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I am considering buying a Skywatcher al/az+eq mount to use in alt az mode for lunar CCD photography. I currently have a celestron 11 CDC and a celestron 8 on a nexstar evo mount. I can use both these telescopes with the celestron 'solar system align' and sharp cap for short (~10 sec 300-500 frame) captures. I want to replace the nexstar evo mount for the C8 with a sturdier Skywatcher AZ-EQ 5GT mount BUT -

1) the altz/az option is supposed to be 'for visual use'. Does this mean its tracking in lunar rate/alt-az mode is very poor ?

2) I am confused about 'alignment' (is this only necessary to accurately access the database of interesting object positions?) The skywatcher mount does not have solar system align - but it does have lunar rate tracking in alt-az mode.  If I align on any random stars in lunar rate+alt-az mode with the moon centred in the telscope will the mount then track the moon? If not ,is there another way to track the moon ?

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The AZ-EQ5 GT has very good tracking in Alt-Az and is fine for short exposures of planets and the moon however EQ mode will always be better for imaging as you can do long exposures which is why they recommend Alt-Az for visual. 

The Skywatcher does now have it’s version of solar system align but you have to select daytime alignment to use it.

From manual:  Now the screen will prompt the brightest object in the sky. If in daytime, the Sun will be the first target prompted in the alignment star list. You may also use the scroll keys to browse to another alignment object, such as the Moon, a planet, or a bright star to use as a refer- ence target

And yes you will need to select lunar tracking for the moon.

Couple of images taken using an AZ-EQ5 in Az mode.




Edited by johninderby
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thank you for the information. I can't use equatorial mounts because I can only observe out of a flat window and theres no room. I can't do deep sky because I am in a light polluted town and I also have AMD eye problems - no central vision. I can only use a CCD image on a computer screen. I used to be a fanatical deep sky observer many years ago (mad on galaxy clusters).

I'm glad to hear that the mount now has a solar system align option - is it standard or do you have to update the supplied software ?

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Not sure when the solar align feature was added but worth updating the handset firmware anyway as the latest version has some improvements. Think many don’t realise that you can use just the moon or a planet for an alignment as it’s under the daytime alignment option which despite being called daytime can be used at night.

I find it usefull for when I just want a quick look at the moon for instance as no proper alignment needed. 

Edited by johninderby
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thanks again. Is the mount in your photo a standard one ? or is  it on a non-standard tripod - the commercial photos I have seen have a steel tripod. (Do you happen to know its height? As a separate matter, what is the telescope ? A 6 inch Mak ? is the carry handle an extra ?

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Replaced the standard steel tripod with a Berlebach wooden tripod but it is a standard AZ-EQ5 GT head. Less vibration  and higher load capacity than the stock one as well as better looking. I fitted the optional spread stopper to mine


The picture used on the FLO website is actually a photo I took of mine before the spread stopper was fitted.

Scope is a Skymax 180 fitted with tube rings and the carry handle is fitted to the rings.


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It’s a standard EQ5 / HEQ5 fitting with an M10 bolt so it fits any standard EQ5 / HEQ5 tripod. 

The old semi pillar tripod that used to come with the AZ-EQ5 GT Mount is no longer available, at least in the UK as far as I’m aware.

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On ‎12‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 12:51, umbilic said:

If I align on any random stars in lunar rate+alt-az mode with the moon centred in the telscope will the mount then track the moon? If not ,is there another way to track the moon ?

With my Starwatcher Synscan systems, I normally do a "Brightest Star" 2-star alignment, and, once aligned, the mount tracks at sidereal rate. If I then go to the "Planet" menu, and step to, and select, "Moon", the mount automatically selects lunar tracking.

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contrary to my last  post - more questions. I purchased the mount from FLO yesterday and am looking forwards to using it. Prior to its arrival I have been reading on-line manuals and am concerned that the Skyscan manual I have located (AZ goto telescope instruction manual) does not mention 'daylight observation' under which you say that lunar alignment is mentioned. Is the manual out of date or can I expect the feature to be present in my new Skyscan hanset ?

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I have just purchased a Skywatcher AZ/EQ 5 GT mount to carry a C8 SCT OTA or a Skywatcher 127mm Mak to use in alt/az mode for lunar work. Can anyone suggest a method of setting up the mount for lunar tracking in alt/az mode without star alignment ? The handset instruction manual I just downloaded makes no mention of alignment possibilities other than 1 or 2 star methods. I have been using celestron kit with a solar system align option where you simply enter observatory position, time and date etc with lunar rate tracking, centre the moon in the eyepiece, press align and off you go ...

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Just go to this section of the manual

3.6 Alt-Azimuth Mounts using Daytime Alignment Method

You can select the daytime method from the alignment menu on the hand control. Note that you will have to select the Alt-Az setting to use the daytime method. 


Edited by johninderby
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