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Posts Made By: Robert Howe

April 6, 2020 01:39 AM Forum: Mounts

August 23, 2020 10:00 AM Forum: Reflectors

Looking for a cat/mount unit

Posted By Robert Howe

Good day all
After 20 years as a refractorphile I am coming to the end of my ability to do all the crouching, squatting, standing on tiptoe and reaching over things which comes with using an apo on a GEM.  I'm looking for a unit comprising an Altaz mount with attached telescope, aperture 9 inches or more, with ability to piggyback a solar scope, a small apo, whatever, on the back.

Who suggests what setup?  

May 18, 2021 06:56 PM Forum: ASTRONOMY

First Light with a Mewlon 210

Posted By Robert Howe

Last night was First Light for my new Takahashi Mewlon 210.  For a decade I’ve had a big apo, first an AP 175 then a TEC 180 f/7, mounted atop my very favorite telescope ever, an AP 130 f/8.35.  What a great scope that AP is, it hits the sweet spot for everything, aperture, FL, clarity, logistics.  Anyway, in recent years the big apo became unwieldy, my permanently achin’ back made it hard to get under the EP for extended viewing of anything above 40o of so elevation.  So in September 2020 I visited our hosts at Anacortes and put a deposit on a Mewlon 210, reasoning that the much shorter tube would allow me to stand or sit comfortably for most objects most nights. When in November I lost my job I sold the TEC.  Anticipating the Tak softened the blow of this sale, as I would be replacing a 180 mm apo with a 210 mm Dall-Kirkham.  This telescope would also be my first Tak; apart from special projects, I have only owned American-made scopes up to now, by AP, TEC, Televue and Starmaster.

The Tak arrived two weeks ago, taking almost as long as a baby to arrive (but sooner than a new AP!). I mounted it, did preliminary testing and aligned the finder during the daytime.  I was disappointed that the 1.25 inch diagonal promised in the manual was not included and more so that Texas Nautical would not make this up to me.  The scope is happily light at 18#.  I had removed a TeleVue 85 from atop the AP to place the Mewlon and hardly had to move the counterweights.

My viewing last night commenced with the moon. Using a Televue 2 inch diagonal as my visual back I applied a series of Televue EPs: 35, 24 and 19 mm Panoptics, 22 Nagler and 13 mm Ethos and Nagler.  The 35 Panoptic and 22 Nagler are two inch EPs.

My first views of the terminator were a little disappointing, the focus lacked that snappy crispness that one sees with a fine apo.  I could get it almost just right and then in a moment it would be soft again.  I also was unhappy to see that the scopes are not perfectly co-axial, I’ll have to put in a shim to adjust the Tak laterally.  The Pan 35 made a lovely whole-moon view but it was hard to take in everything at once with this EP.  The Pan 24 gave it a more dramatic look and framed the moon better. 

Moving east, I trained the Tak on Arcturus and was pleased to find no diffraction spikes.  It was quite a lovely presentation, very very bright of course with a hint of orange. I did a star test with a 9 mm Nagler and the Tak passed it perfectly.

Views through the AP were crisp and sharp, but even in imperfect skies the Tak held its own on this near-zenith star.  I swapped EPs around and settled on the 13 mm Ethos (83x, 1.2o) for the AP, using it the rest of the night.

Moving from Arcturus to Izar and Cor Caroli, in both doubles the initial views were the best.  They split cleanly and the colors were great, the faint blue in the B star of Cor Caroli was especially clear.  I settled on the Pan 24 (101x, 0.64o FOV) and 19 (127x, 0.52o) as being the most sympathetic to the Tak. I could not sharpen the views at all and wanted more crispness from the new scope.

I moved on to M13, M92 and Rasalgethi.  For the two clusters, the Pan 19 gave the best views. These were of course larger than in the AP and had wonderful clarity.  The clusters were granular and full of detail, more detail than I remembered from using the TEC, yet without being crisp.  The double star was wonderfully colored in yellow and green, clearly split but without the precision of focus that I had with the AP.  It was in the eastern sky, much lower than the overhead doubles had been.  The AP maintained clarity here.

My AP900 mount handled the two scopes like they weighed nothing.  I stood at the EP for a long time, observing M13 and M 92 by turns, slewing from one to the other. It slowly hit me that although the Mewlon lacks the exquisitely sharp focus of the AP130, my objective in purchasing it had been achieved; I had just spent an hour observing a handful of favorite objects, several of them directly overhead, while standing or sitting comfortably.  I could spend more time observing in comfort than I had with the really big apo.  The best telescope is the one you use.

In summary, the Mewlon 210 is a fine telescope, but does not have the dramatic clarity of the AP130 with which I have it paired nor of the TEC 180 which it replaced. It’s a fussier scope, being more sensitive to altitude and skies than the apos.  The 1.25 inch EPs are easier to observe with than are the 2 inch EPs.  Prolonged observation is more comfortable for me with this scope, so I will likely be spending more time in my sadly-neglected observatory than I have this year.  While this is a good thing, I was sorry not to experience a first night of dramatic, breath-taking views with the scope.

I’ll appreciate comments and suggestions from experienced Mewlon visual observers.

May 27, 2021 05:25 PM Forum: ASTRONOMY

First Light with a Mewlon 210

Posted By Robert Howe

Hi Gents,

Thanks for your comments.  I have not had a chance to get back to my observatory and the Mewlon/AP combination, I hope to next week.  As to the purchase, I bought the 'scope from Herb and Paula, who treated me with great integrity and openness, allowing me to pay over time and to postpone the order when I lost my last job. 

Upon receiving the telescope I read the manual, which mentions the reticle illuminator and the diagonal visual back as being included with the scope. I reached out to Tak's importer, Texas Nautical, who quickly blew me off.  I did not reach out to Anacortes about this because I had contracted with them only to buy a telescope, I did not realize until reading the manual that Tak includes, or rather used to include, those two parts.  No harm was done, but I wish the maker gave accurate information.

Cheers, clear skies,


August 30, 2021 10:41 PM Forum: Takahashi

Equilibrating a Mewlon

Posted By Robert Howe

Hello Tak fanatics,

A couple months ago I sold my TEC 180 apo, which had come to present me with insurmountable physical challenges, using a portion of the proceeds to buy a new Mewlon 210.  It is kept in a roll-off observatory and is piggy-backed on an AP130 f/8.35 refractor.  Although the ergonomic issues have now been resolved, I'm very disappointed by the Mewlon,  I've observed with it 8 times and only once has it behaved well.  Images are unclear, they don't snap to focus.  I can get higher clear magnification with the much smaller aperture of the AP.  The clever gentleman at Texas Nautical tells me there are tube currents to be waited out.  This would invalidate my usual modus operandi of going out on a whim, observing for 30-40 minutes and then going to bed.

Has anyone a strategy for eliminating these currents?  Is there a fan I can plug into the diagonal for 10 or 12 minutes before observing?  At present, if I expect to observe I will slew the mount so that the rears of the scopes are upright, take the front cap off the downward-pointing Mewlon, then take the rear plug out of the diagonal, in the hope that hot air will rise into the night and ambient air will replace it.  I let it sit like this for four hours before observing on the one night that it behaved well. 

A means to accelerate this process would help.  Is there a fan mounted to fit in the diagonal?
Indeed, a means of adding a fan that allows me to observe simultaneously would be even better.

Many thanks

Robert Howe
Wilbraham MA

April 2, 2022 08:04 PM Forum: ASTRONOMY

Cataract surgery

Posted By Robert Howe

After increasing difficulty for 5 years, my dominant-eye cataract is ready to go.  I will appreciate advice from AMarters about the sort of replacement lens to seek and anything else I should know. 

I have found a couple of threads on CloudyNights and an amazing pdf by Jerry Oltion on the problems his wife faced from an unsympathetic surgeon.  I have ordered a book on Astronomy for Older Eyes. 

My long-time opthalmologist, himself an observer, retired two years ago, so I intend to seek three opinions, then go with the Doc who is most sympathetic to an observer.

Your thoughts will be appreciated. 

December 30, 2022 10:26 AM Forum: Astro-Physics

December 30, 2022 10:27 AM Forum: Astro-Physics