Best star trackers for astrophotography 2024

Investing in one of the best star trackers is a smart purchase for anyone keen on taking clear, long-exposure photos of the night sky without blurry star trails ruining the image. These nifty devices typically attach between your tripod and camera, syncing with Earth's rotation to keep your camera still as the night sky moves. You'll see the difference right away when taking photos with exposures longer than roughly ten seconds — the star tracker ensures you capture crisp stars and stunning galaxies with precision.

To help you choose the best star tracker for your needs, we've compiled a list of mini-reviews that will let you compare the various features on offer. It's especially worth bearing in mind the weight of your intended kit to make sure that the star tracker can handle the payload. And since all the star trackers on our list have been tested by expert reviewers out in the field, you can be sure you're buying a quality product.

If you're new to astrophotography, check out our guide to astrophotography for beginners. And if you're looking to build or upgrade the rest of your kit, we also have guides to the best cameras for astrophotography, the best lenses for astrophotography and the best tripods.

The quick list

Below we've summarized our top picks of the best star trackers for astrophotography available out there, including their main characteristics. If you want more in-depth information, click the links to read more below.

Best star trackers for astrophotography we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Benro Polaris

Best star tracker overall: It even comes with a camera interface controller

Specifications

Weight: 3.3 lbs / 1.5kg
Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.5 x 4.3-inch / 145 x 140 x 110mm
Max. payload: 15 lbs / 7kg
Power: Built-in 2500 mAh battery
Tripod thread: 3/8-inch with 1/4-inch adapters
Alignment method: Benro Polaris app/celestial objects

Reasons to buy

+
Easy alignment
+
Camera interface controller
+
Excellent build quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive 
-
Overkill for most
-
Still requires some stargazing knowledge
Buy it if

✅ You have heavy kit: It can support payloads of up to 15 lbs/7 kg, which is the most on this list — certainly more than enough for most setups.

✅ You want something lightweight: Despite its ability to support heavier payloads, it weighs only 3.3 lbs/1.5 kg, which is unusual for star trackers.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You don't have a big budget: This is incredibly expensive, so only really accessible to those who have big budgets.

The bottom line

🔎 Benro Polaris: The star tracker to end all star trackers, our only criticism is the high price tag, which is to be expected with the amount of tech that this little device has in it. It's lightweight but still carries heavier payloads, and offers excellent star tracking capabilities. ★★★★★

The Benro Polaris is more of an electronic tripod head than a traditional star tracker, but its cutting-edge technology means that it has even more on offer as a result. It's controlled via the Benro Polaris app on your smartphone, which allows you to set up the alignment and even adjust photo compositions and operate the shutter remotely. It also features auto-tracking functions, meaning that you can set it to take automatic panoramas of the Milky Way, for example.

As well as all this nifty technology, the Benro Polaris has the highest payload on our star tracker list, so you can mount up to 15 lbs (7 kg) of camera and lens equipment on it. Unlike most other star trackers with high payloads, you won't have to compromise on the weight of the kit in your bag since the device itself still only weighs 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg).

The powerful motors in this star tracker ensure reliable performance, and it comes with a large 2500 mAh battery that keeps you shooting for extended periods. Plus, you can conveniently charge it using a USB-C cable. With an impressive IPX6 waterproof rating, it's built to withstand various weather conditions. However, it comes with a hefty price tag of around $1000, which might be too expensive for many photographers.

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Benro Polaris
AttributesNotes
DesignExcellent build quality.
PerformanceCan adjust photo compositions remotely.
FunctionalityCutting-edge tech with auto-tracking functions.

Best for deep sky astro

iOptron SkyGuider Pro

Best for deep sky astro: The iOptron SkyGuide Pro carries up to 5kg of payload for heavier setups

Specifications

Weight: 3.2 lbs / 1.45kg
Dimensions: 4.4 x 4.5 x 3.7-inch / 113 x 115 x 95mm
Max. payload: 11 lbs / 5kg
Power: 2000 mAh internal battery (20hrs)
Tripod thread: 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch adaptor
Alignment method: AccuAlign illuminated polarscope and app

Reasons to buy

+
Big payload (5kg)
+
Deep sky possible
+
Telephoto lenses

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires counterweight
-
Wedge lacks precision
-
Expensive
Buy it if

✅ You do a lot of deep sky astrophotography: This star tracker is specifically designed for bigger payloads and longer exposures that come with photographing far-away objects. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want something lightweight: It weighs 3.2 lbs/1.45 kg by itself, and as it requires a counterweight, that adds an additional 3 lbs/1.35 kg.

The bottom line

🔎 iOptron SkyGuider Pro: The perfect star tracker for shooting deep sky objects, this option is specifically designed for heavy payloads — you could even use a small telescope with it. However, it's expensive and not particularly lightweight. ★★★★½

If your focus is on capturing deep-sky objects with big telephoto lenses, the iOptron SkyGuider Pro is an excellent choice. It's specially made to handle heavier gear, supporting up to 11 lbs (5 kg) of equipment. It's more budget-friendly compared to the Benro Polaris, but it achieves this by including a counterweight, which adds about 3 lbs (1.35 kg) to your camera bag. With this impressive load capacity, you can even mount a small telescope to it.

We think you get a lot for your money with this star tracker. It comes with a removable alt-azimuth base with a bubble level and degree markings, along with a quick slew mode (144x) that works in forward and reverse to help you quickly reframe your shots as and when needed.

Aligning the electronic polar finderscope is simple using the iOptron Polar Scope app on your smartphone. Plus, it offers four tracking speeds (full-speed, half-speed, Moon, and Sun tracking) that function in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Our only quibbles were that the wedge can sometimes lack precision and you need to use the Declination mount to add a counterweight to reach the highest payload levels. But for the price, this would still be a good choice for anyone who needs to mount a heavier set of kit.

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iOptron SkyGuider Pro
AttributesNotes
DesignDesigned for bigger payloads.
PerformanceBest for deep sky objects.
FunctionalityRequires counterweight.

Best for mid-weight setups

Best for mid-weight setups: The Star Adventurer Mini gives accurate tracking and is powered by a smartphone app

Specifications

Weight: 1.4 lbs / 650g
Dimensions: 3 x 2.7 x 4-inch / 76 x 70 x 103mm
Max. payload: 6.6 lbs / 3kg
Power: 2 x AA batteries or external portable battery
Tripod thread: 3/8-inch and 1/4 inch
Alignment method: Polar scope

Reasons to buy

+
Precise tracking
+
Lightweight design
+
Up to 3kg payload

Reasons to avoid

-
Unreliable smartphone app
-
Fiddly polar alignment
-
No laser pen
Buy it if

✅ You want exposures up to 4 minutes: For those long nights of shooting long exposures, SAM is a great choice.

✅ You don't have a super heavy setup: The SAM can support up to 3kg, which is more than enough for most mirrorless setups.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want a reliable app: We noted in our review that the app would often crash and was overall quite bad.

The bottom line

🔎 Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini It's easy to use and one of the most accurate, most versatile and best value star trackers on the market. However, it's got one major weakness — its poor app.  ★★★★

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini, also known as 'SAM', offers great value as a star tracker. It combines portability with high accuracy, supporting up to 6.6 lbs (3 kg) of equipment. It's lightweight and compact enough to carry in your camera backpack, perfect for taking to darker, less light-polluted areas for your astrophotography shoots.

In our Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini review, we found this star tracker fairly easy to set up and it produced great results once it was up and running, giving us pin-sharp stars during tracks of up to four minutes.

The 'Pro Pack' that we reviewed also came with a range of accessories, including an equatorial wedge, ball-head adapter and a polar scope for aligning the mount — though you'll still have to provide a ball-head for your camera. It runs off two AA batteries, but since these batteries only lasted us three nights of extended shooting it's probably worth plugging it into a portable battery via the micro-USB port.

The main drawback of this star tracker is its SA Console app. We experienced frequent disconnections whenever we used it, and sometimes it just stopped working altogether, which was disappointing given the tracker's price. Despite this issue with the app, the SAM remains one of the best star trackers available.

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Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini
AttributesNotes
DesignCompact and lightweight.
PerformanceReliable tracking, but app is very bad.
Functionality3kg payload.

Best for battery life

iOptron SkyTracker Pro

Best for battery life: Lasts up to 24 hours on its built-in 2000mAh battery

Specifications

Weight: 2.5 lbs / 1.1kg
Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 3.7-inch / 115 x 115 x 95mm
Max. payload: 6.6 lbs / 3kg
Power: 2000 mAh internal battery (24hrs)
Tripod thread: 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch adaptor
Alignment method: AccuAlign illuminated polarscope and app

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Lightweight design
+
Good build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Manual control only
-
Polar scope is easy to lose
-
Lacks ultimate precision
Buy it if

✅ You're on a budget: While it isn't cheap by any stretch, for what it is, we think it's a very reasonable and affordable price.

✅ You do long shooting sessions: The internal battery boasts an impressive 24-hour runtime, perfect for long nights of shooting.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You focus on deep sky nightscapes: Wide-angle nightscapes is where this star tracker excels, so if your main interest is deep sky objects, there are better star trackers suited for that.

The bottom line

🔎 iOptron SkyTracker Pro: An affordable star tracker with impressive battery life, a compact and lightweight design and it can track a variety of celestial objects. ★★★★

The iOptron SkyTracker Pro is a great option for beginners or those on a budget since it's cost-effective and quick to set up, while still offering everything you need from a basic star tracker. 

It's got a lower payload than the iOptron SkyGuider Pro, taking up to 6.6 lbs (3 kg) of equipment, so it's better suited to wide-angle nightscapes than the deep space shots that require heavier telephoto lenses. But that also means that it's lighter, at only 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg), so it's very easy to travel with and takes up very little space in your camera bag.

This star tracker includes a half-speed mode, useful for shooting time-lapse photos, and it can track the Moon and Sun separately. Setting it up is fast and simple, making it perfect for spontaneous shooting sessions when the weather suddenly improves.

We were very impressed with the battery performance, providing up to 24 hours of usage on a full charge. This means you can shoot all night without concerns about running out of power. It also includes handy accessories like a counterweight and declination bracket, allowing you to increase its payload capacity when using heavier equipment.

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iOptron SkyTracker Pro
AttributesNotes
DesignCompact and lightweight.
PerformanceImpressive 24 hour battery life.
FunctionalityOffers Sun and Moon tracking.

Best for small setups

Vixen Polarie Star Tracker

Best for small setups: The Vixen Polarie is also the second-lightest star tracker in this guide

Specifications

Weight: 1.4 lbs / 635g
Dimensions: 3.7 x 5.9 x 2.3-inch / 95 x 137 x 58mm
Max. payload: 5.5 lbs / 2.5kg
Power: 2x AA batteries or portable battery
Tripod thread: 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch adaptor
Alignment method: Polar sight hole and smartphone app

Reasons to buy

+
Compact size
+
Excellent build quality
+
Tracks Sun and Moon

Reasons to avoid

-
Small payload (2.5kg)
-
Rather dated
-
Short battery life
Buy it if

✅ You have a lightweight setup: It can only hold loads of up to 5.5 lbs/2.5 kg, so lighter setups are ideal here.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to do a lot of long exposures: It only has a short two-hour battery life, which will be fine for many circumstances, but if you plan on long nights of shooting you'd need a separate power bank.

The bottom line

🔎 Vixen Polarie Star Tracker For astrophotographers who only have a lightweight setup and don't need to use it for hours at a time, it's a decent option. ★★★

Being one of the lightest star trackers listed, the Vixen Polarie is a great option for those using lighter gear and are looking for something compact and easy to transport. It can handle up to 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) of equipment by default, suitable for most mirrorless or DSLR cameras with wide-angle lenses, but not large telephoto lenses. However, there's a comprehensive upgrade kit available, including a counterweight to increase the payload capacity up to 14.3 lbs (6.5 kg), along with other useful accessories like a dovetail mounting block, dovetail slide bar, and an updated polarscope.

The Vixen Polarie can track the Sun and the Moon, as well as offering a half-speed option for capturing timelapses at night. The battery life is relatively short at only two hours, so we'd recommend connecting it to a portable power bank via the micro-USB if you're planning a longer shooting session.

One thing to note is that you'll need to align this start tracker manually using the supplied compass, built-in latitude meter and polar sight hole. This means that you'll need to be confident in locating Polaris and/or the south celestial pole, although there is a red light and a Vixen PF-L Assist app to help you with this. Check out our guide to locating the North Star if you need any further tips and pointers.

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Vixen Polarie
AttributesNotes
DesignCompact size.
PerformanceSmall payload and battery life.
FunctionalityTracks Sun and Moon.