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Chapter 3: All About Telescope Mounts

Two main types of telescope mounts – Alt-azimuth and Equatorial – are compared here including their benefits and an idea of how they work!

Types of Telescope Mounts
Now that you know what type of telescopes are out there, let us discuss an often overlooked but very important aspect - the mountings. A mount is important for stabilising your telescope and determining how easy it is to follow a star while viewing it.

There are a few basic telescope mountings:

An Alt Azimuth Mount

1) Alt-azimuth mount

The Alt-azimuth mounts in contrast have a simpler design, meaning they just swing up, down, left and right. You have to move the scope every so often to follow the stars, moons and planets as the earth turns.

An alt-azimuth mount is both cheaper and lighter for the same degree of stability but it misses out on the ability to easily follow the rotation of the sky when the earth turns. Dobsonian telescopes function on the Alt-azimuth mount too.

Some telescopes that work on the an Alt-Azimuth mount are the:

Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor Telescope

National Geographic 76/700 Reflector Telescope AZ

SkyWatcher 6” Dobsonian Telescope SW580

An Equatorial Mount

2) Equatorial mount

An Equatorial mount, simply put, allows users to follow the rotation of the sky as the Earth turns. The advantageous feature of this mount is its availability to follow any object in the sky without the user's need to make adjustments on two axes. This is a great help, for example, when you're trying to find your way among the stars with a map. Equatorial mounts are also better options if you do frequent astrophotography.

Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ Telescope

SkyWatcher SW135 Reflector Telescope with Motor Drive

Saxon M9012EQ Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope

Are there benefits then to the Alt-azimuth? Well, it's sheer ease of use makes the alt-azimuth mount a fairly popular choice with general interest astronomers who may not track or follow particular objects over a long period of time. This mount is also more portable, easier to set up and are stable supports for your telescope, minus a hefty price tag.

Equatorial mounts may take some getting used to and you will need to polar align your EQ so that its lined according to the shape of the equator.

Chapter 4: Accessorise, Accesorise (with eyepieces and filters)!