I received my Mewlon 180 yesterday and wanted to provide everyone a first light review.
My Astronomy Experience:
Let me start my baselining my experience so you can take this review for what it's worth. My interest in astronomy started with a red 3" Tasco refractor I bought from Macy's when I was 12 years old so I can chase Halley's comet and Saturn/Jupiter. After college, I purchased a LX90 and the Meade eyepiece kit ($149 for 7 eyepieces, a barlow and filters). After 20 years, I developed a much deeper interest in the hobby and purchased a Celestron 9.25 and a Losmandy G811, as well as several TV eyepieces. Several months later I purchased a Televue NP101is and a Stellarvue M2C mount with encoders. I sold the C9.25 and purchased the Mewlon.
So - in short - like all of us, I'm still learning. I not going to say something like "my scope has diffraction limited optics" - I know what that means but I'm not sure my eye does!
Where I Observe:
I live in southern Maine - we have beautiful but cold winters. Skies are dark but typically turbulent. When I observed yesterday, temperature was about 30 degrees when I started and dropped to the high teens when I wrapped up. We have snow on the ground so there was some snow glare from the nearby houses and exterior lights.
What I Considered before Buying the Mewlon:
I considered the SW/Orion 150 and 180 Maks. I wanted more aperture than the 150 and wasn't sure if I would have issues with the massive FL in the 180 given my turbulent skies. I ultimately decided not to purchase either as I wasn't convinced they would cool down, and remained cooled down, properly during my Maine winters.
I considered the SW120 refractor. However, I wanted more then 20mm additional aperture than my NP101is.
I briefly considered the AT and ES 150 achromats for a trade off between large aperture and cost. I quickly decided against them. I'm sure they are great for the cost - but thought they would remain in my closet as I continued to compare their views and false color to my current refractor.
I bought the Mewlon for the simple fact that it was the right price, the right aperture, the right focal length, and the right quality. Right wrong or indifferent - I feel you never need to question Tak quality.
The Mewlon 180 was packed TIGHTLY with an outer shipping box and an inner protective box. Between the use of foam supports, cardboard and packing pellets - the scope had no room to move at all during shipment.
I believe I made one mistake when trying to remove the scope from it's tight tomb. When I cut the packing tape on the inner box, I was very careful not to plunge the knife deeper than needed to cut the tape. However, after opening the box, the included Tak certificate of inspection was cut in two. I am not sure if I did this, or the certificate came that way. Either way - I am writing Tak and requesting a replacement.
Fit and Finish:
In short - the scope is a beauty. I guess I can understand some of the comments that it looks more like medical equipment than a fancy piece of hardware worthy of it's high price. Astronomy is science! I not looking to go clubbing with skinny jeans when I take my telescope out for a night of observing. It’s beautiful to me. The paint is THICK and was very evenly applied. In comparison, my C9.25 felt to me that it only had 1-2 coats of paint as it felt very thin to the touch. The body of the Mewlon feels like it received 4-5 coats of paint before it left the factory. The focuser is very smooth and precise. The other hardware (Vixen dovetail, diagonal adapter, etc) all seem top shelf.
I purchased the Mewlon 180 from Woodland Hills. Daniel wasn't 100% sure if the Mewlon would mount to my M2C and G811 without the need for an adapter (because the supplied vixen dovetail mounts to a wider mounting plate and he wasn’t sure ion the wider mounting plate would interfere with tightening the saddle). He offered to include a Losmandy branded vixen dovetail free of charge (to act as an extender between the Tak's vixen dovetail and the Tak's wider mounting plate) just to ensure I could use the telescope when received. That was very nice of him - but it turned out to be unnecessary. I emailed him this morning to let him know the Mewlon mounts to the saddles included with the G811 and M2C mounts without any need for modification.
The paint inside of the tube is a very flat black - so flat it almost appears gray. The tube itself must be forged versus cast because you can see the (somewhat rough) soider line extending from the front of the tube to the back. For those unaware of manufacturing techniques, casting is the process where metal is heated until molten and the molten metal is poured into a mold to create a desired shape. Forging is the application of force to hard metal to cause the material to change shape while in a solid state.
The primary mirror was blindingly bright when I flashed the headlamp on it.
This first light report was mounting the Mewlon 180 with the M2C mount. Don't get me wrong - I love the Losmandy G811, but that M2C with encoders has turned into my favorite mount.
The Mewlon 180 is light - much lighter than I expected. That's due to no corrector or meniscus plate as this is an open tube design. I can carry the scope/eyepieces in one hand and the M2C mount in the other when I walk to my observing spot (about 300' from my house - my house it surrounded by trees).
I mounted the Mewlon 180 on both my G811 and M2C. The supplied vixen dovetail is short (6 or 7 inches), but the entire dovetail is caught inside of both saddles after balancing the Mewlon with a 2" diagonal and a 17.3mm Delos. No part of the saddle is left open and not affixed to the dovetail (i.e. the saddle completely covers the vixen dovetail). In other words - the telescope balances nicely even with the short supplied dovetail. I balanced the Mewlon on the G811 in both RA and Dec with no clutches, and balanced the Mewlon on the M2C in Alt/Az with no pressure on the brake.
I attached the scope to the M2C saddle and turned on Sky Safari Pro for the 2 star alignment. I thought I would have a dickens of a time finding the first star in the eyepiece since the Mewlon has a much more limited FOV than my NP101is (although the FOV for the Mewlon is slightly larger than with my C9.25). I figured the finderscope would be out of alignment (shipping from Japan to California to Maine) and planned to spend 30 minutes to get the finderscope aligned to the eyepiece. WRONG! I centered the finderscope on Polaris and looked through the eyepiece with my Delos 17.3 - BAM - right in the center. I had to shake my head and do a double take as I was assuming I was seeing things! Nope - Polaris was right in the center of the FOV. This was after using the finderscope base as a handle (recommended by Tak) when I was trying to manhandle the scope out of it's tight packing.
How do they do that? On my C9.25, it I just looked at the finderscope the wrong way - it went out of alignment (if I sneezed - forget it!). Ok - obviously I am exaggerating - but I did find myself always needing to align the C9.25 finderscope to the eyepiece and always had to be careful not to touch it when I mounted/unmounted it. I doubt I will have that issue with the Mewlon.
The finderscope also had beautiful optics. I am sure the optics on the finderscope are better than some telescopes. I was pleasantly surprised.
This morning - I mounted the Mewlon on my G811. I didn't notice this yesterday because, on the M2C Alt/Az mount, the telescope mounts the saddle "to the side" whereas on the EQ mount the telescope mounts to the saddle on top. The finderscope is also mounted directly on top of the telescope (versus to the side like in SCTs and refractors). So - you can't have the the diagonal pointed straight up with an eyepiece it - if so, it blocks your view through the finderscope. Obviously - this is no big deal since you can just rotate the diagonal to the side by 10 degrees (and you always rotate the diagonal when using an EQ mount to find the most desirable viewing angle). Mewlon's finderscope center mounting position is just different from what I am accustomed to.
What I Observed With:
I used the Mewlon with the following equipment:
1. TV Delos 10mm
2. TV Delos 17.3mm
3. TV Pantopic 35mm
4. TV 2" Everbrite Diagonal
5. Stellarvue Illuminated Reticle
Masked Primary Mirror:
The end of the main tube (where the spider and secondary mirror is mounted) is curved inward. This has the effect of masking the primary mirror. I read this is done because the very edges of the mirror are hard to polish to the quality of the rest of the mirror. So - the primary mirror is actually more than 180mm but the telescope is marketed as a 180mm scope due to the masking. I have to assume Tak scientists like because it delivers better overall quality of image, but Tak marketing does not because they can't market this as a 195mm (or so) scope!
The diameter of the unmasked opening is 184mm.
I tested for mirror shift using my illuminated reticle and racking the focuser back and forth when checking collimation. Polaris moved slightly during the racking, but returned to the same place after going back to focus. I plan to test more for mirror shift when I mount the Mewton to my tracking G811 mount to avoid any issues with pressure of changing focus would slightly move the OTA.
After aligning the scope via Sky Safari, I went back to Polaris to check collimation. It seemed like collimation was slightly off, but I wasn't 100% sure so I went to observing. I went to Sirius - big beautiful blue ball with diffraction spikes. So - let me give you my perspective on these "awful" diffraction spikes. They are a nit! Even on Sirius, the diffraction spikes were so muted. Would I prefer they weren't there? Probably. Did they impact my viewing - not at all. In fact - they looked somewhat beautiful.
Let me provide some more perspective. I moved the scope to Rigel and was able to resolve that double with my 17.3 Delos. The smaller star in Rigel was literally right on the diffraction spike but very easy to see and differentiate between that faint star and the spike. The spikes didn't appear on fainter objects. Again - when they were visible - I didn't find they distracted from my viewing experience.
I read a lot about the Mewlon 180 having coma for stars at the periphery. I know it's there - but I really couldn't find it when viewing the Double Cluster. I'm sure it's more discernible during imaging. I may have missed it just due to my experience - but truthfully I didn't see it. It's possible it was there, but what I saw wasn't objectionable to me. I noticed more coma in my C9.25 which seems counter to what I was expecting.
If I moved the telescope out of focus and moved the star off axis, there was tons of coma. That's as close as I got to seeing it.
I used the Mewlon to check out Orion's Nebula - one of my favorite winter time objects. I definitely resolved more of the nebula as when compared to my NP101is. The nebula looked like an eagle with wings extended to the left and right, whereas I only see the core with my refractor. I then went to Pleiades - the stars looked nice but I was just able to fit the main stars in one FOV when using my Pantopic 35mm (I am able to easily fit M45 using a Delos 17.3 in my NP101is). In regards to DSOs - I was able to see some nice detail in Bodes nebula and Cigar. Cigar was much more pronounced that Bodes. I was able to resolve the faint double star that resides just outside Bodes. I saw many more stars in the Double Cluster than I do in my NP101is - however the view of this cluster is more pleasant in a wide field refractor. I didn't purchase the Mewlon for M45 or the double cluster.
After 2 hours of observing, I went back to Polaris to check collimation. After careful consideration and knowing the scope was cooled down - I was sure it was slightly off so I took out my illuminated reticle to ensure Polaris was in the center of the FOV. I then went to my Delos 10mm, defocused the image, and tweaked the collimation screws. I barely turned them - one click here, one click there. I kept switching back and forth between the illuminated reticle and the Delos 10mm to ensure Polaris remained in the center of the FOV. After an hour of going back and forth, I got it exactly where I wanted it and then went back to viewing. To be truthful, I didn't notice any difference in my visual image. I've read that collimation for Mewlons was critically important (much more important than SCTs or Maks) - but I didn't find that to be the case. I will check collimation next time I take the scope outside to confirm I have it right where I want it.
I've read that collimating the Mewlon was more problematic than an SCT or Mak. I’m not sure why - the process seemed the same to me. Actually - it was easier because the Mewlon doesn’t need a dew shield so there was no need to ‘reach in’ to reach the screws for the secondary mirror.
Removing the scope from the mount was easy. The finderscope base can be used as a handle, and the telescope is as light as a small refractor. I shined my headlamp on the primary mirror after my 4+ hours of observing and there was no trace of dew on the primary. Ice/frost was forming on my eyepiece case so if dew was to be an issue - it would have been evident last night.
For now, I am planning to use the inner shipping box to store the Mewlon in a Sterilite container (Sterilite part number 14699002). The box literally fits perfectly in the Sterilite container. I'd like to find a better solution going forward (the cardboard is of high quality but how long can it last?). I believe laying a bed comforter in the Sterilite container and then wrapping up the telescope during transport would provide sufficient protection.
Ok - so what do I think of this reflector? In short - it's very nice. Would I call the images "refractor like"? Probably not - but I am comparing that to my NP101is. I would consider the images better than the C9.25, but a step below a refractor. If I had to choose between my NP101is and Mewlon 180 - I would pick the NP101is due to the wide field and crisp optics. However, ask me that question when Jupiter and Saturn are high in the night sky this summer (high being relative to what we can expect in 2019) and when I have a 2nd and 3rd chance to confirm collimation - my opinion may change! I bought the Mewlon for planetary and double stars, as well as extra light/resolving power for DSOs. It's a keeper.
Edited by Ruknight4ever, 24 February 2019 - 07:15 AM.