Once you've chosen your telescope, the next natural step is to choose a mount and a tripod. The mount acts as a platform for your telescope, and the tripod supports both and establishes a degree of elevation and stability. There are two primary kinds of mount, with all others being derivatives and variations on these two categories. These categories are Alt Azimuth and Equatorial, which all other mounts such as GEMs or Fork mounts are variations upon. A telescope mount can be as simple as a set of side bearings and gears or as sophisticated as computer controlled motorized design. It attaches to the optics via a specialized plate which matches a variety of holding devices, such as telescope tube rings or a camera adapter. In turn, the telescope mount connects to an optional (or included) tripod or pier. They come in two basic forms: alt-azimuth or equatorial. These configurations compliment the telescope type and purpose. Many mounts in the modern age are computerized to grant a wider array of options with impressive ease to you, the astronomer in the field. If you need any help figuring out which mount will work the best with your telescope of choice, or which tripod to mount it all on top of, OPT's highly knowledgeable staff is as happy as always to help. So if you need help picking out the perfect mount for your astronomy experience, just give us a call!
The alt-az telescope mount is a basic arrangement that moves the optics in altitude or azimuth - up and down, or side to side - as independent functions. It includes the option to lock the mount’s position and guide it manually. The alt-azimuth telescope mount design is generally used with smaller telescopes, especially refractors and SCT styles. Their simplicity makes them an excellent choice for beginners, providing an easy to use starting point to familiarize yourself with telescope mounting. These mounts are just as easy to setup as they are to use, making them also quite well suited for the astronomer 'On the Go', who needs to be able to transport their gear from one dark site to another.
The equatorial telescope mount is aligned to the celestial pole and uses a series of gears attached to slow motion cables to track targets in right ascension and declination. Most models include manual setting circles for locating objects. Employing a counterbalance, the EQ mount design is favored for heavier telescopes and those interested in astrophotography. They allow the user to add optional drive units and digital setting circles or to purchase it as a computer-controlled "GoTo" telescope mount. These mounts are not only some of the most powerful, but often the easiest to use due to the advances made in Go-To technology, which permit you to use your mount itself as a guide to the stars, helping you find whatever it is you most desire to image or observe with the greatest of ease.
These mounts generally function in the form of being able to toggle between Equatorial and Alt Azimuth style tracking, meaning that you can adjust your mount to your current style of observation without having to worry about frequently changing mounts. This allows you to do things like switch freely between visual astronomy and astrophotography easily and within the same night. Hybrid mounts are great for those who want to have as many options as possible for maximum adaptability of use and goal. They can be a bit complicated when compared to pure alt azimuth or equatorial mounts, but that's why you have OPT to consult on any details or information needed to pick the perfect mount and utilize it just right.
A mount isn't much use without a tripod to rest it on, and an observatory dome can often be just what you need to complete your own personal astronomy lair. We provide both of these things and so much more here at OPT to help you get your astronomy setup in place. Either a tripod or a pier is necessary for almost any kind of astronomy setup involving a mount and a telescope, so you'd be well served by taking a look at the full range of options for them. They might be accessories, but they are also essential. The same can be said of other mount accessories such as dovetail plates, counterweights, and other similar products.
If you’re interested in mounting your camera, spotting scope, binoculars, or a small telescope to a tripod, OPT has your solution. There are many ways to stabilize your optics, from basic plates to arrangements that will allow you to move your equipment once mounted. These devices can range from a swiveling ball to a geared assembly. Some types of tripod heads are designed for stationary subjects, while others allow for small, manual movements. If you are interested in doing night sky photography, you will also find tracking mounts that follow your subject in Right Ascension (RA) at a variety of rates. The products you'll find here are the ultimate in portability and perfect for the photographer or observer on the go.
Perhaps the greatest innovation in the astronomy industry was the advent of the computer-robotic mount, commonly referred to as a “GO-TO” mount. Pioneered by Meade in the 1990’s the “GO-TO” equatorial mount revolutionized the way we do astronomy. No more tedious set-up to manually track objects in the night sky. With little more than the push of a button, the telescope mount aligns itself and will locate and “go to” any of the objects in its’ data base. Astronomy became more fun and much easier than ever before! These computerized mounts are excellent for saving time and effort, letting you bypass time consuming and complex processes in favor of getting your eyes on the stars quicker!