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Alt-Az mount recommendations needed

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Thanks again to all for the help and info. Sorry for the ramblings that follow - I'm thinking 'aloud' here...

I'm now at a quandry. Thanks to Kilix, I now know how to rotate the focuser of my ST80. Thanks to happy-kat, I now know of a reasonably priced photo tripod that'll double as a travel mount for the ST80. However, both the GSO and TS mounts look nice - albeit weighing about 6kg each and costing more than I wanted to pay. I'd rather not pay £250 for a mount if I don't need to as I'd like to get a guidescope in the not too distant future (thinking of an Orion Mini 50, but don't know whether to get the one with a helical focuser) and the money would be better spent on that.

@happy-kat: How steady is that tripod? Could you get away with it for prime focus lunar AP with the ST80 and a DSLR?

FWIW, Orion make a 'Precision slow-motion adapter', but it doesn't seem to be available over here in UK. That would let me use the tripod that happy-kat suggested and have slow-motion controls.

Enough of my ramblings! Thanks again to all.


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I think best to ask on the thread I linked too, as Rod may well be able to reply to your question.

Given lunar images are often around 1/255 and if you use a remote shutter release if there is balance so the telescope does not sag with the camera on the back then might be ok, but best ask on that thread. I don't have this tripod I use a Az3 but that is too big for travel. The 130p is in comparrisson rear heavy and Rob comments about finding balance with that. I gues the ST80 limitation is the short dove bar little lateral movement to coutner position of heavy czmera but the ball head I have from Amazon is weighted for 8 kg so if the ball head can take the weight it should in theory be able to hold and not slip.

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  • 1 month later...

I know that I'm resurrecting an old thread here, but I bought an Alt-Az mount (guided by some sage advice from the panel) and thought I'd report back with first impressions. I am now the proud owner of an Explore Scientific Twilight I (see photo). This is an "AZ-4 style" mount with slow motion controls and a claimed payload of 8kg.

The slow motion controls are butter-smooth when carrying my ST80. However, there are slight issues when it's carrying my newly-acquired Skywatcher 150PDS. At 6kg, the 150PDS is within the claimed payload, but the altitude axis is a little rough if you release and re-tighten the clutch. It's fine if you lock the clutch before mounting the OTA and then only use the slow motion drive. FWIW, I suspect that the mass of the OTA hanging from the dovetail shoe pulls the mechanism slightly out of alignment and prevents it from mating properly when you tighten the clutch. Also, there's significant shake that's very apparent at magnifications of 150x and above when handling the OTA to adjust focus etc., but that could be the tube rings or just that I've never had a 'scope of that size before. However, vibration settles down very quickly and the mount gives a steady view provided I don't touch it or the OTA!

With all that said, I'm delighted with the mount. I can set it up in a couple of minutes and it's easily luggable. I'm still going to get a reasonable photo tripod to carry our ST80 the next time we go to Australia, but I now have an excellent mount that meets every requirement I sought except air-portability.

Thanks to all, and clear skies, Geoff


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