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Monthly Archives: July 2009

29 Jul

They say you can’t go home and with film cameras, that is almost, but not quite, true, I’m afraid. I went on an expedition to find a battery for my old Sears TL SLR film camera and discovered that the old 1.35 volt mercury batteries are no more, due to the problem with mercury. I can appreciate the need for that, so next best thing are the 1.35 volt hearing aid batteries, though they don’t last very long. Still, I can live with that. Film, though, is more of a problem. It is getting harder and harder to even find …

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28 Jul

It is tough to mix both serious birding and serious bird photography like digiscoping on the same outing. You can be casual about one and serious about the other on a given outing, but not serious about both on the same outing. Serious birding and serious bird photography are both full time jobs and will require everything you have in terms of concentration and attention. Decide, before you leave, which you will be your primary activity for any given outing. That’s from someone who does both and its also why most birding group leaders, myself included, and nearly all birding …

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27 Jul

Every birder needs a field guide and a birding binocular and for many birders and bird watchers that is all that will ever be needed. Watching birds in the backyard or at the feeder is one thing, though; trying to identify a tiny shorebird across a distant marsh is another. A binocular is a wonderful a tool, for sure, but there are times when a birding binocular does not supply enough magnification to do the job. This most often happens with birds that are either too small or too distant or both, such as shore birds, marsh birds or birds …

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22 Jul

It’s been dry, here, just north of Chicago, these last two weeks – relative to the very wet and cold month we had in June, at any rate. A long dry spell after a long wet spell creates exposed mudflats and that is the magnet that draws shorebirds during migration. My goal for the rest of the week, then, is to get serious about adding some shorebirds to my ’09 list. To that end, I plan to take my spotting scope or, at the very least, my birding binocular with me no matter where I go. Of course, very few …

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21 Jul

Finally got a break in the weather, this week, so managed to do some work with my astronomy binocular, even though I am still a bit under the weather, trying to recover from some facial surgery to reapir damage to my ear and nose. Ah, the life of a mountain biker is not without its perils. If the weather holds, I will give the Nikon 10×70 another workout, tonight and I may even work up enough energy to mount it on a tripod and do some double star work. Or, maybe, I will test a telescope or a spotting scope, …

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20 Jul

What the heck are aspheric lenses? That was my question back in the 90s when I first saw the term used in reference to binoculars, but now you’ll see the word aspheric used in lenses of all types, including lenses used in telescopes, microscopes, camera lenses , magnifiers and so on. So what is aspheric all about. It’s simple. An aspheric lens is simply a lens with a surface which is not perfectly spherical or not perfectly convex or concave or, to put it another way, you can find different areas on the lens with different degrees of curvature. By …

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15 Jul

In terms of certain features, the monocular market needs to catch up to the binocular market. Eye relief is one example. If you wear glasses while you observe, it is not too hard to find a $100 binocular with enough eye relief to be used with glasses. Not so with monoculars. Very few monoculars under $100 have enough eye relief to be used with monoculars. Inexpensive monoculars, in particular have barely enough eye relief to be used even without glasses. Another example is waterproofing. Not too hard to find a binocular under $100 that is waterproof, but it can be …

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14 Jul

I get a lot of customers that want to use an astromomy telescope for day work. That’s okay with any telescope design, except for a reflector, which always produces upside down images.

The mount is the part that causes the most headaches when you try to use an astronomy telescope by day. The worst telescope mount for day use is an equatorial mount. Getting the scope moved and pointed from one target to the next with an equatorial mount is a time consuming and awkward chore, since this type of telescope mount involves two axis of rotation and the mount …

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13 Jul

You notice things in the telescope world come and go over the years if you’ve been around as long as I have. One of these is telescope making. Back in the 60s, 70s and even well into the 80s, a lot of amateurs ground their own telescope mirrors and built their own reflectors as a way to save money and, well, just for fun. Nowadays, though, with all the inexpensive telescopes coming out of China, it is really hard to justify grinding our own mirror as a way to save money. Then, too, just not too many places, anymore, that …

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08 Jul

Funny how one bad month, namely June, can throw my binocular astronomy out of synch. June was always one of my best months for hunting globular clusters in Ophiuchus with an astronomy binocular and it is still hard for me to believe that I have not done any serious globular hunting, yet, this summer. Ouch. I have yet to turn my Nikon Astroluxe 10×70 on the great open star clusters, M6 and M7 in Scorpious and mid-July is closing in on me. Double ouch! The great star fields of Sagittarius? Triple ouch! Okay, I shouldn’t expect too much living in …

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