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Monthly Archives: January 2006

30 Jan

In response to a question on our forum, I once again checked the optics of several $300 binoculars, one being the Nikon Monarch 8×42. I’ve always used the Monarch as a reference standard over the past couple years and, once again, it amazed me. A $300 should not be this good. I recommend this as the best $300 roof prism binocular for two reasons. First, the Monarch consistently outscores other $300 roof prisms in its price range for optical resolution, even putting some binoculars costing two and three times as much to shame. Edge to edge sharpness is also good …

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28 Jan

I’ve been thinking about getting a quality mobile astronomy observatory again – in other words, a handheld binocular. After talking all day about high tech bells and whistles, electronic gizmos, GOTO features and the relative merits of the latest precision mounts, the last thing I want to do when I get home is rethink it all when I get lucky enough to observe. Don’t get me wrong – the high tech approach has its merits – but there is something about the simplicity of binocular astronomy that makes it very special to me. I am a minimalist at heart, albeit …

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23 Jan

Digiscoping – attaching a digital point and shoot to a spotting scope to take pictures – has seen yet another surge in popularity, thanks in large part to the appearance of universal style digital adapters now flooding the market. In the past, finding adapters for specific cameras has been a headache, since there is no standardization on filter thread size, accessory brackets and so on. This meant that many cameras could not be mounted to a spotting scope. On the other end, very few spotting scopes offered digital camera adapters. Now, with adapters such as the Radian Universal, nearly any …

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21 Jan

I am constantly amazed how shocked some customers are when I tell them they can use a spotting scope for astronomy. Sure, a spotting scope is limited by its mount, its size, and usually it’s lack of magnification, but if you want views of some of the larger celestial objects such as star clusters and nebulae, a spotting scope can keep you busy for a long time. Premium grade spotting scopes, especially those with special high-performance glass, are capable of excellent image quality as well. Spotting scopes can do a good job of briding the gap between astronomy with binoculars …

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20 Jan

Due to the dearth of clear skies in the Chicago area for over a month now, I must assume that local astronomers have offended the great spirit in the sky. It has long been known that whenever a new telescope arrives, the sky will immediately cloud up. Obviously, then, many Chicago area residents received a new telescope for the holidays. Now if those clever folks at Meade, Celestron et al can come up with light pollution filters, then they should also be able to come up with a “cloud” filter. Since it is better marketing to put a positive spin …

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17 Jan

Most people tend to think of spring bird migration as an April and May event, but those of us who love waterfowl are out in late February, weather permitting, in the hopes of catching some early action. Things don’t usually get going until later in March, but it just feels good to be out birding with a spotting scope again.

This spring, I’ll be out with my trusty Kowa 663 or Gus, the Nikon 82ED Fieldscope. Have to hand it to Gus for the performance, but I use the Kowa more often because it comes within 90% of the Nikon …

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13 Jan

Onee of my New Years”s resolutions is to add more informaion on birding to our website. As a lifelong birder, I firmly believe that everyone can and will enjoy birding if given half a chance and a good start. Since equipment is part of getting a good start, that’s where I come in. As a published author on optics and birding, former birding tour guide, seminar presenter, and science teacher, I have the ability to blab on and on about these topics till the wee hours of the night. I promise not to keep anyone up that late (unless he …

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10 Jan

I started my birding year on New Year’s Day with my local Audubon group. We did our annual field trip to a local wildlife sanctuary and enjoyed some nice weather. We also enjoyed some nice birds. We started with a Golden-crowned Kinglet in some conifers, then moved out into the prairie and picked up a Northern Shrike. Through the Leica Ultravid, he/she made a striking figure on the top of a young tree. It was my first Illinois Shrike, so what a way to start the year.

On the astronomy front, things have been a bit gloomy – literally. We …

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03 Jan

OpticsPlanet.com is in need of product specialist (one position) in either riflescopes or in astronomy to help me with an ever expanding workload in these two product areas. This position requires a strong background in one of the above product areas, with actual experience using the products. Preference will be given to candidates with sales and customer service experience.

We are located just north of Chicago in one of the suburbs (Prospect Heights), but will be moving this spring to a new facility in nearby Northbrook, Il. OpticsPlanet.com is a rapidly growing company with a friendly staff. This is a …

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