Meade Polaris 114 Telescope Review: Wobbly
Polaris 114 has incredible optics attached to a poorly executed, plastic mount.
Thankfully this is not a Bird-Jones telescope like the Polaris 127. A Bird-Jones telescope is simply a waste of money at this price range and shouldn’t be bought. Polaris 114 has an unusually long optical tube instead of a Bird-Jones design. It still has a spherical primary mirror, which creates defects in the image due to multiple focal points.
But with the Meade Polaris 114, this problem is solved with the long optical tube(around 1000mm). The long travel of light inside the tube clears out most defects. The result is a sharp, color-accurate image. At this price range, there is no other type of telescope that can provide accurate images at high-magnifications. But unfortunately, there is a problem, the mount.
The 1000mm optical tube is the source of optical quality, but instability as well.
The equatorial mount simple can’t carry the optical tube. Around high magnifications, let’s say 90x-100x, a tiny wobble in the mount will ruin your viewing experience. Therefore you need an incredibly solid mount, probably a Dobsonian so that you can use it at high-magnifications.
The mount can’t carry the optical tube.
A tripod and an equatorial can carry a lightweight refractor, but this is a 1m long reflector. It is heavy, and because of its length, it easily creates an imbalance. In time you will more than likely get frustrated with the mount.
The accessories are the same as the other Polaris models. The telescope comes with below-average 3 eyepieces to cover the magnification range, a standard red dot finder, and a useless Barlow. There is also a some-what useful prism for terrestrial viewing.
The accessories shouldn’t be the reason for getting Polaris 114. At this price range, you will probably get the cheapest possible models.
The only drawback, but a major one, is the equatorial mount. It is not solid enough for the optical tube.
A telescope must be a good combination of a solid mount and good quality optics. Although Meade Polaris excels in optics, the mount can’t handle the optical power. We’re not saying, “don’t buy Polaris 114 in any case”.
Lack of a sturdy mount is hard to forgive.
A telescope that excels in optics and frustrates with its mount. Meade Polaris 114 explained in one sentence.
1000mm Focal Length
Polaris 114 is not a bird-jones.
A spherical primary mirror is not a problem if it is built in a really long optical tube. Such a design would decrease the defects due to the low angle of the incoming light. Meade Polaris has a 1m long optical tube, creating an f/8 focal ratio. This greatly reduces spherical aberrations.
The cheap primary mirror is not a problem due to the longer optical tube.
The optics provide phenomenal images of the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus. It is easy to get images of 4 Galilean Moon’s of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn, and the Great Red Spot.
Deep sky viewing is average. 114mm aperture will let you see brighter deep space objects such as the Orion Nebula, Pleiades Star Cluster, and the Hercules Cluster.
I am physically experiencing pain while I’m writing this paragraph. The optics are so good for the price, it is really sad to see them brought down by the shaky mount.
A plastic EQ2 mount can handle a small refractor. It can even handle the 130mm Polaris since it has a short optical tube. But it lacks the stability that is desperately needed for high-magnification viewing.
The mount is so inadequate it hurts my brain.
You can replace the mount, but then what is the point in buying Polaris 114 in the first place?
Red Dot Finder
There is not much to say about the accessories. They are the same as the other Polaris models’. They are OK for the beginning. But we recommend upgrading the eyepieces with Plössl’s.
The telescope comes with modified Kellner eyepieces that have 6.3mm, 9mm, and 26mm apertures. They cover the magnification range for the telescope.
The standard red dot finder doesn’t bring up any complaints.
The Barlow simply creates too much power for already a high focal ratio telescope.
The prism is usable for terrestrial viewing.
The shaky mount pulls the whole package down.
2x Barlow is unnecessary.
We are not throwing this model into thrash can. It definitely has some value to it. Proper 100x magnification viewing at this price range is rare. Such power would probably mesmerize a beginner. But Meade should have used a Dobsonian mount for this model instead of a tripod-EQ2.
Is instability acceptable? Depends.
If you decide to buy Polaris 114, you are getting exceptional optics with a wobbly mount. And this is an acceptable sacrifice at this price range.