…continued10 Top Telescope Questions
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the stars appear to pivot around a point in the sky very near Polaris, the North Star. An equatorial (“EQ”) mount has one of its two axes aimed toward that point, and that allows you to follow a star or planet in your telescope’s eyepiece with just a single east-to-west motion. Add a small motor, and the telescope will track the stars automatically.
In contrast, telescopes equipped with altitude-azimuth (“alt-az”) mounts, including Dobsonian reflectors, require you to move your telescope with both up-down and left-right motions to accomplish the same thing.
When beginners first learn about mounts, they tend to conclude that they need an equatorial mount. Sure, these can be handy, but be aware they tend to be larger, heavier, and more expensive than a mechanically simpler alt-az mount. Also, you have to be prepared to spend some time learning how to use an equatorial mount its motions aren’t quite as intuitive as those of an alt-az. An equatorial mount that’s been set up incorrectly (something I see all the time) is maddening to use and will actually hinder your tracking ability.