The TeleVue Ash Gibraltar 5 mount/Sky Tour system is a complete 20 lb. altazimuth mount with a factory-installed Sky Tour aiming computer. It is designed primarily for use with the 5” TeleVue NP-127 refractor, although it will work with smaller 4” TeleVue scopes as well – such as the TeleVue NP101, NP101is, TV102, TV102iis, and Renaissance 102.
The Ash Gibraltar 5 mount consists of an adjustable height American-made furniture-grade solid ash tripod with black trim, an accessory tray for eyepiece storage and added tripod rigidity, a modified yoke & cradle type Tele-Pod mount head, an eyepiece caddy set, a Sky Tour Caddy plate, and a Sky Tour computer. The Sky Tour aiming computer portion of the system is preinstalled at the factory, making set-up easy and fast.
The modified Tele-Pod head is 1” wider than a standard Tele-Pod head to hold the larger diameter NP-127 body. In addition, it has larger bearings to better support the weight of the heavier NP-127. The cradle has holes specifically sized and spaced to accept the NP-127 base plate, in addition to holes that are usable with smaller TeleVue scopes.
The scope is moved from point to point across the sky by pushing on the tail piece or focuser knobs of the scope. The yoke & cradle type mount head balances the NP-127 at its center of gravity, so that the scope will not swing unexpectedly when you let go of the scope tail piece. The altitude bearings are brass, while the azimuth bearing is aluminum and Teflon. Both altitude and azimuth motions have tension adjustments to set the friction to accommodate differing scope weights.
The tripod legs have rubber-tipped metal ground spikes for use on wooden decks and other hard surfaces. The rubber tips can be removed from the ground spikes for a more firm footing on grass or dirt. By varying the length of the legs, the telescope height can be set anywhere from about 36” to 60", making it well-suited for use with the TeleVue Air Chair observer’s stool.
The modified Tele-Pod head is usable at any latitude. It moves 360° in azimuth, over an altitude range of +85° to -10°. That means you will not be able to aim your scope directly at the zenith, but any object located directly overhead will soon drift past the zenith down to an altitude that can be reached by the mount.
The Sky Tour object locator computer adds “brains" to the Gibraltar 5 altazimuth mount. With its exclusive Lorenzin 2000+ database and refinements such as dimmable red light display, backlit button names, 10-character speed-adjustable scrolling display, and advanced “identify" capability, the TeleVue Sky Tour brings the hand-held astronomical object locating computer to a new feature/performance level. The Gibraltar 5 mount/Sky Tour system is simple enough to use to encourage beginning astronomers, yet deep enough in its database and capabilities for experts to maintain a lifetime of observing enthusiasm.
The Sky Tour includes a built-in database of the best visually-observable astronomical objects. More than just a star listing, the Tom Lorenzin 2000+ database in the Sky Tour is a collection of those interesting and observable double and triple stars, bright and dark nebulas, galaxies, star clusters, and colored stars that most suited to observing through TeleVue refractors. TeleVue saw no need to include thousands and thousands of objects that are too faint to be seen visually, as some telescope manufacturers do with their computers. That only frustrates observers. Instead, TeleVue has wisely chosen to include only those objects that can be seen, and seen in detail, through their refractors by beginners and experienced astronomers alike.
The 2000+ database objects that Sky Tour can lead you to are organized into six catalogs: NGC (New General Catalog), M (Messier), IC (lndex Catalog), ST (Star), NS (Non-Standard), and PL (Planets). For quick reference, an additional FAV (Favorites) catalog is available to store 99 of your favorite objects. Once Sky Tour is aligned on the sky, a process that takes only a minute or two, enter the Catalog mode and choose an object to view. Then switch to the Guide mode and Sky Tour shows you the direction to move your scope in order to center the selected object. As you move in the direction(s) shown, Sky Tour visibly counts down the distance to go to reach the object. When Sky Tour shows you’re at zero distance to go, you’re centered on the object. Finding over 2000 celestial objects is as simple as that.
Sky Tour also gives you highly accurate digital setting circle readouts by converting altitude and azimuth positioning into Right Ascension and Declination. The RA DEC mode lets you hunt for any object in the sky just by looking up its RA and DEC position on a star chart and using the setting circle function to guide you to that position.
Sky Tour has a 10-character red LED display that can be dimmed to any of five brightness levels. It has a display resolution of 1 minute in right ascension, and 0.1° in declination. The Sky Tour uses 2160 step, 0.167-degree/step (10-arcminute/step) encoders. You can move your scope at a very fast 160 degree per second rate without losing the Sky Tour’s lock on the sky.
The Sky Tour computer module measures only a compact 2.8" x 4.6" x 1.1" in size. It weighs a mere six ounces, including the 9 volt battery that powers it.
An optional soft carry case (#BAG120P) is available for transporting the tripod with mount head attached (the accessory tray must be carried separately and the attached eyepiece caddy plates must be removed and stored in the carry case separately). An optional #TVHANDLE photo tripod-type pan-head handle (aluminum arm/soft rubber grip) is available to attach to the Tele-Pod head for moving the scope from place to place across the sky without touching the scope body itself.