Beginners’ Guide to Telescopes

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Pros & Cons

Strengths and weaknesses of different mount types





or altaz

Very intuitive — simple and quick to set-up and use

Harder to track objects to keep them in view


Generally quite portable

Cheaper types may be flimsy and prone to vibration


Generally inexpensive

May be unsuitable for astrophotography — can’t usually fit motor drive (except for ‘autotrak’ mounts or GO-TO types)





or Dob

Lots of aperture for the money.


(Simple altaz stand with a Newtonian reflector)

Can be robust and less prone to vibration

Harder to track objects to keep them in view



Bulky and probably not lightweight


Can now buy ‘push-to’ Dobs with target guidance display on hand controller

‘Push-tos’ require careful alignment on set-up



Can’t fit motor drive.  Unsuitable for astrophotography




Equatorial Mount

or EQ

Easier to track targets and keep them in view

More complicated to set up — polar alignment required


Can be motorised for automatic tracking

More expensive than an alt-az.


Most suitable for astrophotography

Cheaper models may be flimsy.

Better quality models can be heavy (and much more expensive)



Telescope eye-piece, finder, and controls can get into a difficult position to use as you track across the sky during a session




GO-TO Mount

Easy to use once set-up.  Automatically finds and tracks objects in its database

Set up can be tricky.  Requires careful alignment (polar alignment and adjustment on reference stars) except in GPS/auto-align types (more expensive still)


Available with built-in GPS/auto alignment systems (at a price)



Very portable with smaller telescopes

More expensive