When trying to do astrophotography, an equatorial tracking mount is a minimum. However, a Go-To equatorial tracking mount is definitely the recommended place to be.
There are many mounts out there to choose from, and not are all made equally. So how about the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro?
I’ve now been using this mount since late October 2019 and since then I’ve got a good feeling for this telescope mount. Here, I’m going to review the EQ6-R Pro. From the user experience, to the specifications, things I disliked and a nice neat summary. I primarily shoot nebulae with this, with the odd galaxy. But it’s capable of more than just those.
So with that said, let’s begin!
Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro Review
The Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro is a computerized, equatorial tracking mount. This means that it has a large database in it, you tell it where you want to look, and it’ll take you there. Then it continues to track that object and compensate for the rotation of the Earth. This is a minimum for the long exposures we take when taking photos of things deep in space.
When you look at exposures of any notable length of the sky you’ll quickly find you get star trails. This is because a static tripod shooting can’t rotate with the sky as it passes overhead. Go out and try it on your next clear night, get a 50mm lens and shoot for 30 seconds or so. You’ll probably get trails.
So in order to take photos that are 2, 3, 5 10 minutes or more at telescopic focal lengths that routinely are about 600-800mm. We must track the sky. This is where an equatorial mount like the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro comes in.
It features belt driven gears which eliminates most – if not all – tracking errors due to gear backlash. This makes for super smooth object tracking, which can further be improved by Permanent Periodic Error Correction (PPEC), or Auto-Guiding. Most of us will use auto-guiding.
The EQ6-R Pro features all the creature comforts you’ll expect. As already alluded to: it has an ST-4 Input for auto-guiding. A necessity on this mount for long exposures. A Snap control cable for controlling a DSLR camera, Handset input, USB input and of course, power.
It’s all featured on the large side panel that can be seen. I really enjoy the fact that they put the power switch off on its own. I feel that there is no way you’ll accidentally hit it and ruin your session, or park position.
- 20kg / 44lbs payload capacity
- Dual Vixen/Losmandy Puck
- Built In Illuminated Polar Scope
- Rear Third Leg For Low Latitude Operation
- Solar, Lunar and Sidereal (1x, 0.75x, 0.5x, 0.25x) Tracking Speeds
- SynScan Handset Controller With More Targets Than You Could Know What To Do With
- Permanent Periodic Error Correction
- Belt Driven
I think Sky-Watcher really has been generous with the features they’ve crammed into this mount. The EQ6-R Pro also has solid build quality and features a really industrial aesthetic to it I think. Exposed bolts and plates everywhere and a large body gives this mount some presence.
Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro Payload Capacity
As mentioned above, the EQ6-R Pro can hold 20kg or 44lbs. This can carry an 11″ RASA on it (won’t be able to carry much else, but that’s still impressive). I’ve had a Sky-Watcher Skymax 180 Maksutov on the mount and it didn’t feel like it was struggling.
I say for most use cases, this mount has you covered. I’d say medium sized refractors and large Newtonians will be suitable with this mount. For most use cases though, it’s more than enough. A 10″ Newtonian may begin to push the capacity of this mount, or very large SCT telescopes such as 14″ Edge HDs which weigh a lot. For that you may want to look at something like the iOptron CEM70 Mount that I reviewed.
Dual Saddle Puck
No more need to get dovetail adapters with the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro as it features a dual saddle puck as standard. So whether your telescope uses Vixen or Losmandy style dovetail bars, it’ll fit right in on this mount.
Another bonus about the style of puck they’ve used is – as you may have seen – it clamps down on the tail, rather than bolts against it. On cheaper mounts the securing bolt presses directly on the dovetail. This causes dents, mars, or other damage to the dovetail. With the EQ6-R Pro however, you have no such issues.
The clamping side can feel a bit loose and jostles around a bit. But by the time you’ve used the two rather substantial knobs to tighten the puck, there is no flex or movement. It feels very safe and secure and gives you confidence that your instrument isn’t going to be falling off.
One remarkable thing I noticed about this telescope mount – and that others seem to agree with – is how quiet this thing is when it slews. It has a high pitched whine rather than just being generally noisy. Even comparing it to my belt modified Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro, the EQ6-R Pro is leagues quieter. If you image from a residential garden (which is most of us I suspect), then it really does make you less worrisome about disturbing the neighbours.
If you want an example of the sound, you can view the video linked at the end of the article.
The Latitude Adjustment Bolt
One other great thing to point out is how the latitude adjustment bolt helps compensate for the rear swept leg and to avoid the polar scope cap. They added a spring and an allen key. You can set up the adjustment bolt and then make your adjustment. When you then hit a block, you just release the spring tension, reload the allen key, and go again.
A fantastic and simplistic result to this issue and really makes it that much easier to adjust and do your Polar Alignment.
The Power Port
This is something I really enjoy on this mount. The power port is an Aviation 2-pin DC style plug that features a screw on collar. Why is this important? The standard Male/Female connection on my HEQ5 has worn with age and is now loose. This means it can loose power during slewing. A major headache.
The very fact that this power port screws in means that you’re not going to have to worry about it. Sure, it means if you step on the lead accidentally then it won’t pull out safely. But hopefully that isn’t an issue you’ll be encountering.
It Isn’t Perfect Though
Whilst I’m talking about power, I want to draw your attention to a very important issue:
This mount demands a good power supply.
If you can’t feed this mount the amperage and the voltage it demands, then you’ll have slewing errors, you’ll have tracking errors, and you’ll be in for a bad time. When I first got this mount and used the cigarette lighter style plug with a jump pack (yes, I know), I encountered problems. Listen to this video.
All this caused by a sub-par power supply! So my warning to you is if you’re looking to buy one: get a good power supply. It doesn’t have to be some top of the line uninterruptible power supply. Just a good quality one.
I ultimately settled on a power supply from First Light Optics. The Lynx Astro 12v power supply, and an adapter cable. I found it to work absolutely fine, and delivers a very good power supply even in cold temperatures.
An integrated illuminated polar alignment scope isn’t a novelty. Especially at this price point. It’s an expectation. The EQ6-R Pro features one of the newer scopes that is designed to accommodate for precession. It has multiple rings so you can compensate for the position of the pole whether you’re aligning tonight, or in 10 years time.
I personally don’t use the built-in Polarscope. Instead, I use the QHYCCD Polemaster. There are adaptors readily available and it’s as simple as bolting it on with a couple of grub screws and then fitting the Polemaster itself. Though there’ll be adapters also for the alternative iPolar.
The RA Axis
One of the drawbacks I’ve found with this mount though is that the RA axis can move if you push against it, even slightly. What I mean is that I carry my mount and telescope up set up. Yet when I carry it out with the fantastic carry handle, my body sometimes pushes against the RA and it shifts.
This doesn’t cause issues when the clutch is actually tightened up and tracking. It’s just bothersome when carrying it out. If you rely on your home position and haven’t put extra markers on it to denote your home position, this could cause you to lose your equatorial home position. Though if you platesolve and use Go-To++ then this won’t be as bad an issue.
It just also feels… off.
Of course the actual method is to set the tripod out, and then place the mount on. To this extent they added a carry handle. As mentioned above, this is a fantastic addition and really makes transportation of this mount that much easier. Also, when carrying the mount separately without a telescope on it, I’ve not noticed the RA shift occurring.
Azimuth Adjustment Bolts
One of my other pet peeves about this mount: the Azimuth adjustment bolts.
They’re coarse thick threads. Whilst the rear latitude bolt is well thought out, I’ve found the azimuth adjustment bolts can be a bit troublesome.
When I’m doing my polar alignment with my Polemaster, I have found that when trying to do fine adjustment right at the last moment difficult. Coarse threads aren’t ideal for fine movement, that’s the general gist of it. Some people have suggested about getting it re-tapped and finer threads added in, but I wouldn’t think of doing that.
Ultimately I just decided to live with it, anticipate it and deal with it.
All in all, the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro is a bit of an investment (at the time of this video, it’s £1399). However, it’s exactly that: an investment.
The mount brings a lot to the table: weight, sturdiness, carry capacity, features and usability. This mount is incredibly easy to use. If you’re upgrading, from say a HEQ5 Pro, or it’s your first purchase – the EQ6-R Pro will do you well.
I personally think this mount punches well above its price-tag and I feel comfortable recommending this mount to anyone watching. Whilst I haven’t found any detrimental faults with this mount, just the odd items as mentioned. I think they’re relatively minor for all the other features the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro offers.
Solid guiding and tracking performance, generous payload and quiet slewing. All coming together to form a telescope mount that you’ll have for many
years to come.