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Frustrated With Your Mount? 
One of the more common mounts that come with beginning telescopes are a type of German equatorial called an EQ-1 (see picture on the left).  While there is nothing really bad about the mount, beginners frequently have problems when trying to use them.  A large part of the problem is they really need good polar alignment to perform well.  Unless the beginner really knows how to properly align the telescope and mount to the north celestial pole, an EQ-1 mount is probably more trouble than it is worth.  The mount is aligned properly when only the RA the knob needs to be turned to follow an object.  If you have to turn both knobs the telescope is not correctly polar aligned.  A second problem is that “Department Store” telescopes frequently come with an unstable, shaky tripod and it only compounds the problems.   

 Beginners have three options for better use:

  1. Learn how to polar align their EQ-1 mount.  Google: “GEM polar alignment” to see how it is done.  The yellow arrow in the picture to the left needs to point to the North Celestial Pole which is close to Polaris, the north star.  Pointing towards Polaris will work, but the NCP is better!

    You can always bring your mount to one of our ASEM events and one of our members can show you how to align your mount.

  2. Turn the mount “sideways” with the RA axis parallel to the ground and use it as an Alt/Az (Altitude/Azimuth) mount.  Turn your mount so the yellow line in the picture to the left is horizontal to the ground.  You’ll still have to turn both knobs, but in a more predictable fashion.  You won't need to know where north is in this mode.

  3. Build an Alt/Az mount like the Berry Mount (picture on the right) for less that $20.  Take a look at Dave Trott’s http://www.davetrott.com/FixACheapTelescope.html  You’ll find a link to his “How to Redeem a Department Store Telescope - Adobe PDF (450kb)” about half way down the page.  The article was originally printed in Astronomy Magazine in 1997.  The Berry mount is gently pushed in both north/south and westerly direction to follow the object.  You’ll find a Berry mount is much easier to set up and use.  The best part is no knob turning!