12-inch (300mm) Dall-Kirkham Cassegrain Telescope

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The Mewlon series of Dall-Kirkham Cassegrain telescopes from Takahashi offer the experienced observer a level of performance and portability not found in other Cassegrain telescopes mass produced for amateurs. Classical Cassegrain telescopes offer excellent performance but they are extremely expensive to produce at large apertures. By concentrating on the Dall-Kirkham Cassegrains, the Mewlon offers a professional level of performance within reach of most amateurs.

The Mewlons use an ellipsoidal figure on the primary mirror and a spherical figure on the secondary. By focusing on very tight tolerances for these surfaces, Takahashi is able to deliver a compact telescope with reasonable aperture and high resolution. Where fast F/ratios are not required, the F/12 Mewlons provide excellent contrast by utilizing a smaller secondary mirror than comparable Cassegrain designs. Secondary obstruction as a percentage of diameter is 29-31% on the Mewlons. Classical Cassegrain telescopes usually have secondary obstruction of 32% or greater. Commercial Schmidt-Cassegrains have secondary obstructions of approximately 38% for F/10 systems. Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrains have even more secondary obstruction making them less suitable for visual, high contrast applications.

Takahashi uses extensive knife-edge baffling to minimize stray reflections as well as a specially designed tube that also acts as a light baffle. The result is an instrument that rivals an excellent long-focus Newtonian or refractor for contrast and sharpness. Some opticians have criticized the Dall-Kirkham design as having unacceptable coma. With most eyepieces (including Panoptics & Naglers) the coma is negligible and well outside the field of view. Stars are much smaller and sharper than in commercial Schmidt-Cassegrains. Coma may be a problem for wide-field astro-imaging, but these instruments were not designed for such tasks. With Takahashi's field flattener/reducer, these instruments offer superb off-axis images at F/9.

The 300mm model has electronic focusing accomplished by moving the secondary mirror. This eliminates the image-shift problem inherent to commercial Schmidt-Cassegrains with moving primary mirrors. Because of the loose tolerances required in moving large and heavy mirrors on a baffle tube, most SCT's will not maintain perfect collimation. Image quality is then compromised in such optical systems. The large Mewlons also have removable covers for their primary mirror cells, this aides in rapid mirror cooling so that the observer can take advantage of favorable seeing conditions more quickly. These features make the large Mewlons ideal for high-resolution CCD imagery.

On the planets, many observers have reported seeing details they thought impossible with telescopes of this aperture. With the exception of a few diffraction spikes around bright stars, one might believe they were observing with a large apochromatic refractor. The advantage, though, is a greater amount of light grasp and resolution than a comparably priced refractor.

For further analysis of the Takahashi Mewlon Series of Dall-Kirkham Cassegrains, please read Jean Dragesco's review in his book High Resolution Astrophotography, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Text excerpt from Texas Nautical Repair