Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fork Over That GEM? Never!!!

As you may or may not have gathered from the title, I will be addressing mounts today.There are a few mainstream mounts to consider. They are the Alt/azimuth Fork mount, The German Equatorial Mount (GEM) and the new upstart the Dobsonian Mount. Almost all scopes use these mounts. All three can be found with Go to /Push to.You might ask: So which is the best Steve? A stellar question indeed.(pun may or may not have been intended) Lets start this mini adventure with the Dobsonian mount. This simple and sturdy mount made its way here in the 1960's The purpose being to build an affordable telescope in big to OMG Big sizes, have it easy to transport and light in weight. The bailiwick of this alt azimuth mount are very large Newtonian Telescopes.They ride on Teflon so they are very smooth to operate. They are very limited in the type of scope it will handle. (Newts) I have seen a couple of SCT put on a Dob mount. It is such a beautiful design. I love them. Bottom line is if you have a case of aperture fever and you want to spend the money on mirror this is your ticket. Stop right here and order it or even better build one!

The next up on the hit parade is the Alt /Azimuth Fork. This Mount is extremely popular with SCT fans as well as short tube refractors Many, oh so many a Schmidt Cassegrain scope reside on a fork and with good reason they are a rock solid sturdy mount. They can easily be made a go to scope or set up with setting circles to get yourself around the sky. The one shown here is a Celestron CPC Series. It has all the bells and whistles GPS Go to. If you decide you want to use it for Astrophotography You will need a wedge. The reason is this. The mount has to move both motors to stay on track with an object which is no problem for visual work.The problem occurs when you put a Camera on it A problem called field rotation happens and you will get star trails. not good... Plan on spending about 800 dollars on a good wedge. The wedge makes it so the mount moves smoothly using one motor. As a result, Pictures can be exposed for longer times.This is a great mount if you plan visual work most of the time with some stints of astrophotography. It will grow with you but you must drag it kicking and screaming:)

The King of mounts is the very flexible(in uses)German Equatorial Mount This thing is a beauty to behold. You name the Scope, Catadioptric, Refractor,or Newt. All three will go on it and for the most part do well. The exception being big newts. They are so long they tend to mess with the mount in stability. To the oh so serious astrophotographer there is no other mount to consider. The reason for this is design. The mount is lined up with the pole it then has only one axis to turn on to keep any scope on target because it follows the sky The Celestron/ Synta CG5/EQ4 , CGE, CGEM EQ6/ Atlas, Takahashi, Vixen, Losmandy and some Meade are all great mounts with different weight loads and costs. (No I did not include Paramount or Astrophysics plus others.... They are research grade / Insanely expensive mounts and quite frankly will not be hitting your or my door step any time soon.) They will carry just so much weight so decide what scope you want, figure in astrophotography equipment, Possibly a bigger scope later. Think about all of this before plunking down the cash. The CG5 can handle an 11 inch SCT but not much camera stuff added. CGEM has no problem with that scope and camera gear. These mounts are very accurate after they are aligned. Think ahead to what you might like to do in the years ahead. save your money up and get a mount that will grow with you. Keep all of your scopes and then mix and match on your GEM. There you have it, a crash course on mounts. Just a few things to think about when looking for that scope of a lifetime !

Clear Skies and good seeing to all

Steve T

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