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Monthly Archives: December 2005

30 Dec

My New Year’s resolution is to control my telescope apetite and stay with something small and portable, even if it means sacrificing a little performance. Basically I am tired of making an expedition out of observing, with two or three trips needed just to get my telescope out on the patio or stowed away safely in the back seat of my car. With my schedule, I just don’t have time to deal with lengthy set-up and tear-down time and even less time to wait while a big scope cools down to air temperature in the winter.

Then, too, there is …

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29 Dec

Since I have already been fantasizing about a Televue 76, I might as well finish it with the appropriate Televue accessories. My first accessory will be the excellent Panoptic 24mm, which would deliver 20x. To get more magnification, I would just barlow up with 2.5x Powermate (1.25″) or a 5x Powermate (1.25″). Another idea would be to place a 2x Powermate (2″) or the 4x Powermate (2″) forward of the 2″ diagonal. Of course, this would change the magnification to something more like a 3x and 6x, repectively. Or hey, since this is a fantasy, I could get them all.…

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28 Dec

I have grown tired of wrestling with big telescopes and heavy equatorial mounts every time I come home to a clear sky. I remember fondly the many nights I spent with my old Televue Pronto. From a dark sky site I actually saw every Messier object, though I occasionally needed a little help now and then from a nebula filter. A light bucket it was not, but the Pronto gave gorgeous views of the brighter star clusters and nebulae.

As good as it was, the Pronto did have a touch of chromatic when I targeted brighter stars and the edge …

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22 Dec

Our internet Christmas sales season is about over here at, with only a few desperate, last-minute shoppers asking for a miracle at this late hour. All in all, it has been a good season for us and I had the pleasure of helping many nice people find that “just right” gift.

Now, though, I am ready for a cup of hot chocolate, a more normal 50 hour work week, and maybe even a day off. Next clear night, I plan to grab a scope and get caught up on astronomy and, clear or not, my next day off will …

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15 Dec

With all the fuss over Mars this year, many people have overlooked the fact that 06′ will be a nice year for those other planetary goodies – Saturn and Jupiter. Both are nice targets for even a small refractor. I still remember my first view of Saturn. It was with an old Jason 60mm refractor on an awful mount, but it still earned a “Wow!” from me. I have seen the same response from other youngsters over the years when sharing a telescope with them. I have even had a few refuse to believe the Saturn they were seeing in …

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10 Dec

Years ago I pawned my high end Contax cameras and Zeiss lenses during some very difficult financial times. It was such a painful experience to let go of that fabulous equipment that I haven’t been able to look a good SLR in the eye for a long time. Still, the urge to stop and take a pic of some wildflowers or to frame a perfect landscape scene has never waned. Nature photgraphy just gets in the blood and stays there.

The other day we received a fresh shipment of Canon 20D cameras. How could I resist? I picked one up …

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09 Dec

The nice thing about compact binoculars and almost any monocular is that they make great stocking stuffers. One of my favorites is the Zeiss Miniquick.

At first glance, you will almost certainly mistake the Miniquick as a fat ball point pen. In fact, it is just that very size. When you examine it more closely, however, you will find a small objective lens on one end – 10mm – and an eyepiece at the other. Interesting.

Now most 10mm lens instruments will be taken as a joke. That’s what blows me away every time I look through a Miniquick. It …

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04 Dec

Those who know me will tell you that my favorite binoculars are the compacts – the little guys who are always with me, come rain or sunshine. No, compact binoculars don’t offer the performance of their bigger brothers and sisters, but a premium grade compact binocular can narrow that gap considerably.

Christmas, however, tends to bring in the requests for the less expensive compact binoculars, so here are some of my favorites. The Pentax UCF X II 8×25 is a great little bino at a very nice price. You would be hard pressed to find a better choice in this …

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