For proper use, a telescope needs to be supported by a telescope mount. The mount is designed to:
- support the weight of a telescope,
- reduce the shaking and
- point the telescope to different directions in the sky.
There are many kinds of mounts available on the market. The most basic type of mount is a manual one. Lately, computerized and motorized mounts (especially GoTo versions) are gaining in popularity. They are easy to use and don’t require a vast knowledge of astronomy.
An altazimuth mount has a very uncomplicated design and is very easy to master even for the beginners. It is light and easy to move, which makes it very popular among astro enthusiasts.
In general, there are two different versions of altazimuth mounts:
This type of mount allows the telescope to move in:
- vertical (altitude) and
- horizontal (azimuth) axis.
With manual altazimuth mounts, the alignment is not needed, while with computerized mounts, it must be done. These mounts are suitable for terrestrial observations and scanning the sky at lower power, but they are not meant for deep-sky photography and long exposure photography (field rotation effect).
Both altazimuth mount and equatorial mount are available in:
For tracking objects as they move with the night sky, both versions must be aligned.
Although entirely different in its design, an equatorial mount allows the telescope to move in the same directions as an altazimuth mount. One axis moves in the direction of east-west and the other in the course of north-south. The difference between both mounts is in compensating for Earth’s rotation – one rotational axis on an equatorial mount must be parallel to the north/south celestial pole.
Compared to an altazimuth mount, the movement of the equatorial mount is continuous, which is perfect for taking long exposures images and smooth tracking across the sky.
There are several types of equatorial mounts available. One of the more popular is the German equatorial mount. The thing that makes this mount so attractive is that it doesn’t have to be designed for a specific telescope. With different dovetail plates, the user can use the same mount to support different telescopes.
Dobson is one of the most inexpensive and straightforward mount designs. The big Newtonian telescope is seated on a simple altazimuth mount that can move in horizontal and vertical directions. The mount consists of sliding and rotating parts. Dobsonian mounts are very stable and easy to use. The downside is that because of their size, they are very heavy and awkward to transport.