Equatorial Versus Altazimuth

  • Norman Butler
Part of the The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)


The two most common popular types of telescope mounts in use today are the equatorial and the Altazimuth mountings. Both types of telescope mounting systems have been used by amateur and professional astronomers alike to mount equipment ranging from telescopes and cameras to an extremely large assortment of scientific instrumentation. For astronomers, a telescope once mounted needs to have some way to track celestial objects with it. An equatorial mount can be made to track quite easily in its equatorial axis (sometimes called the polar axis) with the addition of appropriate drive gears and a motor. With an Altazimuth mounting, the ease of use with its two axes (azimuth and altitude) makes it a simple process to maneuver a small or even large telescope manually about the sky for observing. However, when it comes to tracking celestial objects with it, things become a bit more complicated.

Further Reading

  1. Celestron website. Polar alignment.
  2. Coco, M. J. (1993, February). Dialing for deep-sky objects. Astronomy Magazine.Google Scholar
  3. Michael Porcellino, M. (1992, May). Polar aligning your telescope. Astronomy Magazine.Google Scholar
  4. Mihalas, D., & Binney, J. (1981). Galactic astronomy: Structure and kinematics (2nd ed.). San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-1280-6.Google Scholar
  5. Polar alignment—Adapted from Fort Worth Astronomical Society and Tom Koonce/Astro-Tom.
  6. Schmeidler, F. (1994). Chapter 2: Fundamentals of spherical astronomy. In G. D. Roth (Ed.), Compendium of practical astronomy, revised translation of Handbuch für Sternfreunde (4th ed., pp. 9–35). Springer Verlag. ISBN 0-387-53596-9.Google Scholar
  7. Telescope Buyers FAQ What is the Best Mount?, Dennis Bishop © 2002,

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Butler
    • 1
  1. 1.TamuningGuam

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