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Monthly Archives: July 2010

30 Jul

My family members and I spent a pleasant evening on the deck that sits on atop our lodge, here in Deer Valley, watching the sun go down over western skies. Is there anything more spectacular than western skies? As we watched Venus in the west, a Mule Deer doe watched us from the hillside, so I watched her, right back, with my Leica 10×25 BL. After all, we don’t see mulies in Wisconsin and who knows when I will get back out west?

Mostly, though, my thoughts turned to astronomy and I couldn’t help but regret that I didn’t try…

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29 Jul

It’s probably safe to say that more pics are taken, every year, with small digital cameras of the point and shoot variety than all other cameras put together. Yes, nothing beats a point and shoot digital camera for convenience – that’s hardly news to anyone – but as an old camera user it still amazes me just how good they can be when it comes to picture quality. No, I’m not saying these small digital cameras will ever replace DSLRs or my beloved film cameras, but point and shoots can do a remarkable job in the right hands and if …

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28 Jul

This afternoon, as we stepped out of the car in Park City, Utah, I smelled sagebrush for the first time in about six years and I nearly cried for joy. Hey, and mountains, too. From our window, here at the motel, I can see sagebrush and have even been scanning the hillside for birds with the binoculars. Just like old times. Yeah, it’s great to be back out west, if only for a few short days at my family reunion.

As I usually do at these family reunions, I will make some brief escapes from the usual hectic activities that…

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27 Jul

At one time, I volunteered as an astronomy guide at a local observatory and I can’t say who enjoyed the experience more – me or the folks who I helped look through telescopes and our astronomy binoculars. After all, I love teaching (I am a former science teacher) and I love sharing my love of astronomy with others. My time spent as an astronomy tour guide also reminded me that many, if not most, of the folks out there in the general public have never looked through a telescope or even a binocular. That’s easy to overlook when you use…

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26 Jul

Spent the weekend, up north at our new home, though it was more work than play with all the remodeling we have been doing. We are replacing an old and smelly carpet with a beautiful tile floor in our basement family room; Bill is laying the tile and I am doing the grout! Okay, I didn’t even know what grout was until I met Bill, but Bill and I believe in doing things, together and no way am I going to be left out when it comes to a project in our new home.

As I slaved away on the …

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23 Jul

Heading back up north, today, to do more remodeling on the house so it is ready for our final move in a bit over a month. After the heat, humidity and, especially, the severe storms we had, yesterday afternoon and evening, I am more than ready to get out of the city. The cool air of the north country is calling us and we are eager to be on our way.

Yesterday’s rain was almost epic in nature. We were out driving, on our way home and got caught in the initial downpour. (Three and one-half inches of rain in …

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22 Jul

One of the very few disadvantages of being an avid astronomer is that you are a slave to the vagaries of weather; blessed, indeed, are those nights when the skies are dark, clear and seeing conditions favorable for serious work with astronomy binoculars or telescopes. I can attest to the fact that, in some parts of the country these nights can be few and far between when the weather gets stuck in a moisture pattern. We astronomers take what we can get, as always, though I suspect our spouses worry about our sanity when we buy telescopes and telescope accessories…

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21 Jul

Bill and I have been working, feverishly, to get all the remodeling done in our northern Wisconsin home, so that we can be settled in, permanently, come September, in time for the fall color season. Leaves turn color, early, that far north and in some years, it’s over when you turn the calendar page to October. Folks that make the trip north to photograph fall colors need to carefully check local conditions and color reports if they expect their cameras to get a workout.

I know, because a girl friend and I used to make a fall trip, up north,…

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20 Jul

A basic axiom for telescope performance is, the larger the telescope, the better the performance in terms of both numbers of objects seen and detail in those objects seen. This is based on the laws of optics – larger lenses transmit more light to the eye and can resolve finer detail. However, it is never quite as simple, when buying a telescope, to buy the largest telescope you can afford.

Light pollution throws a wrench in all of this, for instance. It only takes a little urban or suburban glow from lighting at night to seriously reduce performance of any…

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20 Jul

Most of my life has been spent on the prairie, though I haven’t been there for more than ten years, now. Oh, how I miss the prairie, though, especially the prairie marshes. The sky above a marsh stretches endlessly over a paradise of wildlife. There is no grander place to set up a spotting scope and do some birdwatching or digiscoping or just sit and breathe all that openness.

I’m about as far from the prairie, now, as I can get, but I have been blessed with access to something that somewhat parallels a prairie marsh in this part of …

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