After assembly, levelling and orienting northward, you simply enter
the standard information required by the hand controller so that it
knows where you are on Earth. Given it was still daytime I decided
first just to see how well it tracked. Covering the apertures of the
finder and the Sky-Watcher 80mm f/5 refractor with solar safety
film, I loosened the altitude clamp and manually moved the mount
sunward. Setting the controller to sidereal tracking mode, the Sun
stayed well within the filed of view for the best part of 30 minutes
from centred position in a 24mm eyepiece. Certainly good enough
tracking without having done star alignments for use in safe
solar viewing and imaging.
Touring the Night Sky
As darkness fell, it was time to use do the two star align process
so I selected Alpha Centauri from the bright star list under
southern sky star selections. Using the directional keys on the
controller key pad one must manually move the telescope to the star,
locate in the finder scope cross hairs then centre in the eyepiece
and press the ENTER key. A second alignment star Vega in this case
was offered by SynScan and after selecting, the mount slewed to its
general position which was visible within the field of view of the
finder. Centring it and pressing ENTER again, you're ready to go. It
is important to make sure the tripod / mount is set perfectly level
and telescope balanced to avoid possible slippage of the azimuth
drive during slewing.
The Moon was in the west so selecting it using the Planets key (7 on
the keypad) the scope whizzed off to locate it very nicely... almost
perfectly in the centre of the eyepiece. Manually tweaking the
alignment just a little and holding the ESC key for three seconds
utilising the PAE correction function, it tracked very well until I
was bored looking any longer. So where to now ?, hmmm, I'll be
kind... Saturn is nearby... selecting from the planets list, bingo
there it was in the eyepiece! Ahhh Mercury down in the low west...
let's go there! Bingo again. Getting darker now, let go to NGC5139
in Centaurus. Again the little mount found its way very well
requiring just a little re-centre correction. So, back to the Moon..
If you're wondering about the mounts quietness, I'd say it might be
considered a bit noisy when in full slew mode particularly if your
were observing from the balcony of an apartment block at 2am however
not anymore noisy than most others we've evaluated and perhaps a
little quieter that some.
Satisfied that the scope was finding a few targets nicely I decided
to try the so-called Freedom Find capability. So loosening off the
altitude clamp (there is no azimuth clamp as this axis is pretty
free moving) I swung the telescope by hand to Altair in the north
west. Retightening the clamp I observed the star for a minute or
two. I then selected the star Antares from the named star list...
here we go... Press Enter... off she slewed and to my delight, in
the correct direction. Bingo! Antares landed perfectly in the
eyepiece. How good is this! As the clouds started rolling in I
grabbed the remaining time to slew back to Alpha Centauri then Acrux
and later to Shula in the tail of Scoprius and thereafter, Alberio.
Needless to say, all fell nicely within the eyepiece each time.
|| A quickly
acquired image using the
video camera with a
Vixen R130Sf Newtonian
fitted to the Star Discovery mount.
As mentioned above, the mount tracked very well even with
a load just over 4.3 kg with motor focus fitted and a heavy
using the ProStar LP-GUIDE-M camera with the Vixen R130Sf
Newtonian, the Dumbbell nebula (M27) was
selected from the Messier objects list. After landing on the
target, it was slightly off centre in the narrow field
produced by the camera but visible nonetheless. With a
little re-centre and PAE correction, the image here is a
stack of 15 frames taken from 5 second exposures. Although
captured through thin clouds it reveals that the mount
tracks well enough for doing some basic photography.
Even 10 second exposure showed round, un-drifted stars quite
While we did discover a minor anomaly relating to PAE correction for
a couple of southern based objects south of the meridian, we have
since fed this information back to the manufacturer who will no
doubt have sorted in a new iteration of the controller firmware
soon. After all, the unit is fully upgradable.
This is most certainly one impressive mount an extremely great value
for GoTo technology under $700.00.
UPDATE 03rd October 2015 - An update from Sky-Watcher was tested and
the PAE issue corrected based on our testing.
We'd like to thank Barry Smith of Tasco Sales Australia for making
the mount available to us for testing.
We will continue to update this review as time and weather allows.