Below: BlackGEM telescope designs as they could have been realized according the UTM concept. The BlackGEM telescopes will be built on GEM's instead. Credit: TechnoCentrum Radboud University, Nijmegen, NL / BlackGEM Consortium of collaborating institutes.

What would I consider nice to have on one single mount?

I want a telescope mount that is capable to

  • be truly all-sky. No blind spots at the zenith, polar region or elsewhere
  • track any object above the horizon without meridian flips
  • do equatorial tracking to do astrophotography, wihout field rotation
  • track circumpolar objects endlessly without interruptions (unless cabling is limiting)
  • track all kinds of celestial or ballistic bodies like comets, NEOs, satellites, rockets..
  • do photography without the rotated imaged diffraction spikes that come with alt-az mounts
  • give me free choice of the field of view. I want to choose where to drop the diffraction spikes or the polarization orientation
  • be used anywhere in the world
  • be easily adapted for latitude and alignment. I want to do that in software without mechanical interventions
  • be intrinsically balanced, with no need for large counter masses
  • be stiff, fast damping
  • be equiped with shortest possible cabling and cable guidance systems
  • be centered above the foot of the pier with its centre of gravity to reduce mechanical tensions in pier or foundation
  • be put together in a simple way
  • keep a small footprint. Housing can be small
  • be suited for optical telescopes and radio telescope dishes
  • enable amateurs posessing larger telescopes to do science.

All these properties can be found in this proposed mount. The concept of this universal telescope mount is based on two major parts. Physically it consists of an intrinsically balanced alt-alt-az mount that enables for full sky reach and with the dimensions that enable equatorial tracking. The second part is the motion control part. A universal telescope mount must be equipped with motors, encoders, electronics and software that provide the possibility to perform the equatorial tracking and - if you wish - tracking of objects that don't follow the ecliptic.

Read the FAQ to get a fast idea about how it works. More wishes? Please inform me!

Marc Fokker