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Best telescope mounts 2021

On the hunt for a new telescope mount, or picking one to go with your first telescope? Read our guide to the best mounts, both budget models and high-end.

Best telescope mounts

Some would argue that a telescope mount is the most important piece of astronomy kit you can own: more so, perhaps than the telescope itself. After all, what good are first-rate optics if your mount and tripod will ultimately let you down when it comes to observing the night sky or capturing it with astrophotography?

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If you have just bought your first telescope and now need a mount to go with it, the model you choose could make or break your entry into amateur astronomy.

A mount will hold your telescope securely in place, helping you avoid wobbles and shakes that could spoil your field of view or interrupt your long photographic exposures. But nowadays mounts do so much more than that.

The various sections of an equatorial mount. Credit: BBC Sky at Night Magazine
The various sections of an equatorial mount. Credit: BBC Sky at Night Magazine

Computerised Go-To mounts often come with a database of deep-sky objects and planets that they can slew your telescope to with the click of a button, while tracking mounts that compensate for the rotation of the celestial sphere are a must for astrophotography, and also for visual observers who don’t want to be nudging their telescope to keep a target in the field of view.

Telescopes may be the light buckets that bring distant astronomical objects into view, but your mount is the bedrock upon which your entire observing setup is built.

With that in mind, it pays to take into careful consideration the sort of telescope mount you need for your purposes, depending on what you want your setup to do, and what your budget will allow.

You might wish to know, for example, what type of mount is best for astrophotography. It will also be worth exploring the difference between altaz mounts and equatorial mounts.

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Mount your DSLR on a star tracker for longer exposures that enable you to follow the stars. Credit: Pete Lawrence
A good mount that will track the stars is vital for long exposures in astrophotography. Credit: Pete Lawrence

There are some extremely high-end telescope mounts out there that will cost you a pretty penny, but there are also some very reliable and inexpensive models for beginners that will get any astronomer newcomer off to a good start.

We’ve reviewed some of the best and worst mounts over the years at BBC Sky at Night Magazine, so we’ve picked out a selection of some of the models that have really impressed us.

And if you’re not sure where to start, read our beginner’s guide to telescope mounts or browse our entire back catalogue of mount reviews.

21 best telescope mounts

1

Omegon MiniTrack LX2

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £139

The Omegon MiniTrack LX2 uses a clockwork motor to drive an equatorial tracking mount and is able to hold up to 2kg and focal lengths up to 100mm. This makes it a portable mount that can be transported without a need for power packs or batteries.

All the mount needs is a bit of wrist action every hour to wind up the clock mechanism, and it then pings to alert the user that the hour is up.

The MiniTrack LX2 weighs 464g (774g with the supplied ball-and-socket head installed) and is 215mm long by 80mm wide, making for an almost pocket-sized, lightweight mount that’s convenient for astronomy travel.

Read our full Omegon MiniTrack LX2 review.

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2

Vixen Mobile Porta Altazimuth

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £188

The Vixen Mobile Porta Altazimuth is ideal for portability and small telescopes. It has a light aluminium tripod, geared altazimuth head and Vixen dovetail clamp, weighing 2.38kg and measuring 86cm long in its stowed position. Height to the telescope mounting point is adjustable from 77cm to 126cm, while a swing-out mount head accommodates different mounting positions.

As well as geared adjustment for tracking, the altazimuth head boasts slipping clutches for rapid changes in direction. Assembly is easy: just fold out the mount head and install two push-fit adjustment knobs.

Read our full Vixen Mobile Porta Altazimuth review.

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3

Sky-Watcher Evostar-90 AZ Pronto

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £219

This dual package contains an achromatic refractor and the AZ Pronto mount, the latter of which is well-made and easy to use. Locking clamps on each axis can be loosened to enable the mount to move manually, and there are also slow-motion controls to help centre targets.

These controls can be attached at two different points on each axis, which would be handy if you wanted to replace the refractor with a reflector. The tripod height can be adjusted from 78.5-150cm. It’s reasonably sturdy, without suffering too much from vibration. The supplied tripod tube extension is a nice inclusion.

Read our full Sky-Watcher Evostar-90 AZ Pronto review.

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4

Baader Nano Tracker Travelling Mount

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £229

The Baader Nano Tracker Travelling Mount is a great choice if you need a mount to to take away on holiday for some wide-field DSLR imaging. It’s small, light and easy to use. It comes as two parts: the tracking mount itself and a hand controller. Together they weigh 480g without batteries and can fit comfortably in hand luggage.

You will, however, need a tripod and a ball head to attach a DSLR. The tracking section attaches to a tripod with a 0.25-inch photo-thread, and another 0.25-inch photo-thread on top side allows you to attach a ball and socket head. Load capacity is up to 2kg so it could take, for example, a Canon EOS 50D DSLR with EF 18-55mm lens.

Read our full Baader Nano Tracker review.

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5

Sky-Watcher SolarQuest Solar Go-To

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £369

This is a great mount for solar observers that will put the Sun safely in the centre of your field of view. The mount includes a stable, lightweight tripod and an L-shaped solar tracking mount head. It requires 8 x AA batteries but an external power supply adaptor can also be used.

A power button and slider switch enable you to control the mount. Attach your solar telescope, turn the mount on and it acquires a GPS positional fix, the date and time and position of the Sun. The mount is simple to use and very accurate. Most importantly, it alleviates the need to polar align during the day and helps keep solar observing safe.

Read our full Sky-Watcher SolarQuest Solar Go-To review.

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6

Bresser Photo Mount

5.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £335

In testing this mount we reviewed the complete package, including a tripod/polar wedge, illuminated polar finder scope, polar sighting tube, hand controller, ball head socket and a power pack. The whole thing is simple to set up and takes a short time as tripod and polar wedge come preassembled.

The polar scope could be adjusted so as not to interfere with the fitted camera. Our first imaging run saw the Photo Mount working perfectly. This mount is aimed mostly at wide-field and medium telephoto astrophotography, and it really delivers: it’s one of the best we’ve tested in the field.

Read our full Bresser Photo Mount review.

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7

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack camera tracking mount

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack camera tracking mount review
4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £349

The Star Adventurer 2i looks fresh and new in its white livery, and the ‘Pro pack’ contains Wi-Fi-enabled mount, ball head adaptor, illuminated polarscope, dovetail L-bracket, equatorial wedge and counterweight shaft with a 1kg counterweight. The mount can be controlled via Wi-Fi and the free Star Adventurer Console app for Android and iOS platforms. The app has a range of functions and is very easy to use.

Read our full Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i review.

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8

iOptron SkyGuider Pro

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £375

The SkyGuider Pro comes in a padded case with a dec. camera mounting block, a dec. mounting bracket with camera-mounting disc, integrated illuminated polarscope, 1.35kg counterweight and shaft and a Vixen-type dovetail saddle.

The adjustable altaz base can be detached so you can attach the mount to a standard tripod and use the tripod’s own pan/tilt mechanism for polar alignment adjustment.

The mount is also useful beyond capturing images of the night sky. Using the dovetail saddle, we attached a solar telescope to observe the Sun and then used a 3-inch refractor to find Jupiter and its moons. This is a great piece of kit.

Read our full iOptron SkyGuider Pro review.

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9

Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £379

Boasting interesting tech, the iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight offers users precise tracking in a grab-and-go model. It can be controlled via wireless connection or using ASCOM (AStronomy Common Object Model) compliant software running on an external computer. What’s more, the iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight’s control software is open source, which means developers can write their own software.

This mount is quick and easy to assemble and comes without a hand controller, as everything is done via a wireless device like a mobile phone or tablet. Setup is quick and easy, and as long as your Wi-Fi connection holds out, you’ll be set up with a high performance device for observing and photographing the night sky.

Read our full Explore Scientific iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight review.

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10

Vixen Polarie Star Tracker mount

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £385

It may look like a digital camera, but the Vixen Polarie is actually a compact equatorial star tracker platform. Payload capacity is 2.5kg: more than enough for a DSLR camera and a standard lens. Like other portable mounts in this style, there’s no dec axis. You aim your camera or telescope by adjusting an optional ball and socket head and then you start the Polarie so RA tracking commences at the selected rate. There are four tracking speeds: lunar, solar, sidereal and half sidereal.

We were really impressed with the mount’s tracking ability, which showed no star trails. This is certainly suitable for astrophotography newcomers but is also an option for advanced imagers who need something more portable.

Read our full Vixen Polarie Star Tracker review.

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11

Bresser StarTracker Astronomical Photo Mount

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £439

This mount and kit is aimed more at the wide-field astrophotography market as, weighing 3.6kg with tripod and accessories, it’s not stable enough to take a small telescope. However, it is compact. The photo mount head is 8.6cm x 8.6cm, meaning it’s suitable for transporting.

We love the compactness of this kit. If you need to get to a dark-sky site, you won’t be hindered by the weight. The Bresser PM-100 mount itself is ultimately a formidable, lightweight tracker for wide-field Milky Way photography and it punches well above its weight. This would be a welcome addition to any astrophotographer’s kit.

Read our full Bresser StarTracker Astronomical Photo Mount Kit review.

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12

Fornax 10 LighTrack II

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £463

The LighTrack II has a high quality feel as well as being compact at 280mm in length and light at 1.28kg. While tracking, electronics do produce a rising-falling tone, but this is hardly noticeable. In fact, we got used to it quickly, and eventually realised it’s a useful indicator that tracking is working properly. A few seconds before the arm reaches the end of the rack, a light flashes letting you know a rewind is needed.

Another interesting point to note is that the LighTrack II uses a friction drive rather than a geared system, comprising a motor and spindle that drives against the flat edge of a quadrant-shaped plate, forming a small section of a virtual circle. This makes for very smooth tracking indeed.

Read our full Fornax 10 LighTrack II review.

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13

Sky-Watcher SkyMax-127 with AZ-GTi Wi-Fi

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £529

The AZ-GTi included in this bundle is a Wi-Fi-controlled Go-To altaz mount that’s easy to put together and comes with aluminium tripod and accessory tray. The mount is controlled using an app on your smartphone or tablet. It features two options: two star and north/level alignment. Both work well, placing targets in the field of view.

There are two options for accessing targets: Star and Deep Sky. For some reason Solar System objects are included under Star! There’s also a neat point and slew option, whereby you point your scope at a region of the sky and the mount offers you a selection of targets to focus in on.

Read our full Sky-Watcher SkyMax-127 with AZ-GTi Wi-Fi review.

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14

Sky-Watcher EQM-35

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £555

It took us about half an hour to set up this mount the first time we opened the box, but then only a few minutes each time thereafter. We were encourage by the solid, stable platform and tried a two-star alignment using Dubhe and Arcturus. We then selected Vega to test accuracy. The mount dropped onto the star nicely, and after a couple of nudges to centralise, we sat back to watch the star drifting out of the crosshair. Only after 25 minutes did Vega just start to move away.

Overall the EQM-35 Pro offers beginners and old hands a stable, accurate mount that can be handily converted with ease into a more portable version.

Read our full Sky-Watcher EQM-35 mount review.

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15

Explore Scientific Exos2 PMC8 Wireless

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £769

One of the great things about this mount is that it’s relatively quiet when in operation, although a slightly musical note can be heard when slewing at maximum speed. It’s constructed mostly of metal, with hard plastic for the motor housing.

The Explore Scientific Exos2 PMC8 is ultimately centred around its Wi-Fi connected control system and the ExploreStars Open Go-To app, which has a graphical interface to guide the user through the set-up and alignment procedure. The menu provides access to a large database organised into categories and subcategories, including clear and interesting information, with pictures of each target.

Read our full Explore Scientific Exos2 PMC8 review.

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16

Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5GT

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £1,299

The AZ-EQ5GT comes with a pier tripod, SynScan V4 handset, power cable, dec. cable, 2 camera snap cables, a Vixen-style saddle, 2 x 3.5kg counterweights and a counterweight extension bar. The tripod can attach to the mount with a flexible extension that’s also collapsible and extendible. We liked that the pier is hollow and has three slots cut into it to save on weight, as this is useful for storing the handset when not in use.

In EQ mode the mount supports 15kg of equipment: 15kg of telescope for observing or 15kg including camera, autoguider etc. for astro imaging. Swapping to altaz mode sees the mount take up to 2 x 15kg scopes on each saddle. This is a well-performing mount and well worth the price tag.

Read our full Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5GT review.

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17

Vixen AP-SM mount

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £1,152

The Vixen AP-SM mount has a load capacity of 6kg and features drive units powered either by 4 x AA batteries or via an external USB power source. The mount is good for basic visual observing straight out of the box, and just a rough alignment on the pole star will do. Its RA drive works well at keeping targets in view but for astrophotography you’ll need a more exact polar alignment. You can also improve tracking by using the Star Book One controller handset. This is a great mount for grab-and-go astrophotography, but it’s also a superb solution for those looking for a portable mount that will serve them well.

Read our full Vixen AP-SM mount review.

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18

iOptron CEM40 centre-balanced equatorial mount

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £1,499

Boasting features normally found on high-end mounts, the iOptron CEM40 also makes for a great grab-and-go mount. It can hold 18kg of load, offers free-running lockable clutches, permanent periodic error correction, GPS and a semi-automatic electronic polar-alignment system.

We were really impressed with the build, constructed from CNC machined aluminium, as well as the quality of online documentation provided. The CEM40 can be controlled using a Wi-Fi dongle, a USB connection to a computer running the Ascom platform, or using the Go2Nova 8407+ hand controller.

Read our full iOptron CEM40 review.

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19

Panther TTS-160

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £4,820

The TTS-160 is extremely well engineered and offers users portability, a quick set-up, accurate tracking and Go-To capabilities. The mount is modular, so its various bits arrived at our testing site in neoprene travel bags. We loved the bottom section’s fold-out tripod stored inside the cylindrical pier body. Its legs spread out at 120° intervals and can be hand tightened. In fact, assembly of the mount is quick and easy.

The TTS-160 is an altaz mount and tracks targets as they move across the sky using a computer that simulates equatorial motion. You’ll need a 12V power supply but, surprisingly, there’s no switch. You just turn it on and away you go. After two-star alignment, we found the TTS-160 would place Go-To targets pretty much in the centre every time.

At this price point, the mount would really need to deliver, but as far as we can see, it does.

Read our full Panther TTS-160 review.

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20

Avalon M-Uno Fast Reverse Wi-Fi Go-To

4.5 out of 5 star rating

Price £5,699

The Avalon M-Uno Fast Reverse is aimed at deep-sky imaging, most likely with the advanced astronomer in mind. It comes with a hefty price tag, but it’s exceedingly well made. Every component is beautifully constructed and well thought out. High-quality, low-friction internal bearings on both axes perform well and the mount moves very smoothly, even with more demanding loads up to 20kg.

Motors are pleasantly quiet and an easily adjustable fork arm allow for larger telescopes will please many users as a solution for both observing and astrophotography. Despite this, the M-Uno Dual is still light for its size and easy to carry and transport.

Read our full Avalon M-Uno Fast Reverse review.

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21

Software Bisque Paramount MYT

4.0 out of 5 star rating

Price £5,999.

The first thing that comes to mind when seeing the MYT mount on the Berlebach tripod for the first time is how much of a head-turner it would be at a star party. But this expensive yet high-performing mount is so much more than that.

The tripod’s load limit is over 80kg, which makes it an easy match for the MYT’s 23kg capacity or 46kg including counterweights

The MKS-5000 controller can connect to a computer via USB. A supplied copy of Software Bisque’s TheSkyX planetarium software provides the user interface. The software contains a good number of pointing samples manually or via auto camera routines, and will easily centre targets from TheSkyX’s database.

To top it off, the MYT’s aluminium body is solid and attractively finished. This is a high precision portable mount that justifies its hefty price tag.

Read our full Software Bisque Paramount MYT review.

Where to buy:

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What did we miss? Do you have a sturdy, reliable mount that you think should be on our list? Let us know by getting in touch via contactus@skyatnightmagazine.com.