Follow Optics Blog:



Monthly Archives: March 2010

31 Mar

I’m a baby boomer; I turn the big SIX O this year.

These are words that strike fear into many folks, but not me. I’ve got too much to do to worry about getting old and I’ll be damned if I am going to let getting older stop me from doing what I have been doing all my life. In fact, if this last year has been any indicator, I am going to become more active in my so-called senior years. I’ve done more work with my binoculars, digital cameras, telescopes, skis, bicycles, harmonicas and my music more than ever…

Continue reading

30 Mar

With temperatures expected in the 70s, this week, it is time to break out the tanning lotion and maybe indulge in what I suspect is a Wisconsin tradition, namely, digging the canoe out of the woodpile and getting it ready to paddle for the season. Bill showed me his canoe, last fall, when we got married (I suspect he knew the way to a northern girl’s heart is with a canoe; it worked, too).

As canoes, go, this is a bit of a departure from the touring and high performance canoes I am used to paddling. It is a 17 …

Continue reading

29 Mar

All serious birders and birdwatchers use two basic tools – birding binoculars and a bird guides. These two basic birding tools will be all many birders will ever use. However, many birders, myself included, consider a third tool – a birding spotting scope – to be every bit as important and essential to identifying birds as binoculars and, yet, a good many birders do not use a spotting scope, let alone own a spotting scope. Personally, I can’t see how a birder can acquire expertise in all birding groups and types of birding without a spotting scope

You need and …

Continue reading

26 Mar

I have yet to find a marsh in my corner of the city, but I am still looking. A marsh? Okay, a marsh is not exactly the type of thing a realtor lists at an open house when trying to make a sale and most folks would not really want a marsh in their backyard, but, then, I am definitely not most folks. Give me the sound of the wind blowing trough the cattails and the smell of marsh ooze, any day. I’d be very happy to have a marsh in my neighborhood. For sure, I’ve had some of my …

Continue reading

25 Mar

I like Newtonian reflector telescopes and have owned my share of these very basic telescopes. Given that telescope size, in terms of the diameter of the main mirror/lens is the primary factor in telescope performance, reflectors get you the most optical bang for the buck. For instance, size for size, a reflector can be as little as a third to half the price of the reflector’s more sophisticated cousin, the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The reflector, then, gets a beginner into astronomy with a serious telescope at an affordable price. Long live the reflector.

My favorite reflector is a Dobsonian telescope, which,…

Continue reading

24 Mar

Old photography/video tripods are not usually something people regard as collectible, but I think they are interesting, if for no other reason than to compare them with current tripod models. This gives you a chance to see what tripod features have changed over the years and, just as importantly, which features have stood the test of time.

I have two old tripods. One is a Star D Pro model; it was my husbands and I found it sitting in a closet. He bought it back in the 70s. The other tripod is a Husky TV model; it was a gift …

Continue reading

23 Mar

Can’t wait to get on the road, again. Those words may be a bit cliché, but they are as true as ever for people who either have the urge to get out and see new places or for those who need to move down that road, no matter where it might lead. Like many Americans, my husband, Bill and I definitely qualify as charter members of either group. Our western road trip, later this summer, will also be a bit of each; we will, of course, stop and camp at several predetermined destinations, but we will also take some time …

Continue reading

22 Mar

Bill returned home from a bike ride, on Saturday and reported that he saw Wood Ducks in the river – another sure sign of spring. I’m not surprised, as our local bike trail is surrounded by prime Wood Duck habitat. Find some trees, near some quiet water and you have Wood Ducks. No shortage of that habitat around, here, what with our recent snow melt.

Although it would be impossible for me to pick my favorite bird or even favorite duck, the Wood duck has to rank as one of the prettiest of our native birds and I have yet …

Continue reading

19 Mar

Saw my first pair of bluebirds for the season, out on the bike trail, and in the very habitat I would expect bluebirds to be – an open field with some scattered trees. No, don’t have a pic (that’s a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the pic) and, yes, it would have been a great opportunity for some digiscoping, but, hey, there is only so much gear I can comfortably carry on a bike. A spotting scope and tripod, plus digital cameras makes for a good load on a bike and I am kind of a fanatic about going light on my …

Continue reading

18 Mar

Astronomy binocular or telescope? It’s no secret that I am partial to astronomical binoculars for my astronomy, though I certainly own and use telescopes. Each astronomy tool has it place, of course, so it’s a matter of what type of astronomy you wish to do when choosing a binocular or choosing a telescope. It is also a matter of personal preference as to how you approach astronomy and what types of images you want from any specific astronomical target.

A good example is the little test I did, last night. Of course, any test between telescope and astronomy binocular is …

Continue reading