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Planetary viewing and mount selection

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#1 fcathell

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 09:01 PM

Over the past 40 years of observing I have always used a tracking equatorial mount when planetary viewing, however, my habits and mount choices have been evolving toward alt-az mounts with slo-mo controls lately. The weight of the EQ mount has been one factor due to the mount frame weight plus the counter weight. The alt-az mounts are much easier to carry out, set up and are significantly lighter. I also read an article a few years back about eye fatigue that results from using tracking mounts where the observed object stays in the same place in the eyepiece field.  I noticed that I would frequently re-focus the planet (particularly Jupiter) while observing.  After switching over to an alt-az mount about a year ago I noticed that I re-focus less frequently because the planet appears to stay in focus as it drifts across the field of view. I admit that constantly having to adjust the alt and az slo-mo controls is a bit of a PIA, but I do think that the moving object does reduce eye fatigue and the illusion of a changing focus. Another nice advantage is no battery, wires, push button controls hanging from the mount, etc. Plus the diagonal does not have to be rotated throughout the evening. Is this just a "rant" from an old man, or have others experienced something similar?

 

Frank

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#2 vtornado

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 09:19 PM

Hmm interesting ...  Now you have to buy those 100 degree eyepieces ... its always something.



#3 rdaniel

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 07:59 AM

I did the same about 3 years ago, went back to an alt-azimuth like I used to use as a teenager. What model of alt-az are you using? Mine is somewhat cheap and made of soft metal which bends and I have already had to repair it. I am interested in getting a more durable type, and maybe trying out a go-to one since the glare around here has gotten really bad.

 



#4 fcathell

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 02:02 PM

I acquired some kind of Celestron alt-az mount in a swap deal. I also got a Meade alt-az when I bought a used Infinity 102mm, F/6 refractor.  I figured I could sell both mounts because I initially was only after the light weight refractor and other items that came with it. I found the refractor worked better on the Celestron mount after adding a spring loading to the altitude lever. I then found by doing the same mod to the Meade mount, it was ideal for my 102 Mak, particularly since it had slo-mo controls. Just recently I found a used Explore Scientific Twilight 1 mount and have refurbed it and am anxious to see how it handles my 150 Mak.  I know it will handle the 127 Mak.  The local weather, however, has not been cooperative due to monsoon T-storm, but testing will come eventually. I no longer do astro-photography so really don't require my EQ mount. The alt-az mounts are so light, it makes it very easy to start observing on a whim and to pack back up without a lot of hassle. Attached is a pic of how I modified the Meade Infinity mount.  This spring loading mod changed it from an intended classifieds sale to a keeper. I was able to loosen the altitude jam nut so the little 102 Mak (and even the Meade 4' refractor) can be easily put in any altitude position and it will stay there and not creep.

 

Frank

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#5 rdaniel

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 07:13 PM

I am also using a cheap Celestron mount but with a small Televue  60 mm aperture  f/6.0 apo. I love the portability of this and have been out more in the last couple years than in a decade before that. The azimuth brake shaft is not hard steel and bent a little, when I lost the screw out of the the knob and kept turning and turning without loosening the brake. Still this is the most fun I've had in a long time.



#6 Freezout

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 08:43 AM

I also went from a Skyview Pro (globally a good quality mount by the way) to an alt-az one, due to the hassle of assembling the parts and ease of use. I do not regret it. I have also a 150mm Mak-Cass and as I don’t like undermounting I chose a Skytee. Only disadvantage I found: 2 knobs to use instead of 1 to track, indeed... My seeing never allowing more than 200x magnification, it’s not that much a catastrophe.


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