Night Astronomy Telescope Mounts

One of the most important parts of any good telescope is the mount.  A loose wobbly telescope mount makes viewing difficult at best.  While there is a wide range of telescope mounts, we will look at two classes of common mounts we will be using this semester.

1.  Altazimuth Mount - is a simple two axis mount that moves the telescope up and down and horizontally.  A gun turret is essentially an alt-azimuth mount.  The advantages of the altazimuth mount is that they are simple to use, cheap to build and usually very sturdy.  The disadvantage is that when tracking the stars you must move both axes to keep the star or celestial object in the eyepiece.  They are also limited for visual astronomy and are generally not used for astrophotography.


  Dobsonian Mount - This is a type of Altazimuth mount usually used on large reflector telescopes shown below.


2. Equatorial Mount - allows the telescope to track celestial objects as they move across the sky by rotating one axis.  Often these types of mounts have a motor attached to the axis which allows a camera to take long exposures.  Equatorial mounts often have setting circles which allow you to locate celestial objects.  Just like latitude and longitude on a map, celestial coordinates are given in right ascension and declination.  The two most common types of equatorial mounts are the German Equatorial Mount and the Fork Mount.

While these equatorial mounts have the advantage of tracking celestial objects they need to be set up correctly.  They also have more moving parts which makes them more expensive than the simple altazimuth or Dobsonian mounts.

YouTube video on setting up a German Equatorial Mount


German Equatorial Mount



Equatorial Fork Mount






































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