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Monthly Archives: April 2009

29 Apr

I bought a new camera. Okay, well, I bought a camera, but it is anything but new and that is not a bad thing, in this case. It’s an old Sears TLS 35mm SLR with a f1.4 lens, circa 1970 or so. It was made for Sears by Ricoh. Bought it from my fellow product specialist, Bob, who also has an appreciation for these old mechanical cameras. Now why would anyone buy an old 35mm film SLR camera with absolutely no automation in this day and age of electronic and digital everything? The thing weighs a ton.

I bought this …

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28 Apr

As a constellation with objects for my astronomy binocular or telescope, Bootes is not that exciting, though it contains some nice double stars. As a constellation with some personal significance for me, Bootes is a different story. To me Bootes, when placed at a comortable positon for viewing in the sky, has always been the herald of spring. It’s usally April, around here, when I can also sit on my patio and enjoy this constellation. May not have much going for it from an astronomy binocular or telescope point of view, but I enjoy tracing the outline of Bootes, the …

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27 Apr

A thin crescent moon and Venus made a stunning close pair as I pedaled to work this morning (April 22). Seeing these close conjunctions of the moon with a planet or bright star always gives me a sense of other worldliness or perhaps Earth from a distant time. It’s the kind of spectacle that takes us out of our day to day routine and reminds us that we are indeed the third rock from the sun. A close pass (conjunction) of celestial objects is also one of those events that can be enjoyed without the aid of an astronomy binocular …

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22 Apr

If you have any interest in birds, at all, you should visit the Cornell Lab website. We birders have known about it for some time, as the Cornell Lab is very active in the birding community and that’s why we support it. I especially like Cornell’s Cornell’s Celebrate Urban Birds, a cause very close to my heart. My most frequent visit to Cornell Lab, though, is to browse and use their excellent on-line birding guide, All About Birds. No, it won’t replace one on my precious birding field guides, but it offers such a wealth of information, I just can’t …

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21 Apr

This is new moon week, but so far, the weather does not look promising for any astronomy. In fact, we are supposed to have some snow mixed in with rain for the next few days, though temperatures are supposed to rebound into the 70s at the end of the week. Makes the concept of a grab and go telescope all the more viable, as far as I am concerned, when you live in a place where the weather can change so drastically. It’s one of the reasons I so dearly love my astronomy binoculars. A good binocular is the best …

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20 Apr

With Jupiter climbing ever higher in the sky as I pedal to work in the early morning darkness, I am getting more and more tempted to stop and take a look with my compact binocular, though, of course, a telescope is the preferred way to view this planet. Jupiter, though, is still too low in the sky to be at its best, but later this summer, it should be well above the horizon and perfectly placed for better viewing with a telescope. With Saturn currently hiding its rings, Jupiter will be the best show in town for a planet in …

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16 Apr

One of my favorite types of birding is hawk watching. Raptors have always been close to my heart and soul and occupy a special place in my spirituality. On a more technical note, hawk watching can be quite varied as to technique and equipment. Out west, driving the great wide open spaces, we often used a spotting scope to scan distant utility poles or bluffs for perched birds. This was mobile birding, to put it mildly, and a good birding spotting scope was essential due to the vast distances involved. More traditional hawk watching is done at hawk watching sites …

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15 Apr

I feel bad for customers who purchase spotting scopes for target shooting and then discover the hard way that the spotting scope they have just purchased is not up to the task. That’s one reason I wrote my article, Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting. Distance is everything for this kind of work and the most common stumbling point seems to me that legendary 1000 yard mark. Hey, everyone wants to become a 1000 yard shooter and, naturally, no one wants to walk 1000 yards every time they shoot to see how they scored on a target. A spotting scope, though, …

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13 Apr

The newest trend in the spotting scope world, at least at the top of the spotting scope world, is the new wrinkle in premium spotting scope eyepieces. In the past, you had a choice between a great zoom eyepiece, if you wanted versatility, or a great wide-angle eyepiece if you wanted a large field of view. Getting both in one spotting scope eyepiece was an optical fantasy. No, more, though, at least from a techical point of view. Leica’s new spotting scope, the Leica Ultravid HD spotting scope, will come equipped with a wide-angle zoom eyepiece in the 25-50x zoom …

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08 Apr

Have a hectic weekend shaping up, ahead of me, what with a blind date, a music get-together, a music rehearsal, some heavy duty shopping and more, but somehow my thoughts keep returning to the marsh and having a quiet day with the spotting scope and migrating birds. Sure, I could invite a certain someone to go with me, but asking a blind date if he would like to sit in marsh muck and smell marsh ooze all day is probably doomed to fail or, even worse, give him the wrong idea. In fact, at this point, I have no idea …

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