Follow Optics Blog:



Monthly Archives: June 2005

30 Jun

I have a horrible confession to make and I hope I don’t step on any toes, but here it is. Time the world knew about Joanie and her additicion.

I’m a refractor addict. Have been since my first telescope – a cheap 60mm Jason on a flimsy alt-az mount. No way that telescope should have kept me up for hours and hours into the night, long after my mother and the rest of the family retired for the evening. But it did. Just something about that lens at the front that mesmerizes me. At a star party I head for …

Continue reading

28 Jun

Saw my first weather forecast for “haze” today. Wow! Doesn’t compare with global warming, eruption of the Yellowstone caldera, asteroid/comet impact or invasion by aliens bent on planetary conquest, but it is something new for me.

How am I supposed to astronomy and birding through haze? Haze filters? No, that seems a little too pat and too technical a response. Maybe it’s time to go swimming, instead. Surf’s up!…

Continue reading

27 Jun

Like everyone else, I am excited about the upcoming NASA mission to impact a comet with the Deep Impact spacecraft. I can’t deny the possible scientific benefits of the mission or the interest I have in this mission as an amateur astronomer. Hey, it will be interesting.

On the other hand, my spiritual belief in Earth Mother and the natural world makes me a little nervous about playing pool with celestial objects. Okay, call me a New Age nutso, but is this a wise move? Do we really want to start picking a fight with these space wanderers? I mean, …

Continue reading

24 Jun

Tested the Celestron C90 today which has been out of stock for sometime. After yesterday’s pleasant surprise with the Celestron Refractor ED 80mm, have to say this time I was disappointed. Part of the problem is that I remember the old pre-Chinese version of the C90. As Maks go, that was a pretty decent telescope.

Well, have to say the new version is not quite up to the old version. The current C90 tested no better than any other Chinese scope in the $200 range, which is to say, several cuts below the Meade ETX or LOMO 95. Of course, …

Continue reading

23 Jun

I’m getting to know the local Chicago weather patterns by now. This time of the year, a wind from the east is more likely to bring pleasant days, but a wind from the west or south and look out. Today is 90+ and tomorrow is supposed to be worse.

Oh well, I’ve been living on the prairie long enough to get used to the heat in the summer. Spend 40+ years in a state like Nebraska and you get to know hot (and cold and windy and tornado, blizzards and more).

I used to think that getting away from it …

Continue reading

22 Jun

Tested another spotting scope, the Celestron Refractor ED and was quite impressed with the optics. Resolution compared nicely with the much more expensive premium grade scopes like the Swarovski, Nikon Fieldscope ED, Leica and so on. Of course, we replaced the cheap diagonal with a high grade Lumicon and used excellent eyepieces, but the scope was solid. Who said you can’t get a decent scope at a good price? I mean $500 isn’t cheap. but compared to over a grand and even two grand for the big names, this is a solid value.

Just when I was getting high on …

Continue reading

21 Jun

I lit my candle last night for the Solstice and spent a long time on the phone with a friend. She lives in Wisconsin and does the Solstice right. She builds a fire on the bank of a river and spends a quiet evening with some wine and a prayer or two to the Goddess. So we talked in hushed tones as befits something so special to both of us.

I should have been there with her, but my job is all-consuming. Never seem to be caught up and must fight to keep from falling behind. Sometimes, though, it takes …

Continue reading

20 Jun

Earth Mother smiled and the sky was clear here in Chicagoland on Saturday night. Stacey and I started the evening with a nice meal at a local Thai place, then on to her place for some astronomy.

As usual, here Meade Autostar was being cranky and after fighting to get the thing to function, we just swapped it out with the hand control from her other scope. I’ve been observing with her on six different occasions now and only once did we avoid computer glitches. So guess what I think of computerized telescopes? Aaaarrrggghh!

On a brighter note, I did …

Continue reading

18 Jun

My friend and I were hoping for clear skies tonight so we could pull out our scopes and do the astronomy thing. The weather is nice and cool and if the sky would just clear, we might have great seeing conditions.

From here in suburban Chicago, astronomy for me is as much nostalgia as it is actual observation. I know what objects look like under a really dark sky, so when I see them here, I have to add a little imagination to make more than what I am actually seeing. In a way, it’s remarkable that we can see …

Continue reading

17 Jun

With a binocular, 8x is pretty much 8x from one model to another. Oh sure, the expensive 8x will still be sharper brighter and better, but these days, even an inexpensive 8x will do 90% of the work the high-priced model will do.

Not so with spotting scopes. As magnification goes up, the stakes get much higher. At 20x, most spotting scopes look reasonably good, but when you get past 30x, the pack begins to thin out rapidly.

For applications that entail seeing small detail at great distances, the highest magnification is in order. If you want an image that …

Continue reading