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Monthly Archives: November 2006

28 Nov

“Tis a joy to be simple, tis a joy to be free” or so the old Shaker hymn goes. That’s my philosophy on most things, including astronomy and, especially, astronomy equipment. You might say I’m a minimalist at heart. That’s why I love observing with an old 10×50 binocular or even just my two eyes as I recount all the myths and lore of the constellations overhead.

It also explains my love of Dobsonian telescopes. Could anything be simpler? No electronics, no computer, no alignment, no gears, levers or sophisticated machinery to get between you and the sky. Pretty much …

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24 Nov

Okay, I would never commit a sacrilege like stealing a birdfeeder. I do, however, borrow one, now and then, so to speak.

In my apartment, we are not even allowed to put up birdfeeders, so I have to take resort to covert operations to bring birds to my window. At night, I sneak out silently and broadcast black oil sunflower seed on the lawn in front of my walk-in patio door. The next day, I open the blinds and there on the lawn, I will see Juncos, doves and other typical groundfeeders. This is only an appetizer, however. For the …

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23 Nov

For us here at, a day off at this time of year is like a thirsty wanderer getting a drink of water in the desert. It is very much appreciated.

Since it is Thanksgiving, tomorrow, I just want to say thank you to all my wonderful customers over these last few years. I sincerely like working with people and helping them and that’s what keeps me going through the long hours I put in each week. It’s the way I feel deep down and for that I am ever grateful.…

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21 Nov

I have a lot of talents, or so I’m told, but a sense of direction is not one of them. In fact, I have yet to meet another human being who can so consistently get lost, even in her own neighborhood, as yours truly. I once even managed to get lost on an airplane and needed help to get back to my seat.

So I suspect my friends are all thinking about getting me a GPS unit for Christmas. That’s great, but, girls, please keep it simple. I don’t want something that talks or beeps at me. A map would …

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16 Nov

It’s that time of year! You might think I’m referring to Thanksgiving and a holiday feast or, perhaps, Christmas trees or holiday music. Yes, all of that, to be sure, but around here, the holidays mean “telescopes”. We sell more telescope in the months of November and December than all the rest of the year put together. That’s a lot of telescopes!

Most of the questions I get about telescopes this time of year are the real basic stuff. What do the numbers mean? What is a reflector? What is a refractor? What can I see? For those folks, I …

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10 Nov

I arrived home last night from work after a tortuous drive and dragged myself out of the car, then began my weary journey to the front door of our apartment complex. First thing that dawned on my fuzzy mind was that the weather was warm, very pleasantly so. I took a deep breath of sweet air, stopped, then looked skyward. Directly overhead I could see the summer triangle. It was early in the evening, of course, so this group of stars had hours to go before they set. I even took a minute to look at Vega through my Nikon …

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09 Nov

My fellow product specialist and fellow astronomer here at, namely Bob, was good enough to bring his Celestron Refractor 80ED to see the transit of Mercury, today. Bob equipped his Celestron with a solar filter, set the scope up in the parking lot late this afternoon and started inviting employees out to see the big event.

Most employees had never seen Mercury before, so were happy to make its acquaintance, though it was little more than black dot against the immense disc of the sun. For Bob and I, it was as much a miracle to have a clear …

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03 Nov

The fall color show is almost over here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, but the maples are making a great last stand. Seems hard to believe it is November, all the same. Guess I’m ready, though. The bicycle is mounted on a trainer in my living room, the car has been winterized (including a rebuilt alternator), my sweaters are ready and my Nikon sits by the door waiting patiently.

You see, winter is my favorite season for astronomy. The open clusters in Cassiopeia, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Major, Monoceros et al on a cold winter night in a binocular …

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