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Monthly Archives: February 2006

24 Feb

I woke up early a couple of days ago and heard a sound that didn’t sound quite right for a February morning. It took a moment, then it dawned on me that I was hearing the cooing of a Mourning Dove. In February? Was this bird lost? Of course, I immediately seized upon the explanation that it was a sign of spring. Spring is here!

Okay, maybe I was jumping the gun. Still, I was sure of what I heard. This was verified later when I drove out of the parking lot and saw a flock of maybe a dozen …

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23 Feb

What do you use when you want a quick peep at the stars and find that a binocular isn’t enough and a telescope is just too much? Answer, a spotting scope.

Last night I got home late and had a full schedule of things to do, but the sky was clear (for a change) so I just had to take a peek. I picked up my spotting scope and headed for the patio. I turned the little Kowa 663 on Canis Major to spot of few open clusters. It took a while under the light polluted Chicago skies, but at …

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21 Feb

Old-timers like me who learned the sky the old-fashioned way via a star map and a dark night sky are becoming an endangered species. I resisted the move to computerized telescopes when they first hit the market and stuck with my manual mounts, secure in the knowledge that there was no subsitute for celestial navigation the old fashioned way. I was proud of the fact that I could point to almost any bright star and give you its name. It’s a feat that no GOTO telescope can do without a lot of positioning and slewing of the controls.

Now it …

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15 Feb

I could not be more pleased than to see OpticsPlanet become a sponsor for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. This is one of the most prestigious non-profit, educational and environmental organizations in the world and a familiar friend of every birder. As a lifelong birder, teacher and optics expert, it means a lot to me to be employed by an organization that has stepped forward as a sponsor for the Lab. Thank-you OpticsPlanet.…

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13 Feb

I was out this weekend on a field trip to a plant conservatory and decided to make a side-trip on the way home, hopefully to add a few bird species to my ’06 bird list. All work and no play makes for a pretty empty list, after all.

Thirty minutes on the trails at a local sanctuary, though, only resulted in several Juncos, one Red-bellied Woodpecker and some chattering teeth on my part. Definitely time to warm up, so I stopped in the Nature Center building on the way back to the car. While thawing out, I wandered over to …

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09 Feb

Due to our ever-expanding growth, OpticsPlanet is in need of another, full-time riflescope product specialist. Primary focus will answering inquiries about shooting optics via telephone and internet, making recommendations about products, suggesting replacements for items out of stock and assisting the web team in organizing and editing product copy. Preference will be given to applicants with sales and/or customer service experience, but will train any applicant with a strong background in the shooting sports. Position includes paid health insurance and a generous discount program. This is a chance to put your knowledge of the outdoors to work in a young, …

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06 Feb

Had a clear night last week, but little time, so I grabbed my little Kowa 663 spotting scope and aimed it at Saturn. Now one of my tests of a good scope is to see at what magnification I can see the rings of Saturn as separate from the planet. To get a plus on this report card, I must be able to see at least a sliver, no matter how tiny, of dark space between the planet and the rings. In past tests, the average spotting scope usually requires between 40x and 50x to do this. Premium grade spotting …

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02 Feb

This is an excerpt from an article I have been working on for our website. Pass it on to someone who is thinking about getting started, but needs a little push.


1. Birds are everywhere. You will never have to travel far to see birds. They are as close as your backyard or neighborhood park. For more variety, try your nearest urban center, cemetery, airport or even your local land fill. Will you be traveling? Watching birds on your next vacation, camping trip or fishing expedition is a great way to see new birds. …

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