SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Review and Tutorial

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i is a powerful, yet portable star tracking mount. This was my first star tracker years ago, and I’m sure that it will help you capture mind-blowing Astro images.

In this SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i review, you’ll learn everything about this astrophotography mount, including the star tracker’s features, setup process, kits and prices, pros and cons, and more. I’ll also share my opinion based on my extensive experience using the Star Adventurer 2i.

Orion's belt and nebula over a rock formation at night

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i will enable you to take stunning night images

Note: The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i is sometimes called SkyWatcher Star Adventurer Pro 2i as well. Just keep in mind that this refers to the same model.

Let’s dive right in!

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i – Overview

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i features key elements such as a high payload capacity, battery run time, build quality, etc., making it a great star tracker both for amateur and advanced astrophotographers looking for a light and portable astrophotography mount. However, the Star Adventurer 2i has some downsides to consider, like a few design flaws or the battery system. All in all, it’s considered one of the best star trackers on the market for a good reason.
Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro 2i Star Tracker

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro 2i Specs

  • WEIGHT: 3.7lbs (1.7kg)
  • MAX PAYLOAD: 11lbs (5kg)
  • EXPOSURES: 5-6 minutes
  • MAX FOCAL LENGTH: ~400mm
  • RUN TIME: 72hrs
  • BATTERY TYPE: 4x AA batteries – Mini USB
  • BUILT-IN POLARSCOPE: Yes
  • AUTOGUIDER INPUT: Yes

Pros

Cons

As you’ll see throughout this review, the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer Pro 2i is a great tracker but it’s not perfect. I recommend reading all the pros and cons below if you are looking to improve your Milky Way photography.

Milky Way arch over a night landscape

The Star Adventurer 2i is one of the best star trackers on the market

Having the right star tracker is only one part of the process. To take stunning Milky Way images you need to plan ahead of time, that’s why we’ve created our Milky Way Astro Calendars. Download them and start planning!

GET THE CALENDAR WITH THE BEST DATES TO PHOTOGRAPH THE MILKY WAY IN 2024

You'll also receive our PDF guide to photographing the Milky Way!

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Features and Build

In this SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i review, I’ll guide you through the most important features of this tracker so you can prepare your tracked astrophotography.

Keep reading to find out more!

Skywatcher Star Adventurer 2i setup with a camera and a telephoto lens and counterweight

The Star Adventurer 2i has an outstanding tracking performance.

Weight

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i weighs 3.7 lbs (1.7 kg) without the counterweights. This puts it on the heavier end when it comes to portable star trackers. It’s still portable enough that you can take it on a walk with you, but it’s not the most comfortable device for long hikes.

If you are looking for lighter options check out our best star trackers list.

 

Payload

The SkyWactcher Star Adventurer 2i has a payload capacity of 11lbs (5KG). This is one of the best payload capacities on the market, and it’s right on par with its competitors.

The Star Adventurer 2i can easily handle mirrorless and DSLR bodies using both wide-angle and medium-range lenses to do Milky Way panoramas for example.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i mounted on a tripod with a variety of accessories

The Star Adventurer 2i can hold a considerable payload

If you plan on using longer telephoto lenses to do deep-sky astrophotography, then you’ll need to use the counterweights to better balance the setup and not strain the motors.

 

Battery

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i has a run time of 72 hours, which is by far the best battery life in any star tracker on the market. The bad news is that you need to carry 4 AA batteries with you which is inconvenient and feels outdated. If you don’t want to use the 4 AA batteries, you can use a power bank to power it up instead.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i with battery compartment open showing 4 AA batteries

The battery system is one of the downsides of this star tracker

The battery system is an aspect that SkyWatcher needs to improve in future versions of the Star Adventurer 2i. There’s been plenty of reports of battery leakage after having the device sitting for a few weeks; I’ve experienced it myself, unfortunately.

 

Polar Scope

To assist with polar alignment both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i has a built-in polar scope; however, this polar scope doesn’t have a built-in illuminator, it comes with an external illuminator, which is a flimsy piece of plastic that can easily break after some use and it’s easy to lose.

 

Declination Bracket & Counterweight

Both the declination bracket and the counterweight of the Star Adventurer 2i are made out of metal, which makes the whole system feel sturdy and solid.

These two accessories are designed to balance the whole setup if you are using a heavy camera and lens combination; this translates into better performance and less strain on the motor.

SkyWatcher declination bracket dovetail

The declination bracket is built with very solid materials

I use the declination bracket and counterweight mostly when I’m shooting with a longer lens or if I’m doing something more complex like a tracked Milky Way panorama. If I’m taking a simple tracked Milky Way photograph, I don’t use these accessories.

You’ll only get a declination bracket and counterweight with your SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i if you purchase the Pro Package.

 

Build Quality

The overall build quality of the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i is good. The external parts are built almost entirely out of metal with a few plastic pieces for the buttons and dials.

The internal components are also very well built, this is reflected in the tracking performance, which is very accurate even with heavier loads.

Person holding the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i is well-built and feels sturdy

With little maintenance, this star tracker can last a lifetime.

One design flaw to mention about the Skywatcher is that it doesn’t have an on/off button. It uses a dial that can be accidentally turned on, with the risk of draining your batteries and stressing the motor. My recommendation here is to always remove one battery after using it. Simply flipping one of the batteries can lead to battery leaking as it happened to me once. 

 

Autoguider

If you are looking into doing deep-sky astrophotography, the good news is the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i has an autoguider input you can use for an even more precise tracking experience.

Skywatcher Star Adventurer 2i autoguider input

The Star Adventurer 2i comes with a handy autoguider input

Using the autoguider will make the Star Adventurer less portable which is expected since you’ll need to connect it to a laptop and a guidescope.

 

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Polar Alignment

The polar alignment process with the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i is fairly simple and straightforward. What makes the polar alignment process precise is the equatorial wedge that ships with the Star Adventurer Pro 2i; being the best I have seen in any tracker.

Precise polar alignment is crucial to get the best results with your star tracker, and with the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i, you can get 5-6-minute exposures with wide-angle and medium-focal length lenses, which puts it right next to its direct competitor, the iOptron SkyGuider Proand way ahead of the smaller Star Adventurer Mini.

Polar alignment process with the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i

Polar alignment with the Star Adventurer 2i is straightforward

If you want to shoot with longer lenses or a telescope, you can safely get away with 1-2-minute exposures if the wind is still.

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i’s tracking performance is great, mostly if you are using wide-angle and medium-range lenses. You can definitely do some deep-sky astrophotography with it, but it’s not its main strength. The newer (and bigger) SkyWatchet Star Adventurer GTi is better suited for that.

For a complete step-by-step guide on how to polar align your star tracker, check out the article I wrote on how to do astrophotography with a star tracker.

Additionally, you can download the SkyWatcher Console app for your smartphone to help you do a more precise polar alignment.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Setup

The process of setting up the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i can seem daunting, but if you follow these simple steps, I promise you’ll have your Star Adventurer up and running in no time!

    1. Place your tripod and make sure it’s leveled.
    2. Mount the equatorial wedge
    3. Attach the Star Adventurer 2i to the EQ wedge
    4. For heavy payloads, mount the declination bracket and counterweight. Otherwise, use a ball head instead.
    5. Do the polar alignment.
  1. Skywatcher equatorial wedge being used to do a precise polar alignment

    Use the screws on each side of the equatorial wedge to fine-tune the polar alignment

    1. Mount the camera with its accessories.
    2. Turn the mode dial to the star icon to turn the device on.
    3. Choose your composition and start shooting!

Note: You can also control your Star Adventurer 2i via WiFi by using the SkyWatcher Console app on your smartphone. My experience with this feature hasn’t been great so I recommend just using the physical dial to control your unit.

If you want to dive deeper into how to set up the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i with different systems, the best tracking techniques, and how to edit tracked images, you can find an in-depth tutorial in my Milky Way Pro Tracking course!

Capture the Milky Way

The Ultimate Milky Way Course

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Kits & Prices

There are three main kits for the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i. I’ll briefly go over each one of the kits so you can find the one that best adapts to your needs.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Package

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Pro Package retails at $429, which is cheaper than its direct competitor, the SkyGuider Pro. This is the kit I have, and the one I recommend since it’s the best value for money.

Star Adventurer 2i Pro Package contents

The Pro package is the best value for money

This kit will allow you to do anything from simple Milky Way photography to complex multi-row tracked panoramas and deep-sky astrophotography.

The Pro Package includes the following:

    • SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i
    • SkyWatcher equatorial mount
    • Declination bracket
    • Counterweight
    • Ball-head adapter
    • Polar scope illuminator

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Astro Package

The Star Adventurer 2i Astro Package retails at $410. This is the perfect package if you know for sure you will only mount light setups and use wide and medium-range focal lengths. For the price difference I still strongly recommend going for the Pro Package.

The Star Adventurer 2i Astro package contents

The Astro package is the best option for light setups

The Astro Package includes the following:

    • SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i
    • Declination bracket
    • Polar scope illuminator

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Photo Package

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Photo Package retails at $350. This is the most basic package of the three and it’s perfect if you only want to take simple Milky Way photos using a ball head.

Star Adventurer 2i Photography package contents

For simple Milky Way photographs, the Photography package is the best option

The Photo Package includes the following:

    • SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i
    • Ball head adapter
    • Polar scope illuminator.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i vs iOptron SkyGuider Pro

The Star Adventurer 2i and the SkyGuider Pro from iOptron are two of the most popular models of portable star trackers, and for good reason: they both offer exceptional tracking performance, in a relatively small body, at an affordable price.

In the previous review I wrote about the iOptron SkyGuider Pro, I already compared these two star trackers and discussed discussed their main pros and cons.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i vs. iOptron SkyGuider Pro

Star Adventurer 2i vs. SkyGuider Pro

Summing up, the main advantage of the SkyWatcher model is the equatorial wedge; it’s reliable and easy to use. However, as I’ve already mentioned in this article, the polar scope and the battery system of the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i could be improved, and that’s where the iOptron SkyGuider Pro is better.

The iOptron is also lighter and more compact than the SkyWatcher, making it easier to travel with. I encourage you to read the iOptron SkyGuider Pro review to find the full breakdown of the comparisons I made.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i vs. Benro Polaris

The Benro Polaris is one of the most groundbreaking star trackers released recently. Its automation features have put it at the forefront when it comes to portable star trackers. The SkyWatcher’s exceptional tracking performance makes it a great contender, even if it’s lacking all the automation features the Polaris has.

Skywatcher Star Adventurer 2i vs Benro Polaris

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i vs. Benro Polaris: which is the best one for you?

To put it simple, these are the scenarios where I would choose one-star tracker over the other:

  • SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i: If you are looking for a reliable tracking experience and long battery run time, the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i should be your choice. The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i also costs a third of the price of the Benro Polaris, which is an important aspect to take into account. However, the SkyWatcher can be a bit more challenging to use when it comes to creating complex images such as tracked panoramas.
  • Benro Polaris: If you are looking for automated functions, such as tracked panoramas, go-to functions, and precise polar alignment, the Benro Polaris is the perfect star tracker for you. You can set it up, and it will create a tracked panorama without you having to touch the camera, which is very convenient. However, I wouldn’t recommend the Benro Polaris if you are not patient as the learning curve is steeper compared to the SkyWatcher. This star tracker is also the priciest by a stretch on our list of the best star trackers for astrophotography.

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i FAQ

When you think about acquiring a new piece of gear, many questions come to mind. Throughout this SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i review I’ve covered the most important aspects you need to know about this star tracker. In this section, I’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about this unit. I hope you find it helpful.

The Star Adventurer 2i doesn’t have a Go-To function. To get that function you’d have to look into the Star Adventurer GTi instead.

The Star Adventurer 2i is one of the best star trackers in the market and it’ll help you take exceptional images. The tracking performance in this star tracker is top notch and that is why it’s one of the main options for many professional astrophotographers.

You can mount a small telescope on the Star Adventurer 2i to do deep-sky astrophotography. To do so I recommend getting the Pro Package which comes with the declination bracket and the counterweight.

Conclusion – Is the SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i Worth it?

SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i is an outstanding star tracker and definitely worth it. The tracking performance, payload capacity, and battery life are what make this model stand out among the rest. There are a few flaws SkyWatcher needs to address, such as the terrible polar scope illuminator and the need to carry four AA batteries. Even with its downsides, the Star Adventurer 2i is a safe bet.

If you are planning on acquiring the Star Adventurer 2i I recommend going for the Pro Package; it offers the best value for money and you’ll have everything you need to do all kinds of astrophotography.

Milky Way arch over mountain and dry land in Death Valley

The Star Adventurer 2i will allow to you capture images like this

I hope you found this SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2i review helpful. If you have any additional questions I didn’t cover in this article, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

To learn more about tracked astrophotography, I invite you to check out my Milky Way Pro Tracking Course!

Happy captures!

Share with your friends










Submit

COFOUNDER & PHOTO TOUR LEADER
Dan is a professional landscape and astro photographer, photography educator, and co-founder of Capture the Atlas. His base camp is in Nevada, USA, but he spends long periods exploring and photographing new locations around the world. Apart from shooting the Milky Way, the Northern Lights, and any breathtaking landscape, he enjoys leading photo tours to some of the most photogenic places on Earth. You can find more about Dan here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.