I got a cheap refractor as a present - my intro to astronomy. I think it’s not great, but I’m having plenty of fun looking at the moon and planets, and who knows, maybe some other objects soon.

The thing that limits me the most, I think, is the tripod that came with it. It is super flimsy, I can hardly point it at the right thing, even focusing the telescope moves the alignment. It’s also too short, so I’m hunching down all the time.

I’m therefore wondering, might it make sense to upgrade just the mount for now? If I end up taking it up as a hobby, I can maybe upgrade the telescope, and if not, it’s less money than buying a “proper” set. Just a simple alt-az probably, but dedicated to astronomy. The refractor is super light so doesn’t need anything fancy.

Due to life situation, I’m not really in a position to join a club and explore this way, I can do my astronomy when I have 15 minutes to spare (and a clear sky!).

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    $\begingroup$ To provide a better answer to your question it would be useful to know which telescope model you own. Can you edit your question to include that information. $\endgroup$ Jan 6, 2021 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ Surveyor's tripods are quite sturdy, and not all that expensive. You'll have to build a mounting adapter. Oddly enough, surveying equipment are a thing. There may be one in your town. $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2021 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, many cheap mounts have a specific, proprietary connection to the telescope tube rather than something like rings, standard tripod threaded attachment or dovetail, so replacing them is difficult or impossible.

If you are fortunate enough that your inexpensive scope has a standard 1/4" threaded attachment, you could replace the mount with an inexpensive camera tripod with probably better results.


I purchased a used 1980 8" Celestron telescope that came with a wooden tripod that was both clumsy and heavy.

I purchased a surveyor's tripod from Amazon. The mount did not fit, but a trip to Lowes with both the telescope and the new tripod fixed that. They were able to put together several fittings and get it to work.

I didn't try a camera tripod because the weight of my telescope exceeded that of a camera. The surveyor's tripod was more expensive, but seems very sturdy and does not shift when I move the telescope.

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    $\begingroup$ @Bennet If you get a tripod and find it has a hook at the bottom, that is to hang a (heavy) weight from for additional stability. $\endgroup$ Jan 6, 2021 at 19:12

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