When I ordered my Orion SkyView Pro 100mm refractor
last fall, I anticipated the arrival of the mount just as much as
the telescope itself. Having owned many cheap, flimsy equatorial mounts
over the years, I was anxious to see how the beefy-looking SkyView
Pro mount would perform. It certainly looked heavy-duty in the Orion
catalogs, so I was confident it would be a great mount.
The SkyView Pro mount features a sturdy tripod consisting
of 1.5" diameter steel tubular legs. I've heard that Orion has
recently been including even larger legs with these mounts. Each leg
can extend an extra 10" at the bottom. The spreader tray is all
metal and includes space to store five 1.25" eyepieces and two
2" eyepieces. The SkyView Pro mount itself is metal, with the
exception of the plastic slow motion knobs, azimuth adjustment knobs,
polar alignment scope cover, and right ascension drive cover. The
polar alignment scope is an optional accessory, as are the motor drives.
Single-axis and dual-axis drives are available from Orion. The SkyView
Pro's setting circles are 86mm in diameter and lock by tightening
two small thumbscrews on each circle. Latitude adjustment is made
via two L-bolts.
For telescope mounting, the SkyView Pro features a quick-release
dovetail mounting system, and Orion rates this mount with a payload
capacity of up to 20 lbs. My telescope/mount package arrived with
a single 7.5 lb counterweight, and additional weights are available
I have "accessorized" my SkyView Pro mount
a little since I received it. I installed Orion's dual-axis drive
system, inserted a polar alignment scope, and changed the plastic
slow motion knobs to nicer aluminum ones.
The SkyView Pro mount doesn’t disappoint! This
mount is extremely sturdy. I discovered that rapping a tripod leg
resulted in vibrations dampening in a second or less with my small
refractor. A larger, heavier instrument would most likely take a little
more time to settle. After repeated use on my driveway, I discovered
that the vibrations took a little longer to settle. I finally discovered
that this was because my driveway had caused the rubber tips of the
tripod legs to wear off. After I bought a set of vibration suppression
pads, the mount was back to its old self again, with vibrations dampening
in less than a second. I have since sold my 100mm refractor and I
now use Orion's 80mm ED refractor on the SkyView Pro mount. I switched
from a 6x30 finder to a 9x50; I also upgraded to a heavy 2" diagonal.
I find that even with this additional weight, vibrations still dampen
in a second or less. That's very impressive to me!
When the right ascension and declination axes are locked,
they stay very secure until I unlock them. The slow motion knobs turn
the axes very easily and smoothly. As I mentioned, I installed the
dual-axis drive on this mount. I found the installation to be very
simple and straightforward. The right ascension drive tracks extremely
well, but I did find a bit of play in the drives when using the hand
controller to move the scope in right ascension and declination. After
disassembling the mount a bit and tightening up the worm shafts, I
was able to minimize the play.
The Optional Polar Alignment Scope
The optional polar alignment scope is a little frustrating
to set up. The procedure for keeping it centered while the right ascension
drive rotates is time-consuming and should be simplified. It involves
adjusting three tiny Allen screws. But the actual use of the scope
to zero in on Polaris is very easy. I do think an illuminated polar
alignment scope would be better to use, but that's just my personal
preference. The polar alignment scope Orion offers for the SkyView
Pro mount does a fine job once it's installed.
Although this mount is extremely sturdy, it isn't so
heavy that an observer can't carry the whole thing outside completely
assembled. My mount and telescope combination probably weighs around
40-45 lbs, and I find it easy to carry outside. I have to remove the
spreader tray so I can close the legs a bit in order to navigate through
doorways and around corners; however, this won't be an issue if an
observer stores the assembly in a garage or somewhere else that doesn't
require going through doorways and down halls.
The Declination and Right Ascension Lock Knobs
One minor issue I discovered with the SkyView Pro mount
is that when I unlock the axes in order to move the telescope into
another position, the declination axis tends to tighten itself. This
is simply caused by gravity pulling down on the lock knob, causing
it to tighten a bit. This is easily fixed by removing the lock knob
(by unscrewing the single Phillips screw) and repositioning it so
that its down position is unlocked. However, I am unable to do this
with my setup simply because the declination motor can prevent the
knob from being in its fully locked position, depending on where the
telescope is pointed. I consider this a very minor problem, though.
The SkyView Pro Mount Ready for Action
In conclusion, I think the SkyView Pro mount is an excellent
mount, especially for the price ($329 without accessories). Its stability
is a very welcome change from other shaky, low-end equatorial mounts.
I feel this mount will serve me well through a variety of telescopes,
and I highly recommend it to anybody wanting a stable mount for a
February 12, 2004
(I have no affiliation with Orion Telescopes & Binoculars. All
photos were taken by me.)
Addendum (March 7, 2004)
I recently began testing the SkyView Proís setting
circles. Iíve never really used setting circles before to find
celestial objects because I enjoy starhopping. But just out of curiosity
(and also because Iíve heard that setting circles are sometimes
not very accurate), I decided to experiment with them.
I was pleased to discover that the SkyView Proís
setting circles are very accurate. Over the course of a few nights,
I pointed my telescope at a familiar star and adjusted the setting
circles to match the starís coordinates. (This was done after
precise polar alignment, of course.) I then used several different
objects spread throughout the sky to test the accuracy of the setting
circles. I discovered that using the setting circles results in the
target objects being in the field of view of my 25mm eyepiece (which
is just over 2 degrees) almost every time.
Clear, dark skies!