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Best Astrophotography Telescope Mounts within your budget in 2024

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Are you getting ready to buy a telescope so that you can take images of deep-sky objects? You will need a good reliable mount that can track the sky and allow you to take long exposure shots at any focal length. There are many options out there, and it can be very confusing for a beginner to decide on which mount is best for their astrophotography journey.


Best astrophotography mounts for your budget

In this post, we will discuss our suggestions as to what telescope mount you should get if you are either starting Astrophotography or looking to upgrade your current mount.

The mount is perhaps the most important piece of a full astrophotography setup! Sure, you may think the telescope or the camera is more important than the mount, but without a good mount that can track the motion of the sky accurately, all of your images will have star trails and end up in the trash.


Below, we will tell you what we think are the best telescope mounts to buy for astrophotography. Even if you're reading this because you are about to get your very first telescope, we will not only cover beginner mounts but also advanced equatorial mounts for those of you looking to upgrade.


Let's get started!


Table of Contents

  • Best Astrophotography Mounts Under $1,000

  • Best Astrophotography Mounts Between $1,000 and $3,000

  • Best Astrophotography Mounts Above $3,000

  • Our Recommended Power Supply Batteries for Astrophotography Mounts


 

Best Astrophotography Mounts Under $1,000

ℹ️ The mounts listed below are in the lowest budget range and are considered as "star trackers". These are recommended for owners of very light telescopes or people planning to image with a DSLR/Mirrorless camera and lens.

Mount

Manufacturer

Maximum Payload

Weight

Price

Star Adventurer Pro

Sky-Watcher

11 lb.

3.6 lb.

SkyGuider Pro

iOptron

11 lb.

2.5 lb.

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro


The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro is the most popular star tracker on the market. It is easy to use, very portable, and reliable! It is our favorite tracking mount for widefield astrophotography.

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro for astrophotography

Every few years, Sky-Watcher upgrades this star tracker with new features, so be sure to check what the latest version is by the time you are reading this.


If you have a tight budget, don't forget that you can look for an older version for much cheaper online. We own the very first generation of the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro and it tracks perfectly fine!


You can use a small telescope on this star tracker as long as you balance it carefully using the counterweight. Two of our friends use the Sky-Watcher Evostar 72ed with this tracker. You also should ensure that you don't attach any heavy accessories to your telescope. You should be able to get beautiful pictures if your polar alignment is excellent, but know that you should eventually upgrade to an actual German Equatorial mount as soon as you can.



The image above was photographed in our Premium Astrophotography course. We cover how to use this specific star tracker in Season 2 of the Galactic Course.



 

iOptron SkyGuider Pro



The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is very similar to the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro. The two are light, portable, and have the same payload capacity of 11 pounds. Note that these two tracking mounts are motorized mounts but no GoTo mounts.

iOptron SkyGuider Pro Astrophotography mount

The main difference between the two is... the color! The Pro version of the iOptron SkyGuider comes with a counterweight bar and counterweight, which technically allows you to attach a lightweight telescope on it despite being designed as a DSLR star tracker.


We used a smaller version of this tracker in the past, the iOptron SkyTracker which was our very first "mount" when learning astrophotography. We were very happy with the product and with iOptron's customer service.


You can't go wrong with either this iOptron SkyGuider Pro or the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro. Although we recommend saving some extra money to buy a sturdy dedicated telescope mount, these two are a great option for people who often shoot the night sky wide field. They are the best mounts for DSLR astrophotography and the most convenient. Just be sure to get the Pro version if you purchase one or the other, so that it comes with a counterweight bar and counterweight.


 

Best Astrophotography Mounts Between $1,000 and $3,000

ℹ️ The mounts listed below are perfect for any beginner or advanced astrophotographer. We only listed mounts that are known for their reliability, low tracking error, great payload capacity, and overall performance on the field. The mounts listed from now on are all motorized GoTo mounts.

Mount

Manufacturer

Maximum Payload

Weight

Price

AM3

ZWO

Without Counterweights: 17 lb.

With Counterweights: 28 lb.

8.6 lb.

AM5

ZWO

Without Counterweights: 28 lb.

With Counterweights:44 lb.

11 lb.

EQ6-R Pro

Sky-Watcher

44 lb.

38 lb.

NYX-101

Pegasus Astro

Without Counterweights: 44 lb.

With Counterweights: 66 lb.

14.3 lb.

ZWO AM3


The ZWO AM3 is one of the most popular beginner astrophotography mounts, thanks to its ease of use, small weight, and price.

ZWO AM3 Mount for astrophotography

Unlike traditional German equatorial mounts, which usually use worm gears, the ZWO AM3 is a Harmonic Drive mount, meaning

it uses a strain wave gear that acts as a reducer to eliminate any backlash.


That speed reducer, coupled with a synchronous belt allows the mount to track without the need for any counterweight.


This is awesome, especially for people looking for a lightweight mount for traveling.




If you do astrophotography away from home on a regular basis, definitely consider this mount which is easy to use and light.


Counterweights are optional unless you use a heavy telescope. The mount also has flawless connections to the ASIAir and any ZWO product. This mount does not come with a tripod unless you purchase the bundle




 

ZWO AM5

The ZWO AM5 is the bigger version of the AM3 mount. It has the same overall design and can also work with or without counterweights!

ZWO AM5 Astrophotography mount


The ZWO AM5 is more expensive and slightly heavier than the AM3, but it can carry a much heavier payload!


With the heavier payload capacity, the AM5 is likely the best choice for most amateur astrophotographers. The AM5 will carry 28 lb without a counterweight and 44 lb with a counterweight before showing any tracking issues.



Unless you only own a very small telescope and do not have plans to upgrade in the future, we recommend starting off directly with the ZWO AM5 instead of the AM3.


Doing astrophotography with the AM5 is very simple, both from the backyard and away from home. It is still extremely lightweight and can be picked up with everything attached on it if you are using a small or medium size telescope. For the image you see on the right, I just carried the entire rig in and out of the house for several nights without bothering about taking things apart.



We made a full review video of this mount as well as a written post on it so be sure to check these out!




 

Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro


Here comes the most beloved astrophotography mount of all time... until now! The king of reliability: the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro!

Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount

Sold by both Sky-Watcher (in white, pictured here on the right) and by Orion (in black, under the name of Atlas EQ-G), the EQ6-R was by far the most popular beginner equatorial mount on the planet for many years.


This was our very first mount when we started astrophotography many years ago. We decided to keep this mount on this list this year in case you're set on getting a good ol' EQ mount, but we would now recommend going with a strain-wave gear mount instead as they are much easier to use and lighter.


It has a payload capacity of 44 pounds which is completely fine for most telescopes, both refractor and reflector design as long as they are not too large (12"+). The mount is 38 pounds, which is much heavier than the AM3/AM5, and you will need to use the counterweights.


Thanks to its popularity, you'll find the answer to any problem you might encounter with this mount with a quick online search as there are thousands and thousands of posts related to this mount on forums.


Unlike the strain-wave gear mounts, you'll also need to make sure to balance the rig before each imaging session.




The tripod is included when purchasing this mount.


 

Pegasus Astro NYX-101


The Pegasus Astro NYX-101 mount is a heavy-duty strain-wave gear mount that is perfect for people who own large and heavy telescopes, for example for planetary imaging.

Pegasus Astro NYX-101 Astrophotography mount

With a weight of 14.3 pounds, this mount is still very simple to carry around and set up thanks to its strain-wave gear design.


This mount is a good choice for people who own telescopes that are a bit too heavy for the AM5 mount, or simply do not want to be part of the ZWO ecosystem. Most long focal-length telescopes, used for example to image planets, the moon, or small planetary nebulae and galaxies, will fit perfectly on this mount and maybe even without any counterweight! The payload capacity of 44 pounds with no counterweight is very impressive, and can be bumped up to 66 pounds with a counterweight! This makes this mount the best one in the payload category so far!



 

Best Astrophotography Mounts Above $3,000

ℹ️ The mounts listed below are great if you are looking for your forever mount, or need a mount for a permanent observatory. These are the best high-end telescope mounts for astrophotography.

Mount

Manufacturer

Maximum Payload

Weight

Price

CEM70

iOptron

70 lb.

30 lb.

Paramount MyT

Software Bisque

50 lb.

34 lb.

GM1000 HPS

10Micron

55 lb.

43 lb.

Mach 2

Astro-Physics

75 lb.

39 lb.

iOptron CEM70


The iOptron CEM70 is great for both permanent and portable setups, and is an incredible pick for the price!

iOptron CEM70 mount for astrophotography

Weighing just 30 pounds and capable of carrying 70 pounds of equipment, the iOptron CEM70 has the best weight-to-payload ratio out of all the mounds on this list.

This makes the mount a good fit for you if you own a heavy telescope and mostly image away from home.


The mount has a through-the-mount cabling feature which ensures that your cables don't ever get stuck when slewing the mount around. It has a built-in polar scope and comes with its own hard carrying case!


Although the tripod is not included, the iOptron CEM70 truly is a great choice for the price.



 

Software Bisque Paramount MyT


The Software Bisque Paramount MyT mount is, let's face it, the most beautiful design we've seen on this entire list. It is black and red with well-placed ports both at the base of the mount head and at the back of the dove plate. It has a thick counterweight bar and through-the-mount cabling capabilities.

Paramount MyT Astrophotography mount

The MyT mount has a weight of 34 pounds which makes it great for imaging away from home. It is


We used this mount for several months, and although we liked it overall, there are several things that bothered us. We had trouble with the tracking accuracy for a long time and had to get the mount replaced. Another thing we disliked with this mount is the fact that you can only attach Losmandy-style dovetails, as small ones will not fit on the Versaplate. While we're at it, we also disliked the fact that you must have TheSkyX (Software Bisque's planetarium software) open in order for the mount to work. Be sure to read our full review about the MyT mount to learn all about the pros and cons of this mount.



The tripod is not included and must be purchased separately. If you plan on getting this mount, we recommend having it permanently installed in an observatory.



 

10Micron GM1000HPS

The 10Micron GM1000HPS is the smallest of the 10Micron mounts, and so the most affordable, although expect to spend more than $10,000 for this if you buy it new.

10Micron GM1000HPS astrophotography mount

The GM1000HPS is an observatory-grade mount that is portable enough to also be excellent out on the field.

It has excellent sub-one arc-second tracking accuracy and can be used without an auto-guider thanks to its absolute encoders and model-making feature.


Sadly, unlike other mounts like the Paramount MyT or the CEM70, the GM1000HPS does not have a through-the-mount cable management feature, so you'll have to make sure your cables are tidy before imaging. This is the only drawback we could find about this excellent mount though, as literally everything else feels just perfect!



The 10Micron GM1000HPS feels very sturdy and well designed and is in our opinion extremely reliable as well. You can think of this mount as a luxury EQ6-R. 😅


Another good thing is that the "brain" of the mount, including the computer aspect of it, comes in a separate little box, meaning you can simply ship this to the repair center instead of the entire mount if you ever have issues with it.


On the right is M45, one of the many images we took using the 10Micron HM1000HPS mount. The stars are pinpoint and we usually almost never have to trash any single frames due to trails.



The tripod is not included, although you might receive some goodies in the box like a 10Micron hat or a pen.


 

Astro-Physics Mach 2 GTO


The Astro-Physics Mach 2 mount is similar to the 10Micron GM1000HPS as it is one of the best German equatorial mounts in the world, with both a great payload capacity and weight. It also is of course very expensive.

Astro-Physics Mach2 mount for astrophotography

Just like the 10Micron mount, the "AP" Mach 2 comes with absolute encoders. It has excellent tracking, remembers its exact position on both axes even if the mount loses power, and can be used without auto-guiding solution.


The Astro-Physics Mach2GTO mount only weighs 39 pounds and has a payload capacity of 75 pounds! It beats the GM1000HPS when it comes to the weight/payload capacity ratio. Another great feature the GM1000HPS is lacking compared to the AP Mach 2 is the through-the-mount option for cable management. You can't go wrong with either mount as they both are some of the most beloved mounts among the astrophotography community, and were both designed by highly respected companies.



We have tried the older sister of the Mach 2 mount in the past, the Astro-Physics Mach 1. We tried it while waiting for our new mount to arrive and immediately fell in love with it. It was easy to use, felt well-built, and was reliable. Knowing the Mach 2 is an improved version of the Mach 1, we have no doubt that this mount is one of the best life-long mounts you can ever hope get.



 

Our Recommended Power Supply Batteries for Astrophotography Mounts


Unless you only do astrophotography from the comfort of your home, you will eventually need a portable battery in order to take your mount out in the field under dark skies.


There are several types of batteries you can get for astrophotography, luckily for you, the options nowadays are much simpler than they used to be a few years ago. Back when we started, we had no choice but to purchase a very heavy, back-breaking deep-cycle marine battery with separate cables/clamps and a box. People would have to drill holes into the battery box to add plugs and ports until the battery was finally ready for astro.


Enough of this nonsense. Today, you can buy lithium batteries that are very portable, easy to use, and have all the plugs you need built-in! Some even come with solar panels!

Battery

Manufacturer

Capacity

Weight

Price

Explorer 500

Jackery

518 Wh

13.3 lb.

Explorer 1000

Jackery

1002 Wh

22 lb.


Lithium batteries are incredibly light, and last for a long time! Our battery of choice, the Jackery Battery is very easy to carry around thanks to the built-in handle, and can be charged during the day with solar panels. It also has several different ports and an integrated flashlight.


Jackery batteries are available in different sizes and prices. If you want to be sure you can power your equipment all night, we suggest going with the Jackery 500 or Jackery 1000.


You can watch our video about the Jackery 1000 below. We also have a full written review about both the Jackery 500 and Jackery 1000.




 

Our Premium Astrophotography Course


Want to learn all aspects of astrophotography in the most efficient way possible?

The Galactic Course includes a LIFETIME membership that gives you unlimited access to all current and upcoming astrophotography content. Step into an ever-growing realm of knowledge and learn at your own pace. Make life-long friends and connections with other members, and get tips from instructors that truly care about your journey and progress under the night sky.


 

Final Thoughts


The mount is the most important part of your entire astrophotography setup. Without a reliable mount with good tracking, every single of your images will appear blurry and messy. In short, you can't get a good image without a good mount!


We hope this post was useful in deciding which mount to purchase. If you are a complete beginner and do not yet have a telescope, we suggest getting a good star tracker first like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro.


If you own or are about to own a telescope, get yourself an easy-to-use reliable beginner astrophotography mount like the popular ZWO AM5.


If you have any further questions about mounts, feel free to either email us or ask in the comments below, we'll be happy to help out! Also, check out our other guides for the best astrophotography cameras and telescopes!



Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!


Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter






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2 Comments


Unknown member
Jul 29, 2022

I have a GSO RC10 thats really putting a strain on my eq-6 mount..... it's easily over 40 pounds total when all the addons are on it. I know I need a different mount and was looking at the losmandy g11 or g11gt. Do you have any knowledge of those ? Or any alternatives with a hefty capacity that wont break my wallet ?

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The Losmandy G11 almost made it on this list! I'm not familiar with this specific mount as I haven't seen it out in the field yet, but I do hear great things about it. One of my best friends has a CEM70 (70 payload capacity and similar price to the G11) and is very in love with it. So maybe consider that. It will be tough to find a mount under $3K with a high payload capacity, besides the CGX at 55 lbs / $2.8K...

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