Fig. 7.7. A strong German-equatorial mount on a portable pier, made to carry a heavy telescope. The counter weight shown weighs over 50 lbs. (Credit: Dave Eisfeldt/the Central Texas Astronomical Society).
Fig. 7.8. A close up of a fork-equatorial mount, complete with setting circles on both the polar and declination axis. Electric clock-drive motors are concealed in the large circular base. (Credit: John W. McAnally).

in wind and breezes and dampen out vibrations more quickly. Generally, a mount that takes more than 3 s to dampen out vibrations and settle down is inadequate. Anti-vibration pads placed under the feet of a portable mounting can help reduce vibrations. You should pay attention to maintenance and keep all nuts and bolts in the mounting properly tightened. Adding mass to the mounting by hanging a can of sand or a large container of water from the mounting can also be helpful.

I also like to perform a fairly accurate polar alignment when using equatorially mounted telescopes. A proper alignment reduces declination drift, which will cause the object to drift north or south slightly over time, again requiring continuous adjustment. Observing sessions will be more enjoyable if these problems are avoided.

The telescope mounting is just as important as the telescope itself. When purchasing a telescope, you should test the mounting just as seriously as you would the optics of the telescope!

Chapter 8

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