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EQ v AZ Mounts - Do you need an EQ mount if you're not going to take any pictures?


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Hi all...

I'm a newbie, have had my Skywatcher StarQuest 130P for a couple of months now. It comes with a version of an EQ-1 mount, and is able to be used in either EQ or AZ 'mode'. For simplicity, when I first unboxed it I set it up in AZ mode, and I've used it that way ever since (admittedly there haven't been many viewing nights). 

Using it as an AZ mount has made me wonder why would I change it to EQ? From my basic and limited understanding, the advantage of EQ is that if you align it correctly, then you can track the movement of the sky relative to the earth, either manually (by only using one of the slow motions controls) or automatically, if you attach motors etc. In AZ mode, once my target moves, I have to track it manually, but have to use both slow motion controls to get it back in the centre of the view.

So, I'm beginning to think that, unless I want to move into Imaging, and therefore need the telescope to automatically track the sky, why would I want an EQ mount? For the convenience of only manually moving one slow motion control instead of two? It's hardly a hardship moving two, you can adjust both at the same time and it only takes a second. Is the advantage of being able to add motors, and there not have to adjust manually at all, even if you're just observing and not imagining, enough of an advatage? Or am I missing some other difference between EQ and AZ?

I should add a note that I fully understand that my EQ1 wouldn't be up to any kind of imaging, even with a motor (which I would expect would be fairly basic). It was the random wishful thinking of what my *next* mount might be that got me wondering about EQ v AZ. I was windows shopping and looking at EQ5s etc, and then thought 'but I wouldn't be able to change that mount to AZ' that got me questioning the choice between the two.

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And your bank account will thank you. 😁 Use a smartphone and take a few pics of the moon. Cheap and easy way to mess about with some simple imaging. Taken with a manual,alt-az mount and an 80

I would always prefer an EQ even for purely visual use. It's too much of a faff to twiddle with two slow motions. So much easier on a driven EQ, even if Polar alignment is only approximate. And if you

Its a Skywatcher Equinox 120ED, mounted on a Hercules Helix altazimuth fork. A great scope and great mount! 

Posted Images

For visual Alt-Az is the way to go. A GOTO alt-az mount is just as good as an EQ mount for visual and easier to set up.For imaging then yes the EQ is better as an alt-az suffers from field rotation thus limiting you to very short exposures so not good.

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A plain EQ mount if used visually requires adjustment about just one axis to keep an object in the eyepiece field (assuming it is polar aligned).  You can in most cases fit a RA motor for hands-off tracking. Some might consider this an advantage, while others prefer the simplicity and ease of aiming of an alt-azimuth mount.

Moving to GoTo mounts, even an alt-azimuth type will track. There is no need for an EQ mount here unless you intend long exposure astrophotography.

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How significant is field rotation over a minute or so?

Would using a CMOS camera with their short exposures of 60s or so allow you to get away with it?

Also for planetary and lunar imaging, do the various processing apps compensate for field rotation? 

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60s is pushing it. Many short exposures would be better.

Have a read of this thread which give you loads of info on what is possible.

 

Edited by johninderby
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I would always prefer an EQ even for purely visual use. It's too much of a faff to twiddle with two slow motions. So much easier on a driven EQ, even if Polar alignment is only approximate. And if you're trying to show someone something at high magnification, it's invaluable.

David

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1 hour ago, Ouroboros said:

How significant is field rotation over a minute or so?

Would using a CMOS camera with their short exposures of 60s or so allow you to get away with it?

Also for planetary and lunar imaging, do the various processing apps compensate for field rotation? 

Autostakkert can compensate for field rotation. All my solar and lunar images are taken in AltAz mode. Obviously, one has to crop out for missing corners but it’s not much.

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Thanks for all your replies, I do like asking questions on here, always get interesting and informative responses.

It does sound to me that if I were to look at upgrading my mount/tripod, an AZ would do me just fine, as I really have no plans to do imaging (I think that's a rabbit hole I'd never escape from).

Thanks again...

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And your bank account will thank you. 😁

Use a smartphone and take a few pics of the moon. Cheap and easy way to mess about with some simple imaging.

Taken with a manual,alt-az mount and an 80mm APO.

C03719C2-50B3-418D-A0BF-D5FF94E06FCA.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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4 hours ago, Jasonb said:

Hi all...

I'm a newbie, have had my Skywatcher StarQuest 130P for a couple of months now. It comes with a version of an EQ-1 mount, and is able to be used in either EQ or AZ 'mode'. For simplicity, when I first unboxed it I set it up in AZ mode, and I've used it that way ever since (admittedly there haven't been many viewing nights). 

Using it as an AZ mount has made me wonder why would I change it to EQ? From my basic and limited understanding, the advantage of EQ is that if you align it correctly, then you can track the movement of the sky relative to the earth, either manually (by only using one of the slow motions controls) or automatically, if you attach motors etc. In AZ mode, once my target moves, I have to track it manually, but have to use both slow motion controls to get it back in the centre of the view.

So, I'm beginning to think that, unless I want to move into Imaging, and therefore need the telescope to automatically track the sky, why would I want an EQ mount? For the convenience of only manually moving one slow motion control instead of two? It's hardly a hardship moving two, you can adjust both at the same time and it only takes a second. Is the advantage of being able to add motors, and there not have to adjust manually at all, even if you're just observing and not imagining, enough of an advatage? Or am I missing some other difference between EQ and AZ?

I should add a note that I fully understand that my EQ1 wouldn't be up to any kind of imaging, even with a motor (which I would expect would be fairly basic). It was the random wishful thinking of what my *next* mount might be that got me wondering about EQ v AZ. I was windows shopping and looking at EQ5s etc, and then thought 'but I wouldn't be able to change that mount to AZ' that got me questioning the choice between the two.

Hi Jason ,  from what you write then you have the perfect set up . I have one of these mounts that are great for a quick get out and go . I also bought an AZ5 which is used instead of my EQ5 when i just want to just look at the night sky . There is something quite relaxing about using an Alt Az mount .. no polar aligning , and leveling of the mount = no extra set up time. 

I can honestly say that i will be using my AZ5 90% more than my EQ5 . 

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8 minutes ago, johninderby said:

And your bank account will thank you. 😁

Use a smartphone and take a few pics of the moon. Cheap and easy way to mess about with some simple imaging.

Taken with a manual,alt-az mount and an 80mm APO.

C03719C2-50B3-418D-A0BF-D5FF94E06FCA.jpeg

i truly love this photo  , John 

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3 hours ago, MrFreeze said:

I would always prefer an EQ even for purely visual use. It's too much of a faff to twiddle with two slow motions. So much easier on a driven EQ, even if Polar alignment is only approximate. And if you're trying to show someone something at high magnification, it's invaluable.

David

If EQ mounts didn't require counterweights and were as rock stable pound for pound as Dobsonian mounts, I would agree.  I did try to build my own EQ platform years ago, but it introduced too much flex for my liking.

Edited by Louis D
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3 hours ago, MrFreeze said:

I would always prefer an EQ even for purely visual use. It's too much of a faff to twiddle with two slow motions. So much easier on a driven EQ, even if Polar alignment is only approximate. And if you're trying to show someone something at high magnification, it's invaluable.

David

This is a good counter argument .. to be fair . Indeed as has been mentioned on here even your EQ1 with a motor can track . 

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2 minutes ago, johninderby said:

Just a simple single shot image using my StellaMira 80 f/10 but glad you like it. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

 

Here's an effort of mine from nearly 20 years ago with a 2002 Olympus C4000, a 14mm Pentax XL, and my 8" Dob:

1265773854_MoonPhoto1.thumb.jpg.34ff74b7574a07fe46ff24f132a10ab3.jpg

And here's a Mercury transit with a DSLR at prime focus with a GSO CC and the same scope:

5869c8d9594b9_MercuryTransit20161a.thumb.jpg.64196abd38a2a160c5a73ee01093f827.jpg

So, if you're just interested in solar and lunar, you can get pretty decent shots with really basic, nontracking equipment.

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 I enjoy using altazimuth mounts for visual, as they are naturally intuitive, and for general sweeping up of dso's or general tourism they work very well. But for prolonged high power observing an EQ is my prefered choice, especially if it has a drive in RA, as it allows me hands free observing so I can fully relax and sketch what I see in detail. I can also leave everything running, go inside and get warm or have a brew, then on returning to the eyepiece,  The target is still in the field of view. Of course I can, and have, observed and sketched at high power using an AZ mount, its just I personally prefer an equatorial. I know many love Dobsonian telescopes, but I prefer the Newtonian on an EQ if I were to use one, which is rare.

 

2019-01-28 19.57.27.jpg

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IMG_7312.JPG

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3 minutes ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Mike , what is the scope in the second photo ?

Its a Skywatcher Equinox 120ED, mounted on a Hercules Helix altazimuth fork. A great scope and great mount! 

post-41880-0-65058300-1432994635.thumb.jpg.aab085f9f0ca9c6c856b8c7d19b8e92a.jpg

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I can agree with all if the above (from both sides)

When I was trying to sketch Mars last year, a driven EQ mount would have made life so much easier, but otherwise - manual adjustment is OK.

Horses for courses and all that.

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7 hours ago, Jasonb said:

Hi all...

I'm a newbie, have had my Skywatcher StarQuest 130P for a couple of months now. It comes with a version of an EQ-1 mount, and is able to be used in either EQ or AZ 'mode'. For simplicity, when I first unboxed it I set it up in AZ mode, and I've used it that way ever since

 

In all the clear and delightfully good seeing nights we are all surely due any day now 🤞 (in case that emoji looks like a damaged duck to you, it claims to crossed fingers,) you can try your mount in both modes and see what you think  with your current kit. Mind you, I think you've already answered your own question when you said ' For simplicity' : you've not been dissatisfied enough to try it in EQ mode yet. 🙂

My personal take on this is that an alt az is both more intuitive to use, and a simpler bit of engineering. Therefore alt az can give you a sturdier mount and better bang for your buck at a particular price point. Look at the skywatcher non go to mount prices, EQs start around where their most expensive alt az mounts top out .

On the other hand, if you find twiddling two slo mo controls rather than one annoying, or plan to win the lottery and dive into the astro photo money black hole, EQ is no doubt the way to go. 

Heather

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I do prefer the alt-az for visual. Quick to set up and so easy to use. Alt-Az mounts go from inexpensive ones to high end ones that cost more than many EQ mounts.

 

29498840-2174-406D-A503-594073531C33.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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I'm a great fan of the alt-azimuth mount as well. I have had a few equatorials over the years but now I only use alt-azimuths.

 

12dobwaiting.JPG

lzostrexA.JPG

takercole00.JPG

vixst201.JPG

Edited by John
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19 minutes ago, Tiny Clanger said:

Therefore alt az can give you a sturdier mount and better bang for your buck at a particular price point.

If you had started out as I did, with a Tasco reflector in the 1970s, I think you might have a different opinion on the suitability of Alt-Az mounts. The mounts on those scopes are/were very far from sturdy, and quite enough to put you off Alt-Az for life. In comparison, the cheapest nastiest EQ1 knock-off would seem like luxury. I'm also very unimpressed with the performance of most Pan head type mechanisms on tripod mounts. I guess if you paid hundreds of pounds on a top of the range tripod you may get better results, but I don't feel inclined to throw that sort of money at something that may or may not work.

David

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