iOptron CEM70 Telescope Mount

iOptron CEM70 Advanced Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount

Price:
Starting at $3228

Telescope Mount
iOptron CEM70EC Telescope Mount

     The iOptron CEM70 is an equatorial mount that is very good for both imaging and visual use. Casual observers do not need this degree of accurate tracking, so I would recommend it mainly for long-exposure imaging. I have been using this mount for imaging since late 2022 and can attest to its quality and accuracy. The CEM70 is one of iOptron’s line of center-balanced mounts that are a modification of the typical German Equatorial Mount (GEM) with several advantages. The idea is that by bringing the telescope more toward the center of the mount, it can handle a heavier payload, and it will be easier to balance, resulting in more stability. This improved balance without as much need for counter-balancing puts less strain on the gears resulting in improved accuracy, and less wear-and-tear.

  The iOptron CEM70 has a hefty weight capacity of 70 lbs. without counterweights (that’s what the 70 means!). This makes it suitable for some of even the heaviest imaging setups. Larger refractors in particular can be quite heavy. The quality of the construction is excellent, and the tracking motors and gears are quite accurate and respond very well to industry-standard guiding commands, making it ideal for long-exposure photography. The motors are also very quiet (neighbors will really appreciate this!).

 

     The integrated GPS receiver automatically sets the time, date, and location, making it easy to align the mount and calibrate it with the night sky. The mount comes with iOptron’s software, the Go2Nova® 8407 hand controller, and the iPolar electronic polar scope for simple and accurate polar alignment. Once the mount is roughly polar aligned, precise polar alignment can be achieved in less than 15 minutes using iPolar and the mount’s altitude and azimuth adjustment controls.

Another feature I particularly like is the integrated ports that make pass-through cable management possible. I can certainly attest to the tangle of cables and cords that can result from the several attached accessories of a typical setup. Cable management allows the use of fewer cables, and keeps the cables you do need shorter and closer to the mount. This results in less tangle and less risk of some cable catching on something unexpectedly during mount movement.

The CEM70EC version has enhanced tracking ability but costs about $1000 more. I own the version without the enhanced encoders, so I am not sure the extra expense is worth it unless you have to have the absolute best.

Key Features

  • Center-balanced equatorial mount (CEM) for maximum payload with natural stability
  • Payload of 70 lbs (31.8 kg) with the mount weight of 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
  • Precision altitude and azimuth adjustment
  • iPolarTM electronic polar scope
  • Go2Nova® 8407+ V2 controller with Advanced GOTONOVA® GOTO Technology with built in heater
  • High precision tracking with low periodic error (PE <0.3 arcsec rms)
  • Integrated 32-channel Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Data port and ST-4 autoguiding port
  • Integrated cable management ports
  • Dual Vixen/Losmandy saddle

 Pros

  • Quality construction
  • Heavy duty payload
  • Excellent tracking
  • Easy to use
  • Built-in polar alignment scope with software

Cons

  • Price is high for beginners
  • Requires separate heavy-duty tripod sold separately
  • CEM 70 version is a bit heavy, impacting portability

Conclusion

Overall, the iOptron CEM70 is an excellent equatorial mount that offers exceptional stability, accuracy, and versatility, making it an excellent choice for serious astronomers and astrophotographers. While it may be a bit expensive, its advanced features and high-performance capabilities make it a worthwhile investment for anyone looking to take their astronomy hobby to the next level. For a less expensive quality mount, consider the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R.

Verdict: 5/5 Stars. I have no real criticisms

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