The mount is one of the most important pieces of equipment for astrophotography.

It allows your camera and telescope (or lens) to move with the rotation of the Earth and track the objects you are photographing for much longer periods.

This means you can gather more light and create better astro images.

We recommend the Celestron AVX computerized mount as a great option for both beginner and experienced astrophotographers.

Read below for some alternative options to suit different budgets and further insight into astrophotography tracking mounts.

 

1. Best mounts for astrophotography

 

Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount

1. Celestron AVX mount

The Celestron Advanced VX computerized mount is a great german equatorial GoTo mount.

It has a payload capacity of 30 pounds (14 kg).

Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount
  • Integer gear ratios and permanently programmable Periodic Error Correction
  • New motors offer improved tracking performance
  • Viewing or imaging across the meridian without interference
  • Improved latitude range - can be used between 7-77 degrees latitude
  • NexStar hand control featuring All-Star Polar alignment

Last update on 2019-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

 

Orion 9995 Sirius EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount

2. Orion Sirius EQ-G mount

The Orion Sirius mount is a heavy duty german equatorial mount.

The computerized database has 42,900 objects that it can find.

It has a payload capacity of 40 pounds (18 kg).

Orion 9995 Sirius EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
  • The Sirius EQ-G equatorial telescope mount and tripod supports up to a 30-lb. load for all your visual or astrophotographic applications
  • Select from among 42,900 celestial objects using the intuitive menus on the computerized GoTo hand controller
  • Take an automated tour of the finest celestial showpieces with the GoTo system after a simple alignment procedure
  • The tripod is remarkably sturdy with 1.75"-diameter stainless steel legs and cast-metal spreader plate
  • Includes a polar-axis scope for easy polar-alignment, 8.3" dovetail mounting bar with optical axis offset adjustment screws, one 11-lb. counterweight, 12V DC power cable, and more - requires 12V power supply for motorized operation (power supply sold separately)

Last update on 2019-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

 

SkyWatcher S30200 AZ-EQ5 GoTo Mount, Telescope Accessory, White

 

3. SkyWatcher AZ-EQ5 mount

This is a great mount from Sky-Watcher. The GoTo functionality works with a database of 42,000+ objects in space.

It can operate as either an equatorial or alt-az mount and has a 30 pound (14 kg) payload capacity.

As an alternative, there is also the more lightweight Sky-Watcher EQM-35 mount available. This has a 22 pound (22 kg) payload capacity which would be suitable for a refractor telescope up to 100mm or a catadioptric telescope up to 127mm.

SkyWatcher S30200 AZ-EQ5 GoTo Mount, Telescope Accessory, White
  • German Equatorial/Alt-Az/dual-OTA mode
  • Permanent periodic error correction (PPEC)
  • Belt drive - Super smooth PE curve. Low backlash, silent slewing
  • +/- 5 arc seconds native periodic error
  • Dual shutter release control for batch exposures of astrophotography

Last update on 2019-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

 

 

4. Orion Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G mount

The Orion Atlas mount is an upgrade from the Orion Sirius.

It is a computerized GoTo mount with a database of over 42,000 objects.

What marks it out as different is that it can operate as either an equatorial or alt-azimuth and in alt-az mode it can also hold two telescopes at once.

The payload capacity is 44 pounds (20 kg).

Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
  • Three-in-one GoTo mount can operate in GoTo Equatorial mode holding one telescope, or in GoTo Altazimuth mode holding one or two different telescopes
  • Capable of holding a 44-pound telescope payload - ideal for any observational or astrophotographic pursuits
  • Accurate belt-driven stepper motor drive system can locate any of over 42,000 celestial curiosities with a pointing accuracy of 5 arc-minutes and a tracking precision of 0
  • 1436 arc-second steps

Last update on 2019-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

 

Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod

5. Celestron CGX Mount

Finally, the Celestron CGX mount, which is the most heavy-duty of all the options with a payload capacity of 55 pounds (25 kg).

It is a computerized goto german equatorial mount with a database of over 40,000 objects in space to find.

Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod
  • Motorized EQ Mount, 55-lb Payload
  • High-Torque Servo Motors and Belt-Drive
  • NexStar+ Computer Hand Controller
  • 40,000-Object Database
  • Guided Tours and Custom Object Filters

Last update on 2019-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

2. Astrophotography mount comparison table

Model
Best beginners' option
Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount
Great value
Orion 9995 Sirius EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Popular intermediate
SkyWatcher S30200 AZ-EQ5 GoTo Mount, Telescope Accessory, White
Heavy & sturdy
Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Most heavyweight
Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod
Image
Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount
Orion 9995 Sirius EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
SkyWatcher S30200 AZ-EQ5 GoTo Mount, Telescope Accessory, White
Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod
Type
Equatorial GoTo
Equatorial GoTo
Equatorial/Alt-Az GoTo
Equatorial/Alt-Az GoTo
Equatorial GoTo
Payload capacity
30 lbs (14 kg)
40 lbs (18 kg)
30 lbs (14 kg)
44 lbs (20 kg)
55 lbs (25 kg)
Price
$899.00
$1,199.99
$1,385.00
$2,199.99
$2,299.00
Best beginners' option
Model
Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount
Image
Celestron Advanced VX Computerized Mount
Type
Equatorial GoTo
Payload capacity
30 lbs (14 kg)
Price
$899.00
Buy now
Great value
Model
Orion 9995 Sirius EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Image
Orion 9995 Sirius EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Type
Equatorial GoTo
Payload capacity
40 lbs (18 kg)
Price
$1,199.99
Buy now
Popular intermediate
Model
SkyWatcher S30200 AZ-EQ5 GoTo Mount, Telescope Accessory, White
Image
SkyWatcher S30200 AZ-EQ5 GoTo Mount, Telescope Accessory, White
Type
Equatorial/Alt-Az GoTo
Payload capacity
30 lbs (14 kg)
Price
$1,385.00
Buy now
Heavy & sturdy
Model
Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Image
Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount
Type
Equatorial/Alt-Az GoTo
Payload capacity
44 lbs (20 kg)
Price
$2,199.99
Buy now
Most heavyweight
Model
Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod
Image
Celestron CGX Computerized German Equatorial Mount and Tripod
Type
Equatorial GoTo
Payload capacity
55 lbs (25 kg)
Price
$2,299.00
Buy now

Last update on 2019-09-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

3. Astrophotography mount FAQs

What is a telescope mount and why do you need one for astrophotography?

A mount is a piece of equipment connected to your telescope’s tripod.

It moves where your telescope is pointing to track the movement of objects in space for observing and photography.

This is necessary to compensate for the rotation of the Earth and allows you to focus on an object and track it for longer.

This is essential for astrophotography as it allows you to focus on what you are imaging for longer.

This means you can gather more light and take better pictures.

This is especially important for deep-sky photography (galaxies, nebulae, etc) where you are taking pictures of things that are extremely far away and you need time to gather the light for the image.

 

What types of telescope mount are there?

There are two main types of mount:

  • Equatorial (also called German equatorial mounts)
  • Alt-Azimuth (also referred to as Alt-Az mounts)

They are constructed slightly differently and so track differently.

 

What is the best type of mount for astrophotography?

Alt-Az mounts move in two directions – up and down and side to side – whereas equatorial mounts can move at a wider range of angles.

Therefore equatorial mounts track more smoothly than Alt-Azimuth mounts and are generally better for astrophotography.

You will also want a motorized mount. This means you do not have to adjust it by hand to track objects. This is important in astrophotography as moving it manually causes tiny vibrations and will ruin your images.

The third thing you will want in a mount is GoTo (or “computerized”) functionality.

This means that the mount can find and track objects in space from a database which makes it easier and saves a lot of time from manually location.

Therefore, the best mount for astrophotography will be:

  1. Equatorial
  2. Motorized
  3. GoTo

 

Should I only use 50% of the payload capacity?

Payload capacity is an important factor in choosing your mount.

The full payload capacity can be used for observing but generally accepted wisdom is to only use about 50-60% of your mounts capacity when imaging.

This is because once you go above this, tracking errors are more likely to occur which will affect your astro imaging.

Therefore if you have the Celestron AVX mount, your accompanying equipment can weigh up to 30 lbs for observing, but not much more than 15 lbs for astrophotography.

You therefore need to check the combined weight of the telescope, camera and any other equipment the mount is carrying.

 

What is the best mount for a heavy telescope?

The Orion Atlas or the Celestron CGX are mounts that have large payload capacities and can take heavy telescopes.

 

What is the most lightweight mount option?

The Sky-Watcher EQM-35 mount is a good, lightweight telescope mount.

One great alternative option, for a set up that is relatively lightweight, portable and affordable is to have:

Star trackers are great little pieces of equipment that sit between a tripod and a DSLR camera. They are mini motorized mounts that move the camera slowly in line with the rotation of the earth.

The good thing is that with small refractor telescopes like these listed below, they are light enough that most star trackers can take their weight (with the addition of a counterweight).

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro can take up to 11 lbs (5 kg).

Read our article on the best star trackers and calculating the payload you can take.

 

What is autoguiding in astrophotography?

Auto guiders are additional pieces of equipment that allow your telescope/camera to more accurately track astronomical objects for longer periods.

GoTo equatorial mounts do a great job, but tracking errors usually occur if you are imaging for periods longer than 45-60 seconds (depending on the kit).

 

Can I use a DSLR camera with a telescope mount?

Yes, you can “piggyback” a DSLR or mirrorless camera on to a telescope to take advantage

Alternatively, you can use a star tracker like the iOptron SkyGuider.

This is a more lightweight alternative to using a telescope mount and is therefore much more portable and suited to take on trips.

See our overview of the best star trackers for cameras.

 

Who are the leading manufacturers of astrophotography mounts?

There are also specialist brands that produce mounts for astrophotography, such as:

 

Vote! What is the best mount for astrophotography?