Choosing a Star Tracker for Astrophotography

star trackers

Star trackers are now more accessible to amateur photographers than ever, with many options to choose from. Deciding which one to spend your hard-earned money on can be a daunting task. 

I am a full-time astrophotographer that has used many different star trackers from several brands for many years. I have created this resource for those looking to finally dive into astrophotography the right way, with a star tracker. 

The Best Star Trackers for Astrophotography

When it comes to astrophotography, quite simply, a star tracker allows you to take better images. Your exposure lengths are no longer limited to 30-seconds or less due to a moving sky, and you can dial back camera settings like ISO and F-stop.

Equatorial camera mounts are designed to align with the polar axis of the night sky so you can take long-exposure images that are free of star trailing. Astrophotography demands long-exposure tracked images to collect as much signal (light) as possible, and that is exactly what a star tracker allows you to do.

I recommend the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer 2i (Pro Pack) for beginner astrophotographers looking for the best overall experience. 

Over the years, I have had many opportunities to review star trackers for astrophotography. I have learned that portable tracking camera mounts can vary depending on the brand you choose, from the mechanical design to the polar alignment procedure.

In this post, I’ll discuss the topic of using a star tracker for astrophotography, and compare some of the best choices available in 2022. If you are interested in capturing Nightscapes, or Milky Way photography, a star tracker is arguably the most important investment you’ll make in equipment. 

To be effective, a star tracker needs to be capable of accurately tracking the night sky for long-exposure night sky photography. Each model available has its own strengths and weaknesses, from the portability factor to maximum payload capacity.

I’ll do my best to explain why the overall user experience is the number one factor to consider when choosing a portable tracking camera mount. Here is a list of my top choices to consider:

star tracker comparison chart

Before I go any further, I want to remind you of the kinds of images possible on a star tracker. There are plenty of night sky photographs shared on Instagram and other social media platforms from adventurous locations, and some of them are downright phenomenal.  

However, many of them are ultra-wide field shots of the sky, lacking the reach needed to reveal wonderous deep-sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies. Being a deep-sky astrophotographer means that I aim to expose the incredible objects seemingly hidden in our night sky, and a star tracker helps me accomplish this. 

Make no mistake, a star tracker gives you the ability to dive into the deep-sky. The photo below showcases many incredible deep-sky objects from the California Nebula to the Pleiades

deep-sky astrophotography with a star tracker

Deep-Sky Astrophotography using a Star Tracker. Canon EOS Ra, Canon RF 15-35mm F/2.8 on a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.

How to Use a Star Tracker

A star tracker’s job is to match the rotation of the Earth so that you can take long exposure images (at nearly any focal length) of the night sky. To properly track the stars that appear to move across the night sky each night, a star tracker must be polar aligned and balanced.

To polar align an equatorial mount for astrophotography (including a small camera tracker), you need to adjust the altitude and azimuth of the base so that the polar axis of the mount is aligned with the celestial pole. In the northern hemisphere, we have the advantage of using the north star, Polaris, to aid in this process.

portable tracking mount

A portable star tracker with a ball head and DSLR camera attached.

Without using a star tracker, the stars in the night sky will begin to trail after about 15-30 seconds, depending on the focal length of the lens used. This is because the Earth is spinning on its axis, while the night sky is fixed. Amateur photographers using a stationary tripod can use the 500 rule as a guide for choosing the ideal shutter speed, but a star tracker removes this limitation altogether. 

When a tracking camera mount is used, a small motor slowly rotates your camera in right ascension, effectively matching the apparent movement of the night sky, and freezing it in its tracks. The image below shows you what a 3-minute exposure using a 400mm lens would like without using a star tracker.  how to use a star tracker

Long exposure images (180-seconds) shot at 400mm with and without tracking. 

Luckily for amateur astrophotographers and photographers, there are a lot of great star tracker options to choose from these days. Unlike a heavy equatorial telescope mount, a star tracker is portable, small, and lightweight. Because of their small size and compact profile, they’re usually a lot more affordable, too. 

The star tracker category includes small EQ mounts that can carry a camera and lens combo, whether it’s for wide-angle Milky Way photography or deep sky imaging with a telephoto lens. Wide-angle nightscapes and Milky Way panoramas are the star trackers’ strong point. These types of projects usually involve traveling to a remote location, where packing light is necessary. 

If you’ve ever seen a detailed photo of the Milky Way like the one below, chances are the photographer used a star tracker to collect sharp, long exposure images with their camera and lens. 

The Milky Way

The Milky Way from a dark sky location. Stack of 60 x 2-minute exposures at ISO 1600. 

A star tracker will usually include a polar scope, which is used to help find the north celestial pole and adjust the mount accordingly. A star tracker that has been properly polar aligned will match the exact apparent rotation of the night sky to freeze deep sky objects in place.

Don’t expect these little units to carry a heavy telescope, although small refractors are an option if you’ve got a counterweight system to help balance things out. As you’ll soon see with the Fornax Mounts LighTrack II, a counterweight system is often an additional option from the base star tracker package. 

In fact, a lot of the star trackers available online today come in a potentially confusing number of packages and bundles. My advice is that you invest in a system that can not only handle your intended payload (and then some) but also provide you with features that make imaging in the field easier and more enjoyable. 

Stars in Orion

A camera mount with motorized equatorial tracking capabilities isn’t just useful for wide swaths of stars in the night sky, but for solar system subjects too. Moon photography can be made easier by compensating for the rotation of the Earth.

You can also photograph planets at short focal lengths on a star tracker, as seen in the image of the planet Venus and the moon below. As long as the mount has been polar aligned and balanced, longer focal lengths (up to about 500mm are practical)

The portable, free-spirited nature of a device like this allows for quick setup at a moment’s notice. This means that you can promptly get your camera orientated and start capturing the moon or planets when a significant event such as a lunar eclipse or grouping is taking place. 

moon photography with a star tracker

The planet Venus and the crescent moon. Canon EOS R6, Canon EF 400mm F/5.6, Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.

Popular Models in the “Star Tracker” Category

If you are a beginner in the world of astrophotography (see my beginner’s guide), investing in a tracking camera mount is the single biggest advancement you can make in terms of gear. You can now let the exposure time do the heavy lifting without relying on fast optics and high ISO settings to collect a decent amount of signal. 

The following tracking camera mounts share many similarities, including the ability to track the night sky at different speeds. Before investing in a dedicated star tracker for landscape or deep-sky astrophotography, make sure the bundle you order includes everything you need to mount your camera and lens.

star tracker for astrophotography

Which one should you invest your hard-earned money in for astrophotography? That will depend on the type of user experience you are looking for, and my goal for this article is to highlight the key differences in the user experience for each mount. 

If you’re just looking to shoot wide-angle astrophotography using a camera lens, I’ve got good news for you. All of the star trackers mentioned above are capable of accurately tracking the night sky for incredible long-exposure images like the one below (including the most affordable option, the iOptron SkyTracker Pro).

Cygnus stars

Canon T3i and Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 lens on the iOptron SkyTracker Pro. 

What Star Trackers Do Best

These mounts are primarily designed for wide-angle astrophotography, meaning projects like Milky Way panoramas or mid-range focal length compositions using a telephoto lens in the 100-200mm range. That’s not to say that you can’t use a star tracker for high magnification deep-sky imaging, but that will demand the most of your tracker, and require a diligent setup routine.

The portable nature of a star tracker often leads to some of the most memorable deep sky astrophotography sessions in the field, as they offer you the freedom to travel to a dark sky location without a trunk full of gear. One of the most incredible astrophotography adventures of my life was setting up an iOptron SkyGuider Pro and William Optics RedCat 51 telescope to capture the Carina Nebula from Costa Rica. 

wide field astrophotography

The Carina Nebula from Costa Rica (9-minute exposure using a star tracker and small telescope).

It simply wasn’t possible to bring my computerized telescope mount to this location (on a plane), yet a star tracker fit in my carry-on bag and allowed me to collect tracked images of the night sky from the middle of the resort. These are the kinds of adventures you can expect when you invest in a portable star tracker for astrophotography.

Key Benefits of a Star Tracker

  • Quick Setup and Alignment
  • Lightweight and Portable
  • Great for Travel
  • Built-in Battery Power*
  • Great for Camera Lens Astrophotography

* The Fornax Mounts LighTrack II requires an external 12V power source.

tracking camera mounts

From my personal experience using star trackers for astrophotography from the backyard and beyond, I believe the absolute most important aspect to consider is the user experience. If the star tracker is not easy to use in the field, or the process of setting up takes too long, you won’t use it as much. That’s all there is to it. 

As any experienced amateur astrophotographer will tell you, your motivation to stay up all night and image will vary. Any additional friction between you and a successful image has a way of affecting your decision process of stepping outside on a less-than-perfect night.

Don’t forget about the tear-down process either. If the clouds roll in and it looks like rain is coming, a lengthy teardown routine can turn into a stressful situation. Star trackers can usually be carried inside the house with all elements attached at a moment’s notice. The same can not be said for a full-blown deep sky astrophotography kit

A star tracker should allow you to quickly get up and running under a clear night sky. It should be a pain-free experience that provides the freedom and flexibility to take amazing astrophotography images wherever, and whenever you want.


All of these photos were captured using a portable camera tracker mount.

Which Star Tracker is Right For You?

I am hesitant to state which star tracker is “best”, as I have found them all to have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of user experience in the field. Since this article was first published, I reviewed the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro and you can read it here

I often see comments from beginners about being limited to a maximum exposure time using a particular mount before the stars begin to trail. My honest opinion is that these situations are almost always due to user error in the polar alignment and balancing procedure.

Each and every star tracker I have ever used for astrophotography was capable of sharp, 3-minute exposures using a focal length of up to 200mm. A portable star tracker must be accurately polar aligned and balanced to work properly. This may seem obvious to most people, but time and time again I see poor results being blamed on the hardware itself. 

iOptron SkyGuider Pro

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro with a telescope attached. 

My portable star tracking mounts have traveled with me to some amazing places and captured some of my favorite astrophotos. Both of the iOptron star trackers I am about to cover are extremely popular in the amateur astrophotography and nightscape photography community, and for good reason.

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi

Although this star tracker is the heaviest model on this list, the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi is still highly portable, and a fantastic choice for astrophotography. Unlike the original Star Adventurer (and 2i model), the GTi model also has the ability to find deep-sky objects in the night sky using the SynScan GoTo system.

This is extremely useful for beginner astrophotographers that don’t know where to find deep-sky objects in the night sky. Using the dedicated SynScan Pro mobile app, users can select from a large database of targets (Messier, NGC, IC catalogs), and the mount will automatically point to the target for you.

Star Adventurer GTi

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer GTi.

For the pointing accuracy to be correct, you must make sure that your location is set, and that the mount is polar aligned and balanced. The Star Adventurer GTi has a robust wedge base, that is suitable for mounting cameras with long telephoto lenses, and compact telescopes.

This mount has a built-in autoguiding port (ST-4) as well as a USB Type B port to connect your computer to the mount for direct control (ASCOM/EQMOD). My favorite feature of the Star Adventurer GTi is the adjustable illuminated reticle to help aid you in the polar alignment process while in the field. 

  • Weight: 5.7 lbs.
  • Max Payload: 11 lbs
  • Max Useful Focal Length: 500mm
  • Built-In Battery: Yes (8 x AA batteries)
  • Built-In Polarscope: Yes
  • Autoguider Input: Yes

iOptron SkyTracker Pro

If you’ve watched any of my previous videos, you’ve probably seen the iOptron SkyTracker Pro in action. This ultra-lightweight star tracker is iOptron’s latest variation of their incredibly popular and affordable wide-angle astrophotography mount.

The SkyTracker Pro (not to be confused with the SkyGuider Pro) weighs just 2.6 pounds and houses everything you need for long-exposure nightscapes in a little red (or black) box. A plastic box that is, with adorably simple controls to accelerate the RA axis to your intended target.

iOptron SkyTracker Pro and Camera Lens

The iOptron SkyTracker Pro with a DSLR camera and wide-angle lens attached. 

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs.
  • Max Payload: 6.6 lbs
  • Max Useful Focal Length: 200mm
  • Built-In Battery: Yes (Li-Poly 3.7V)
  • Built-In Polarscope: Yes
  • Autoguider Input: No

This camera mount was designed for wide-field nightscape images using a DSLR camera and lens. Many people have had great success using the SkyTracker with an ultra-wide-angle lens like the Rokinon 14mm F/2.8, all the way up to some heavier glass such as the Rokinon 135mm F/2. 

It’s the most affordable star tracker I’ve used, and it has delivered exceptional results using a number of different camera lenses. One such instance was the time I used the SkyTracker Pro with my Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L Lens to shoot Mars and the Pleiades star cluster in the same frame. 

Planet Mars and Pleiades

The Planet Mars alongside the Pleiades Star Cluster. iOptron SkyTracker Pro and 24-105mm lens @ 105mm.

iOptron SkyGuider Pro

ioptron skyguider pro

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a big step up from the Tracker, offering a heavier payload capacity, a more robust design, and the ability to autoguide your images. The iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a top contender in the category of star trackers with stellar reviews from experienced nightscape photographers.

This portable EQ mount fits in the palm of your hand, yet can handle up to 11 lbs of imaging gear. With the counterweight kit attached, the SkyGuider has no trouble with larger telephoto lenses and even small refractor telescopes such as the William Optics RedCat 51.

deep sky astrophotography

The North America Nebula in Cygnus. iOptron SkyGuider Pro with William Optics RedCat 51 attached. 

  • Weight: 2.2 lbs.
  • Max Payload: 11 lbs
  • Max Useful Focal Length: 400mm
  • Built-In Battery: Yes (Li-Poly 3.7V)
  • Built-In Polarscope: Yes (Illuminated)
  • Autoguider Input: Yes

Beginners often get tracking and guiding mixed up or assume that they both mean the same thing. Tracking is the act of matching the rotation of the Earth using an RA (right ascension) motor, with the axis of the mount aligned with the celestial pole. Guiding is a specialized astrophotography technique that uses a secondary camera to lock on to a guide star and sends small commands to the mount to improve tracking accuracy. 

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro includes an ST-4 autoguide port that allows you to autoguide using the appropriate cabling and software on your computer. Although autoguiding is a powerful feature that allows for even longer exposures (and the benefits of dithering), it requires additional hardware to run. 

RedCat 51 mounted to an iOptron SkyGuider Pro

The William Optics RedCat 51 is a great match for the SkyGuider Pro. 

For smaller loads, such as a DSLR camera and 50mm lens, you can simply attach a ball head to the 1/4″  threaded socket on the mount. Heavier camera lenses or small telescopes will need to be mounted to the declination plate and utilize the counterweight system (shown above.)

For those that prefer to polar align their SkyGuider Pro electronically, the iOptron iPolar device was designed to fit neatly inside this camera tracker. Be advised, that once you make this modification to the mount (or order a version with the iPolar included), you lose an element of portability with the need for dedicated software control. 

If you’re thinking about diving into the world of telescopes for astrophotography, I’d recommend the RedCat 51 Petzval APO or Radian Raptor 61 to complement the SkyGuider.

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro is responsible for one of my favorite astro-images of all time, the Andromeda Galaxy. This portable star tracker is easy to polar align, and the pro pack comes with everything you could possibly need to mount your DSLR camera, lenses, and even a small telescope. 

The following image was captured using a Canon 60Da and a William Optics RedCat 51, mounted to the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro. I stacked 100 x 2-minute exposures at ISO 1600 for an unforgettable shot of M31:

Andromeda Galaxy RedCat 51

The Andromeda Galaxy captured using the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro.

When comparing the specs between the iOptron SkyGuider Pro, and the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro, you’ll notice a number of similarities. For example, the “Pro Pack” includes a counterweight kit, wedge base, and a built-in illuminated polar scope.

sky-watcher star adventurer mount

  • Weight: 2.2 lbs.
  • Max Payload: 11 lbs
  • Max Useful Focal Length: 400mm
  • Built-In Battery: Yes (4 x AA)
  • Built-In Polarscope: Yes
  • Autoguider Input: Yes

The Star Adventurer includes a built-in WiFi, Android/iOS App control for those looking to control projects such as time lapses with your DSLR. Like the iOptron models I mentioned above, the Star Adventurer includes modes for solar, lunar, sidereal, and half-sidereal tracking rates.

I really like that the Star Adventurer can run on 4 AA Batteries. Although it may seem like a step backward from a rechargeable li-poly battery, this feature may come in handy when you are taking pictures nowhere near a source of power. Sky-Watcher reports that these batteries can power the mount for up to 72 hours, more than enough time for a night or imaging or two.

I found the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro to deliver an exceptional user experience, right out of the box. The hardware and premium finishes of this portable star tracker really stood out to me, and I love the mounting bar and counterweight kit. 

sky-watcher star adventurer

Using the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer at the Black Forest Star Party in September 2019.

Fornax Mounts LighTrack II

Fornax is a company based out of Hungary, and they are no stranger to astronomical equipment. Fornax has been manufacturing astronomical mounts for nearly 20 years, working on professional astronomical projects such as the HATNet Exoplanet Survey (Hungarian Automated Telescope) for discovering exoplanets.

The Fornax Mounts LighTrack II looks and acts differently than all of the other star trackers I previously mentioned. It uses a friction motor drive system that slowly sweeps an arm across the base of the mount. The fine friction strip helps the LighTrack II maintain balance, and was designed with strict production tolerances.

Like the other star trackers mentioned, the LighTrack II has 4 tracking speeds. Sidereal, Solar, Lunar, and Half. The “half” speed mode can be used to create nightscape images with terrestrial elements. For example, if you wanted to capture an interesting wide-angle landscape, but want to expose the night sky longer – you can, without the landscape being blurred.

tracking camera mount

Fornax Mounts LighTrack II.

  • Weight: 2.9 lbs.
  • Max Payload: 14 lbs
  • Max Useful Focal Length: 500mm
  • Built-In Battery: No
  • Built-In Polarscope: No (Additional Accessory)
  • Autoguider Input: Yes

The bundle I received from Fervent Astronomy included the MMW-200 wedge to mount the tracker to my tripod, and the counterweight kit (that I have not tested yet). The hardware is impressive, from the aluminum alloy components to the carbon-composite plastic housing for the electronics.

However, there are 2 colossal differences between the iOptron and Sky-Watcher camera trackers and the LighTrack II. The first is, this mount requires an external 12V power supply. There is no internal battery inside of the LighTrack II. So, if you plan on traveling with this mount you’ll need to bring a reliable battery or find an outlet and extension cord nearby.

The second is that the LighTrack II will only track your subject for 107 minutes, before having to return the tracking arm to its starting position. Luckily, you can use the panning control knob of your ball head to keep the camera stationary during this process.

The good news is, once you’ve powered the LighTrack II up, you’ll benefit from incredibly accurate unguided performance. Fornax lists that peak-to-peak unguided tracking error is less than 2 arcseconds in 8 minutes. I can confirm that the unguided performance of the Fornax LighTrack II is incredible and that the 3-minute images I’ve captured at 400mm were razor sharp.

Fornax Mounts LighTrack II example image

I captured the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae on the Fornax LighTrack II (William Optics RedCat 51 refractor).

Capturing the Lagoon Nebula and Trifid Nebula region with the Fornax LighTrack II was one of my first experiences using the mount, and it was a good one. The images were 3-minutes each at an effective focal length of 400mm with my camera system, and the unguided exposures were excellent. 

Here is a look a single 180-second sub exposure using the LighTrack II with my Canon 60Da, William Optics RedCat 51, and the OPT Triad Ultra filter. I’d feel comfortable going to 5-minutes, wouldn’t you?

Maximum exposure time

A single 3-minute, unguided exposure using the Fornax Mounts LighTrack II.

If you’re comparing the Fornax Mounts LighTrack II with the iOptron SkyGudier Pro, the accessories needed to complete a “full” package will send you well past the price of the SkyGuider Pro. The iOptron SkyGuider Pro full package includes the wedge, polar scope, and counterweight package. These items must be added on to the original price of the LighTrack II mount and purchased as a bundle. 

It’s worth mentioning, that perhaps the LighTrack II should not be in the star tracker category at all. Due to its increased payload capacity, autoguiding capability, and accurate tracking, you may want to consider it to be a bridge between a camera tracker and a traditional equatorial telescope mount. 

Star Tracker Comparison Chart

Here are the bare-bones specs of the star trackers mentioned in this post. The listed “longest useful focal length” is merely a point of reference. In reality, I believe all of these trackers could handle a 2-minute exposure using an even longer lens.

BrandMountWeightMaximum PayloadMax. Useful Focal LengthBuilt-in BatteryAutoguide Port
iOptronSkyTracker Pro1.5 lbs.6.6 lbs.200mmYesNo
Sky-WatcherStar Adventurer GTi5.7 lbs.11 lbs.500mmYesYes
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer2.2 lbs.10 lbs.300mmYesYes
iOptron SkyGuider Pro2.2 lbs.11 lbs.400mm YesYes
Fornax MountsLighTrack II2.8 lbs. 13.2 lbs.500mmNoYes

Final Thoughts

I believe that any mount that wants to compete in the “star tracker” category should have a built-in power option. I realize that many people are accustomed to traveling with an external power supply for various devices, but I am not one of them.

The iOptron SkyGuider Pro (and SkyTracker Pro) include an internal, rechargeable, li-poly 3.7V battery that can be charged with a mini-USB charging cable. This simple design feature means that I’ll reach for the SkyGuider when traveling light, or setting up for a brief imaging session. If you want to travel to a remote location with the LighTrack II, be prepared to power the mount using the cigarette lighter plug from your car. 

In the end, the best camera tracker for astrophotography will always be the one you use the most. You can have the nicest equipment in the world, but if it doesn’t help you accomplish your final goal (pictures) on a consistent basis, it’s time to reflect on why you got into this crazy hobby in the first place.

best star tracker

Other Popular Star Trackers Available

There are new and innovative tracking camera mounts popping up every year. I believe this is a big reason why the hobby of astrophotography has increased in popularity as a whole, especially with the daytime photography crowd.

The models discussed in this post are not the only options available, just the ones I have reviewed myself personally. Here is a short list of some of the other star trackers available today:

star tracker comparison chart

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  1. Thank you Trevor for all this information. I followed your recommendations and bought a SkyGuider Pro a year ago: what an impressive portable mount!
    I use it with my Canon 6D + Samyang 135mm or my Z61 + ASI 1600 (autoguiding with a ASI 290) without problem. I added a support to use my Pole Master but I kept the polar finder to travel.
    I think the Formax is too expensive and the tracking time is too short: I’m used to leaving my equipment running alone for 4 to 6 hours on the same object. In this load range a CEM25 is a better choice.
    Thank you, because all your recommendations help us to avoid buying mistakes in this expensive hobby.

  2. I bought an iOptron Smart EQ Pro Plus tracker. Finally got to use it a few weeks back and am pleased with the results. It holds 11 pounds and does have the port for guiding but I am not at that level yet….yet.

  3. Trevor, I think the skyguider Pro would work great but I would also like a mount with a Goto feature and I am guessing I would need to use like the HEQ5 if I need that. Do you know if there is an add on the would work with the Skyguider Pro

  4. Hi Trevor, very informative. Which would be the easiest for a beginner to use. I have a 300mm zoom lens that I want to try this out on (not pro grade – so not so heavy). But want to consider the option of getting a 200 or 300mm L lens in future if this works out. Looking only at easy to use tracker- guiding with a external camera/laptop sounds too complicated.

  5. Hi Sri, all of the star trackers mentioned in this article are pretty easy to use out of the gate. The biggest hurdle early on, will be the polar alignment procedure. These days, I find myself reaching for the Star Adventurer first – and that says a lot about how quick and painless it is to use!

  6. I love the reviews! As someone else has asked about Vixen, I’d second that comment since I’d be very curious to get your input on Vixen products too, and especially their unique star tracker, the Vixen Polarie. It is readily available on Amazon in the US, so there are a lot of people like me who got it and image with it. I’m actually blown away by the metal components in the Vixen Polarie, and (big plus) their polar alignment scope and dovetail with an opening for on the fly alignment is huge! It’s got counterweights, and just seems like a solid clear challenger as Vixen usually is for optics due to their quality component. I have avoided their GoTo products since they do seem pricey, but the Polarie is a standout rare entry level offer from them imo.

    I can’t afford a telescope yet, so I’m hooking up my heavy DSLR 300mm lenses, and the Rokinon f/2 (thanks for the tip!) and have been impressed. Here’s the catch – the step up kits which make this impressive do lead to pricey upgrades, and a more traditional experience that I’ve noticed with Vixen stuff of price premium. For example, adding the step up kit, the heavy load kit, the polar alignment tool wind up inflating your costs significantly as opposed to the Sky Adventurer which includes similar parts by default, so I’d like to see what someone more familiar with this space thinks of the value at that point.

  7. Don’t forget the Skywatcher Star Adventurer Mini. It’s a slightly smaller and lighter version of the pro reviewed here. But I use it with my big full frame Nikon D750 with vertical grip and the Rokinon 24mm which is not a light lens. I haven’t experimented enough with telephoto yet, but a couple of advantages of this tracker: It is wifi controlled through an app. You can program several different modes, hit run, and then the device will shut off the wifi (to save battery power) and begin running the program. It can control your camera’s shutter.

    The main reasons I went with the mini: It holds more than enough so I didn’t need the larger, heavier, more expensive “pro”, and it is useful for things other than night star tracking. For example, you can use it to make a time lapse, while it pans the camera, creating a really cool effect that you otherwise need to buy expensive and bulky rail systems to shoot. I’m very pleased so far, though I suppose it probably won’t work well with super tele lenses, based on the review data above. I almost always shoot wide angle night shots though. It’s size, weight and portability more than make up for that to me.

  8. Another one to consider is the Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi, which will calibrate from pointing it one or two stars and has a GoTo facility… also currently quite cheap. (I’m thinking about it for use with a camera…)

  9. Trevor what do you think about the iEXOS-100 PMC-Eight Equatorial Tracker System as an alternative for Milky Way and possibly a travel system with a Skip to the beginning of the images gallery
    Orion 80 mm ED F/6 CF Triplet APO?

  10. Never mind the “Skip to the beginning of the images gallery” I copied the Orion 80 mm ED F/6 CF Triplet APO form a website and it came together LOL

  11. “For those that prefer to polar align their SkyGuider Pro electronically, the iOptron iPolar device was designed to fit neatly inside of this camera tracker. Be advised, that once you make this modification to the mount (or order a version with the iPolar included), you lose an element of portability with the need for dedicated software control.”

    How so? What additional requirements are required over the non-iPolar unit? Are they hard to over come?

    1. To use iPolar, you need to connect the device to your computer and run the software. Some people may not want to lose the freedom of just manually polar aligning the mount and leaving the computer at home. However, it makes sense if it is your primary astrophotography mount.

  12. Im must say… quite poorly
    At least the Skywatcher SkyAdventurer.

    2 weeks ago ive tried to make some shots in -16C feels like (-8 maybe)
    At the first 10 min, it was ok, but after the batteries chilled down it was simply not enough to power it properly.
    Note: Im using it with a Skywatcher ED72 APO + 0.85x reductor/corrector, so the whole stuff is around its limit (with all the equipment it is around 4kg with the counterwieght) – which means the mech need to work heavily.
    If you have a simplier set around 1.5-2kg, i think it should be ok longer.

    Speaking of the weight, let me share my tougts on this:
    Around its max capacity, the alignment knobs are a disaster – with its normal tripod (see astrobackyard full review on StarAdventurer).
    If you want to make 60+ sec expo with it, you need to fine tune polar alignment at every step when you set up – because almost impossible to strength them properly not to move under such weight.
    (when you put up the mech, then when you placed the counterweight and all the stuffs, then finally when you found your target)

    Im not sure if my stuff is not faulty in some way – at least the fine tune knobs, but i needed to fine tune the alignment in every 5 shots. Which is of course exhausting.

    What can you expect without guiding ? – my APO (72/420) + EOS 800D + 0.85 reductor with fine tuning aligment are able to shot around 90sec. At that rate, 40% of the shots will be junk as you will see guiding errors (star trail) – just a little but still errors.

    If you lucky enough to accept such a waste of time, you can shoot marvelous things 🙂
    If not, try to make 45-60sec expo with higher ISO. (Im using 800 usually – Bortle 5-6 just outside of Budapest) – but when i need to go to 45sec expo, i usually go up for 1600.

    Orion with 12x45sec ISO800 – Skywatcher StarAdventurer pro + ED72 >
    (Yes i know it still not completely out of the guiding errors, but still, it is a lovely one for me.)
    For comparing :
    Same Orion nebula, but with my good-old Tamron 70-300 tele at 248mm, stacking with a bunch of (22) 120sec expo pictures.
    (Please do not comment my post-processing errors – i know… :D)

    So, Weight is the most crucial thing for these mechs!

    Anyway, my experince is that on the: around 60sec with a normal telescope or 120sec with tele you should be fine 🙂

    Im really recommend on that because it is truly an easy-to-use equipment and you will get much fun with it 🙂

    Clear skies!

  13. What about the Benro Polaris currently on kickstarter? No need to polar align, goto mount, 7kg load, 9 arc second tracking + lots of timelapse options. Too good to be true?

  14. I don’t trust anything that needs a phone app. A few years down the line when the company has folded you are left with an unsupported app and potentially unuable hardware.

  15. Trevor, this was an awesome introduction for me. Very much appreciated. Comments have been helpful as well.

  16. I heard that the GO TO limits the exposure time to a maximum of 30 seconds, has anyone had any experience with a GO TO? I’m looking for a star tracker for deep sky photography but I still have doubts.

  17. Just a question on a couple low end mounts. Have you ever had the chance to review the Explore Scientific iEXOS100-ET PMC-Eight Equatorial Tracker System or the larger Explore Scientific EXOS2-GT with PMC-Eight Mount?

  18. I could say I’m a victim of Covid related Syndrome, iow, Live today for you never know if Covid or something else will kill you tomorrow.

    If found this review amazing and succinct. I have bookmarked it.
    I’m new to astrophotography, though astronomy has fascinated me for a few decades.
    My biggest frustration is gadgets, methods, paralysis of analysis.

    Your review shed some light and I am ready to dive into this well of excitement.
    I cant wait to see my first properly processed image someday.


  19. Hi, some strange lights in the clouds have been seen over where I live, I have recorded them, I have never seen the beam of light where it originates from. Could a sky tracker accomplish this? Can I send you some of my videos to know your opinion?

  20. I have a Canon EOS R5 and a Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens. I would like to try shooting at max focal length, but it seems these mounts will accommodate 500mm max. I have thus far only done some milky way landscapes with a wide angle lens and no tracker. I was surprised to see max useful focal length in the charts – it’s the first time I’ve run across that. I understand the weight limitations, but what limits the focal length? Maybe the tracker isn’t accurate or steady enough to get clear images with the longer focal lengths?