Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Takahashi TG-SP II

This is a very interesting mount indeed.

As you can see from the above picture, it's about as small as a German Equatorial Mount (GEM) can be. Actually, you will need to provide a wedge in order to make it work. Typical GEM has built-in lattitude and azimuth adjustment for polar alignment, but the TG-SP II has none and it relies on your camera tripod or a wedge to archieve polar alignment.

From the above picture, you can also see that the plate for the attachment of the counter weight shaft is optional, that means if you only want to use it with a small camera with a small lens, you can actually use it wihout a counter weight. In this configuration, it's about perfect for overseas star field shots.

It's motorized only in RA axis for tracking, DEC adjustment can be made manually with a very smooth slow motion knob of typical Takahashi quality. Since this mount is mainly for long power purpose, DEC adjustment might not need required at all, I mean you're going to limit yourself on wide field unguided shots of under 200mm, or better yet, around 100mm.

More accurate polar alignment is hard to do, but a Manfrotto/Bogen 410 Junior Geared Head is going to help. TG-SP II has an optional polar alignment scope, but I found it hard to use and not accurate indeed, so I didn't buy it.

The main purpose of my TG-SP II is to allow me to take wide field shots, and at the same time, allow me to do solar/lunar/planet imaging with my Philips ToUCam Pro as well as my DMK 31AF03 firewire camera.

It has enough capacity to take a Celestron C5 for planet/lunar imaging, and I suspect even a slightly larger model, like a C6 will do. For solar imaging, I mainly use a PST or my Borg 45ED II with Coronado SM40/BF10 which are both very light weight.

With my current lifestyle and my collections of scopes, this mount is the best I can get.

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