This exceptionally well-made and stable Astro-Tech Voyager altazimuth mount can be the heart of your
very portable telescope/mount system. It is perfect for grab-and-go terrestrial observing and casual visual astronomy. The lightweight all-metal Astro-Tech Voyager can hold substantial optical tubes weighing up to 20 pounds (9kg), but there are no heavy counterweights to attach to balance a heavy tube and no alignment on the celestial pole needed to start observing. Simply slide your optical tube into the Vixen-style dovetail on the Voyager mount’s altitude axis and start viewing.
A review in the July 2008 Sky & Telescope said the Astro-Tech Voyager altazimuth mount had “excellent fit and finish” that made it “a handsome piece of equipment.” The review said it was “unusually stable for its size and weight” and was packed with “lots of first-class engineering” that made it “a really sweet grab-and-go setup that’s ideal for viewing day or night”
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Astronomy named the Astro-Tech Voyager a Star Product for 2010, saying the “all-metal Voyager alt-azimuth mount is perfect for anyone who practices grab-and-go astronomy”
The mount has two slow-motion control knobs (one altitude and one azimuth), plus an 8.25” flexible control cable that can be substituted for the short azimuth control knob for more convenient tracking when the mount is used with physically longer scopes.
The Sky & Telescope review said the Voyager’s “smooth slow motion controls” were one of the mount’s many virtues. Their value was “immediately obvious . . . Couple them with the Voyager’s stability, and it was a pleasure viewing at magnifications approaching 200x – something I can’t say for most alt-azimuth mounts that you have to push by hand.”
The Astro-Tech Voyager mount has a dual automatic friction clutch system that lets you quickly point a scope towards a target manually, then track it in any direction with the smooth 120-tooth worm gear 360° slow-motion controls. There’s no need to undo mechanical clutches or locks in order to aim your scope as you have to do when conventional slow motion controls run out of travel before you reach your target. If you want to aim your scope at another part of the sky, simply push it. The friction clutches disengage and the scope moves freely 360° in any direction. Once you’re on or near the target, the clutches engage again automatically and the slow motion control knobs let you center the object precisely and track it accurately as it moves across the sky or landscape. Friction adjustment knobs are provided to let you adjust the freedom of the manual slewing motion of the scope to accommodate different payload weights.
The Sky & Telescope review said the Voyager’s adjustable slip clutches were yet another of the mount’s “immediately obvious” virtues. The reviewer said, “I found it easy to set the tension such that I could push the scope to any part of the sky and then use the slow-motion controls without additional fiddling.”
The angle of the mount’s altitude arm that holds your scope can be changed from vertical to 45° on either side of vertical. This allows you to put the azimuth control knob on either the right or left hand side of the mount to suit your personal observing preferences. Using the arm in an angled position also reduces the amount of declination drift for many observers when tracking celestial objects. Following objects across the sky becomes primarily a matter of turning the azimuth slow motion control, with only an occasional tweak of the altitude knob needed to keep an object centered in declination.
The Astro-Tech Voyager mount has a standard Vixen dovetail mounting slot. It will accept any telescope mounting shoe or dovetail plate designed to fit into the dovetail slot of a Vixen Sphinx or Great Polaris, Celestron CG5 or Advanced Series, or Meade LXD55 or LXD75 mount. If your optical tube has mounting rings only, you will need to supply your own dovetail plate to mount your optical tube on the Voyager. The Astro-Tech #ATVUP 15" Universal dovetail plate for Vixen-style mounts is suggested.
The Voyager’s adjustable height two-section aluminum tripod legs have pointed tips for a solid stance on dirt or grass. Damping time is very short, for steady images, even while tracking. The Sky & Telescope review said the Voyager’s stability was yet another of its “immediately obvious” virtues. The reviewer said that “Viewing at 100x, I found the vibrations from a good rap on the scope dissipated in about a second. This is excellent performance. Furthermore, a set of vibration-suppression pads under the tripod legs cut the damping time almost in half, which is outstanding.” The optional vibration-suppression pads shown below are particularly effective when the Voyager is used on a hard surface, such as a driveway or wood deck.
All fittings on the legs are metal. There are no flimsy plastic hinges to break or crack in use. The length of the legs can be adjusted to set the height of the centerline of the dovetail slot in the mounting plate to between approximately 33.5” and 47.75” high. This lets you choose the most comfortable seated observing position. The knobs that lock the tripod legs at the desired height are thoughtfully placed on the inside of the legs, so they can’t snag clothing or scrape shins in the dark. A bubble level is built into the tripod head. For travel purposes, with the altitude arm removed (a simple matter of undoing only two bolts) and the legs fully collapsed, the Voyager tripod measures 31” long.
A three-legged folding plastic heavy spreader bar assembly holds the aluminum legs firmly open, but lets them be closed quickly and simultaneously for transport when you’re finished observing by simply lifting up on the hinged center of the spreader bar assembly. The spreader bar will accept any of a number of optional accessory trays. A set of tools (4mm and 6mm hex head wrenches for the altitude arm and control knobs and a triangular flat metal key for the friction adjustment knobs) are supplied with the Voyager.
An optional eyepiece tray (#ATVTRAY) is available to hold up to five 1.25” and three 2” eyepieces close at hand conveniently within a few inches of the azimuth slow motion control knob. The tray also serves the dual purpose of providing some additional weight to help balance very heavy scopes (although the very well-balanced and stable Voyager needs no counterweight to handle payloads weighing up to 20 pound without any danger of tipping).
For those planning on using a long focal ratio refractor on the Voyager, the optional Voyager extension tube shown below will raise the Voyager mount head by eight inches to provide a more comfortable eyepiece position when observing near the zenith.
The complete Astro-Tech Voyager mount and tripod assembly weighs only 13.75 lbs, yet has a true 20 pound payload capacity, more than most other altazimuth mounts, even those considerably more expensive. Compare features, payload, and price. Why pay more for less performance? We think the Astro-Tech Voyager is a clear cut above the others. And Sky & Telescope agrees that the Voyager is “a really sweet grab-and-go setup that’s ideal for viewing day or night.”