A plethora of amateur and expert astronomers agree that telescopes are only as good as the tripods and mounts used to keep them stable. We all know that telescopes are used to magnify the sky and what actually sits in the sky, stars, moon and so forth. But many stragazers do not realize that unstable telescopes magnify vibrations. Therefore it is imperative to give much thought to the mount you invest in. So what do mounts really do? A telescope mount has two main functions. They allow for controlled movement while pointing the instrument and support the telescope firmly in order to allow for stable viewing. If one has a telescope mount which fails to do this, photographs will show the vibrations. Consequently, viewing the solar system will be awkward indeed.
The simplest type of mount is the Altazimuth which is often called alt-az. This is deemed the simplest type of mount one can use. It has two motions and these are altitude and horizontal. A good quality Altazimuth has slow-motion knobs which gives one more precise adjustments. This makes sky tracking so much smoother. Those interested in terrestrial tracking will find these highly beneficial. But they are not the best option for sky photography. A host of Altazimuth mounts are computer driven and this allows one to track the sky much more accurately. But those interested in astrophotography will be disappointed with the tracking as it is relatively slow for photography.
Perhaps you have heard of a Dobsonian mount. The Dobsonian mount is a more modified version of the Altazimuth mount.This particular type of mount was invented by John Dobsonian back in the 1970’s. While the Altazimuth is mounted on the top of the telescope, the Dobsonian is mounted on the ground to a heavy stable platform. These mounts are specifically designed to support Newtonian Reflectors which are huge. These are perfect for retaining a steady image. It is commonplace for these telescopes to have very large apertures which can measure up to more than twenty inches.Equatorial mounts are ideal for star gazing over a longer period of time. They are a necessity for those who which to engage in astrophotography. The stationary stars appear to move across the sky while the earth tips on its axis. If you are attempting to observe them while using an Altazimuth mount, they will float away from view. Therefore you will need a well aligned equatorial mount. An equatorial mount is far superior to non-computerized Altizimuth mounts.
There are two basic type of equatorial mounts and these are the German Equatorial Mount and the Fork Mount. Newtonian Reflectors and Refractor telescopes use these types of mount more than any other mount. One will notice the large counterweight as one of the most distinguishing features of the German Equatorial Mount. This balances the telescope well. Fork Mounts are the better option for shorter optical tubes. They’re much more convenient to use than German Mounts. More so when astrophotography comes into the equation. The telescope is controlled by a computer using an internal digital equatorial drive. This calculates the Altazimuth setting for the mount. This type of mount is more commonly used in modern research telescopes. By being fully automatic, observing is much easier and takes little effort to locate specific objects.
The latest GOTO telescope mounts are ideal for those wishing to track a star. Tracking stars while viewing requires the constant reposition of the telescope. This is due to the fact that the earth spins and the stars move. Equatorial telescopes have settings which allow the user to manually position the telescope by the use of a coordinate system. By using a GOTTO mount you will be able to track a target and keep it in your sight. To decide what type of mount to use, give thought to whether you wish to aim the telescope yourself or allow a computer to do this for you. The GOTO telescope is highly popular and for good reason. It allows you to locate very faint objects and enjoy star hopping as well. Think stability of viewing, ease of use and transportability when choosing your telescope mount.