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Monthly Archives: November 2007

29 Nov

I am grateful that so many folks are getting into astronomy and I suspect that much of that is the result of those gorgeous pictures from the Hubble and even from some of the sensational astrophotography pics some amateur astronomers are getting these days. However, I also know that many beginners walk away from astronomy after one or two visits to the telescope. Basically, what they see in the eyepiece does not match up with all those pics on the internet and they are disappointed. In my opinion, this is missing the whole point of amateur astronomy. The idea in …

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28 Nov

Rode my bike to work, yesterday, and endured the usual, “Are you crazy?” remarks from some of our new employees. Those who know me don’t have to ask – they know I am crazy and that I ride my bike year round. Anyway, it was such a beautiful night, I put on an extra 10 miles on the way home, dark of the night and all. Decided to do the trail around the lake and was rewarded with the sight of thousands of ducks and geese which I could see on the calm surface of the lake in the weak …

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27 Nov

“Tis the season to be looking through a telescope”, as far as my job here at OpticsPlanet is concerned. We easily sell more telescopes this time of year than any other and most of these telescopes are for the beginner. That’s something that I love to see – the more folks that get to enjoy astronomy, the better. I started when I was very young when my mother showed me some of the basic constellations, then got into astronomy in a big way in high school, starting with my first astronomy binocular and later, in college, with my first telescope. …

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26 Nov

Had some customers saying they could not see Comet 17P/Holmes last week in their small telescopes or binoculars. I told them this is to be expected if you are observing from a light polluted urban sky with a full moon thrown in to boot. That kind of double whammy makes it tough to find any comet. Best to be patient and try again in a week or two when the moon is only quarter full or we have a new moon. In the meantime, though, you can still use that moon to good advantage. Lots to see on the moon …

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23 Nov

Not sure which Christmas it was, but I do remember that I was very young when my father bought me a microscope for Christmas. It was anything but a quality instrument, but it sparked an interest in science that has grown and flourished with each passing day of my life. After all these years, my love of nature and scinece is now at the center of my spiritual beliefs. From those early beginnings with my beginners microscope, my intersts have exploded to include a passion for all things optical. The lesson to all parents is to plant a seed this …

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21 Nov

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for so many things, big and small. Where do I begin? In terms of my interests, there is one for which I am especially grateful and that is the way I have been able to maintain my passion for astronomy despite the overwhelmingly poor observing conditions I have to endure here in the Chicago area. It hasn’t been easy and, in fact, I nearly put off doing any “serious” astronomy until the day when I moved back to my beloved open spaces out west. In the end, though, my love of astronomy won …

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20 Nov

Beginner telescope season is upon us and, once again, we are doing our best to help our customers buy that beginner’s telescope. One of the chronic headaches involving beginners telescopes is the issue of magnification. It is the single most overrated and over-hyped aspect of astronomy and I have no patience with manufacturers who prey upon this beginner’s misconception to sell their products. For the record, the single biggest factors involving actual telescope performance are aperture (diameter of the lens or mirror) and optical quality. These two are FAR more important than magnification. Astronomy is not about magnification – for …

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19 Nov

Sunday was a story of close encounters with wildlife to both start and end my day. The first encounter of the wildlife kind happened as I was riding my bike in the early dawn light on Sunday. As I rounded a bend in the trail, a Cooper’s Hawk blew past me so close that I instinctively ducked my head. Couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away. I stopped immediately and was delighted to see the hawk land in a suburban backyard where it did pose for me long enough for a good look in my Nikon 5x15HG monocular. (Where …

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15 Nov

One of then most common questions I get from customers shopping for a beginner’s telescope, is whether or not to get a telescope with a computer. Now keep in mind that I learned the night sky back when there were no computers and I also learned to navigate under dark, rural skies without any light pollution. The result? I know the night sky like most folks know their living rooms. I may forget the names of some cousins and relatives, but I know all the bright stars in the heaven by their names. So, me, with a computer on my …

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14 Nov

In the early dawn light this morning, on my way out to the car, I took my usual last glance up at the sky before getting into the car. I was pleased to see that the three current morning planets – Venus, Saturn and Mars were still visible in the early morning glow, even though it was already too bright to see any stars. Of course, I would recognize them as planets, even without a binocular or telescope, simply by the difference in the way they glow in the sky compared to stars. Yes, for those of you just getting …

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