Alt-Azimuth Mounts

Alt-Azimuth Mounts

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The alt-az telescope mount is a basic arrangement that moves the optics in altitude or azimuth - up and down, or side to side - as independent functions.  It includes the option to lock the mount’s position and guide it manually.  The alt-azimuth telescope mount design is generally used with smaller telescopes, especially refractors and SCT styles.  Their simplicity makes them an excellent choice for beginners.


But don’t count the alt-azimuth mount out when it comes to larger telescopes.  An economical variation in the alt-az family belongs to the Dobsonian mount.  Usually employed by large reflector telescopes, the Dobsonian works much like a Lazy Susan.  The telescope body rests in a cradle on side bearings and moves freely in any direction, relying on balance to hold position.  With fewer moving parts and a simplistic, well-crafted design, the Dobsonian telescope mount is highly recommended for both novice users and experienced sky watchers wanting cost-effective size.  However, without a separate tracking platform, the Dobsonian is not meant for astrophotgraphy purposes.

While the alt-azimuth mount has some limitations – such as the inability to be positioned at the zenith – it has advanced with technology.  Some models utilize digital tracking, which gives the user the ability to use a computerized database to help locate celestial objects.

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