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Monthly Archives: September 2008

30 Sep

Managed to do some astronomy late Friday night. Sky was clear, but the dew was heavy, so went with the astronomy binocular, instead of a telescope. Did one session just before midnight and another session three hours, later (couldn’t sleep, anyway). Spotted all the late fall/winter goodies in the way of binocular open clusters, including the ever-fabulous Pleiades, then on to Melotte 20 (Alpha Persei group), M34, M35, the Hyades and just barely managed M41 in Canis Major, though that was tough one, being low in the sky. Will, of course, visit all of these in more detail when I …

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29 Sep

Seeing a male Wood Duck in all its splendor makes any optical instrument look good, whether it be a binocular, spotting scope or camera. Is there a more beautiful bird for a photographer? This weekend I managed to stumble on a flock of Woodies on a small pond and managed to get within about ten yards of them. No, just had my binocular, but I would have paid just about any price for even a small digital point and shoot camera. That’s something I normally carry, but just left at home in my rush to hit the trail and enjoy …

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24 Sep

Being a fan of small optics – compact binoculars and smaller spotting scopes – I am sometimes asked if I miss the big stuff. Absolutely. Nothing quite as sharp as a big binocular or spotting scope when you want better image sharpness and brightness, but, for me, that extra size and weight is a real penalty. If I could get that big Kowa 883 to a local marsh on my bicycle, safely, I might buy one. That’s a lot of weight, though, to carry in my backpack and I’m sure not going to strap a quality optic to a bike …

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23 Sep

I think I’m getting a rep for some of my birding statements, like “Birds are where you find them” and “If you always bird in the same place, you will always see the same birds.” I guess I am living proof of how these statements work, given that I have lived and birded in so many different places, literally from one coast to the next with many stops in between. I suspect that my wandering lifestyle is, in part, motivated to see new birds. One thing for sure, though. The best birding binocular or spotting scope won’t add more birds …

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22 Sep

For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of astronomy is finding and naming constellations and stars I see in the sky, above. Indeed, my favorite duty as a former tour guide at a small, local astronomy observatory, was taking our visitors on a tour of the night sky before showing them a telescope or binocular. By last count, I have memorized the names and locations of over 100 stars, though I have to brush up, now and then. As a result, the night sky long ago became so much more than a place for me to use an astronomy …

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17 Sep

I often speak about spotting scope quality and the relationship between it and spotting scope price. What do I mean by quality? Typically, I mean optical quality in terms of how well ground, figured and polished all lenses in the optical system, including eyepiece lenses. It’s also a matter of quality control and how stringent the specifications. To produce one quality premium spotting scope objective, for instance, usually means rejecting many objectives that don’t meet the specs. This drives the price up, rapidly. Cheaper scopes allow lower quality objectives to pass and far fewer lenses are rejected in the assembly …

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16 Sep

Birds are where you find them and this last weekend they were found in some unlikely spots. After three days of heavy rain, many of our local streets and parking lots flooded. A little strange seeing waterfowl swimming up a suburban street, but there they were, just the same. So what binocular or spotting scope do I recommend for waterfowl swimming up a street, between parked cars? I can safely say any birding binocular or spotting scope will work, but I strongly recommend it be waterproof. So what was Joanie doing, riding a bike and birding in pouring rain, compliments …

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15 Sep

Greatly pleased to see the Gitzo tripod line added to our website. Not sure how many of these premium tripods we will sell, but being able to offer the Rolls Royce of the tripods is a real treat to an old photographer like me. I like Gitzo, not just for that super Gitzo quality, but also for all the innovation and technology Gitzo puts into their tripods and tripod heads. Gitzo is so much more than just a name. If you are a photographer of any experience, even a casual glance of the Gitzo product line reveals that these are …

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11 Sep

Riding a bike as much as I do – it’s my only form of transportation – has been both a blessing and also something of a challenge for my birding. Riding a bike has definitely added to my birding in that it gets me back on trails I can’t reach by car and it also allows me to cover more miles than I can cover on foot. Exploring on a bike has allowed me to discover birding spots I never would have found in a car. On the other hand, no car means I have to think twice before carrying …

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10 Sep

Okay, so you bought a cheap telescope, only to discover that your new telescope came equipped with even cheaper eyepieces. How do you salvage a cheap telescope and make it more useable? I always start with the eyepieces. A good way to upgrade any beginner’s telescope is to add an eyepiece kit, such as the Vixen 39200. You get three eyepieces with useable focal lengths and a fanny pack, all for about $100. The eyepieces are a Plossl design, far superior to the cheap designs packaged with most beginner’s scopes.…

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