User: Chris Howey, United Kingdom

“I discovered Track The Stars and their Panther mount 3 years ago.
I was looking for an astrophotography mount that would be the least hassle possible to set up and operate.

15 years on since last doing any Astronomy, the problems I had polar aligning were still a clear memory. I was intrigued by the TTS Panther and after exchanging a number of e-mails with the man behind TTS, Niels Haagh, I decided I would invest in one of his Panther mounts along with the matching TTS rOTAtor which enables long-exposure astrophotography.

Now 3 years on, I can’t imagine moving back to an equatorial mount. I mainly image from home but have no room for a permanent set up. The Panther allows me to set up on my garden patio in 5 minutes. The mount amazingly requires no levelling and no polar alignment. I just place the sturdy pier in place, lift on the mount head, add the counterweights and my scope.  I then plug in the handpad and the necessary cables and I am ready to do a simple 2 star alignment. The TTS Panther handpad is just a joy to use and speeding through the menus, the alignment is soon done. GOTO accuracy is very good indeed and can be further refined though I have never found the need for this.

For guiding I use PHD2 and basically use default settings. Perhaps I could tweak these but I have always been happy with the guiding. I find the only subs I throw away are ones with airplane trails etc, not ones due to any guiding or tracking issues. I should point out here that I image at around 500mm focal length, but I see no reason for the tracking and guiding to not work well at much longer focal lengths.

TTS-160 Panther mount with telescope rOTAtor

The Rosette Nebula (NGC2237), taken by Chris Howey with his TTS-160 Panther Telescope Mount with a rOTAtor attached
Rosette Nebula in Hubble Palette

Borg 125SD f/3.9, CentralDS Canon 60D, 7.7 hours
by: Chris Howey

Jellyfish Nebula in Bi-Colour (SII. Ha)

Borg 125SD f/3.9, CentralDS Canon 60D, 5 hours
by: Chris Howey

Eastern Veil in Hubble Palette

Borg 125SD f/3.9, ZWO ASI1600MM cool, 4.5 hours
by: Chris Howey

The hand pad has NGC, IC, Messier etc along with multiple star coordinates.
Once on target and the guiding calibration is complete, you are ready to begin imaging.

Another great bonus with this mount is that you can image right through the Meridian (there is no Meridian Flip with an Alt Az mount). Too good to be true? One thing you do need to understand is the rOTAtor and how to image with it. Firstly it is very accurate but the field rotation speed varies depending on which part of the sky you are imaging. This means you will get much longer to image before having to rewind the rOTAtor when you are imaging in the East or West than imaging in the North or South. Likewise the higher the target is the faster the field rotation. In other words imaging in the South or North may give you an hour before rewind but you may have well over two hours in the West or East. Rewinding the rOTAtor is as simple as a couple of clicks on the handpad. Just pause the guiding, rewind the rOTAtor and re-frame the target by rotating the imaging camera approximately the same amount as the rOTAtor re-wound. It’s really not complicated at all and it very quickly became second nature.

If you are imaging a smaller target than the full frame, then just don’t bother re-framing as it isn’t necessary (your stacking software takes care of aligning the different sets of images).

I should add that the quality of materials and construction is first class – this is certainly no mass production product. Everything packs away into a couple of supplied transport bags.

Check out the TTS website for nice videos of the mount being set up.
Support from TTS is excellent, so no worries there.

Also worth saying that as a visual mount, being an Alt Az the eyepiece is never at some crazy uncomfortable angle.
I am no expert at image processing but feel free to have a look at my website. All the images were made using my TTS Panther”

Chris

Chris Howey, Gloucester, United Kingdom

Website: Astrobin