In last month's blog I extolled the virtues of having a sturdy tripod to support your equipment, but now let us look at other options, in particular piers and pier extensions.


Normal tripods are undoubtedly good, and a large range of equipment is supplied with one as standard.

Let's face it, without a tripod for support most equipment would be pretty useless.

But a tripod, with its three legs extending outwards at an angle, can give you problems if you enjoy large or long focal length optics such as a big reflector or long refractor when mounted on an EQ-style mount.

I found this out with my original 10-inch reflector mounted on Fullerscope EQ mount on a wooden tripod.

At certain positions the back end of the telescope could catch on one of the legs if I wanted to look at objects quite high in the sky.

Of course, you can get around this by planning your sessions better, but some objects are just not that obliging. I'm thinking of comets in particular!

One solution is to extend the top of the tripod with an extension pier that helps to raise the mount and, in many cases, allows equipment to reach higher parts of the sky without encountering the tripod legs.

These are a good way of cheaply getting around the problem, but why not go the whole hog and replace the tripod altogether with a pillar/pier tripod or indeed a permanent pier instead?

The new breed of pillar/pier tripods are robust and yet still portable so if needed you can move them around your observing site - perhaps to catch elusive Mercury in the morning or evening twilight.

Or if you have the space in your garden and always set up your equipment in one spot, then a permanent pier might be the better long-term solution, especially if at some stage you think you may have some sort of housing such as a roll-off shed or observatory.

When you think about it, what everything sits on is actually just as important as the telescope/mount you have gone to the trouble of buying, so make sure you consider all the options, including the tripod/pillar or pier.

More like this

In this month’s issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine we look at the Sky-Watcher EQM-35 Pro Go-To mount, the Omegon ProDob N203/1200 telescope and the ZWO ASI094MC Pro cooled camera.


Paul Money is an experienced astronomer, BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Reviews Editor and author of the annual stargazing guide Nightscenes.