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Monthly Archives: September 2006

29 Sep

I’m getting tired of big telescopes and heavy equipment. By the time I get home at night and get a chance to eat and catch my breath, I simply don’t have the energy or time to deal with lengthy setup and cool down that comes with the big stuff. That’s why I’ve been thinking about the Vixen Porta-Mount. I like the slow motion controls and since I don’t need or care for computers on my telescopes, it is everything I need in a visual platform. Now my only decision is what to put on it for a telescope.

I can …

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28 Sep

Living as I have in the Chicago area these last two years, it sometimes seems hard to believe I’ve spent much of my life in more open and remote locations out West. In Nebraska, where I lived and did my birding for so many years, there are counties that would swallow a city the size of Chicago and all its suburbs and yet you could barely make it to 5000 people if you were to take a census.

In that wide open country, a spotting scope was as essential birding tool and on many outings, I spent more time looking …

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27 Sep

OpticsPlanet.com was lucky enough to buy some closeout ETX spotting scopes from Meade, who also owns Weaver. This version of the ETX is called the Weaver ETX-90 and it differs from the Meade ETX-90 spotting scope only in the tube color and number of eyepieces provided. You get two eyepieces with the Weaver, instead of three with the Meade. Other than that, I could detect no difference. When you consider the price, this surely has to be one of the best buys on the spotting scope market. If I didn’t already have all I need in spotting scopes, I would …

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25 Sep

I had a great time pulling needles out of haystacks with my search for migrating warblers this weekend. Yes, “needles in haystacks” is a good description of spotting and identifying warblers this time of year. Trees are still in full leaf and it takes a ton of searching to even detect a bird and once located, it takes an equal amount of patience to wait for the bird to expose itself long enough for an identification. Guess that’s what makes it fun for me. Once you do see a Black-throated Blue after a mornings work, it makes it all the …

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22 Sep

When asked to pick my favorite $300 class bino, I never hesitate to pick the Swift Audubon 8.5×44 828HHS. Why? Well, quite simply, it is the best thing I have tested for resolution at this price and it handles like a dream. I’ve sold many of these locally to my fellow birders and have yet to hear a negative. It’s no secret that I am a binocular connoisseur (okay, snob), but I would be perfectly content to go birding all day with this classic. It passes Joanie’s “Can’t put it down” test with flying colors. If Swift ever dares to …

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21 Sep

I’ve been challenging myself lately to find some famous binocular astronomy objects, not because I don’t know them (I can see them in my sleep), but because I need a challenge now and then. How could something like M27 in Vulpecula be a challenge with binoculars, you say? Well, if you live in a light polluted location like the northwest suburbs of Chicago, even seeing a 3rd magnitude star with the naked eye is a challenge. Seeing a magnitude 7 object like M27 from a brightly lit apartment complex is therefore a worthy challenge.

Last night, we had a night …

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20 Sep

It was a beautiful autumn like morning here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, but, unfortunately, I was spending it stuck in traffic like everyone else. As I glanced over to some trees along the shoulder, though, I happened to spot some birds flitting from branch to branch. Their movements announced they were warblers, but which ones?

Most people would have to let it go at that, but not an optics nut like me. I reached in my purse and pulled out my handy Nikon 5×15 HG monocular, and turned it toward the birds. As I suspected, they were warblers …

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18 Sep

I went birding on Saturday to catch some of the migrating fall warblers coming through the area and am happy to report some action. I didn’t see a lot of different species, but I saw great numbers of Yellow-rumped and Redstarts, with an occasional Black and White and Palm to keep things interesting. What I didn’t see were other birders, but then the hot, muggy weather and plague of mosquitoes might account for that.

I use a Leica 10×25 Ultravid for nearly all my birding and normally it’s all I need, but picking those little birds out of the heavy, …

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15 Sep

My first Swarovski binocular was a Swarovski SLC7x42. That was over ten years ago, so when Swarovski announced a new version of the SLC, my curiosity was piqued. How would the new SLC hold up against Swaorovski’s flagship EL? After all, the asking price for the Swarovski 10×42 EL is more than $500 over the already hefty price of the current Swarovski SLC 10×42.

Yesterday, I pulled both premium roof prism binoculars off the shelf and put them through their paces in a side by side comparison. I walked away impressed with both binoculars, but not surprisingly, the EL was …

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14 Sep

Why, you might ask, would a telescope need a GPS? Is it lost? Well, my friend bought an older version of the LX90 telescope, the Meade LX90LNT and her telescope would occasionally get lost, at least as far as the computer alignment went. It was not unusual for her to have to realign in the middle of an observing session and on some nights, the scope would wander forever, trying to align itself when we turned it on – annoying to say the least. It was also a pain to have to enter a position every time we moved the …

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