Astrophotography is fun. It is the photography of celestial objects and areas of the sky. But the perfect exposure, tracking, and views of the celestial events are only possible when you have the good quality astrophotography mount.
Altazimuth and Equatorial mounts are the most common types of mounts used for astrophotography. But the most used and ideal for astrophotography is the equatorial mount.
These mounts are either motorized or manually controlled. But for longer exposures, it is necessary to have a motorized one.
But which of the astrophotography mounts are the best? And to answer this question, we have reviewed the eight best mounts used for astrophotography. Also, we have discussed those factors that you should consider when purchasing your ideal product.
Before selecting the best astrophotography mount, it is necessary to look at various things so that you can get the best product according to your needs.
Type of Mount
First of all, it is necessary to know the two common types of mounts available for astrophotography. One is the Altazimuth, and the other one is the Equatorial. But which one is the best for astrophotography? Here we are going to find it.
Altazimuth or non-equatorial mounts are commonly used in the field of astronomy, but if we talk about astrophotography, then it is not advisable for it. It is a simple system that helps you to point your telescope in any direction. Also, it is perfect for casual stargazing. You can view the night skies and can take pictures of moon and planets, but these Altazimuth mounts don’t provide you with the option of long exposures. These mounts move in altitude whereas the stars move in the different direction that is the equatorial direction.
But one thing you can do with AZ mounts is that instead of installing the telescope, you can fit a DSLR camera for wide-field long exposures. If you use the perfect camera lens, then you will be able to take exposure of the Milky Way and even the more distant objects.
Equatorial mounts are ideal for tracking the motion of stars and other celestial objects. They are far better and ideal to use for astrophotography, but not all the equatorial mounts are best suited for astrophotography.
The polar axis that is used by the equatorial mounts is perfectly aligned to the same axis of rotation as the Earth. The declination axis, along with the polar axis helps you to point your telescope at any part of the sky. And after pointing on a particular object, the polar axis will help you to track that thing.
But here the question comes to everybody’s mind that which of the equatorial mounts are best for astrophotography? And the answer is, the more expensive the mount is, the more it will be suitable for astrophotography.
Weight/Size of the Mount
Before purchasing your ideal astrophotography mount, it is necessary to check the weight and size of the mount. If you don’t want to take your mount to anywhere else, then you can go for a heavyweight mount. But if traveling and astrophotography are your hobbies, then small size and lightweight mounts are ideal for you.
It is also necessary to check the payload capacity of the mount. Here, payload capacity means how much weight of the telescope, camera, and other attachments your mount can bear with ease. Some of the mounts come with low payload capacity, whereas others feature high payload capacity. So, it all depends on the type of telescope or camera you want to attach to your mount.
Counterweights are designed for balancing of the mounts. When you set your telescope or camera on the mount head, the counterweights help to balance the telescope to make sure you focus on the celestial objects without any problem.
It is also vital for you to concentrate on the tripod legs that whether they are made up of good quality material and will provide stability.
Best Astrophotography Mount Reviews
1. Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod – Heaviest Astrophotography Mount
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches
- Item Weight: 108 pounds
- Type: Motorized Equatorial Mount
Celestron is one of the big names in the field of astronomy that has made this motorized equatorial mount having a payload capacity of 55 pounds. This German EQ mount has counterweights at the opposite end in order to balance the additional weight of the telescope on the polar axis.
It has a more stable tripod as compared to other mounts available in the market. Also, it features a high torque belt drive motor system. The telescope and motorized focuser are controlled through a NextStar computer handheld controller that features a 40,000-object database.
Overall, it is one of the best and the quietest astrophotography mounts that features spring-loaded worm gears for smooth operation. It also has an internal cable routing system that gives a tidier look to the product. Also, it is quite safe to have this system.
Other than this, it has superior quality GoTo software that includes polar alignment.
2. Sky-Watcher EQ6-R – Fully Computerized GoTo German Equatorial Telescope Mount
- Product Dimensions: 25 x 21 x 12 inches
- Item Weight: 44 pounds
- Type: Equatorial Telescope Mount
This Sky-Watcher EQ6-R is one of the preferred choices of experienced and professional astronomers. It is a three-in-one mount that supports equatorial GoTo mode along with the Altazimuth GoTo and Tracking modes. Not only it supports one telescope, but you can also attach two telescopes at the same time.
The mount also comes with different controlling options. Either you can control it wirelessly, through your PC and laptop, or with the help of illuminated hand control.
Other than this, the equator head can easily carry a telescope payload up to 44 pounds. Also, you have great latitude adjustment for perfect polar alignment.
Moreover, you can easily locate more than 42,000 objects with a tracking precision of 0.1436 arc-second steps and pointing accuracy of 5 arc-minutes.
3. Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount – Best Astrophotography Mount Under $1200
- Product Dimensions: 39 x 26 x 12 inches
- Item Weight: 50 pounds
With 30 pounds payload capacity, this Celestron Advanced VX Computerized mount is perfect for the beginners as well as intermediate level astronomers. It has a German EQ design with counterweights for perfect balancing.
To counter the tracking errors, this mount from Celestron comes with integer gears with programmable periodic error correction feature. Also, its latitude range has significantly improved that is from 7 degrees to 77 degrees. Moreover, imaging across the meridian without interference is now possible due to improved motor housings.
The mount also features NextStar hand control with improved electronics and All-Star Polar alignment.
But the downside of this product is that it is difficult to set up. Also, its GoTo software needs regular recalibration.
4. Celestron CGEM II GoTo EQ Mount with Tripod – Best Astrophotography Mount Under $1800
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches
- Item Weight: 77 pounds
- Type: Computerized Equatorial GoTo Mount
The last but not the least astrophotography mount on the list is the Celestron CGEM II GoTo EQ Mount with Tripod. It comes with a payload capacity of 40 pounds that is quite enough to support telescopes and other attachments.
It comes with one 17 pounds counterweight for balancing. Its steel legs are of 2 inches with height index mark so that you can level them quickly.
The mount also comes with a USB connectivity option. It can be easily connected with your PC through ASCOM supported software.
Other than this, you have a 40,000 object database with expanded information related to more than 200 objects.
But if we talk about its drawback, then there is a problem in locking the starting position of the telescope. When you go for tightening the latitude knobs, the desired position shifts quite a lot.