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| p.1 #5 · Star tracker or equatorial mount suggestions |
For travel and keeping things fairly light weight, the Astrotrac is well worth considering. But remember that for the Astrotrac you need to provide something under it as an equatorial wedge, and that adds weight and cost. Astrotrac sells a fairly expensive wedge made for their drive, or some people use a gear head to provide for that. Others may even make a wedge, but home made wedges would rarely include fine adjustments to achieve alignment. You also need an external battery pack to run the Astrotrac. For the Astrotrac, the polar alignment scope is another item that adds cost and a little weight. And for the Astrotrac you also need to provide a ball head above the drive to adjust and aim your camera. As a photographer you usually have a ball head and a tripod available to use, but just keep in mind how the whole system needs to be configured. Also keep in mind how the weight of everything adds up, especially if you are planning to travel with it.
If you consider a used Astrotrac, remember that the original one only had the basic astro rate of movement, but not the other speeds for tracking of the moon or the sun. For me that is an important factor.
One fairly new product that you might consider is the iOptron SmartEQ portable GoTo German equatorial mount. I have never used one, but reviews of other mounts from iOptron are generally good. The mount is a little heavy, but the weight includes the equatorial wedge. But the total weight will depend on the camera load, and thus which counterweights you will need to use. It also comes with a tripod, which most photographers would not need, especially if traveling and having a good tripod available. Also note that the interface at the bottom of the mount that goes on their tripod is not 3/8 inch threads, so it likely would need to be adapted. And the top part would need a dovetail plate to adapt to a camera or lens collar. And a polar alignment scope is available but not included, so keep that in mind when comparing costs. When done, you get a GoTo and tracking mount, and you do not need a ball head on top, because the mount has two axis built in, and can thus point various directions on its own. And the cost is a lot less than an Astrotrac plus a wedge.