Best star trackers for astrophotography 2024

Anyone interested in astrophotography should invest in one of the best star trackers. It's an essential accessory for those wanting to take clear, long-exposure photos of the night sky without blurry star trails ruining the image. 

Star trackers work by counteracting the Earth's rotation and keeping your camera still while the night sky moves. This means you'll see a significant improvement when taking pictures with exposures longer than about ten seconds, helping you accurately capture clear stars and beautiful galaxies. Usually, these clever gadgets connect between your tripod and your camera.

To help you pick the right star tracker, we've tested and reviewed a range of options on the market to suit all budgets and abilities. Before you commit to one, though, make sure to check if your gear's weight matches the tracker's capacity. All the trackers in this guide have been tested by our expert reviewers, so you can trust their quality and how well they work.

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.

With Amazon Prime Day coming up next month, you may be able to find a great star tracker deal. Space.com will be covering the event and unearthing all the best and latest deals in real time, so make sure to check the site regularly to make some savings.

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

Why you can trust Space.com Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test and review products.

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-inches / 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 tracker is incredibly expensive, so only really accessible to those who have big budgets.

The bottom line

🔎 Benro Polaris: This is 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 to offer as a result. It's controlled via the accompanying Benro Polaris smartphone app which allows you to set up the alignment, adjust photo compositions and operate the camera's shutter remotely. The star tracker also features auto-tracking functions, meaning you can set it to take automatic panoramas of the Milky Way, for example.

On top of being packed full of the latest tech, the Benro Polaris has the highest payload capacity among the star trackers we've reviewed, supporting up to 15 lbs (7 kg) of camera and lens gear. Despite this high capacity, the device itself weighs only 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), so you won’t have to worry about it weighing down your camera bag.

This star tracker boasts strong motors for a more reliable performance and a large 2500 mAh battery that can last through long shooting sessions. It's easy to charge with a USB-C cable and we love the fact it is durable in various weather conditions thanks to its impressive IPX6 waterproof rating. 

The main drawback is of course its price tag, as all these features don't come cheap. The Benro Polaris will set you back around $1000, which might be too much for many photographers.

It's worth noting that the Benro Polaris isn't widely available in the US, as it seems many retailers are discontinuing it. There's a small amount of stock in the UK, but it's dwindling.

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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-inches / 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 astro is possible
+
Suitable for 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 to your camera bag. 

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 you're aiming to capture deep-sky objects using large telephoto lenses, the iOptron SkyGuider Pro is a great pick. It's designed to handle heavier gear as it can support up to 11 lbs (5kg) of equipment. It has such a strong load capacity that you could even attach a small telescope to it. 

We think this star tracker offers great value for the price. It includes a detachable alt-azimuth base with a bubble level and degree markings, plus, it features a quick slew mode (144x) that moves both forward and backward, making it easy to adjust your shots quickly when needed.

It's simple to use the electronic polar finderscope with the iOptron Polar Scope app on your smartphone. We love the fact it provides four tracking speeds (full-speed, half-speed, Moon and Sun tracking) for both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Our only minor concerns were that the wedge occasionally lacks precision, and you'll need to utilize the Declination mount to attach a counterweight to achieve the highest payload levels. However, considering the price, this is still a solid option for anyone requiring a mount for heavier equipment.

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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-inches / 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 nights of shooting long exposures, the 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 often crashes 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 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, making it perfect for astrophotographers who frequently travel to darker, less light-polluted areas for shoots.

In our Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini review, we found this star tracker fairly easy to set up. We were also very impressed with the results once it was up and running, as it gave us pin-sharp stars during tracks of up to four minutes.

The 'Pro Pack' we tried out includes additional accessories like an equatorial wedge, a ball-head adapter and a polar scope for alignment — you'll need your own camera ball-head, though. The SAM operates on two AA batteries, but we found they only lasted about three nights of continuous shooting. For longer sessions, it's best to connect it to a portable battery using the micro-USB port.

The biggest downside of this star tracker is the accompanying SA Console app. We found it tended to disconnect frequently and sometimes stopped working completely, which was frustrating considering how much it costs. Despite its lacklustre app, we think the SAM is still one of the top star trackers you can get.

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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-inches / 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. It's cost-effective and quick to set up, while still offering everything you need from a basic star tracker. 

This tracker can handle less weight compared to the iOptron SkyGuider Pro, its payload capping at 6.6 lbs (3kg) of gear. As such, it's best suited for capturing wide-angle night scenes than deep space shots which require heavier telephoto lenses. However, we appreciate the fact that the SkyGuider Pro is lightweight, coming in at just 2.5 lbs (1.1kg), making it one of the more portable options in this guide.

The tracker has a half-speed mode, which is handy for time-lapse photography, and it can track the Moon and Sun individually. It's quick and easy to set up, great for impromptu shooting when the weather suddenly clears up.

We were pleasantly surprised by the battery's performance: It delivered up to 24 hours of usage on a single charge. This ensures you can shoot throughout the night without worrying about battery life. The SkyGuider Pro also comes with useful accessories such as a counterweight and declination bracket, enabling you to increase its payload capacity when using heavier gear.

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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-inches / 95 x 137 x 58mm
Max. payload: 5.5 lbs / 2.5kg
Power: 2 x 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.

Don't buy it if:

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

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. ★★★

The Vixen Polarie is one of the most lightweight star trackers out there, making it ideal for photographers who prioritize portability. It can support up to 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) of weight, which is fine for most mirrorless or DSLR cameras with wide-angle lenses but probably not enough for larger telephoto lenses. However, it's worth noting there's an upgrade kit available for the Vixen Polarie that increases its capacity to 14.3 lbs (6.5 kg) and includes helpful extras like a counterweight, mounting block, slide bar and an improved polarscope.

The Vixen Polarie has a half-speed option for capturing night-time timelapses, and it can track the Sun and the Moon. One of its major drawback is the relatively short battery life, which only lasts 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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AttributesNotes
DesignCompact size.
PerformanceSmall payload and battery life.
FunctionalityTracks Sun and Moon.

Best mechanical star tracker

Omegon LX3

Best mechanical star tracker: A wind-up star tracker with a clockwork heart that tracks for 60 minutes.

Specifications

Weight: 1.43 lbs / 650g
Dimensions: 8.27 x 3.07 x 1.18-inches / 21 x 7.8 x 3cm
Max. payload: 6.61 lbs / 3kg
Power: N/A
Tripod thread: 1/4" or 3/8-inch
Alignment method: Optical polar finder

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and portable
+
Will never run out of battery
+
Decent load capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be fiddly for beginners
-
Not a particularly cheap option
Buy it if

✅ You shoot in cold temperatures: There are no electronics or batteries, so it can handle colder climates.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're a beginner: Alignment is easier on electronic star trackers.

The bottom line

🔎 Omegon LX3: A mechanical star tracker with a clockwork heart that tracks for 60 minutes at a time, requiring no power, batteries or electronics. It's also small, lightweight and perfect for travel to colder climates. ★★★★

For something a little different, the Omegon LX3 star tracker is fully mechanical, which means it doesn't have any power or electronics. It has a 'clockwork heart' that ticks at 130-135 times per minute for 60 minutes, meaning you'll never need to charge it or fear running out of batteries. You only need to wind it up using its cord, like an analog clock, and it will start tracking immediately.

Since there are no electronics to protect, the Omegon LX3 can operate in extremely cold conditions, which is ideal if you're shooting during winter or in particularly cold parts of the world. The manufacturer states it can operate in temperatures of '-20 - 60', although it doesn't specify whether that's Fahrenheit or Celsius.

This star tracker is lightweight and compact, perfect for travel. Instead of a counterweight, it uses a suspension system that serves the same purpose. Impressively, it weighs just 1.43 lbs / 650g and can carry up to 6.61 lbs / 3kg — over 4.5 times its weight. Omegon says you can use longer, heavier lenses with it, but since we haven't yet tested it ourselves, we can't confirm or deny this claim. Look out for our upcoming review.

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AttributesNotes
DesignSmall and lightweight.
PerformanceCan track for 60 minutes.
FunctionalityNo electronics — all mechanical.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a star tracker in photography?

A star tracker is a small, motorized mount that sits between a camera and a tripod. The star tracker rotates the camera at the same rate as the Earth, which prevents star trails that would otherwise be captured during long exposure shots of the night sky. 

Star trackers are useful for a variety of scenario, from taking astrophotographs of the Milky Way with a wide-angle lens or using a telephoto lens to shooting deep sky objects such as nebulas, galaxies, star clusters and more.

What should I look for in a camera star tracker?

Not all star trackers are built equal. While they all sit between your tripod and camera, they vary considerably in size, weight and design. 

The most important factor to consider is that different star trackers can handle different payloads (in other words, the weight of your combined kit), so you'll want to choose your tracker depending on how heavy your camera and lens are. 

Additionally, some star trackers work well for telephoto lenses pointed at specific targets, while others are best suited for shorter wide-angle lenses (used for capturing the Milky Way, for example). 

As well as the payload capacity, star trackers' accuracy varies between models and brands. More premium models will cost you more but will also deliver much more accurate images.

What is the best star tracker I can buy?

We think the Benro Polaris is the best star tracker overall because it's easy to align, has a camera interface controller and an excellent build quality. However, it is also the most expensive option in this guide, so it won't suit those on a budget. 

For those whose budget doesn't stretch that far, we'd recommend the iOptron SkyGuider Pro. This tracker can accommodate a heavy payload of up to 5 kg, is suitable for deep sky astrophotography, and is powerful enough to cope with long, telephoto lenses.

Do I need any other camera accessories before using my star tracker?

Before taking your first astrophotograph with a star tracker you will need: A camera, lens, tripod and tripod head. A remote shutter release or intervalometer is not compulsory but recommended, as it triggers the camera without you having to touch it, preventing camera shake blur. You may also want to consider other camera accessories like a headlamp or power bank to help on your shoots.

What is a star tracker's maximum payload?

The maximum payload of a star tracker is how much weight it can reliably support. This would be the combined maximum weight of your camera, lens and any camera accessories in use like a tripod head. 

As well as checking your star tracker's maximum payload, you'll also want to assess the load-bearing ability of your tripod to check it can cope with the weight of all the gear plus the star tracker. If in doubt, go for bigger capacity mounts because as a rule of thumb, it's best to have your rig's total weight be about half of the mount's capacity.

How we test the best star trackers for astrophotography

To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best star trackers for astrophotography to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every star tracker through a rigorous review to fully test each instrument. Each star tracker is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions in the field.

Each star tracker is carefully tested by expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each star tracker and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use.

We look at how easy it is to set up, whether the star tracker mounts are reliable and quiet, if a star tracker comes with appropriate accessories and also make suggestions if a particular star tracker would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best astrophotography experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on star trackers, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.

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Jamie Carter
Contributing Writer

Jamie is an experienced science, technology and travel journalist and stargazer who writes about exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, moon-gazing, astro-travel, astronomy and space exploration. He is the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners, and is a senior contributor at Forbes. His special skill is turning tech-babble into plain English.

With contributions from