Best Telescope Mounts
Choosing the correct mount for your telescope is as vital as selecting the best optical tube assembly for your viewing interests. A high-quality mount with precision tracking and aligning capabilities provides stability and strength for both visual observing and astrophotography.
Whether you’re new to astronomy or an experienced astrophotographer seeking the sophisticated functionality once reserved for professional astronomers, there’s a quality mount to suit your budget and your needs. At prices ranging from under $500 to five-figure observatory-grade mounts, here’s our list of the best telescope mounts for astrophotography, with a summary of the pros and cons of each.
The ZWO AM5 Harmonic Drive Hybrid AZ/EQ Mount is a highly portable telescope mount for astronomy and astrophotography that features cutting-edge harmonic drive technology. This hybrid mount can fit into an airline luggage bag, but it can carry up to four times its own weight with high guiding accuracy and very low periodic error. Designed for astrophotography, the ZWO AM5 can operate in both equatorial and alt-azimuth modes. The ZWO AM5 is WIFI compatible, allowing users to connect the mount with a smartphone or tablet for extra help identifying night sky targets and controlling its GoTo function.
- Lightweight but strong
- Portable and great for traveling
- Best use is on AIAIR plus
- Reviews say the ZWO AM5 is OK for laptop software but could use improvement
The Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro Equatorial GoTo Mount delivers expert-level tracking and large equipment capacity in an equatorial mount that’s both portable and easy to use for both new and seasoned astrophotographers. The Sky-Watcher comes with a SynScan hand controller for offers precision GoTo capability for more than 42,000 unique objects.
The Sky-Watcher EQR-6 is lightweight and made for travel, but it can handle larger scopes, astrocameras, and other imaging accessories. The kit comes with a saddle that accepts both Losmandy and Dual Vixen style dovetails right out of the box for easy telescope attachment.
- Strong mount capable of handling heavy gear
- Easy to set up on a computer
- Great for future-proofing
- Has a DSLR interface
- Mount head weights 38 pounds
The Losmandy G-11 Equatorial Mount w/Gemini 2 GoTo System is a heavy-duty mount with stainless steel hardware capable of handling a load capacity of 60 pounds. This high-precision mount comes with the Losmandy Gemini 2 GoTo system for precision tracking and an online database of more than 40,000 objects. The Gemini 2GoTo System includes a Touch Screen Hand Controller and built-in T-Point-like pointing software. This system is also T-Point compatible for precision positioning accuracy across the entire sky. The Losmandy G-11 includes two USB ports and offers an online firmware upgrade.
- Strong, well-machined mount
- Comes with a tripod
- Made in the USA
- Can be retrofitted with upgrades for the longevity of the product without having to buy the latest mount
- Very heavy
- Runs louder than most mounts
- Tripod weight is 35 pounds
The iOptron CEM 120 EC2 Center Balanced EQ Mount is designed to meet a growing demand for accuracy and versatility combined with stability and heavy load capacity. The CEM 120 has a center balance design for enhanced stability, with a low periodic tracking error and fixed home sensors on each axis for saving and reusing alignment models night after night. This computerized mount has an instrument capacity of 115 pounds and includes an advanced cable management system that prevents tangles and reduces the risk of fractured cables. The kit includes a Go2Nova hand controller with cables, two counterweights plus shaft, and an AC power adapter.
- Large weight capacity
- Best priced option for a mount with encoders
- May need to fine-tune RA and Dec, but this rarely happens
The Software Bisque Paramount ME II Equatorial Mount is a strong, heavy-duty equatorial mount with a total weight capacity of 480 pounds. The Paramount MEII features a Versa-Plate mounting plate capable of accepting virtually any optic, and its MKS 5000 control system allows a USB 2.0 computer to mount the interface. All electronics and wiring are housed within the mount, and equipment cables can also be run through the mount without disassembly. TPoint-assisted pointing accuracy and polar alignment make tracking and guiding easy.
- Premium quality, professional-grade mount used in most observatories
- Can track satellites
- USB ports make it easy to connect guiding accessories
- Premium price, but that reflects its professional quality and performance
The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack is a complete package built around the Star Adventurer 2i equatorial mount—a portable, high-precision astrophotography mount designed to work with a DSLR camera. The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack includes a counterweight kit and Dec bracket for attaching a camera or small telescope that can be pointed to any Declination angle you like. The Sky-Watcher Latitude Equatorial Base allows for adjusting the system’s latitude and azimuth for correct polar alignment. The Star Adventurer 2i can be installed on most standard photo tripods and can also be used for daytime photography of terrestrial objects.
- Best budget beginner tracking mount for Milky Way, panorama, and widefield deep sky object photography
- The Pro Pack includes all the essentials for getting started
- Good introduction to tracking mounts
- Cannot perform GoTo
- Only tracks on the RA axis
The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi GoTo EQ Mount is a lightweight equatorial mount for deep space, wide field and nightscape astrophotography. This portable telescope mount is one of the best GoTo telescope mounts for astrophotography beginners, and it is a versatile precision instrument for more advanced users. The Star Adventurer GTi features tracking in both axes and autoguiding and GoTo capability, with control options including wireless connection via the SynScan Pro App available for Android iOS or a hand controller or interface with astronomy software on PC or Mac.
- Best budget option for a lightweight, portable tracking mount that has GoTo
- Precision features for more advanced users as well as beginners
- High in demand, so it’s rarely in stock
The iOptron CEM 26EQ Mount is a center-balanced equatorial mount that’s ideal for both astrophotography and visual observation of the night sky. Weighing just 10 pounds, this portable mount can carry a maximum payload of 26 pounds and comes with built-in WiFi plus an integrated auto-guiding port and IPolar electronic polar finder that works even when the Pole Star is obscured. The iOptron CEM 26 Mount kit also includes a LiteRoc Tripod and a 212,000-object library for locating and learning about celestial objects.
- Great option for a GoTo mount capable of handling mid-sized telescopes for astrophotography
- Advanced features in a budget-friendly mount
- The kit comes with all the basics for getting started
The Software Bisque Paramount MyT Equatorial Mount delivers precision tracking in a lightweight but sturdy mount that weighs 34 pounds but carries a 50-pound load capacity. This portable equatorial mount features a rotating mount base for making AZ adjustments without affecting the mount’s altitude and a set of integrated ports for connectivity, power, and other functions. The Paramount MyT Equatorial Mount comes with SkyX Pro software for controlling the mount and other equipment through a computer.
- A great introduction to premium-grade mounts
- Made in the USA
- Includes user guides and USB to USB mini cable
- The kit does not include a tripod
If you have any questions about purchasing a telescope or need to know more, please contact us. The OPTeam will be glad to steer you toward the best possible telescope for your journey into the world of astronomy. Clear skies and happy viewing!