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Monthly Archives: June 2008

30 Jun

Choosing a telescope can be a daunting ordeal for a beginner. First, there are so many optical types of telescopes. Next you add different types of mounts. Computerized or manual? Where does a beginner start? That’s why I wrote articles on this topic for our website. All are written with the beginner in mind. First stop, How to choose the right telescope, then on to Telescope FAQs for a review on how to use a beginner telescope. Also must reading is the A Dozen Telescope Observing Tips For Beginners. Where you observe can great influence your choice of telescope…

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26 Jun

In the birding world, shorebird fans like me know that migration for shorebirds is not like other groups. Shorebirds actually begin appearing in serious numbers as early as July and really get going in August. The trick is to find a marsh with the right water conditions, or, should I say, mud conditions. Mud flats are where you find most shore birds. I’ve been scouting my local marshes, but so far, all are filled to the brim with water, meaning no mud. Really no need to drag the spotting scope along until I find a good spot, but I suspect …

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25 Jun

Been a perfect breeding season for mosquitoes, so just a reminder to all those folks out there using repellents. Formulas containing DEET can ruin the finish on a binocular, spotting scope, camera or any valuable optic and even make some armored surfaces tacky. DEET, in fact, can make a good paint remover if used in concentrated form. No denying the effectiveness of DEET, but when using binoculars and spotting scopes, I am always careful to use non-DEET repellents. I am currently using a lemon Eucalyptus formula that is moderately effective and harmless to finishes. Most such plant based repellents I …

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24 Jun

Moving past full moon, now, so time for summer observing with the astronomy binocular or telescope. I do love summer astronomy, but it tends to keep me up late, especially since the lights of a nearby tennis court don’t go off till 10:00 PM. Just another headache we urban astronomers have to endure, I guess. Still, it is fun watching the bats dip into the light beams over the tennis court to catch insects. Not as much fun as seeing my beloved open star clusters in a binocular or telescope, but the bats are not complaining.…

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23 Jun

If I had to rate an optic as the most useful, based on how often I carry it, I would have to nominate my monocular. No, my Nikon 5x15HG will not do the job of a binocular, even a compact, but, like any monocular, it is small enough to always be there for me. Have used it for some impromptu birding, wildlife watching, navigating in the city to read street signs and spot stores of interest in large shopping complexes. I have even turned it upside down and used it as a magnifier to study rocks and insects. All this …

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19 Jun

Seems that spotting scopes are getting heavier as I get older. There was a day when I lugged the big 80mm spotting scopes over my shoulder, sometimes all day and now I have a dent in my shoulder to prove it. That’s why I dropped down to 60mm and 65mm spotting scopes, a few years ago. Going lighter on the scope has also allowed me to go lighter on a tripod. Net result is that I carry a spotting scope more than ever, now, and can even pack spotting scope and tripod on my bicycle. Better to go light than …

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18 Jun

Will be conducting a class on spotting scopes for our employees, this week – one of my favorite job duties. How can such relatively simple optical instrument like a spotting scope generate so many product questions, not to mention so many unrealistic expectations? I get customers, daily, who expect to identify a person’s face at a distance of 5 miles or expect to point a spotting scope skyward and see detail on the space station. Spotting scopes are wondrous optical instruments, but they cannot work miracles. While frustrating, this sort of thing also insures my job security.…

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16 Jun

Summer is a great time to test drive a sky computer, such as the Meade Mysky Personal Sky Exploration Guide . That summer triangle of bright stars, Deneb, Altair and Vega, is directly overhead, easy for you to see and easy targets for a sky computer. Planets are a bit tougher and you will need to stay up late to catch Jupiter, low in the southeast. Your My sky will show you which one. After you’ve identified any of these targets with your MySky, get the telescope out for a closer look in the neighborhood for star clusters, double stars …

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16 Jun

Commuting and traveling on a bike has some rewards that few motorists get to enjoy. This morning, as I pedaled through the Forest Preserve, I was treated to the sight of a doe and a fawn. The doe stepped, nervously, across the trail, a bare ten yards from me, followed shortly by a spindly legged fawn. The doe made it know that she would brook no nonsense from me and, being a good mother, backtracked and helped the fawn cross the trial, all the while keeping one eye on me. Oh, where was my camera? It’s getting to the point …

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12 Jun

Had a birthday last week and I am now old enough (late 50s) to be thinking ahead to retirement. It’s going to be a matter of finding a location that offers dark skies for my astronomy binoculars and telescopes, access to a great marsh, specifically, and a lot of different habitats, in general, for my birding and, last, but not least, a large network of bicycle trails and routes. Also, no heavy traffic or congestion. Cold and snow are okay, though – I enjoy winter and love to bicycle in the snow. Now taking applications for any area that needs …

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