Follow Optics Blog:



Monthly Archives: May 2009

27 May

In the world of spotting scopes, you get exactly what you pay for in the sense that there is nothing you can add in the way accessories or features to a cheap spotting scope to turn into an expensive spotting scope. For example, you are stuck with whatever eyepiece is supplied on an cheap spotting scope. It’s only on more expensive spotting scopes where you get the option of other spotting scope eyepieces. It’s not at all the same as with telescopes, where you can add another eyepiece to upgrade performance of any telescope. This is just one of several …

Continue reading

26 May

A customer asked me, the other day, if I ever have run out of things to see in the sky with my astronomy binocular, given that I now do most of my binocular astronomy under badly light-polluted skies. I suppose there is, indeed, some finite number of things I can see with my binocular, but I believe that is the wrong approach to any kind of astronomy or, for that matter, any pursuit of knowledge.

I am reminded of a day, many years, ago, when, as an undergad in Zoology, my professor told me the story of a student who …

Continue reading

25 May

As much as I love my Kowa 663 spotting scope, I still wish it were just a bit lighter when packing it on my bike and, it’s just a shade too long for my Duluth Pack book bag, which I use on a daily basis for my bike commuting. On the other hand, I really don’t want to drop down to a little 50mm spotting scope and take a hit on performance. What’s a biking and birding gal to do? Ah, enter the Kowa 603. This Kowa spotting scope is as light as it gets in a 60mm spotting scope …

Continue reading

20 May

Birds for the week ending on Sunday, the 17th incuded some very colorful and spectacular beauties. For my spring ’09 list, I added Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Bluebirds and American Redstarts – all the better to see in a premium binocular, such as my Leica 10x25BL. In fact, have seen more Indigos this spring than in the last five years combined. Truly a pleasant surprise. Also making my ’09 spring list, though with a bit less color was a Gray-cheeked Thrush and a Golden-winged Warbler. Six more warblers to go to make it to my goal of 20 spring …

Continue reading

19 May

My innate “clear sky alarm” (just a feeling I get) went off in my head about 2 AM, Saturday morning, so I stumbled over to the window and looked up in the sky. Sure enough, I could see stars! Since that has been a rare thing this spring, I grabbed my Nikon 10×70 Astroluxe binocular, put on my bathrobe and stepped out onto the patio. Not only was the sky clear, transparency was very good. The moon was just peaking over the eastern horizon, so went right to work before it robbed me of a dark sky. Lyra was directly …

Continue reading

18 May

I can honestly say that I have yet to meet a single person, yet, who has actually used all the features and programs found in a modestly priced digital point and shoot camera. To be sure, more and more menu options and “exciting” new features get added with each new model of digital camera and the growing size of the accompanying instruction manuals show it. Now, before you start saying that I am just an old timer griping about runaway technology, let me state that I don’t actually mind all this unused potential, as long as I can quickly wade …

Continue reading

13 May

Is the day coming when we equate a roll of 35mm camera film with scrolls of papyrus and velum? I suspect that I may have trouble explaining a film camera and a roll of film is to my grand kids. “Grandma, you’re kidding, right? How can you can’t get a picture onto that plastic stuff. Where does the battery go? Does it also play music?” Trust me, such a conversation could not have been envisioned back in the 80s. Indeed, in that decade, the word “megapixel” would have been associated with Tinkerbell or some other Walt Disney character. I shudder …

Continue reading

12 May

My old Apple G4 Powerbook finally died on me after ten years of very hard service and I just can’t justify any more money to keep it going. So, I went shopping for a new Apple computer over the weekend and picked up the basic Macbook and love it. Really amazes me at how far technology has progressed since my first Apple laptop and how much more cost effective things are, now. For my new very basic Apple, I paid half of what it cost me in 1999 and I am getting a computer with many times more computing power. …

Continue reading

11 May

Picked up some film for my newly acquired, old mechanical 35mm film camera, a Sears TLS and started my trip down memory lane. It was so nostalgic to be in a store buying print film, again. Almost forgot that feeling. Was even more of a trip to actually get out in the field and actually go through the old routine of frame, meter, focus and gently squeeze off a shot. Hey, I have nothing at all against digital cameras – I use them for most of my photography – but film ain’t dead yet, not if this old gal has …

Continue reading

06 May

Bob, my fellow telescope expert and nut and yours truly helped an employee resurrect an old Meade DS-2114 reflector the employee purchased years ago from Costco. Bob, being the mechanical genius he is, fixed a malfunctioning drive motor and got the computer tweeked, then I helped both on the use of a Cheshire tool for collimation. Amazes me how many beginners allow fear of collimation scare them away from choosing a reflector when it comes to buying a telescope. Collimation is not the great mystery many believe and you do not have to be a machnical genius to collimate a …

Continue reading