My new telescope mount – Skywatcher EQ8

About a month ago, I invited my oldest daughter and wife into my observatory. I explained to them that my Celestron CGEM could not cope with the weight of my Orion Optics VX12 12″ Newtonian telescope. They took one look at my telescope and the mount and started laughing at me, saying that small mount can’t be expected to hold that large telescope. That sealed it for me that I needed change my mount.

Hence I kept my eye out for one to appear on UKASTROBUYSELL. So when one appeared, I decided to take the plunge and contact the seller. After a price was agreed, we arranged a day for me to go collect it. My family came with me to collect the mount, with the promise that we would go to Lakeside Shopping Center for a bit of shopping – they were clearly game for that.

It did come with a nice large movable storage box, which makes moving it from one place to another a little easier and safer.

My Skywatcher EQ8 mount in its storage box
My Skywatcher EQ8 mount in its storage box

Now the thing that has been the biggest deterrent to me upgrading my mount is how would I get it to fit onto my telescope pier. With the help of my neighbour, I managed to get the Altair Astro EQ8 pier adapter plate which came with the mount to be converted to fit onto my black pier adapter. I did have to spend a fair bit of time to file down the top of the 6 locking screws so it is recessed into the hole.

The Altair Astro EQ8 mounting plate machined to fit my telescope pier (here shown with the alignment peg from the CGEM)
The Altair Astro EQ8 mounting plate machined to fit my telescope pier (here shown with the alignment peg from the CGEM)

Since this mount is likely to be my last one, as I cannot see myself buying a better mount than this, I decided to get the correct alignment peg from Altair Astro (not available elsewhere in the UK). This fits perfectly into the alignment slot of the EQ8.

Altair Astro alignment peg now mounted in place
Altair Astro alignment peg now mounted in place

I managed to carry the EQ8 by myself to my obsy, as it has two very useful handles on either side of it. I was able to mount it onto the telescope pier adapter as well.

EQ8 mounted on my telescope pier adapter
EQ8 mounted on my telescope pier adapter

Initially I thought I would need a hand to fit the entire assembly onto my telescope pier, but it proved to be something I could do by myself – the two handles just make handling it so much easier.

Mounted onto the telescope pier
Mounted onto the telescope pier

In order to make it easier to adjust the alignment of the EQ8, I mounted my Skywatcher ED80 onto it. With the 10kg weight mounted onto the counterweight bar as high up the bar as it will go, it was still too heavy to balance with the extremely light ED80. But that is fine as it is only a temporary setup.

My Skywatcher ED80 mounted on to do alignment (including polar alignment)
My Skywatcher ED80 mounted on to do alignment (including polar alignment)

After I had done the 2-star alignment and started the polar alignment process, I realised that while the altitude had been easily and correctly adjusted, I had tightened the M12 bolt a little too tight to be able to adjust the azimuth for the polar alignment. Hence I had to find a solution to resolve this. I did note that the M12 bolt does protrude up out of the mount and is visible – so IĀ used my Dremel tool to flatten two sides of the M12 bolt so I could use a small spanner to loosen and retighten it.

Before:

M12 screw holding the mount onto the pier adapter does protrude up into view
M12 bolt holding the mount onto the pier adapter does protrude up into view

After:

M12 bolt filed down on two sides so it can be adjusted with a spanner
M12 bolt filed down on two sides so it can be adjusted with a spanner

Now it is actually possible to adjust the mount in azimuth for polar alignment. And afterwards it can be retightened so it is as firmly fixed as possible.Great!

How did I find the Skywatcher EQ8?

  1. It is well built and very quiet.
  2. There was no backlash in right ascension (RA), but there is backlash in declination (DEC) which was visibly the same in both directions – I will need to adjust this at some point.
  3. When doing the 2-star alignment procedure, I did miss my Celestron Star Sense Autoalign which does the plate solving automatically.
  4. The polar alignment procedure is fairly easy to follow.

The first thoughts are that it is a solid mount. I have managed to do the rough polar alignment with the EQ8 polar alignment process, and have also done drift align with PHD2 to get it within 1 arcmin. So I have tightened all the various bolts. Next step is to mount my Orion Optics VX12 Newtonian on and redo the drift alignment again.

While doing the drift alignment, I did note that the guiding was very solid and maintained between +/- 1 arcsecond which is within the seeing limit possible from my observing site. Great! Now I just need to wait for clear skies to try imaging.

Boon