Hi Bridgman, could you recommend a good alt-az mount that would be compatible with my Explore Scientific 8" f/4.9 newtonian reflector? it has a male dovetail connection. I currently have a GEM and have some trouble manually hopping around the sky and your comment really struck a chord with me ...
OK, let's see...
IIRC the standard GEM mount for your reflector was the EXOS-2GT. If that is what you have, then I think I remember reading that the equatorial head could be adjusted down to a latitude of 0, which would give you the equivalent of an alt-az head with no extra cost. Only downside is that I think you would need to worry about the scope tube running into the tripod legs more than before. A number of alt-az mounts include an extension column option to get the scope up and away from the tripod... and depending on your height you may find this makes viewing more comfortable as well (I'm 6'5" so height is really important).
If that first option doesn't work out, my next thought would be something like a Stellarvue M2C. If you don't mind sharing the tripod between your current mount and the alt-az you could probably just buy a mount head and a column with the right thread (10mm x 1.5mm ?):
Same thing but including tripod is $599.
Another option would be the ES Twilight II at about the same price. I haven't used it but seems to have the capacity:
Going with a smaller mount than this is possible but I wouldn't recommend it unless I missed an option that *can* take the weight (IIRC your OTA is ~20 pounds and relatively long). There are obviously more expensive options which are even nicer.
Finally, used is also an option... I bought a WO Ez-Touch + Orion pier extension + Meade field tripod for $500 CDN, which is maybe $375 USD. It's probably the most solid mount I have ever used. Only problem is that I can barely lift it
Last thing to consider is better pointing options - a laser or a comfortable finder scope.
Edited by bridgman, 24 March 2020 - 04:49 PM.