The Tele-Pod/Sky Tour system is a complete 7.5 lb. altazimuth mount with a factory-installed Sky Tour aiming computer for smaller TeleVue refractors such as the TV-60 and TV-76. Its compact size and light weight makes it ideal for spur of the moment backyard observing or for traveling.
The Tele-Pod consists of a 2-section black anodized aluminum tripod with a manually-adjusted rising center post, a separate yoke & cradle type 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 top section of the tripod legs are foam covered for increased vibration damping and more comfortable carrying in cold weather. Each tripod leg has a rubber-tipped foot for use on wooden decks and other hard surfaces. The rubber foot retracts to reveal a metal ground spike for a more firm footing on grass or dirt. By varying the length of the telescoping two-section legs and the height of the rising center post, the telescope height can be set anywhere from 28” to 62”.
TeleVue scopes attach to the Tele-Pod head by means of two supplied studs that thread into the base of the telescope mounting ring. These studs project down through holes in the Tele-Pod cradle and are held securely in place with supplied wing nuts.
The Tele-Pod head is totally manual in operation. You use its supplied camera tripod-type pan handle to move your scope from object to object. There are no slow motion controls, but the panning motion of the mount is so smooth that most observers will not need them. The yoke & cradle type mount head balances your TeleVue scope at its center of gravity, so that the scope will not swing unexpectedly when you let go of the pan handle (which can be set up for either right hand or left hand use). 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 scopes with differing accessory loads.
The 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 Tele-Pod can also be used with other brands of small refractors. However, the internal width between the vertical sides of the Tele-Pod yoke measures only 5.25”, so the maximum width of the mounting rings of another brand of telescope must be smaller than this measurement. In addition, the buyer should keep in mind that the fore-and-aft mounting platform dimension of the yoke is limited and would require a user-supplied adapter plate to install dual mounting rings on the single 1/4”-20 thread mounting hole for non-TeleVue scopes available in the Tele-Pod yoke.
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.