Looking for the best star trackers for astrophotography on the market? We've done the research to help you find the perfect star trackers to suit your needs.
Astrophotography is not just a hobby but a dedicated passion for a lot of people who like to peek beyond the limits of our own eyes and capture the rare beauty of our universe. It is not an easy job as well, because it takes not only substantial knowledge to know the galaxies you will be capturing but also fancy equipment.
As we know, Earth has a steady rotational movement, but the sky remains stagnant, so it is easy to lose a star into the abyss before being able to capture its magnificence. Every problem has its own solution, and star trackers are the little equatorial mounts engineered to aid in the process of capturing the world beyond the skies from this moving mass in the endless space.
Most of you might be familiar with star trackers, but for those of you who do not understand its features and mechanism, we have created a buying guide explaining all of its perks and quirks.
To make your decision-making process slightly easier, we have reviewed some of the best star trackers for astrophotography available in 2020.
Let’s get started!
Best Star Trackers Based on User Reviews
Let's take a look at the top products on the market, based on the average rating by real customers just like you.
Best Star Trackers: A Complete Review
If you've made it this far into the reviews then you must be serious about your buying choice.
Now that we've covered the quick list of products, let's break down each of them to see why they have been chosen.
In this section we'll cover the pro's and con's of each and give you some ideas of who each product is most suitable for.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Astro Pack contains a mount, declination bracket, and polar scope illuminator. The mount has a nightscape tracking platform that is portable. This portable platform helps you capture and view galaxies and far off stars.
Star tracking with Star-Watcher Star Adventurer Astro Pack helps you to track stars without star trails. The mount consists of a built-in illuminated polar finderscope that ensures the perfect alignment to view the distant stars with ease and clarity.
The gears of the mount are made up of brass and aluminum that enables easy tracking and capturing of nightscapes and eclipses. It contains a built-in AA battery that works for 72 hours. The mount also has a 5v mini USB Input, which allows you to charge it when required with a mobile phone charger or others.
The mount is light and portable. You can carry it with you anywhere you go in your camera backpack. It is durable and can support heavy DSLR cameras too. Its supportive size goes with your existing tripod stands too. Its stable equatorial base allows you to set mount at your exact desired angle.
Now it is easy to view and capture the celestial objects. All you have to do is to fix Vixen Optics 35505 Polarie star tracker on your camera phone or DSLR camera. This star tracker can be fixed on a standard camera tripod and can bear cameras having weight up to 7lbs.
It includes an internal compass that sets mount towards the north. The mount also uses polar scope for alignment. After alignment, it tracks stars efficiently and prevents star trailing. Hence this mount produces sharp images that are clear to view.
It has an optional polar axis scope to polarize. It has a polar sight hole about an 8.9 degree field of view. Its design is very compact and attractive. It has a universal design and even works in severe weather conditions.
Its constellation photography is more effective than other mounts. The gear of this star tracker is made up of aluminum, which ensures stability in the setting. It has two AA batteries that can be charged when required.
Move Shoot Move is two in one device that helps in both star tracking and time-lapse. It is the newest button version and is the latest than any of its type. Set up is very simple and ready to use. Once you set up this amazing Move Shoot Move, it is ready to use and will help you in amazing star tracking and time-lapse.
It is very lightweight, and you can take it anywhere you want. The design is compact and is perfect for professional photographers. You can use your camera with it or can also plug an intervalometer to experience efficient and perfect customization.
You can mount it horizontally or alongside according to your requirement. The panoramas are not possible in this new version. So now explore the world of stars with this amazing latest mount on the go. It can support all cameras and is affordable in price. It has long battery timing and works for 24 hours.
Omegon Star Tracker Mini Track is an easy set-up mount and is easy to use. This simple mechanical track can work for 60 minutes and take thousands of photos and time-lapse. A unique spring system ensures precise and accurate tracking and capturing, minimizing the star trails.
Its supportive designs ensure smooth tracking. The design is compact, which makes it portable too. The mount tracker can be used with ordinary camera tripod stands. The Polaris of the mount is aligned with the polar finder to maximize the efficiency of the star tracking.
A wide angled lens in the company of omegon star tracker ensures the perfect astronomy photography. It works via clockwork and hence frees you from the charging headache. It can’t bear heavyweight cameras. It does not only support memory photographs but also helps you to study the celestial objects. The tracker also cares about your budget and is affordable.
This star tracker by omegon is a mechanical tracker. It is simple to wind up. It does not use the battery and hence no need to charge this tracker. It can work for sixty minutes and offers you a chance to capture as many photos and time-lapse as you can.
Its unique design introduces a spring system in it and hence allows users to do the precise and accurate tracking of stars and other celestial objects. It has a compact size and is portable. You can fit it in your backpack and take it with you anywhere.
The mount tracker is compatible with usual camera tripods too. Polaris is set with the ultimate care to ensure accurate tracking. It supports the photography of the night sky from anywhere all over the world. It is suitable for both beginners and professionals.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini has a motorized portable tracking platform that helps you to capture the accurate details of stars and celestial objects. So now, grab the product and capture incredible details of eclipses and the Milky Way.
It has an important feature of smart Wi-Fi, which allows you to connect it with smartphones. It uses the FREE SynScan application, which promotes a better connection with a smartphone. The mount is compatible with any camera tripod stand.
The product has an efficient equatorial base that promotes its polar alignment at the desired and perfect alignment. It also has a polar scope with an illuminator that allows its alignment with Polaris. The gears of this sky watcher tracker contain brass and aluminum, which allows smooth and accurate night tracking.
The tracker has a compact design and is portable. It has a built-in AA battery that can be recharged when required.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini consists of a portable nightscape tracking platform that helps to capture Milky Way and other celestial objects. It consists of in-built Wi-Fi, which promotes its suitable connection with the smartphone using the SynScan application.
The application is both android and iOS supported. The product can be mounted on any ball head adapter. The mount has gear made up of brass and aluminum, which supports clear and easy nightscape and eclipse photography.
It has a built-in AA battery compartment that can work for 24 hours continuously. The mount also has USB input through which you can change the mount as per requirement. Its compact size makes it portable. The design is supportive and durable.
This mount can bear a load of almost all DSLR and mirrorless cameras. The application allows you to select the mode of photography you want to do.
This star tracker has a V-style dove plate that does not shake and provides you with the opportunity to view the objects clearly. It has micro-adjustment knobs that have smooth rotation, and you can set the device by slightly rotating the knob.
After adjustment of the device according to your requirement, you can lock the adjustment to maintain it for stable use. Its internal gearing makes alignment of the latitude base with the north celestial pole easy. The device contains the mounting thread, which supports the stable mounting and demounting of the block.
The thread can be used to mount it on nearly all tripod stands. It also consists of a dovetail that adds to its perks. The latitude markings on the base assist you in setting it up. The device is portable and durable.
iOptron SkyTracker Pro Camera Mount is very compact and is small enough to fit in your palm. It can bear a load of 6.6 lbs, which is relatively less than other mounts. It has good tracking speed and tracks celestial objects without trailing.
It uses a 5V battery that can charge up to 80%. The mount has black color and comes in a padded bag. The mount has good precision. The mount has a new feature with eight adjustable brightness levels. Connecting it with a company application, you can easily manage to do the polar alignment.
It has four tracking rates, i.e., 1X for sidereal, 1/2X for sky and landscape, solar and lunar. All the features of the mount are supported in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The reframing of images has become a lot easier with the help of quick slew mode.
This mount can fit on a standard tripod stand. It is very suitable for astrophotography.
SILKECH-630 Astro Tracker Tripod Head serves your multi-purposes, i.e., for celestial objects, lunar and time-lapse photography. The mount has a compact size and is perfect to fit in your backpack. It can hold weight up to 11 lbs.
It also has an LCD display. It consists of 4 AA sized batteries that work for a long period of time. It consists of an optional smh-250 micro-adjustment that helps in stable and accurate polar alignment. The mount can’t bear much load comparatively but is fit according to its efficiency.
The mount has a USB port as a charging point. It can fit almost all tripods. The supporting knobs help you to fix the alignment according to your requirement. It performs perfectly for wide angle astrophotography.
Best Star Trackers for Astrophotography - Buying Guide
There isn’t a device in this world that hasn’t been surrounded by ambiguity and is divided into classes based upon its features and the quality of service it offers. The same goes for star trackers, as there are many aspects to this little device that can create the most striking difference in the resulting quality of the images produced by the camera.
The best star trackers for astrophotography must include these striking features, or they shall not be included in the best of the best this field has to offer. We have spent hours at end searching for these compelling features that stand up your game of astrophotography or photography in general by the simple addition of a star tracker or an equatorial mount.
Polar Alignment Procedure
The main objective of using a star finder is to align the movement of the camera to Earth’s rotational axis. By doing this, photographers avoid taking blurred images as the exposure time is increased, allowing the camera lens to capture as many light rays as possible for a high definition image.
Polar alignment is carried by adjusting the altitude and azimuth of the base so that the axis of the mount and the celestial axis are aligned. The central axis of Earth directly passes through the north pole, so it is a bit easier in the northern hemisphere as the alignment can be carried out by simply aligning the scope to the north star Polaris.
However, in the southern hemisphere, the procedure gets a little complicated for amateur astrophotographers’ hence the addition of the guiding system.
Apart from the guiding system, the problem of polar alignment in the southern hemisphere can be solved by the polar scope method. A polar scope consists of a special reticle connected to a computer device that can roughly locate some northern stars and thus align the north pole of the mount to the celestial pole.
Automated Guiding System
Guiding systems have become a common norm in this particular field as the medieval methods of locating and balancing in accordance with the north star Polaris have lost their credibility. There are two ways the star trackers and the equatorial mounts work in order to guide the camera through the shackles of multiple skies and let it capture the majestic universe above and beyond.
A tracking system in the star trackers uses the right ascension and declination motor to align the axis of the mount to the celestial axis. On the contrary, a guiding system is completely automated as it locks a star in the sky as a guiding star and signals the mount according to the movement of its guiding star, which in the case of the northern hemisphere is the Polaris.
The accuracy of the guiding system is way higher than the tracking method, but the cost-effectiveness counters the advantages of the guiding system altogether.
The basic principles of photography involve the ability of the device to capture as many light rays as possible from the object to create a detailed and perfect image. Now, as the object is still, however, the device is continuously moving in relevance to the object due to the Earth’s continuous rotation.
Therefore, it is nearly impossible to capture a still and detailed image unless the device moves in that very same direction for a few moments as well. The star trackers are used to rotate the device according to the Earth’s rotational axis for a few moments to increase the exposure time.
This increased exposure time allows the camera to capture still shots of the stars, nebulae, and galaxies way beyond our reach and imagination. The stars of the night sky trail in about 30 or 15 seconds depending upon the focal length of your device.
So, any star tracker that can enhance the exposure time longer than 100 seconds is highly appreciated as it provides enough time to focus and capture a good image. However, the best-reviewed star trackers that also befall in the category of affordable can increase the exposure time to 180 seconds.
But three minutes is a long time, and anything beyond sixty seconds of exposure time will be able to enhance the quality of the captured image substantially.
The focal length is one of the most important aspects of a camera destined to capture stars and faraway galaxies. In scientific terms, the focal length is the distance between the center of the lens and the focal point.
As the focal length increases, so does the camera’s ability to converge light rays. For faraway objects, a larger focal length is required; however, to capture images close to you, a small focal length works just fine. So, for astrophotography, it is quite evident that a focal length larger than 200mm is required.
The reason this aspect is mentioned in a blog about star trackers is that as the focal length increases, so does the trail speed of stars. There is a 500 rule in astronomy that helps you calculate the trail speed of the stars according to the focal length of your device.
For example, if the focal length of your device is 25mm, then 500/25=20, so the stars will trail away in about 20 seconds, and if your shutter speed is slow, the chances are you will only capture blurred images.
This is where the star trackers come into play as they slowly move your device along the horizon according to the rotation of the Earth to keep up with the star trail. But the star trackers can only increase the exposure time to a certain degree, so it is best to adopt a camera that offers focal length in the limits of 300-500mm for best results at moderate shutter speed.
Most astrophotographers are light packers as the more passionate ones tend to travel great distances to capture the perfect shot of their favorite nebulae or star. In this sense, it is vital that the accompanying devices must be portable, especially the star trackers, as most companies tend to overdo their devices turning them into equatorial mounts for telescopes.
So, if you want an easily portable star tracker, you need to look out for the size and weight of the device so they may not burden you during traveling or packing.
The payload capacity describes the amount of weight the mount can carry. A star tracker is a separate device that is supposed to hold onto your digital camera and thus effectively move it in the correct direction to increase the exposure time, and in doing so, it also acts as a mount where a camera can be safely placed.
It is correct to assume that most high-quality cameras come at a very expensive rate, and absolutely no chances can be taken in terms of their safety. It is best to make sure that the star tracker you are so interested in supports the weight of your camera so that the camera is fully secured.
Usually, the payload capacities of various models of star trackers lie between 5 pounds to 15 pounds. It is pretty simple to choose whichever suits your purposes the most in this section; match the weight of your camera to the maximum payload capacity of the star tracker.
Star trackers are compact devices, and so most people do not expect to carry a battery or charging cord with them to be able to work with this device. Especially the light packers who really go by with minimal accessories and still are able to make the most out of a situation.
It is always convenient when an electronic or automated device is battery powered. The type of battery doesn’t always matter, whether it is AA batteries or built-in rechargeable batteries, as long as the power problem can be fixed before hitting the road and without a bunch of loads of cords.
Some new generation star trackers are battery powered, but some of the major models still haven’t gone cordless and keep burdening the living soul out of astrophotographers with extension cords and charging cords.
If your priority is convenience, comfort, and you really want to enjoy your time while choosing the perfect star to capture, we advise you to go cordless and purchase a battery-powered star tracker.
Frequently Asked Questions
Best Star Trackers for Astrophotography – Final Word
There are many factors involved in a simple star tracking device, but the complexity of this little equatorial mount is one of the things that help astrophotographers achieve such great results. It moves along the Earth’s rotational axis, so the sky is practically still for you till you focus and click the perfect shot.
Without the best star trackers for astrophotography, there is a substantial loss of quality of imaging due to less exposure time and constant movement of the Earth. But with just this teeny tiny addition, you can move from an amateur to a professional astrophotographer!
Happy stargazing, people!