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Should I Get the HEQ5 Synscan GOTO Upgrade?

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I currently have a Skywatcher Explorer 200p on the HEQ5 mount. When I get the chance to get the scope out, I tend to focus on the nearest planet or moon (okay, just our moon) and after that, I'll have a quick look around for what else I can find (usually nothing!) I do have Stellarium on the laptop and I try to find different things but being such a newbie I don't know if a) I'm actually looking at exactly the right point in the sky and 2) if I can even see what I'm trying to find with my scope/at that time of night (so far I'm just viewing in my back garden and usually early in the evening so it's still quite light at the moment).

I've just sold some bits on eBay and have enough to buy the Synscan upgrade but I'm hesitating slightly, wondering if it's a good idea. I figure that if I do buy it, there will be one of two outcomes.

1. I eventually learn more precisely where everything is and become a better astronomer.

2. I become the world's laziest astronomer, never get any better and ultimately will have wasted my money.

I think scenario number one is much more likely but before I actually spend any money I thought it would be a good idea to ask people who know what they're talking about. If you have this system, how do you find using it? Were you in a similar situation to me?

As always, any help would be much appreciated!

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I understand your concerns, but fear not. I found that after using goto functions I learnt my way around the night sky better and looked at things I would not normally think of.

However before jumping into the SynScan route have you considered the EQDIR/EQMOD method? You can buy a pre made adaptor that plugs into the mount (in place of the handset) and into your laptop, or make your own for a few pounds (I made mine for around £4)

The mount can then be controlled via CdC or Stellarium and also has a really useful polar alignment system.

Just a thought



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Hi Spacedawg,

If your mount is a manual heq5 then you will need the synscan upgrade to allow for Go-to; which will then also give you the option of using EQMOD/EQdir and controlling your scope via a laptop or PC.

The EQMOD/EQDIR option cannot be used without the upgrade.

GO-TO can help in locating objects in the sky, but, learning your way around the sky with the aid of a good planitarium programme (such as stellarium... a free download) or a book with star maps (such as Turn left at Orion) can be very rewarding.

GO-TO will get you there, but it won't teach you how to do it.

Best regards.

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I have the same 200p, if I lived in much darker sky's I think perhaps I might not have upgraded to goto. However I do have a lot of light pollution, which makes star hopping harder. I still find myself learning constellations. I am sometimes able to find objects using a short exposure using a camera which I can barely see with my eye and so finding some of these objects without goto would be very difficult for me. I think my telescope would not have been out to play as much if I hadn't upgraded.

I hope my experience helps you.

I warn you though that the instructions which came with the eq5 upgrade were absolutely pants. I upgraded mine using an old post on this forum

I think it was this one:

Albeit this was eq5 guide. I recommend having a good look around this form first for advice about the procedure. This sort of thing does not come naturally to me.


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I went for the go to kit, if you fancy star hopping you can turn it off, if you want to view the maximum number of DSOs and spend a reasonable proportion of the (limited) clear sky time observing you use it.

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Eventually I went for the Goto as there was simply not enough time to spend searching for new targets. I think that it improves your observing , not only can you get to see targets, but can revisit them at leisure.

This is a distinct advantage with quickly changing weather and seeing conditions.

In addition a lot more planning is required selecting targets either on a constellation basis or by target type.

I still love to just set a Dob down or use binoculars to scan the skies, for which we hope for

clear skies,


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Thanks for all the input, guys. I did see the post about performing the upgrade and noticed a post stating that some of the newer HEQ5 mounts already have the motor upgrades as standard. I checked mine and it doesn't so it looks as though it's the GOTO upgrade for me (I was edging this way anyway!)

Thanks again!

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