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Thread: Looking for a good Alt-Az Tripod/mount

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    Don Kittrell's Avatar
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    Default Looking for a good Alt-Az Tripod/mount



    I'm thinking of buying the Celestron AstroMaster Alt-Az Mount & Tripod and was wondering if anyone has used one and what they thought of it. I need a more practical setup for my Orion GoScope 80 tabletop refractor and this looks like it might be the way to go. Cost is a major factor and the celestron is relatively inexpensive. My scope weighs almost 3 lbs. w/o it's tabletop mount and about 5.7 lbs with it. The weight rating for the Astromaster is 10lbs. I have an older standard camera tripod, but frankly it's just night right for the job, but it's all I have so I use it. I know Orion sells the VersaGo II, but it's nearly $200. The Celestron is only $70 -$75 depending on where you get it. Celestron also sell a heavy duty Alt-Az tripod for about $89 I think. I wonder if maybe I should get that one instead. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    Default

    Any heavy duty tripod you might find is going to be over $100. You might try Astromart.com and see if you can find one USED at a lower cost. Here is an example of a hvy duty tripod --

    Orion Telescopes: Orion Paragon-Plus XHD Extra Heavy-Duty Tripod
    ETX 125PE, Stellarvue 80mm BV & Televue TelePod tripod,
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    Default Re:Looking for a good alt-az tripod

    I am curious what you decided on for a tripod. I have been researching photo/video tripods but instead picked up a Celestron 70AZ for a low price on Ebay, mainly for the head. I don't need the 70mm scope, and the tripod is kinda heavy, but the head is what I am interested in for my smaller scopes. I live overseas so I will not have a chance to check out the scope+tripod for a few months.

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    Don Kittrell's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jd_astro View Post
    I am curious what you decided on for a tripod.
    As of yet, I haven't purchased another tripod. I'm still using my old camera tripod. It's not the greatest but it will suffice.
    -Don-
    Orion StarBlast 4.5 mounted on an Orion Tritech II Field Tripod

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Kittrell View Post
    I'm thinking of buying the Celestron AstroMaster Alt-Az Mount & Tripod and was wondering if anyone has used one and what they thought of it. I need a more practical setup for my Orion GoScope 80 tabletop refractor and this looks like it might be the way to go. Cost is a major factor and the celestron is relatively inexpensive. My scope weighs almost 3 lbs. w/o it's tabletop mount and about 5.7 lbs with it. The weight rating for the Astromaster is 10lbs. I have an older standard camera tripod, but frankly it's just night right for the job, but it's all I have so I use it. I know Orion sells the VersaGo II, but it's nearly $200. The Celestron is only $70 -$75 depending on where you get it. Celestron also sell a heavy duty Alt-Az tripod for about $89 I think. I wonder if maybe I should get that one instead. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank You,
    Don
    The alt/az mount pictured below is the best one I have seen. I bought it for $25 at the local flea market, complete with the 60mm scope, with a broken focuser and no EPs. The aluminum tripod was crap, so I replaced it with a used surveyor's tripod. The good thing about it is the slow motion controls which are continuous, as opposed to the Celestron alt/az mount, which has a spring loaded quadrant in the alt. The worm gears are adjustable, as well, and I was able to remove almost all the slop. The dovetail shoe is standard Vixen/Orion size, so I can use it for most of my (lighter) scopes.

    The bad news is that I suspect it is out of production, as I haven't been able to find it for sale anywhere.
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    Default

    Don,

    For the first 6 months after I bought the Orion Skyscanner, I used a flimsy aluminum tripod which threaded onto the 1/4-20'' adapter at the bottom of the tabletop. Since January, I've used a Manfrotto 055XDB tripod (weight 4.63 lbs.) that I bought for $115 (retail price is $150), providing a strong, stable support. The Skyscanner fits securely on the top plate using the 3/8’’ thread (I took out the smaller threaded adapter). It has a maximum weight load of 15.4 lbs. (vs. 6.2 lbs. for the scope and mount combined), so that high magnification images won’t dance at the slightest breeze, which happens more with cheaper tripods using the less substantial 1/4-20’’ thread. There is also a hanging ring to hook on a counterweight for additional support. Attached is a photo of the Skyscanner attached to this tripod.

    Hope your tripod is serving you well...
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by terrynak View Post
    Hope your tripod is serving you well...
    Actually, it works better than I had originally thought. I went back to using it after getting frustrated trying to use tables all the time. The last 2 mornings I've used it while observing Jupiter, the Moon, the Pleaides and the Double Cluster. The views were steady enough and I feel the tripod is worth keeping around. I keep the GoScope mounted to it ready to go for whenever the skys beckon. Right now I'm hardpressed to justify spending $100 more for a scope I only paid $100 for. My budget just won't allow it.
    -Don-
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    That's good to hear! Sometimes I'll use the tabletop without a tripod, if there's something like a stone wall or water fountain at the right viewing height that I can conveniently set my scope on.

    Even though my tripod cost a bit more than the scope, I'm pleased with the purchase. I first saw this particular Manfrotto model at a local camera store and decided that this was the one, so I wrote the model and number down, went home and did a Google search for the best price, then ordered it online. It's heavier than other tripods I've used in the past, but its still less than 5 lbs., so I can comfortably carry it across my shoulder (housed in a tripod bag) when I go to my dark sky observing sites.

    Haven't observed in a while - this Saturday looks to be mostly clear all night here in SoCal. Looking forward to some good deep-sky hunting.....

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    Default

    If the tripod/mount is the same one as used with the Celestron Astromaster 70 package, stay well clear. the mount is awful, my 6 year old son has the astromaster 70mm (it was bought to see if he was interested in astronomy). The scope is much better mounted to my manfrotto tripod.

    When using the mount, turning the locking device for the azimuth causes the mount to rotate around 5 - 10 degrees. and the handle for locking it in the alt position is no better.
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