Learning how to use a telescope properly may be a difficult task, but once you’ve mastered this art, the sky will no longer be your limit. You will be able to see amazing things outside Earth, including Saturn’s rings, the moon, the sun, all the other planets from our Solar system, as well as some of the brightest stars.
However, apart from a good telescope and obvious skills for properly handling it, you will also require some additional accessories to support your observatory wishes. One of the most underrated, yet indispensable accessories is the mount or the tripod. Attaching it to the telescope could also prove a challenging quest, but we assure you it will all worth it.
So, if you’re willing to learn everything about a new telescope mount and how to properly attach it to your primary device, read below our tips and tricks.
How to choose a tripod or mount
A good mount is essential if you want to keep your telescope steady and ready to perform during the night. Also, the right tripod will guarantee you that your optics will perform to their best abilities and are properly secured.
The first thing you need to take into account when choosing a tripod is its stability and sturdiness. Telescopes usually have high magnifications, which is translated into larger lenses that need to stay in place no matter how long you are going to use them. It is vital for your tripod to be strong enough to support at least 25 pounds, maybe even more if you consider connecting your DSLR camera to the telescope to take pictures of the sky.
Secondly, keep an eye on the materials used to manufacture the mounts as well. Aluminum is one of the most common materials used, and its great advantage is that it is lightweight. This means the mount won’t weigh too much but will be able to support a heavy telescope. For those who are looking for truly professional tripods, the ones made from carbon fiber are even sturdier and more resistant, but will also cost you more.
Stainless steel is also a great option if your product is heavier than the average, but don’t forget to choose one with cast metal spreader plate for added support and strength.
As a general rule, we first suggest you weigh your telescope and then add a few more pounds for all possible accessories. Find a mounting system that supports more than your telescope weighs.
Another feature to take into account is the tripod’s height. Check the maximum height of your tripod before purchasing it, especially if you’re a person taller than the average. This will help you prevent painful situations in which you will have to adjust your body position in order to see through your own great reflecting telescope.
How to attach the telescope
Most telescope mounts come with instructions on how to exactly connect the telescope to them in complete safeness. This is why it is best to purchase the telescope and a matching mount together. Apart from getting a price deduction for purchasing the set, you will make sure the mount fits perfectly your telescope and will support its weight.
If you buy them separately, you need to keep in mind that it may take you the entire afternoon to attach the telescope to the mount, and you will probably require some additional accessories as well.
No matter the case, the attaching mechanism falls into two main categories – mounting rings and dovetails.
The mounting rings are designed to surround your telescope while firmly fixing it gently. So, using the screws provided in your box, install the rings on the mount first. Make sure they are properly positioned and tightened accordingly. After that, you will only need to place the telescope in the provided rings and tighten the clamps as gently as possible not to damage the telescope.
We also suggest adjusting the mount to its proper height prior to attaching the telescope as it will be easier for you.
The dovetail mount is the other type of mounting you can use to attach your telescope to the tripod. This is a quick-disconnect system that can be used alone or combined with the mounting rings. It features a sturdy dovetail plate that should be long enough to secure the entire main tube of your telescope. The dovetail can be directly attached to the telescope or attached to a set of mounting rings first. Make sure to tighten the locking screw as firmly as possible, and after that, you can enjoy observing the stars and the planets.
Packaging and transportation
Last but not least, you should also pay attention to the packaging and the easiness in transporting the mount. Aluminum mounts are lightweight and easy to transport, meaning they are perfect for taking your telescope out for a ride and enjoying the celestial wonders. However, they may not be sturdy enough for strongly supporting a heavier telescope.
This leaves us with the option of stainless steel which may be harder to transport because it is heavier. Nevertheless, it is sturdier and more reliable. Moreover, plenty of the stainless steel mounts come with adjustable feet which allows you to lower their dimensions to comfortably fit into the back of your car or in a more generous hiking backpack.