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Am I the only one thinks Eq mounts more intuitive than Alt-Az ones?

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#1 cmdrkeen

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 10:41 PM

When I was studying about telescopes and mounts before purchasing one, I was warned that eq mounts would not be intuitive and not recommended for newbies by multiple books, articles, and people. Now I own two telescopes, one tabletop dob and the other SCT on goto eq (previously it was on goto alt-az). I think that I have used both mounts for equal amount of time, but always liked eq mount; not because it had goto but because it was intuitive (I don’t use goto frequently; because I don’t want to give away that joy to computer). With knowing where is the Polaris and our sky rotates that, eq mount was much intuitive to me than alt-az. Especially it really helps star-hopping.

Am I the only one who thinks so?

Edited by cmdrkeen, 20 September 2021 - 10:46 PM.

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#2 Oyaji

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 11:15 PM

Am I the only one who thinks so?

Yes, I believe you are!  lol.gif


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#3 kenny moses

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 11:23 PM

I am not able to answer your question but I am about to find out how "intuitive" is an equatorial mount. I have a heavy old German Equatorial Mount on a sturdy wood tripod and as soon as I find the right scope for it I'll try to figure out for myself. 30 years ago I bought an 8" reflector on a Dobsonian mt. I guess that would be a simple alt/az mount. Anyway, I learned a  lot about our local sky at night, got pretty good at star-hopping, found the so called Ring Nebula in Lyra one night by star hopping with that set up. Been a long time but I am slowly trying to get back into backyard astronomy.



#4 DJL

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 11:29 PM

Depends on your perspective. Having only ever used an EQ mount and mostly for targets I can't see, I find it intuitive. However, if you are standing next to your mount, see something with your eyes and want to go to it, that's where alt-az might make more sense.



#5 DirtyRod

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 11:42 PM

Not me. My first scope had an EQ mount but my second with an AZ mount was so much easier. Just pop it down, point one of the legs north, level the OTA, and off I went. With my new EQ mount it’s align, polar align, then re-align. If I’m guiding there could be a calibration and PEC training. 

 

Im sure some of it is because I’m doing things now that were not possible with the AZ mount but I sure miss the 5 min setups versus the 30 mins it takes me now.


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#6 Oyaji

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 01:00 AM

Depends on your perspective. Having only ever used an EQ mount and mostly for targets I can't see, I find it intuitive. However, if you are standing next to your mount, see something with your eyes and want to go to it, that's where alt-az might make more sense.

Of course, I use a go-to EQ mount for astrophotography and it has become very intuitive for targets whether possible or impossible to see naked eye:  Polar align, turn on camera, focus, plate solve, sync, tell the mount where you want it to go, and it goes--on a good night, anyway. 

 

However, for sightseeing, I don't see how you can beat a go-to Alt-AZ mount, especially the Ioptron mount.  All you gotta do is level the mount. Turn it on, in 2 minutes it has located your position via built-in GPS and has slewed to the brightest object in the sky.  You align on that one object (or pick another if you like) and thereafter, it goes wherever you tell it to go.  A friend of mine, using my mount, claims he saw 30 Messier objects in an hour.  Obviously, he didn't do them justice, but doggone it, the mount works like a fiend!

 

BUT--the OP specifically said he eschews go-to and prefers to keep the computer's "joy" for himself.  Moving scopes by hand, Alt-az wins hands down in ease of use.  That's one of the reasons for the popularity of Dobs.    


Edited by Oyaji, 21 September 2021 - 01:07 AM.

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#7 rgsalinger

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 01:42 AM

Yes.


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#8 TOMDEY

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 04:32 AM

For me --- meh --- either/or.

 

I'm guessing that it harkens all the way back to one's upbringing, education, and interests >>>

 

Pull any British middle-school book from the 1800's, and it's replete with what we now consider to be advanced algebra and geometry. The astronomy books from that era all present substantial coverage of terrestrial and astronomical coordinate systems, including the temporal. Get exposed and steeped in that early on, and it sinks in naturally, comfortably, spongely, intuitively... exactly the same as learning to read and sing music in Grammar School. Everyone is doing it so we just get gleefully swept along with the fun, unintimidated. Next thing you know, you're singing Gregorian Chants and Christmas Carols with the choir, sheet music in hand... and loving it!

 

Sometime around seventh grade, I was looking at the constellations, and decided it was time to sort out the confusion once and for all. I borrowed astronomy books from the Arnette Branch Library and read them, each in turn, until I got the gist of it. A cheesy cardboard Alt-Az pointer from Edmund's helped. No optics, just a paper tube and Alt/Az scales to "take readings on stars" from the flat roof of my parent's ghetto house. It was magnificent! With that, the books, and a clock... I was able to unravel the relationships between the two favorite coordinate systems. Using pencil, paper, and dad's slide rule, I'd transform back and forth --- and they agreed to... Ehhh... to within a few degrees. This was exactly what my hero Tycho Brahe had done three and a half centuries earlier, to an accuracy of a couple of arc-minutes! God, that guy was good!

 

Think of it this way: The forever hot discussion/arguments regarding whether English or Metric makes more sense. The correct answer is neither is better than the other. They are just different standards and readily transformed one to the other. A centimeter is this >||< big and an inch is this >|  |< big, no big deal.

 

A few years later programmable calculators emerged. I derived the math and programmed mine to aim my cute little Dobsonian --- no finder needed; it was that accurate. Few years later I got into astrometry and GPS for my Uncle Sam. It all boils down to roll, pitch, yaw, x, y, z, and t --- and the relationships of bodies in space, me, my scope, earth, sun, the stars and galaxies. All the rest is just details. Ask any stunt plane pilot or astronaut!

 

Here are a few excerpts from a related 48-page white-paper I composed way back then... conveys the feeling of thinking through coordinates... seems like only yesterday.   Tom

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#9 StarBurger

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 06:36 AM

I prefer EQ. It takes a little longer to find an object, agreed, but once found it only needs movement in one RA axis to recover and follow should it be lost.

This happens all the time with an AZ----lost in RA and DEC! Then so much more difficult to relocate with non-intuitive push-pull, up-down directions reversed.


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#10 Tom M

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 07:09 AM

I started out using a Cave Astrola scope/mount I bought used from Optica b/c in Oakland bask in the 60's so it's second nature to me to use an EQ mount. Back then the best way to find faint DSOs was to star hop and all the star charts were RA/DEC based so it made it really easy.


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#11 alphatripleplus

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 07:45 AM

I have a Vixen SkySensor2000 set-up that I use with a Super Polaris German Equatorial mount. I usually use this mount in standard equatorial mode, polar aligned. However, it can be used in Alt-Az mode unaligned with the pole in both azimuth and altitude. It is rather counter-intuitive to watch it execute gotos that are just slews in azimuth or elevation, as both axes are involved in executing such gotos. My head usually spins a bit when doing that.smile.gif



#12 KBHornblower

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 07:51 AM

Sometimes actions we consider intuitive are actually based on acquired knowledge and skill.  I am unable to relate to novices who have trouble with equatorial coordinates because I do not remember in any detail the process of learning about it between ages 6 and 10 back in the 1950s.  For me at age 10 it was second nature to use an equatorial mount.  This is not meant to belittle those who do not understand it.


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#13 clearwaterdave

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 08:06 AM

I don't like either one.,I found that having to move and adjust the chair height.,to be a pain that took up a lot of time and still left me in uncomfortable positions to view from.,

  Using either style you end up with your knees next to your ears trying to aim up higher.,or perched on the edge of some little stool 3ft. off the ground.,No thanks.,.

 I built this mount that brings the eyepiece to me while I'm sitting in my comfy office chair.,I have to roll forward or back depending on what I want to view.,but the chair height stays the same .,

  I have neck and back issues that have made observing a bit of a pain until I came up with Frank.,Now I'm comfy and can enjoy a few hours under the stars without suffering.,waytogo.gif .,I can even look behind myself.,cool.gif .,

 

I found the eq mount to be very frustrating when I first got one.,not knowing how to set it up and trying to aim it was not fun.,.lol.,My 8" dob was much easier for me to drive.,but over time my back/neck has gotten worse and leaning in toward the ep starts hurting pretty quickly.,so I usually use a  refractor on Frank for the main scope.,and the dobs for a closer look when the urge arises.,

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#14 lphilpot

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 09:47 AM

For me it took a slight bit of reading to mentally picture the sky as seen by an EQ mount (sans the benefit of "mount in hand") but not too much. It made sense before I started with my first mount, a GEM. Maybe that's why I never had issues with it.

 

Now, a fork mount on a wedge? I was constantly trying to wrench that unwieldy beast in directions God didn't intend it to go (i.e., seemingly always at 90 degrees to both axes). LOL lol.gif

 

For visual work I prefer an alt-az mount due to the more consistent eyepiece orientation. But neither is too difficult to visualize.


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#15 Pauls72

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 10:09 AM

I prefer an EQ mount, but have no problem using either style. There are pro's and con's to both styles of mounts, but I feel in the end it's mostly about personal preference.



#16 JamesDuffey

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 10:28 AM

 

…Now, a fork mount on a wedge? I was constantly trying to wrench that unwieldy beast in directions God didn't intend it to go (i.e., seemingly always at 90 degrees to both axes). LOL lol.gif

 

God works for Celestron?



#17 JamesDuffey

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 10:42 AM

I think it marginally easier (more intuitive?)  to point to and go directly to an object one can see with an alt-az system, but once acquired  it is much easier for me to keep an object in the field of view with an equatorial mount as motion in only one direction is required. Same with finding an objet given my starting point. 

 

I suppose one can argue that up-down, right-left is more intuitive than north-south, east-west but I think most of what we call intuition is learned response and muscle memory. 

 

Going from one coordinate system to another is simple matrix math and most amateur observers practically do this without thinking about it as second nature.



#18 teashea

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 07:45 PM

I find an Alt Az more intuitive.  


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#19 cmdrkeen

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 11:23 PM

Thanks all for your valuable thoughts! To be clear, the intuitiveness that I meant was mostly about moving the scope 'manually' to an object after finding it; maybe my muscle memory was already trained for EQ mounts, but it makes difference especially when I try to move the scope near zenith. As you all know, moving telescope for an object near the axis of rotation (near Polaris for EQ, and zenith for Alt-az) is very difficult - in my case, moving the scope to objects near zenith were much more frequently needed than that to objects near Polaris as earth rotates. I think that I need to pay more attention to the objects near Polaris! cool.gif



#20 555aaa

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 08:16 AM

I think the eq mount is more intuitive because when you Star hop you always are moving in the same directions.
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#21 B 26354

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 09:33 AM

I think the eq mount is more intuitive because when you Star hop you always are moving in the same directions.

Exactly. While at the scope, you find your target in a star atlas, memorize the required star-hopping pattern in right-angled RA + Dec movements, and move the scope manually to each successive star in the pattern. Started doing it with an EQ-mounted 4.25" Newtonian (no motors, no slow-motion controls) when I was twelve... and that was sixty-five years ago. Simple.  grin.gif


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#22 happylimpet

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 09:36 AM

Ive only had EQ mounts, and for almost 40 of my 47 years, so to me theyre totally natural. Certainly in use they make much more sense.


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#23 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 09:50 AM

I think the eq mount is more intuitive because when you Star hop you always are moving in the same directions.

 

I like to split Polaris. It's great fun to locate Polaris with an EQ mount.... 

 

I've owned a number of scopes with EQ mounts but generally find them to be impractical.  A simple scope like a 10 inch Newtonian becomes a real Pain In The Rear if one tries to mount it on a GEM, bigger scopes are exponentially worse. 

 

An equatorial platform is definitely workable but a EQ platform retains the alt-az ease of pointing while adding tracking.

 

The whole tube rotation thing is just a hassle.

 

Jon


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#24 lphilpot

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 09:54 AM

I like to split Polaris. It's great fun to locate Polaris with an EQ mount....

Try looking at Polaris through a SCT on a wedge / fork mount. Ouch (often).  :)
 


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#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 September 2021 - 10:14 AM

Try looking at Polaris through a SCT on a wedge / fork mount. Ouch (often).  smile.gif
 

:waytogo:

 

About 15 years ago, I setup next to a guy with an Orange Tube fork on a wedge. It brought back fond memories of my first serious scope.  His goal for the evening was to view M51.. I remember he brought along a stack of blankets to lie on.. 

 

I had my 10 inch Dob.. I showed him M51 in the Telrad, he eventually found it.. he was a skilled star hopper, he was just hampered by the mounting.  I took a quick look.

 

Those nostalgic warm fuzzies I had thinking about my old C-8 were quickly replaced by the memories of just why I found the Dob mounting so attractive..

 

And yes, there is Dobson's hole but objects pass through Dobsons hole.. with a GEM, they're stuck.. and viewing Dobson's hole with a 12.5 inch F/6 on a GEM, it's not all that much fun..

 

Jon


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