Mounts

To be able to take nighttime pictures, you need a stable platform. Today's mounts are computerized and can slew to your target automatically (we call this: GoTo functionality). I use 2 different types of mounts:

 


Celestron Advanced VX-mount

 

I use a (German) Equatorial Mount. This is one is computerized and can compensate for the earth's rotation. The tripod is more robust, which adds to the stability and therefore the quality of the picture. 

Features:

 

- Steel tripod with telescopic legs 

- Right Ascension and Declination axis

- 1 H.C. port, 1 Auto Guider port, 2 Auxiliary ports

- Adjustable counterweight

- Payload of 14 kg

- Accessory tray

- H.C. with over 40K targets


Review:

 

This mount has been the work horse of my entire setup, having been the platform upon which all of my pictures have been taken. (deepsky and sun). It is a lot bulkier than the Alt-Az mount, but provides the necessary stability to keep everything neatly in place. The fact that it has 2 auxiliary ports is really handy to me, as I can use the StarSense module along with the Wifi-module at the same time. I have taken this mount apart and took it with me in the car on many occasions. It is heavy as hell, so a carrying bag that fits the entire motor part is recommended. This mount is pretty accurate once it is aligned, and there is a possibility to record its "periodic errors" (errors in the gearboxes, which every mount has) and then replay the recordings to counteract these errors. In overall this is the ideal mount for a beginning astrophotographer. 

 


Skywatcher Star-Adventurer

 

The search for a solution to be able to practice the hobby abroad, led me to this amazing device: the Skywatcher Star-Adventurer.

 

It is a modular system, which is based around a tiny mount that fits on any sturdy photographic tripod on the market. It has the ability to track the night sky and runs on 4 AA-batteries. It has a built-in polar scope and comes with a ST-4-port to be able to guide as well (1 axis). This is the ideal device to do widefield-photography, but can be used for time-lapse imaging as well.

I have bought the complete set. This came with an equatorial wedge, a counterweight and a L-bracket with dovetail bar. Everything you need to get going.

Features:

 

-Small and compact (fits in hand luggage)

-Widefield-photography or time-lapse 

-Built-in polar scope (with external illumination)

-Runs on 4 AA-batteries

-Built-in ST-4-port makes it possible to guide on 1 axis


More info: check out my blog by clicking this link

 

http://www.star-addict.com/english/blogs/review-skywatcher-star-adventurer


ALT-AZ mount (Altitude-Azimuth mount)

 

 

This mount is less suited for photography because of its inability to compensate for the earth's rotation. (after all, we keep moving all through the day and night) There are wedges available to place the Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) in a certain angle (depending on your latitude) to counter this effect. 

Features:

 

- Steel tripod with telescopic legs

- 1 Handcontrol port, 1 Aux port, 1 Auto Guide-port

- Battery compartment (holds 8 AA Batteries)

- Accessory tray

- Handcontrol with database of over 10K targets


Review:

 

This mount came standard with my Celestron Nexstar 6SE. It is great for observation, but less suited for photography. The tripod legs are vulnerable to shocks or windy conditions, making this a less stable platform to connect a camera to. It is ideal to take with you in the car, for example, as it is not very heavy. This mount has the ability to be run via AA batteries, however I would not recommend this as they do not last for very long. You can also connect a 12V adapter to it, but requires (in my case) a bit of duct-tape to hold the connector in place. The RJ11 port for the Hand Control is built into the arm at a quite inconvenient place (behind the casing). But this is not a problem if you tend to keep using the same H.C. at all times. A great mount to start your 'amateur-astronomy-carreer' with, but lacks the necessary sturdiness for photography.