Merlin SynScan GOTO Mount

Sometimes having too much gear can paralyse you, by bogging you down with decisions.

An example of this was with my telescopes. My little 4.5″ Orion Starblast is easy to handle, can be just plonked on a table and used casually, and is a delight. My 8″ Skyliner was a bit of a weight to move, and less likely to be rolled out for half an hour’s skywatching. More recently, the best place to set it up (in terms of carrying it, and having a clear area around it) has become lit by neighbouring lights.

So I’d use the Starblast, no? Well, no, because when I’d think to do something, I would feel I should use the big (and better) scope. Which then resulted in a sigh and a “do I really want to get that out?”, and – inevitably – the impulse would pass, and I would use neither.

My 8″ has recently gone to a very good home, where it will be more appreciated, so I can now concentrate on using the 4.5″. This has distinct advantages – I use it on my garden table, which is better shaded from the surrounding light (but still has a good area of visible sky), and it can be carried with one hand, so if I want to throw it in the car and go somewhere else, it is easy.

20224-Skywatcher-merlin-synscan-az-goto-mountOf course, this can only lead to one thing. Yep, buying more kit – a table-top go-to mount, with SynScan controller.

These little mounts aren’t perfect. Being an alt-azimuth mount, rather than equatorial, they are great for observation, but less so for photography. This is because although they will keep an object centred nicely, the field of view will slowly rotate around the centre (an equatorial mount will keep the view unchanged). However, shots of up to 30 seconds are generally ok, and there are other ways around this limitation.

However, because of this limitation, they sometimes pop up on eBay cheaper than they should be, due to someone making a rash purchase, then regretting it. Because of this, I picked up the mount, including the SynScan handset (with star database) for less than the SynScan alone is selling as an upgrade kit.

An excellent feature is that the “foot” can unscrew, allowing the mount to be fixed to a normal tripod (which I already have). So two for the price of one! But the really good thing is that the mount is lighter than the dobsonian mount the scope originally came on – made from wood, the thing was heavier than the tube itself. So the whole thing is still very portable.

One Comment

  1. chris
    October 12, 2016

    Just thought I should add, in case anyone sees this and heads to eBay. The Merlin is sold in two forms, as a tracking mount (i.e. you centre it on an object manually, and then it keeps things centred) and as GoTo mount (which does all that, but also will find objects out of its database for you). Mine is the GoTo version

    The tracking mount can be upgraded by replacing its handset with the SynScan handset. But that works out an expensive way to purchase the kit.

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