The following information is designed to be a helpful guide for those of you thinking of buying new equipment for stargazing. We hope this will help you make a more informed choice with your next purchase.
We do recommend that you talk to other members during our meetings for full advise as even fully accomplished stargazer can get things wrong.
This should be a major priority especially when purchasing you first serious telescope. This is the backbone of your setup and getting this right will not only make things easier but will also improve your experience.
The first question you should answer is "Am I going to view or image the night sky". These will both lead to different types of equipement and although both are interchangeable they will not perform as well.
Objects in the night sky move in two ways. From left to right in an arc. This is called right assention or RA. They also rotate in the fov in a clock-wise motion. This is called declination or DEC. If you were to use a AZ mount then it would track the object as it travels across the sky but it will not track is rotation. This is fine for visual use but if you were to image the object then over time the object would move its position in relation the the frame of your photo. This is why an EQ mount is preferred. The EQ mount will track both RA and DEC keeping the object in the same position in relation to you cameras frame.
For visual a fork or AZ mount will make using eyepieces much easier and this type of mount needs very little set up time. They are very much a pop up and use mount. They are normally lighter than the EQ mounts and make excellent mount for visual purposes due to the fact that the telescope will not be rotated an the eyepiece will stay in the same position as it tracks across the sky.
For imaging the EQ mount is preferable as previously mention it keeps everything relative to the eyepiece/camera. Due to its design when you move from one object to another the focuser can end up in a position that is hard for you to use and this will involve you having to rotate the telescope within its clamps. For EQ mounts to work correctly it will also need to be polar aligned.
The Dobsonian will in most cases come with the scope attached. This is the most simple of mounts to use and the quickest. There are no technical requirements to set it up. You just place it on the ground...That's it!!
This style of telescope has been used for ever and loved by many due to its basic design. If you have a reflector without a mount and some diy skills then the mount can easily be made yourself.
You move the scope manually and as they are technically a AZ mount with a reflector scope they focuser will move on a level plain and my only be an issue when viewing directly upwards or very low on the horizon.
There are a few models that are fitted with GOTO and tracking motors but most prefer the low cost simplicity of the manual versions.
Electronic or GOTO mounts need a power source so this needs to be taken into consideration if you need to travel to a dark site. They generally will use several stars in the sky to align themselves and work out their position. Once done you are able to choose from a list of night sky objects and the mount will move to this location for you. As they are motorized they will also track the object chosen freeing up the need to keep moving the telescope to keep everything in the field of view (fov). These will be more expensive than a manual mount.