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Monthly Archives: February 2008

28 Feb

Coaching beginners on which telescope to buy is a big part of my job and, of course, the conversation centers around equipment. After all, that’s why they come to us, here at opticsPlanet. I certainly do my best to answer all the questions and give advice freely on telescopes, but I also try to give a customer some perspective as to what makes an astronomer and that goes beyond equipment. When possible, I also try to discuss observing techniques, observing sites and expectations. These are every bit as important, if not more important, than equipment and should be factored into …

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27 Feb

I haven’t had any issues with macular degeneration, though I did once experience some vision problems with diabetes, years ago, so I can sympathize with those having such vision problems. I tried just about everything to adapt to my ever changing vision caused by diabetes, including magnifiers, reading glasses and so on. Hand-free magnifiers, such as the B&L Hnads-Free, helped for reading and needlepoint, as did reading glasses, but neither helped much when looking at a computer screen or across the room, since magnifiers have such short working distances. For more distance work, I did get some relief with compact …

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26 Feb

Rode the bike through yet another snowstorm, this morning. Aside from lightly plowed side streets, my biggest challenge was avoiding “snow bombs”. Snow that had accumulated last night on tree branches plummeted to the ground in this morning’s high winds, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Nothing like getting hit square in the old helmet with a pile of unexpected snow. All in a day’s ride, though, for this gal. Hard to believe that in only another week or two (I hope), I will be sitting out at the marsh with my birding binocular and spotting scope. We all handle spring fever …

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25 Feb

Biking in to work on Saturday morning, the sun was shining and the cardinals were singing up a storm. That is as sure a sign of spring as any. Forget the mp3 player, CDs or iPod. Who needs digital technology with such sweet music floating in the air? If you are out trying to spot those beautiful red vocalists with your binocular or spotting scope, look for the highest perch, around. The males like to get that song out there with the greatest coverage. Get out there and listen.…

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21 Feb

As we get older, we get a little wiser, though some folks may say we get a bit lazier. Anyway, during the total eclipse of the moon, last night, I had a choice. I could go the traditional route and step out onto the patio in the single digit cold we are having, here in Chicago, or I could opt for a view from my bedroom window. Peering through the frosty air, astronomy binocular in hand, and watching the earth’s shadow crawl slowly across the moon would be the way most dedicated astronomers would choose. On the other hand, a …

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20 Feb

The moon was shining high in a very cold sky, this morning, as I rode to work on my bicycle. Made for a spectacular ride, what with the light dusting of snow we had on the roads this morning. Mornings like this make me wonder why more people don’t commute on bicycles in the winter. Okay, more to the point, the moon looks prime and ready for the lunar eclipse, tonight. I will have my astronomy binoculars ready, one at hand and another mounted on a tripod. Will also have a digital camera, fully charged, to get some pics. All …

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19 Feb

Okay, so you want to go out tomorrow night with your little digital camera and get some shots of the moon during the lunar eclipse. Is this possible? Sure. Just remember, even at 3x or 4x optical zoom, the moon’s image size is going to very small. The good news is that you can crop and play with the image when you get it into your computer, so get out there and fire away. If your digital camera has a night mode, use it. Otherwise, set the exposure for at least several seconds and longer is better (up to a …

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18 Feb

With all the snow, this winter, my local bicycle shop has done a landmark business in renting cross country skis. Now that’s something I would like to see us carry, here at OpticsPlanet. Skis would make a nice addition to our line of binoculars, spotting scopes and telescopes. Been meaning to buy a set of skis for a long time, now, but this is the first winter in many years with enough snow to justify the purchase. Doing some cross country skiing may even be as much fun as ice biking!…

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14 Feb

It’s Valentine’s Day and, again, I have no sweetheart. They say there is someone out there for everyone, but, in my case, that someone is probably on a different planet. Even worse, with 200 extra solar planets discovered so far, I don’t even know which planet he calls home. Wherever he is, though, you will most likely find him behind a binocular, spotting scope or telescope. If you are out there, doing a little inerstellar traveling, just tap him on the shoulder (or whatever passes for a shoulder on that planet) and tell him hello from his sad and lonely …

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13 Feb

There is a time and a place for mp3 players, even for someone who loves music as much as I do. One place I don’t like to see mp3 players, though, is on people who are riding bicycles. To put it as bluntly as possible, being plugged in to an mp3 player and listening to music as you ride a bicycle is just plain stupid from a safety point of view. A bicyclist needs to hear traffic approaching from behind at all times. I know – I ride a bicycle every day and a bicycle is my only means of …

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