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Telescopes Part 3: Mounts and Tripods

Alt-Azimuth Mount

Alt-Azimuth, or Alt-Az, mounts are simple telescope mounts that are quick to set up and easy to use. These telescopes have two axes of movement: altitude (up/down), and azimuth (left/right). As an object like the moon moves across the sky, you will need to adjust both of these directions every now and then to keep it in your view.

This simplicity of use makes an Alt-Az telescope a great beginner's telescope, or as a secondary scope for quick use.

A variant of the Alt-Az is the Dobsonian mount. Dobsonian mounts are capable of holding much larger telescopes, though some can be quite small for portability. Dobsonian telescopes offer some of the largest apertures for any given price range.

Alt-Azimuth Mount

Equatorial Mount

An Equatorial mount moves the telescope in an arc, allowing the user to track objects much more easily as they move across the sky. This means you only have to adjust a single axis to track the object to keep it in your field of view.

Equatorial telescopes take a little longer to set up due to the alignment process, though you will have more control over your telescope. This control makes an equatorial telescope a better option for astrophotography.

Equatorial Mount

Computerised Mount

Computerised mounts are practically in a class of their own, though they are actually variations of either an Alt-Az or Equatorial that is controlled by an in-built computer. All you have to do is find the object you're after in the computerised controller and the powered mount will do the rest!

A computerised telescope will swivel by itself to find the object you're looking for and will keep it in your field of view, making it perfect for beginners who don't know their way around the sky yet. Computerised equatorial mounts are able to smoothly track objects, so are ideal for taking longer exposures in astrophotography.

Computerised Alt-Azimuth Mount


Some Alt-Az telescopes come with a built-in wedge - this is a special type of mount that mimics the motion of an Equatorial telescope to allow the user to more easily track objects as they move across the sky. Wedge mounts increase the flexibility of the telescope, and can improve the telescope's suitability for photography.

Computerised Alt-Az Mount with Wedge

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