A Short Review of the Skywatcher EQ6 SKyscan Pro Mounting

Ian King, 22 June, 2006

Skywatcher EQ6 Skyscan Pro – Short Review June 2006

I have sold a good number of both the EQ6 and HEQ5 Skyscan Pro mounts.

They are proving to be very popular choices for astro imaging and for good reason.

I tested the EQ6 Skyscan Pro version to assess it’s performance as an imaging platform. I was left very impressed with the performance in real terms, notwithstanding the amazingly low cost for such a decent performing mount.

The EQ6 is supplied in a complete package which includes a heavy duty tripod, illuminated and accurate pole finder scope, 2 x 5kg counterweights, The Skyscan goto controller, a PC connection cable and a rechargeable power supply.

The instructions that are supplied with the mount are pretty straight forward.

Assembly of the mount is easy and takes about 10 minutes.

Initially after first opening the box and assembling the mount it is necessary to calibrate the pole finder scope. This I did on a distant TV arial and the process took me an additional 15 minutes to fine tune. All this can be done in the daytime.

Polar alignment – sufficiently good for astro imaging was a simple matter. The Pole Finder scope is accurate and by following the instructions in the manual I got a good polar alignment in approx 5 minutes.

The next step was to perform a 3 star alignment. I placed a William Optics FLT 110 APO Refractor on to the mount together with a 70mm F10 guidescope.

The 3 star alignment took a few minutes and subsequent goto operations were accurate enough to place targets straight onto the CCD of my SXV-H9.

After focusing the CCD and aquiring a guide star I was keen to see how well the autoguider would calibrate.

In fact it calibrated perfectly first time and I immediately set the mount to begin autoguiding.

Guide errors were all under half a pixel and averaged at around .2 of a pixel.

With a guide scope sampling rate of approx 3 arc seconds/pixel this was pretty outstanding performance and more than enough to give perfect round star images through the FLT 110/SXV-H9 sampling at 1.86 arc seconds/pixel.

The EQ6 also maintained this level of performance over a long imaging session.

An image can be seen below – M81 through the FLT 110 comprising 6 x 5 minutes.

The HEQ5 gives identical performance but being a smaller mount just has a lower payload capacity.

Summary

The EQ6 and HEQ5 Skyscan mounts stand out because they offer seriously good tracking and goto performance at a very low price. They are certainly good enough for long exposure astrophotography and CCD Imaging.

We were so impressed that both myself and Nik Szymanek have shipped EQ6 Skyscans out to La Palma to be left there permanently for our annual imaging pilgramage.