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  • Writer's pictureJames Paulson

Astrophotography Tips – Part 3 – The Mount

Ask any experienced astrophotographer what the most important part of a good imaging rig is, and I can promise you that if they have been doing this for any length of time at all, they will tell you to invest in a good mount.

The mount should be able to carry double (or more) of the payload that you put on it for imaging. If you oversize the mount by this factor, there is a very good chance that you will get quality results. If you start with that design factor in mind, you are going to be less frustrated. And of course, that weight is dictated by your optical tube assembly (OTA) plus gear. A very large 11 or 14 inch SCT will have completely different mount requirements than something like a Redcat 51.

You can look at the specs of the mount to determine how well it tracks, but odds are if it is one of the serious mounts I mention here, you will be satisfied.

A lot of people are moving to the newer strain wave mounts (harmonic drive) like the ZWO AM5 for example. Old school people like me still love and use the Skywatcher EQ6-R or the EQ5 mounts that use counterweights. Some will opt for the higher end Celestron German Equatorial Mounts (C-GEM). There is the Losmandy GM8 and G11 mounts in the high-end category, and even higher you get into mounts like the Astrophysics line of mounts. In a few years, mount technology will transform rapidly as new strain wave gear comes online.

The best thing you can do is get out with someone who has a good quality mount and watch one in action and make your choices from there, but anything I have mentioned is of high quality. I would avoid mounts like the Celestron AVX and the Skywatcher EQM-35 unless you plan on putting only a very small refractor on them. These light duty GoTo mounts leave very little space to grow into and it seems that rigs only get heavier with time and not lighter.

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