The Twilight I is a light-to-medium-duty alt-azimuth mount and tripod designed to quickly and easily accept small to medium sized refractors, such as the ES AR102 or Carbon Fiber 102mm, and of course, the 80mm. Light weight, fast Newtonians will also match up nicely with the Explore Twilight I mount. As long as your telescope does not exceed 18 pounds, you are good to go. The Twilight I alt-azimuth mount head is made of powder-coated aluminum and there are worm gears on both axes. The adjustable angle head can be tilted forward or back at a 45° angle, or you can point it straight up for viewing at the zenith. Slow motion control cables are attached on the vertical and horizontal axes, and are easy to turn during the night, even with gloves on, due to the over-sized knurled knobs that are attached to the end of each cable. A small wrench is included with this package, and is stored in the fork arm and held in place with a magnet. If you need to make quick adjustments to your mount, it is a snap to access the wrench and then store it safely away when done. It is a small thing, but an adjustment wrench is one less tool you will need to remember to bring with you on observing sessions! The chrome-plated steel tripod that comes standard with the Twilight I mount has adjustable legs and a wide foot print of 42 inches, which makes the tripod more stable. A spreader bar locks against the inside of the legs to secure the tripod even further, and keep vibrations to a minimum.
Finally after about a year I got a good, GREAT first light report for this extremely easy to setup and operate alt/az mount!
Two hundred bones may seem like a bit to spend on this thing but I'm glad I finally did. Worth every penny for what it is and what it does. Very smooth movement (wish I was this smooth, lol) and the slo-mo controls are a joy to use. The real kicker is that ES made this unit capable of various adjustments. The head can be adjusted for terrestrial or sky viewing. It can also be adjusted so that the Az slo-mo knob is on either side of the head at various points and the Alt knob can also be adjusted at various levels. I like options and this mount gives them to you. I've had a 120mm refractor, an ES 150mm reflector and a C6 on this thing without issue. I put my 11.5 lb. C8 on it for a couple weeks and the Az part of the mount started to scrape a bit. ES is replacing the part for me under warranty and their customer service is top notch. Is it the result of the 11 lb. C8 or was it a defective part to begin with? I don't know. It's rated at no more than 18 lb. load on the ES website page for it so an 11.5 lb. short tube SCT would be fine I should think. Nevertheless, it's a good unit from a good company with good customer service.
I am very satisfied with this mount. It works very well with my 127mm Maksutov. I believe it would be a good match to a short focal ratio refracting telescope maybe up to a 100mm f7. It's usable with my 100 mm f/10 refractor but vibrations of the long tube take longer than a few seconds to settle down. The slow motion cables seem a little cheap, but they work quite well. My mount was delivered with all its parts and went together easily.
I bought this scope for my wife's Explore Scientific 127mm achromat and it works like a charm. It's almost as if this mount was built specifically for that scope... hmmm. ;)
The unit itself is excellent. It offers strong stability and ability to point telescopes up toward the zenith. It has nice slow motion controls and a firm grip on whatever you mount on its dovetail. The only real design flaw is that it does not fold the legs together for travel. The stabilizing plate prevents this unless you remove it, but then you have some tricky reassembling to perform to set it up. Another issue and the main detraction of a rating star is that the first unit I received (in a sealed box) had numerous missing parts and had to be returned for a replacement.
Just about the cheapest alt-az tripod you can get for the money, but built like a tank! The alt-az gears are smooth and precise.
Very very nice mount. Nice and light, but sturdy. Holds my 6" short tube newtonian without an issue! I've also put my 100mm Orion refractor on here too, and have had no issues. Very nice clutch system, so you can release the pressure on alt or az and move it freely, then clamp down the clutch to hold it in place.
Kudos to explore scientific for making a quality product, selling it at a reasonable price and offering lifetime support as well. This is my first purchase from the company and it probably won't be the last. This mount is well built and works like a charm with my AT72ED mounted on it.