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German Equatorial Mounts (GEMs) – Overview and Working

26 Sep 2020, 16:06 UTC
German Equatorial Mounts (GEMs) – Overview and Working
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This article explains how German Equatorial Mounts work.

Most people are familiar with camera tripods that offer vertical movement and head rotation. Telescope mounts based on this principle are called Altitude-Azimuth mounts, or Alt-Az mounts for short. German Equatorial Mounts (GEMs) are more complex, but they are preferred by astrophotographers and observers who like to view particular objects for long periods. Furthermore, GEMs are ideal for finding faint celestial objects just by coordinates.

But most of the time, Equatorial Mounts are not recommended for beginner astronomers, regardless of quality. They tend to be more expensive than an altaz of the same quality, are more sensitive to balance, but most importantly they have a complex set up procedure and mode of operation. Most beginners have a poor understanding of the motions of the night sky, how the sky rotates around the celestial poles, and that’s okay. A beginner astronomer will pick that up as they learn, but it means that an equatorial mount can be confusing and frustrating to use at first.

And it’d be one thing if equatorial mounts supplied with beginner telescopes were actually good. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. While the actual equatorial mounts are usually not ...

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