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Monthly Archives: October 2010

29 Oct

When people think of optics for birding, the first thing they typically think about are birding binoculars and, rightfully, so. Binoculars should be used and carried by every birder. However, I really think more birders would benefit from the use of a spotting scope, even though you have to deal with the added weight of both a spotting scope and a tripod.

The conventional thinking on a birding spotting scope has always been to carry both binoculars and spotting scope in open country, but only a binocular is needed in wooded and forested country. There is some truth to this…

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28 Oct

Extendable spotting scopes have been a traditional favorite in Europe for many, many years, but they have never really caught on, here in the US, despite several marketing attempts by the first name in extendable spotting scopes, namely Swarovski. Back in the 90s, I was fortunate enough to actually use an old version of the Swarovski CT-75 extendable and can attest to the fact that it was one fine spotting scope, so why didn’t extendable spotting scopes make it, here in the states?

Perhaps the extendable design spotting scope was just too different, but mostly, I suspect, the extendable spotting…

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27 Oct

I’ve never been able to get too excited about flashlights; binoculars, telescopes, spotting scopes, digital cameras, yes, but flashlights … well, no. I’ve always seen flashlights as more of a guy thing, since flashlights do have a weapon and/or tool-like appearance (some are even designed to do double duty as weapons) and the only folks I’ve ever seen drool over flashlights are men. All the gals I know, myself included, never think about flashlights until we need one. If the darn thing works, we’re happy; if the darn thing fails, it goes in the trash. Flashlights have always been just…

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26 Oct

I’d like to claim that I have arranged our recent bout of wet weather, up here in the north country, to coincide with the current full moon, all for the sake of my astronomy. After all, if you must have wet and cloudy skies, might as well have them during the part of the month when seeing conditions for astronomy are at their minimum (the light of the moon washes out many faint objects we wish to see). Of course, I can’t claim that and, as always, I have to take what Nature sends my way and that sometimes means…

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25 Oct

Bill and I have been thinking of getting another dog, for some time. We are both dog lovers, after all, and, although we already have one dog, Roscoe, we certainly have room for another. But a puppy? That’s one option that made us hesitate. We both know, from long experience, how much work it is to train a puppy and deal with puppy foolishness, not to mention buying a dog collar, another set of dog dishes, a training cage and, eventually, maybe adding a tracking collar or a training collar, trips to the vet, shots, implanting a chip and all …

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22 Oct

A fellow digiscoper I know once told someone to forget everything they know about photography when digiscoping. I won’t go that far, but there is a grain or two of truth in that advice.

Digiscoping – placing a small digital camera behind the eyepiece of a spotting scope to take pictures of mostly birds at great distances – does have its quirks. As an avid photographer, myself, I was raised to believe that bigger camera formats, bigger lenses, bigger everything was better. Small cameras, were for casual work, SLRs for more serious work and medium and large format cameras were …

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21 Oct

Astronomers tend to be equipment junkies of one sort or another if they stay with astronomy for many years. Some of us collect more telescopes than we can use, some of us collect more telescope eyepieces and other telescope accessories than we can use and then there are those who concentrate on quality rather than quantity. I’m in the quality category; I never seem to accumulate a lot of equipment, given my philosophy of use it or get rid of it, but what I have on hand is always first rate and, yes, expensive, right down to my astronomy binoculars.…

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20 Oct

I have been using standard camera tripods with my small refractor telescope, simply because I haven’t had the time or money to get a dedicated telescope mount, such as a Vixen Porta Mount designed for astronomy. That is something I hope to correct, soon, though. Yes, photo tripods will work with small telescopes, but they are less than ideal for use as astronomy mounts.

First, camera tripods lack the fine adjustments needed to move a telescope, precisely at high magnifications. Once you get to 100x and above, moving the telescope by hand becomes more and more of a challenge as…

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19 Oct

When it comes to telescope accessories, telescope eyepieces are at the top of the list. Yes, most beginner telescopes come with a set of eyepieces to get you started in astronomy – and you do need more than one eyepiece to cover all the bases in astronomy – but these are typically low-end telescope eyepieces, not the good stuff. Serious telescopes, though, come with, at most, one eyepiece. The manufacturer just assumes you will add the correct telescope eyepieces for the observing job at hand and manufacturers also know there is a great deal of personal preference when it comes …

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18 Oct

One of the most interesting things about my bird feeders, up here in the north woods, is the absence of some of the more common back yard suburban birds, such as House Sparrows, Starlings, Grackles and so on. This tells me that I am, indeed, no longer in the city and that is just fine with me. It is a real treat to see only wild forest bird species every time I pick up my binoculars. It is a refreshing birdwatching change, after spending so many years in the big city and the suburbs.

One of the suburban species that …

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