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Do you want to ditch complex sophistication? The simplicity of the Alt-Az mount is sure to convert you to the greener side.
The popularity of these telescopes is primarily based on the go-to concept. It is as straightforward as mounting the telescope to start looking.
However, it would help if you had a tinkerer’s edge to get started. But where do you get such a comprehensive insight? Right here, in this article.
What is an Alt-Az Mount?
An Alt-Az Mount is the oldest known mounting equipment for a telescope. The mount has two axes of rotation. One moves with the altitude, and the other is levelled with the horizon.
Therefore, the abbreviation Alt stands for altitude. Whereas Az is the acronym for Azimuth. The measurement of position from the North is the Azimuth (along the eastern horizon).
EQ mounts are based on the principle of Alt-Az mounts. But while EQ mounts can track stars. An Alt-Az mount cannot track leads.
The absence of star tracking isn’t a disparity for Alt-Az mount. They compensate for that with their easy setup and use.
The inception of the Go-To system has lent sophistication of Alt-Az mounts. The assistance from the Go-To systems, target tracking easy. To do that, you need to learn the art of telescope alignment.
What are the different types of Alt-Az mounts?
Single-arm mounts are the most conventional type of Alt-Az mount. However, other types are worth mentioning.
The Push-Pull Mounts
The Push-Pull Mounts are the most straightforward in terms of design. The mount is manually placed on a tripod. These make for a cost-effective option for beginner astronomers.
Dual-Arm Fork Mounts
If you need a bigger aperture, the Dual-Arm Fork Mounts is your best bet. Its weight is spread evenly between the arms and optical tube.
The mount offers stability. It is also suitable for deep-sky photography. Dual-Arm Mounts are a straight upgrade of the Push-Pull Mounts.
What is a wedge for aligning the Alt-Az Mount?
Most manufacturers produce EQ wedges for their Alt-Az mounts. This converts the Alt-Az telescope into an Equatorial one. This transformation is beneficial for long-exposure Astro-imaging.
For this, you must add a wedge between the mount and tripod. Adding a mount eliminates the field of rotation. No field of rotation entails high-quality Astro-images.
Single-arm mounts can hold telescopes with 8 inches of aperture. Most mounts are supplemented with a battery port. This lets you conduct cable-free operations.
What is apparent motion?
While observing objects, your telescope will drift out the field of view. This is the phenomenon of apparent motion. The earth’s rotation is responsible for the drift.
The higher your magnification, the more intense is the drift. You need to nudge the telescope back into the desired field of view.
Manually manipulating the telescope in the field of view is not practical. If your goal is astrophotography, you need a mount to align the telescope.
Why is it essential to Align your Mount with a wedge?
An EQ wedge allows you to mount the Scope accurately. The right ascension axis can be made parallel with the earth’s axis of rotation.
This is especially useful when your Scope’s clock drive is turned on. A wedge helps the apparent motion of the stars effectively.
How to Align the Alt-Az Mount with a Wedge?
For aligning your Alt-Az mount, you will need a wedge. The wedge will transform the Alt-Az mount into an EQ mount. There are three necessary steps to Aligning an Alt-Az mount.
Mounting the Scope on the EQ wedge
Attach the wedge on the base of the Scope. Use three screws to fasten the wedge to the Scope’s feet.
Once the wedge is on the Scope, you need to tilt the Scope. You do this by adjusting the adjustment knob and the latitude scales. Continue to tilt until the Scope reaches observing latitude.
There is some troubleshooting that you need to perform. This is true when you have procured a separate mount and Scope.
Field tripod Alignment
Adjust the tripod so that one of its legs points towards the North. Leaving the tripod legs in an extended position minimizes tuning fork vibration.
Mounting the EQ wedge and the Scope onto the tripod
This step is quite tricky if you are a beginner. With enough practice, you will get it right, even in the dark.
Position the wedge mount’s base above the tripod. Position the three holes on the mount above the ones on the tripod’s top.
The fork’s arm should be on the west of the foot pointing towards the Polaris. You can check the integrity of your arrangement.
The latitude adjustment knob will be present between the tripod’s legs. Once you are through with this part, your Alt-Az mount is now aligned.
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