One of the most overlooked accessories for any telescope enthusiast is vibration suppression pads. These nifty tools help to stabilize your base so that your telescope is free from unwanted movements, nudges, and vibrations that could upset your carefully focused view of your favorite night sky object. There are few things more frustrating than getting the perfect shot lined up only for it to be shaken out of focus but a haphazard movement of the telescope.
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Unwanted motion when stargazing can be from natural causes in the environment or from user error. Getting yourself a good set of suppression pads can help reduce both kinds of motion and are super simple to install.
What Are Telescope Vibration Suppression Pads?
One of the biggest complaints telescopes receive is for wobbly and unstable tripods. This is partly due to the quality of the tripods themselves. Most telescopes do not come with high quality tripods. In either case, wobbly or shaky tripods can be a source of continual frustration for any astronomer.
What many people do not know is a lot of vibration is caused from moving the optical tube assembly via the mount. That’s right, simply adjusting or moving your telescope with your equatorial or altazimuth mount sends energy from the mount down into those, usually shaky, tripod legs causing the whole assembly to vibrate. Even slight vibrations can cause an issue under certain circumstances.
One of the easiest ways to reduce this unwanted movement, without spending a bunch of money, is to simply buy suppression pads. These are small circular cushions that attach to the bottom of your tripod in order to provide a dampener for any unwanted motion.
These pads usually come in packs of three, one for each tripod leg, and simply fit onto the bottom. Think of them like the soft pads you put on the bottom of furniture so they don’t scrape the floor when you move them around.
Installation is usually as easy as flipping over the tripod and slipping on the pads. This one simple act can work to massively reduce frustration and headaches from micro-motions during telescope use.
Tips On Reducing Vibrations
The first tip is the easiest one. Buy vibration suppression pads. It sounds like a cop out but this really is the easiest and fastest way to reduce vibrations in your telescope.
Other than the vibration pads, here are a couple of other things to keep in mind if you are having vibration related issues with your telescope.
First, make sure your scope is balanced. Many telescopes, especially larger ones, require balancing in order to keep them in check. Telescopes that are out of balance are going to want to move more on their own or will be more prone to jumping out on you when you are using them.
If your telescope came with counterweights or balancing rods make sure they are tuned properly and double-check the overall balance of the array. If your telescope did not come with included balancing materials, you might want to look into investing in a counterbalance if you continue to have issues.
This may sound counterintuitive but try not to set up on asphalt or pavement when using your telescope. These types of surfaces are great for giving you a solid base on which to mount your telescope, meaning you are less likely to have balance issues or toppling accidents, but hard surfaces are more conducive to vibrations.
Just as the soft cushiony vibration suppression pads work on the principle of softening the bottom of your tripod, setting up on firm grass or other softer surfaces can help to reduce the overall vibration of your telescope. Just make sure the telescope is secure before setting up on a non-concrete surface.
Here are the best vibration suppression pads on the market.
Best Overall Suppression Pads:
Celestron Vibration Suppression Pads
Celestron is back with yet another astronomy classic. In addition to pioneering some of the best breakthroughs in telescope technology in the 21st century while creating a plethora of highly regarded telescopes of all sizes, they are now creating universally adored telescope accessories.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a Celestron telescope, these pads are designed to fit almost any tripod on the market and are not dependent on Celestron specific products but if you are worried, we do have some alternatives you can also check out.
Using the Celestron Vibration Suppression pads is like night and day. If you are having any sort of vibration or motion issues with your telescope, the simple addition of the Celestron Vibration Suppression Pads can make a whole world of difference. So much of a difference that you will be genuinely shocked at how much better these pads make your set up feel.
It doesn’t matter if you have a large telescope or a small one, or if your tripod is janky junk that you want to chuck into the ally most nights, the addition of these excellent pads are going to blow your mind.
Why they are most expensive…
Celestron reveals the secret to their success by informing us that their pads, unlike many pads on the market today, are made with a unique material called Sorbothane. They say this material will not warp over time, won’t melt in the sun or on hot pavement, and is what gives these suppression pads their almost magical quality. I am not a material scientist so I take their word for it but I can attest that these pads really are something special.
The price is one of the highest on the market because Sorbothane is an American material meaning the pads are engineered and made in the United States. If the price tag is turning you off, remember that with this set you are getting the absolute best. There are even a few used sets available at more affordable rates if you are willing to look around and buy second hand.
In less than five minutes, installing the Celestron Vibration Suppression pads can make it so your telescope base is like new again. You will feel stable and in control at all times. They even work on all surfaces. If you want the best you want Celestron.Check Latest Price
Best Suppression Pads On A Budget:
Solomark Anti-Vibration Suppression Pads Telescope Mounts
For a budget option, you can always consider the Solomark Vibration Suppression Pads. These are well regarded and come in at half the price of other name brand products. The downside is that Solomark is a relatively new company that does not have an online presence quite yet. Despite that, they managed to capture people’s attention with these suppression pads.
Unlike the competition, their pads come inset with three parts that lay inside one another. This allows you to have a certain degree of customization and also allows you to add other materials to them to increase their vibration suppression power. This is a unique feature that could definitely be put to good use by the creative astronomer.
The middle section of their pad is a proprietary “soft” material that they have colored pink so you know what the vibration suppressing agent is. You can remove this part and swap it out for a new one or modify it as you see fit.
While these pads do not have the long history of success that Celestron has, they are half the price and so far are holding up under pressure. They are modifiable and they work very well. Whether or not they will hold up in the long term is yet to be seen but for the casual astronomer on a budget, these should do the trick just as well.Check Latest Price
Astromania Anti-Vibration Suppression Pads Telescope Mounts
As a response to the widely beloved Celestron suppression pads, Astromania has designed its own very solid set of suppression pads. Available for a lower price than the Celestron pads, these are also very well received and seem to do a comparable job. These pads do everything you expect out of a good set plus more.
Not only do they absorb almost a full 100% of all unwanted vibration and motion in your telescope base, but they also act as a stabilizer for your base on a variety of surfaces. On hard surfaces, they work overtime to ensure that the annoying micro-movements do not interact with the ground and your base keeping your telescope nice and steady.
On soft surfaces, which are better overall for vibration suppression in general, they work to keep your base balanced and upright. The increased surface area of your tripod feet will prevent your telescope from sinking. This is especially useful if you have a heavy telescope unit or only like to stargaze from grassy areas.
This makes the Astromania pads an excellent choice for astrophotographers who stargaze in a variety of different locations. Vibrations can be especially frustrating for anyone trying to capture excellent views of space with their cameras.
For these reasons, the Astromania Anti-Vibration Suppression Pads are an excellent alternative to anything else on the market.Check Latest Price