inclusion of your telescope doesn’t come with one.

Pros

  • Greatbudget pick.
  • Sufficientload capacity for refractors.
  • Themini-motor generates subtle traction force.
  • Thehandheld controller offers 8 different motion control options including a pausebutton.

Cons

  • Onlysuitable for entry-level astrophotography.

3. Orion 9055 Min-EQ Tabletop Equatorial Telescope Mount

Orion 9055 Min-EQ Tabletop Equatorial Telescope Mount
  • Small but sturdy equatorial telescope mount that's perfect for traveling or campouts and capable of supporting small telescopes up to 7 lbs.
  • Features a rugged metal EQ-1 equatorial mount head perched on a petite tabletop tripod with three thread-on legs
  • Makes a terrific portable tracking platform for wide-field astrophotography with a 35mm DSLR or SLR camera

If you arelooking for a compact telescope mount that you can keep in your backpack andtake along in your camping trips, Orion 9055 Min-EQ Tabletop EquatorialTelescope Mount is just what you are looking for.

In terms offunctionality, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about, to be honest. This is atiny unit that can house no more than 7lbs, yes you didn’t read that wrong, itis only 7lbs.

Despite its simplicity, it’s possible to do some meaningful astrophotography with this mount. The main selling point of this item is obviously the price and its unmatched portability. Still, it does conduce to some fantastic wide-angle astrophotography with its sturdy EQ-1 mount that supports motor drive and its powerful slow-motion controls.

Weighingjust 10lbs and measuring a meager 14 inches in height, you would barely noticethis mount lying around in your bag. This makes it a perfect choice forovernight adventures, where astrophotography is more of a side-activity.

Specs

  • Mount type: Manual equatorial mount
  • Payload capacity: 7lbs
  • Includes tripod: No
  • Manual slow motion controls: Yes
  • Mount latitude range: 9-72 degrees
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • GPS: No
  • Periodic Error Correction: No
  • Saddle type: 1/4″-20
  • Total unit weight: 11.15lbs

Features

  • Compact construction: Compact size that makes the mount very easy to carry around.
  • EQ-1 mount: Comes with a heavy-duty EQ-1 mount on a small tabletop tripod.
  • Great for wide-angle astrophotography: An impressive carry-around wide-angle astrophotography unit that can defy your expectations with a 35mm camera.

Pros

  • Available at a very low price. Doesn’t take a heavy toll on your pocket, even if you decide to buy an additional motorized drive for it.
  • Ideal size and weight for portability.
  • Has a 4.8lbs counterweight for balancing.

Cons

  • The range of telescope and cameras you can use with this mount is extremely limited.

4. Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro

EQ6-R – Fully Computerized GoTo German Equatorial Telescope Mount – Belt-driven, Motorized,...
  • Precise Accurate Goto: Computerized, motorized GoTo German equatorial telescope mount capable of accurately tracking astronomical objects for both visual observing and astrophotography
  • Belt-driven stepper motors provide whisper-quiet slewing with renowned precision and accuracy while virtually eliminating Periodic Error
  • 44-Pound payload: Beefy, all-metal construction provides 44-pound payload capacity, perfect for all but the heaviest optical tubes

The Sky-WatcherEQ6-R is one of the latest offerings from the Taiwanese telescope manufacturerSky-Watcher and a direct upgrade to their highly-rated Sky-Watcher NEQ6 mount.After being introduced in 2017, Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro quickly establisheditself as a favorite among the astrophotography community.

Aligning theSky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro is no big deal and it only gets easier after you align itfor the first time, thanks to the mount’s ‘park’ feature. This particularattribute lets the scope to return to its aligning position every time once youalign it manually for the first time. Don’t forget to go through theinstruction manual to understand how to use the park feature.

I would alsolike to highlight the belt drives used in the mount that dramatically cuts downbacklash. Backlash is a common problem that haunts all telescope mounts more orless. The gears used to bridge the gap between the motor and the worm drive arethe primary culprits for backlash. This mount uses a belted mechanism insteadof gears, which eliminates backlash. 

Throughoutthis article, I have stressed how important it is to get a good equatorialmount for your astrophotography pursuits. With a plethora of premium features,Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro is definitely one of the best mounts you can buy to meetyour astrophotography demands.

Specs

  • Mount type: Computerized GoTo equatorial mount
  • Payload capacity: 44lbs
  • Includes tripod: Yes
  • Objects in database: 42,900+
  • Manual slow motion controls: No
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • GPS: No
  • Periodic error correction: Yes
  • Saddle type: Dual (Vixen/Losmandy)
  • Total unit weight: 40lbs

Features

  • Belt-driven motor: The mount replaces motor gears with belt drives to essentially terminate periodic error or backlash.
  • Remote controlled DSLR operation: The SNAP port authorizes you to control your DSLR camera remotely.
  • Integrated polar finderscope: You can polar align your telescope in a matter of minutes using the built-in polar finderscope.

Pros

  • Phenomenal tracking performance on autoguide mode.
  • The motor barely produce any sound even when it slews at 9x speed.
  • Can realign automatically once you align the telescope manually for the first time.
  • Manual alignment is also easy.
  • Periodic error is near zero.

Cons

  • Expensive.

5. Sky-Watcher EQM-35 

Sky-Watcher EQM-35 – Fully Computerized GoTo German Equatorial Telescope Mount – Belt-driven,...
  • INNOVATIVE MODULAR DESIGN: Customizable design allows for the EQM-35 to be used as a standard EQ mount or as a lightweight tracking platform using a dec bracket (sold separately), making it the perfect grab-and-go telescope mount
  • ALL-METAL CONSTRUCTION: Beefy, all-metal construction provides 22-pound payload capacity, perfect for all but the heaviest optical tubes
  • 42, 000 OBJECT DATABASE: SynScan hand controller with 42, 000plus object database will keep even the most experienced astronomer busy for countless observing nights

Sky-WatcherEQM-35 is one of my personal favorites when it comes to mid-priced telescopemounts for astrophotography. While this mount does have its constraints, I likeit for striking the right balance between cost-effectiveness, lightweightportability, and ruggedness.

If you arefamiliar with Sky-Watcher EQ-3, you could easily mistake Sky-Watcher EQM-35 foran EQ-3. The mounts are quite similarly designed, but EQM-35 comes withupgraded capabilities in almost all aspects.

It’spossible to convert the mount to a lighter version. You can do this by takingoff the declination axis from the mount. Doing so, you would be getting rid ofas much as 1kg of weight, but in terms of functionality, you wouldn’t be makingmuch of a sacrifice.

Sky-WatcherEQM-35 also made significant improvements in tracking capacity compared toEQ-3, as a 180-tooth gear wheel powers the rotation of its right ascensionaxis. To put this in context, the EQ-3 gear wheel has only 130 teeth.

Specs

  • Mount type: Computerized GoTo equatorial mount.
  • Load capacity: 22lbs
  • Tripod included: Yes
  • Objects in database: 42,900+
  • Manual slow motion controls: No
  • Mount slew speeds: 10
  • Mount latitude range: 15-65 degrees
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • GPS: No
  • Periodic error correction: Yes
  • Saddle type: Vixen
  • Total unit weight: 40lbs

Features

  • Two-size design: Can be used either as a full-size equatorial mount or can be transformed to a lighter tracking unit by using a dec bracket.
  • 180-tooth gear wheel: The RA axis of the mount effortlessly rotates with the help of a functional 180-tooth gear wheel.
  • Full metal construction: Full metal build for greater stability and durability.

Pros

  • The declination axis can be removed to transform into a tracking mount.
  • Sturdy build.
  • Can hold refractor telescopes with a maximum aperture of 100mm.

Cons

  • The 22lbs payload capacity is not enough to fit in larger telescopes and cameras.

Which Type of Mount Is The Best For Astrophotography?

The firstquestion you would be facing when you go shopping for a telescope mount is-whatkind of telescope mount you are looking for? You would need to choose betweenan alt-azimuth mount and an equatorial mount. Since you are looking to use a mount for astrophotography, what would bethe ideal pick for you?

Alt-azimuthis the simplest of the two options you have here. These mounts have atwo-dimensional range of motion. You can move them horizontally using theazimuth axis, while the altitude axis allows for vertical movement. Thesemounts need to be manually readjusted as the stars change positions due to theearth’s rotation.

Computerizedalt-azimuth mounts can remedy this problem as they are programmed to track themovement of their celestial targets. The target will always remain in thecenter of your eyepiece, but the shift of the entire field of view would beproblematic to capture long exposure shots.

Hence, mostastrophotography experts prefer using equatorial mounts instead of alt-azimuthmounts. These mounts come equipped with motorized drives that enable them toaccount for the earth’s rotation and automatically readjust their positions tofind the perfect view of the mobile target object.

How’s thisany different from computerized alt-azimuth mounts? Automated alt-az mounts useboth axes in unison to re-orient themselves in line to the trajectory of thetarget. Doing so, they can track the object accurately, but also turn round thefield of view, which would result in a blur if you try to take a picture. 

Theequatorial mounts, on the other hand, only rely on the polar axis to keep trackof the object. The other axis remains motionless, providing you with a stablefield of view, which is just the thing you need for astrophotography.

Equatorial Telescope Mounts

Now you knowthat equatorial telescope mounts are your best bet when you are trying to takea picture of the night sky.  Anequatorial mount, often known as EQ mounts, can make up for the earth’srotation while following an object. If the mount’s polar axis is correctlyaligned with our planet’s polar axis, the mount can tread on the heels of anycelestial body with utmost precision.

Equatorialmounts have two orbiting axes- a horizontal equatorial/polar/right ascensionaxis and a vertical declination axis. It is the horizontal that takes on thetask of repositioning itself according to earth’s rotational movements while thedeclination axis accommodates positioning the telescope at suitabledeclinations for viewing different targets.

Theequatorial mount comes in two variations-

  • German Equatorial Mounts- These mounts are shaped like the alphabet ‘T’. The longerpart of the T aligns with the earth’s north or south pole, depending on whichhemisphere of the globe you are in.
  • Fork Mounts: These mounts are shaped like a two tined fork that is placed on a wedge.The bottom of the fork serves as the mount’s right ascension axis, and theprongs form the declination axis.

The German Equatorial Mount

The GermanEquatorial Mount incorporates a T-like design, with the declination axisrooting from the right ascension axis below. The declination axis holds thetelescope, with a counterweight used in the opposite direction to balance thesetup.

GermanEquatorial Mounts were a common sight in intermediate to premium gradetelescopes before the arrival of computerized mounts. Even today, these mountsare quite relevant and widely used in mid-range scopes. Their construction ishugely advantageous for astrophotography.

For longexposure photography, the object’s view must be secured within the scope for asubstantial amount of time. As GEMs can automatically adjust themselves toearth’s rotation once accurately calibrated, they can give you the opportunityto take some crisp images of the great space through time-exposurephotography.  

How does theGEM trump fork mounts in this regard? Since both of them are equatorial mounts,shouldn’t astrophotographers get similar benefits from both of them?

The answeris no. Using a GEM gives you exclusive access to certain perks. For instance,the axis-telescope distance in a GEM is significantly shorter than fork mounts.This makes the GEM more balanced and immune to vibration.

The GEMdisassemblies into smaller parts, compared to fork mounts. So, they are mucheasier to carry around even though they are heavier than fork mounts once fullyassembled. The heavyweight feature is intentionally done to make the mount morestable.

Fork mountsare extremely limited in terms of versatility. They are not compatible with awide range of gears, unlike their GEM counterparts. Therefore, using a GEM is acost-effective choice since you can use it with multiple telescopes.

Computerized GoTo Telescope Mounts

ComputerizedGoTo telescope mounts come with a digital database that contains thecoordinates of thousands of space entities. This is a groundbreaking additionto the world of astronomy, as it eliminates the need for spending hours tryingto locate a particular star in the sky.

The mount canbe controlled directly by a handheld remote control or through a controllersoftware installed on your computer or mobile device. The screen of thecontroller or your smart device will show you information on various spaceobjects. You can input the name of the object you want to view and let themount detect it in the sky.  

These mountsmade astrophotography much easier with accurate positioning and perfect stability.They can also trace the target object as you place your camera on the mount.Using a proficient GoTo mount with a smartphone adapter can help you take somegood shots of space objects with your smartphone.

To prepareyour GoTo mount for action, you need to input a string of information. Themount needs to know your exact location, time, date, and which direction isnorth. Some models have built-in navigational systems that can auto-detect thisinformation. If your mount doesn’t have a GPS and a compass, then you wouldneed to type in these data manually. 

Then youwould need to align your telescope to the sky. The standard way to do this isto level the tripod and focus on some bright stars to bring them centrallywithin your field of view. To do this, it would be best if you pick a spot withlevel ground and open sky. Of course, there are top-of-the-line mounts likeCelestron StarSense that can do the alignment themselves.

After youcomplete the alignment, your telescope is up for stargazing. Just make sure thescope doesn’t move out of alignment by someone accidentally bumping into it. Tosave your scope from wandering feet, you can attach colorful LEDs in the tripodstands so that people can notice your instrument in the dark.

Alt-Azimuth Mounts

At thispoint, you must be thinking, “Okay, why are we talking about Alt-Azimuth mountsagain? We already know that they are no good for taking astrophotos. So, whybother discussing them?” While I would still advise you to go for an EQ mount,I feel this article would be left incomplete if I don’t talk about alt-azimuthmounts in a bit more detail.

Alt-azimuthmounts have been around since the earliest day of telescopes. There are twoaxes for rotation-one moves horizontally, and the other moves up and down. Theterm ‘alt’ is a shortened form for altitude, and ‘azimuth’ refers to thedirection of a certain space object in respect of the observer.

The reasonbehind writing off alt-az mounts for astrophotography was the occurrence offield rotation in these mounts. However, because of tremendous advancements inthe field of astronomy, it is now possible to prevent field rotation instate-of-the-art alt-azimuth mounts.

 You can address the field rotation issue witha simple accessory. Buy a camera rotator for your alt-az mount that will sitatop the camera and allow the camera to rotate freely along its optical axis.

A camerarotator ensures you have a firm and steady field of view when you are trackingan object using an alt-azimuth mount. This makes the mount suitable for longexposure space photography and also allows you to control the camera motionsremotely. You would also find camera rotators very helpful in finding guidestars in a narrow field of view.

Dobsonian Mounts

Dobsonianmounts are modified alt-azimuth mounts with design tweaks that were quiteeffective in terminating some of the drawbacks of the classic alt-az mount.Dobsonian mounts are quite budget-friendly and can be a good choice forentry-level astrophotography.

Don’t expectto photograph something incredibly distant like the Messier objects with aDobsonian mount, though. These are built for simple Newtonian refractors, whichare mostly used for observation. But you can improvise and use the mount forsome good planetary photoshoots.

You can usethe drift method to take multiple shots of a planet and put together a detailedfinal output. Take a few short videos as the planet drifts across the field andthen stack them upon each other to generate a more accurate image. You can alsouse a Barlow to blow up the details, but the challenge is to find a perfectfocal ratio that gives you the best results.

One of theupgrades of a Dobsonian mount over traditional alt-azimuth mounts is itsequatorial platform compatibility. An equatorial platform is a table that youcan place under a Dobsonian mount to revolve the mount at a rate that matchesthe rotation speed of a target object. However, this can only be done over alimited period (one hour usually).

Manual vs. Motorized Tracking

The largestadvantage manual tracking systems have over motorized ones is its convenientlylow price. Manual mounts are as straightforward as they come, so they areunsurprisingly cheaper than motorized ones. Motorized tracking systems wouldset you back a larger amount since you are investing in additional machinery.

The perk ofmotorized tracking lies in its ease of use and effectiveness. You don’t need toreadjust the positioning yourself to keep track of the object. The drive willmake sure you stay in pursuit without having to take your eye off the eyepiece.This is not the case when you are using a manual mount.

Forobservational purposes, manual tracking could be a smart choice as it would letyou heavily invest on the telescope. For astrophotography, however, time is ofthe essence. You wouldn’t want to waste your time adjusting the mount riskingthe chance to miss out on a perfect shot.

 I would go as far as saying a motorized mountis an absolute necessity if you take your astrophotography seriously.

Equatorial Mount vs. Alt-Az Mount

Equatorial Mount Alt-Azimuth Mount
A bit difficult to set up as it needs to be polar aligned, attached with counterweights, etc. The setup procedure for Alt-Azimuth mounts is much simpler. No need to use counterweights, level tripods, or align them with the earth’s polar axis.
Heavier as it comes with additional machinery. Lighter than equatorial mounts as these mounts don’t have motor drives or other accessories.
The rotating rings on an equatorial mount might restrict you from pointing the telescope in certain directions. Many astronomy enthusiasts find it easier to hop from one target to another as you can move the scope towards the direction you want.
Ideal for astrophotography as it is capable of following celestial objects at diurnal motion. Alt-azimuth mounts are susceptible to field of view rotation, which generates blurry images of the sky in long exposure shots.
More expensive than alt-az mounts because of its extra components. Cheaper because of its more straight-forward design.
Easier to change eyepieces during observing a moving object as the telescope keeps rotating. Difficult to change eyepieces during observing a moving object as it imbalances the mount’s positioning.
Not suitable for terrestrial photography. Suitable for terrestrial photography.

How to Choose a Mount for Astrophotography

How Important is a Mount?

Even thoughmounts are often overlooked, the role they play in getting satisfactory outputfrom your telescope will get conspicuous to you as you get more and moreexperienced in the world of astronomy. In astrophotography, I would go on tosay that the mount ranks higher in the priority list than the telescope itself!

Prioritize EQ Mounts

If you havebeen reading the article from the very beginning, you know by now that I’m nota great fan of using alt-azimuth mounts for astrophotography, and there areplenty of reasons behind why you shouldn’t consider them for yourastrophotography setup. Therefore, you should be looking to buy an equatorialmount that features a motor drive to revolve the scope.

Don’t be Allured by Low-Quality Mounts

Not allequatorial mounts are going to make the cut, though. There are someinexpensive, flimsy mounts out there that would seem appealing to you becauseof their low price. By all means, there are some good budget options up forgrabs. But even so, you need to make sure the mount you are buying fulfilscertain criteria- otherwise, you would be throwing your money away.

Are You Sure What You Need?

First ofall, you need to be sure about your level of passion for astrophotography. Isthis just a fling or are you in it for the long haul? If the latter is thecase, you should be prepared to loosen your purse strings and get yourself adecent starter mount. If you are really ardent about taking photos of the nightsky, the limitations of an entry-level will frustrate you quickly.

Are GoTos a must have?

GoTo mountswill do away with all the boring stuff you had to do to get your system up andrunning. All you need to do is insert the name of the desired object, and themount will find it for you. This is a great trait to have, but it doesn’t comecheap. Besides, you might like doing things a bit old fashioned way. So,getting a GoTo is nice, but it’s far from essential.

Check for Sturdiness

You need astrong mount that will give your telescope the desired stability. You can’tafford the telescope to budge in the wind while you are trying to take a photoof something that is drifting across the space. Look for a heavy and well-builtmount to serve this purpose.

Heavy Mounts are Sturdier

A heavymount will be a bit troublesome to carry, but it will give you the resilienceyou need against the wind in an open area. Besides, you can take apartequatorial mounts into many smaller pieces. So, if you are out with a group, itis possible to share the weight with others.

Speaking ofweight, a characteristic you have to look out for while buying a telescopemount is the payload capacity. This refers to the maximum weight your mount canhold and support.

Be Sure You Know the Exact Payload Capacity

Some modelsonly indicate the weight of the telescope when they state the payload capacitywhile some models include both counterweights and the actual weight of thetelescope. Consult the manufacturer to know for sure how much weight your mountcan actually put up with.

If a mountadvertises it has a payload capacity of, say, 50lbs, it could either mean itcan hold a total of 50lbs, or it could hold a telescope 50lbs of camera andtelescope weight, and 50lbs on top of that for the counterweight. You need toknow the specifics, or else you might end up breaking your mount.

Don’t Exhaust the Mount’s Load Capacity

Also, it’srecommended that you don’t put on more than 60% of the maximum payload. If youfollow this rule, you can expect to get better results from your mount,especially during time-exposure shots.

The more youapproach the maximum load capacity, the more you will suffer from trackingerror.  The setup will get more and moresusceptible to get imbalanced and deteriorate image quality even further.

What do You Need for Slow-Shutter/Long-Exposure Astrophotography?

For someserious slow shutter astrophotography, go for a GEM that features motor drivesin both axes. You would also want it to have alt-az adjustments to align theinstrument with the earth’s polar axis accurately. Fork mounts are also capableof undertaking such a challenge, but I prefer the simplicity of a GEM.

The Advantages of Equatorial Mounts for Astrophotography

You canpoint your scope at some awkward angles with an Alt-Azimuth mount. While that’sa great ability, this certain attribute does come with a price. You need tomove your scope along both of its axes, which results in a rotation of thefield of view as well. As I’ve said previously here, that’s a no-no when itcomes to astrophotography.

Equatorialmounts solve this conundrum by aligning the scope with the earth’s polar axis.If you are observing from the Northern hemisphere, you can do this by bringingPolaris in your polar scope. The alignment is a bit tricky on the other part ofthe globe, where you need to refer a dim star neighboring the Octans.

By polaraligning the telescope, equatorial mounts ensure the telescope follows anyspace object at diurnal motion. Therefore, you can keep any celestial body inyour scope without having to change the declination. This results in a stablefield of view throughout your entire observation period, which makes equatorialmounts a better pick for astroimaging.

Final Thoughts

Thecomplications involving astrophotography would have been significantly less ifthe earth stayed still. You need to use an equatorial mount that can compensatefor the earth’s rotation and help you take pictures of distant space objectswith desired quality.

In thisarticle, I’ve only reviewed equatorial mounts because they are always the firstchoices for astrophotography. You can get some good photos of the cosmos usingalt-azimuth mounts too, but it’s nowhere near as simple as using equatorials.

The models featuring in my best telescope mounts for astrophotography article come with different price-tags and, of course, different utilities. Buying any of the telescope mounts mentioned above could prove to be a worthy expenditure if you are sure about your astrophotography ambitions.

Last update on 2022-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API