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:
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.
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.
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!