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Monthly Archives: November 2009

24 Nov

When it comes to any kind of observing, such as astronomy, birding, hunting, with any kind of instrument, such as a binocular, spotting scope or telescope, one basic truth holds true. If you know what to expect when you look, you will see more and you will need less in the way of optical equipment to see it. It’s called experience and it is just as big a factor as the binocular, spotting scope or telescope you are using. I’ve seen this, perhaps, in astronomy, more than any other type of observing. I have often located an object in the …

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23 Nov

Modern digital cameras have many features. In fact, today’s digital cameras have more features and more menu choices than any one photographer can use and, it’s also safe to say, the average photographer just sets things on full automatic, frames the pic and fires away. That’s fine, if are not inclined to learn the basics as to aperture, depth of field, shutter speed, ISO and so on, but the basics are not that hard to learn and a knowing these basics will pay off and get you better pics. That digital camera menu does not have to be a mine-field …

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18 Nov

Magnification has much less to do with astronomy than beginners think. In fact, magnification is NOT a reliable way to choose a telescope and using too much magnification is the single biggest beginner mistake in astronomy. Astronomy is more about seeing faint objects, not about magnifying them and seeing faint objects is more about telescope aperture, in terms of mirror or objective size, rather than magnification. If you want to see fainter objects and therefore more objects, you use less magnification, not more. If you want to see fainter objects and therefore more objects, choose the largest telescope you can …

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17 Nov

As an avid reader, one of the things I like about amateur astronomy is the wealth of astronomy books that have been written, both for beginners and advanced amateurs. If you are just starting out in astronomy and have recently purchased that beginners telescope, you probably received a basic CD on astronomy. That’s fine, but I do think it helps to have an old fashioned book or star chart. After all, astronomy is still basically a hands-on pastime and having information available when looking through a telescope is when and where you need it most. In that sense, a book …

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16 Nov

Been trying to decide on a wedding present for my fiancĂ©, Bill, and, since I work for a place that sells so much equipment, there should be no problem find something, right? Well, maybe. It’s been so long since I bought anything for a man, I’m not exactly sure how to proceed. Bill loves photography and, especially video cameras, but he already has plenty of video cameras … or does he? One thing he does not have is a video camera that can record the action while we are hiking, bikling, canoeing and skiing. Okay, so how about one of …

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11 Nov

Been trying to decide on a wedding present for my fiancĂ©, Bill, and, since I work for a place that sells so much equipment, there should be no problem find something, right? Well, maybe. It’s been so long since I bought anything for a man, I’m not exactly sure how to proceed. Bill loves photography and, especially video cameras, but he already has plenty of cameras. I have so many binoculars that we won’t need to get him one. We do both love camping, so I think there is some camping gear in our future. I think he would really …

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10 Nov

In terms of features, a monocular is a spotting scope, since you only get to use one eye. In terms of actual use, however, a monocular has more in common with a binocular since, 1) you don’t use a tripod (and you must with a spotting scope) with a monocular and, 2) a monocular offers magnifications similar to a binocular. However, it should be noted that, although a monocular may be smaller than a binocular, a monocular is not as easy to use and steady as a binocular. You do pay a price to get the great portability of a …

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09 Nov

Had the best November weekend weather, here in the Chicago area, since I moved to the area, about six years, ago. Unfortunately, I also had one of the worst sinus infections, ever, so didn’t really get to enjoy the weather. Bill made the trip, down here, to be with me and, being the sweetheart he is, he stayed with me and nursed me back to health. Okay, we didn’t get outdoors, but we did watch a DVD of the PBS show on Lewis&Clark. One of the things that interested me is that Lewis&Clark did make use of a telescope on …

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04 Nov

It was really a very simple solution. I’m talking about making a GOTO telescope that aligns, itself, without any help from you, the observer. This telescope is the Meade ETX- LS. Just power up and let the scope do its own alignment. When it signals you that it is ready, you start observing. The secret is a camera, inside the telescope, that tales a snapshoot of the sky, them stacks that snapshot on the pics in its database for the exact time and location of your observing site. It provides more exact information than inputting time, date and location, manually. …

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03 Nov

As fall color and fall weather go, this has not been a great fall in our area. It has been overwhelmingly wet, cool and cloudy for the last two months and, at this point, most of the leaves have fallen or turned brown. On the few nice days we had, I did not manage to get out with a camera and it is not much fun taking pics with a digital camera in the rain, even for an outdoors nut like me. Okay, so I didn’t do so well on fall colors. This just means I move forward into winter …

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