This iOptron SkyTracker portable equatorial camera tracking mount is a complete and ready-to-image system. It includes a rugged adjustable height tripod with 1.25" stainless steel legs, a SkyTracker battery-operated mount, a ball head for connecting your camera, and a polar alignment scope. All you need to add is your camera and four AA batteries to power the mount, and you're ready to do some serious wide-field deep space imaging.
This second-generation iOptron SkyTracker will hold camera/lens combinations weighing up to 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg) for serious constellation/Milky Way star field astrophotography. A reviewer in Sky & Telescope magazine called the first-generation version "the hands-down best value I know of in a camera-tracking platform."
The black-finished cast aluminum body SkyTracker is simple to use. Just attach the SkyTracker to the supplied adjustable height tripod legs, using the 3/8” hole in the underside of the SkyTracker. The SkyTracker has an adjustable azimuth base so you can fine-tune the mount in azimuth during polar alignment, without having to move the tripod.
Thread the supplied ball head mount onto the SkyTracker, then mount your digital camera on the ball head. Align the SkyTracker on Polaris, using the built-in peep sight and the included dark field illuminated 6° field of view polar alignment scope (which is "exceptionally accurate and extremely easy to use," according to the Sky & Telescope review). A built in compass and precision worm-drive latitude adjustment make it easy to do a fairly accurate polar alignment. iOptron also has an app available for the iPhone and iPad at (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ioptronpolarscope/id564078961?mt=8) that will make polar aligning very accurate.
Turn on the SkyTracker DC drive and it keeps your camera following the motion of the stars in right ascension at the same speed the earth rotates to avoid star trails during your long exposures for beautiful wide-field images of the night sky. The lightweight SkyTracker runs on four user-supplied AA batteries for portability at any location, and can track for up to 20 hours on one set of batteries in mild weather (12 hours in very cold weather).
The DC servo motor drive system uses an 80mm 156-tooth worm wheel, an 11mm brass worm gear, four ball bearings (two on the worm wheel and two on the worm gear), and a speed-regulating optical encoder for smooth and accurate tracking. The 6” x 4” x 2.3” SkyTracker will operate over a 14° to 104° Fahrenheit temperature range and can be used over a 0° to 70° latitude range in both northern and southern hemispheres.
The Sky & Telescope reviewer tested the original SkyTracker tracking mount on his own tripod with telephoto lenses up to 180mm in focal length and concluded "I was highly impressed with its performance . . . with the SkyTracker carefully aligned, the tracking was the match of many small equatorial mounts I have used for telescopes . . . extremely simple to use . . . construction quality that I would have expected in a unit costing much more . . . the best value I know of for a camera tracker."
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