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Monthly Archives: January 2010

29 Jan

Evening is a magic time for outdoors folk. As that light begins to fade, wildlife begins to move and become active. Evening means it is time to grab that camera, spotting scope, binocular or, if you hunt, the firearm of your choice and, if you fish, the rod of your choice. Evening holds those few choice moments that fade all to fast, but those can be the moments you carry with you the rest of your life. What can be more magic than that?

Some of my very best outdoor memories included evenings with my camera and tripod when I …

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28 Jan

February is just around the corner, now, and for some folks, February and cabin fever go hand-in-hand. Most of us, by February, have had enough winter and start to form mental images of greener and warmer days to come, even though we know, logically, that there is still a lot of winter left on the calendar. I am less inclined to suffer from cabin fever, given that I so love my cross country skiing, but make no mistake, come February, I am as thirsty as anyone for spring. So, how to get through February?

In the not too distant past, …

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27 Jan

Okay, so you want to brave the cold and take your telescope, outside, and do some astronomy. Great! Winter skies bring us some spectacular objects to observe and that cold, crisp, transparent air seems to intensify their beauty all the more. Winter is one of my favorite times of the year for observing, be it with an astronomical binocular or telescopes.

First thing you do when using a binocular or telescope for some winter astronomy is dress warm. This may seem to be a “well duh”, but it needs some real attention to detail. Rule of thumb for winter astronomy …

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26 Jan

For the first time in a couple of months, the snow has melted enough, around here, to expose some bare ground. That’s great news for ground feeding songbirds and, as I write this, my garden is being overrun by Juncos and White-throated Sparrows and, I suspect because of the open ground, the yard is full of Robins, too. Seems like Robins just have some built-in radar that tells them where to find open ground in the winter.

I take more of a mixed stance on snow cover or the lack of it. Indeed, for me, weather events are a trade-off …

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25 Jan

I have been biking all my life and, until recently, I have been using a bicycle for all my transportation, as in no car, bicycle, only. Yes, that means riding a bicycle to work at OpticsPlanet (15 miles round trip), 365 days a year, even in the snows of a Chicago winter, as well as riding a bicycle for all my shopping, going to church and all my other activities. In fact, I’ve managed to incorporate a bicycle with my birding and photography,quite well. Guess you might say I am a die-hard biker and I won’t deny it.

I also …

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22 Jan

Okay, so you bought or received a cheap telescope as a Christmas or holiday present. Odds are, it is a small telescope, maybe even as small as 50mm or 60mm telescope and you are quickly learning that telescope size is the main factor in what you can or cannot see. Maybe you are thinking you’ll just stuff that telescope in the closet and forget about it. Well, don’t put that small telescope away for good; there is always the moon.

You can use any size or even any quality telescope to view the moon and, even for the smallest telescope, …

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21 Jan

Every astronomer with any experience under their belt develops preferences in terms of equipment and also in terms of objects they observe. My favorite objects to observe with both astronomy binoculars and telescopes are open star clusters. These may not have quite the mystique of nebulae and galaxies, but they can be every bit as gorgeous, in either a binocular or a telescope. Open star clusters are also numerous and less affected by light pollution than other deep-sky objects (objects outside our solar system), such as nebulae and galaxies. That means open star clusters are the most accessible and also …

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20 Jan

Maybe it’s the woman in me, but I like products that have a high cute factor. My favorite binoculars are compact binoculars, my favorite telescopes are smaller APO refractors (not cheap), my favorite cars are small compacts like the Honda Civic and my favorite cameras … okay that’s one exception. I still prefer SLR and DSLR cameras, even though those small digital point and shoot cameras are as cute as it gets. I suspect that is a result of all my many years of using SLR and, more recently, DSLR cameras. That’s not to say that I don’t like digital …

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19 Jan

It was nearly half a century, ago, when I began I learned how to use a telescope (that’s scary) and, being the independent cuss I have always been, I just plunged right in without anyone’s help. I made plenty of mistakes, but mistakes are part of learning and by reading books at the local library and a few precious purchases at a book store, I was able to develop my skills. A beginner, today, could use the same approach and make faster progress, given the wealth of free information available on the internet, especially on retail websites such as OpticsPlanet.

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18 Jan

Digiscoping – taking pics through the eyepiece of a spotting scope or a telescope with a small digital camera – is currently one of the most popular ways to take long distance photos by wildlife photographers, today and why not? It’s the easiest method of high magnification photography and it gets you pics that are impossible to get with traditional long telephoto camera lenses and SLR or DSLR cameras. Care to give it a try? See my article, Digiscoping Update

Now, digiscoping, by its very name, implies the use of a digital camera and, contrary to what you may have …

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