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Monthly Archives: July 2008

31 Jul

Had a customer ask why he couldn’t see Jupiter like it showed on the outside of the box on his new telescope. False advertising? I explained all the technical reasons, of course, but I could tell he was disappointed. I get this a lot. Not sure if it helped, but I explained to him that the biggest thrill for me in astronomy is actually finding all the wonders of the night sky, on my own, and then seeing them all with my very own eyes with my very own equipment. That way I can say I actually have seen these …

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30 Jul

Been scouting, locally, for a place to catch some shorebird action with my spotting scope, but nothing, so far. Of course, my range is a bit limited, traveling exclusively by bicycle as I do, but sometimes it’s the little spots that draw shorebirds. Only takes a little wet mud, sometimes, and you get Yellowlegs, Sandpipers and friends. The mountain bike has been a great tool for exploring some of the more remote sections of our local Forest Preserves. Gotta keep looking. Have spotting scope, bicycle, will travel. If you see some shorebirds, tell ‘em Joanie is looking.…

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29 Jul

A big part of my job is dealing with unreasonable expectations regarding the capabilities of products, such as digital binoculars, spotting scopes and telescopes. This is understandable, given the fact that there is often a large gap between what folks see in the media – TV, movies and so on – and what you actually get with a product. Largely a matter of experience with products that makes the difference. Always glad to help a beginner, though. That’s why I have written many articles for our Optics Planet Info Portal. Help yourself. Lots of good stuff.…

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28 Jul

Sometimes combining two features into one product is a good idea and, well, sometimes not. What do get when you cross a 90 degree mirror star diagonal with a 45 degree erecting prism, for instance?

A star diagonal uses a mirror, which tends to maintain good image quality and sets the eyepiece on a telescope at a comfortable 90 degrees for viewing objects high overhead. Only penalty is that images are reversed right to left – not a big deal and most users find it easy to make the adjustment. This is the standard diagonal uses and supplied with most …

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24 Jul

Seems like I am swimming against the current, at times, when it comes to my personal choice in optics. Premium spotting scopes are a good example. Here I am, thinking small and portable, when Kowa comes in with their jumbo and quite fabulous 88mm spotting scope, the new TSN-880 series. Yes, it is actually light and compact, considering it’s large objective, but is it small enough to carry on my bicycle? Of course, that was the last thing Kowa had in mind when they designed this stunning spotting scope. After looking through a Kowa 883, though, I am sorely tempted …

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23 Jul

We all know that spotting scopes are widely used for birding. We all know that spotting scopes are widely used for target shooting and hunting. We also know that spotting scopes are tyhe heart and soul of digiscoping. We may even know that spotting scopes can be used for long distance observation of scenery and horizons. Unless you are in the business of selling spotting scopes like I am, though, you may not know that some people buy spotting scopes to search for UFOs and extraterrestrials. How about a spotting scope to see if the fish are jumping out on …

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22 Jul

“Been too long for too long” is a good way to describe the last time I looked through a telescope or astronomy binocular under a truly dark sky. Just need to be patient, though. The day is coming when this gal and her bicycles, binoculars and telescopes will once again see the great wide open spaces out west, where she belongs and where her heart remains. In the meantime, I am grateful for all the wonderful natural areas I have at my disposal, right here in the northern Chicago suburbs, not to metion grateful for all the woderful friends I …

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21 Jul

Browsing through our OpticsPlanet site and was happy to see we carry some clip on magnifiers, such as the Carson Tymate and the Zeiss LC Both bring back wonderful memories of me in another life, tying tiny flies on the end of a 7x leader on a western trout stream. Yes, folks, I did a lot of fly-fishing way back when, but that’s a long way from these local Chicago suburban ponds. Still, I’ve also found clip on magnifiers to be very useful for doing any fine detail work – I’ve used them for threading needles when I sew and …

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17 Jul

As I work on article on tripods for our website, I am reminded of how important, but also how overlooked, this accessory is to many applications. Many beginners, when buying a spotting scope, a camera, or a giant binocular, tend to focus on the optics and add a tripod as an afterthought. Always a mistake. The tripod is every bit as important as the optic that goes on it. Makes no sense to spend big bucks to get high performance with a spotting scope, camera or observation binocular and lose that performance with a low quality tripod. It’s a lesson …

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16 Jul

The main factor in telescope performance for the faint stuff – nebulae, star clusters and galaxies – is the size of the lens or mirror, not all the gadgets and electronics that tend to get bolted to telescopes. Beginners sometimes forget this when choosing a telescope and, as a result, overlook one of the best and affordable designs in a serious telescope. I’m talking about a Dobsonian telescope and the Meade Lightbridge is a good example. Back in the old days, back before truss-tube Dobs such as the Lightbridge, I used an old Meade 10″ Starfinder Dobsonian for all my …

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