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Monthly Archives: November 2010

30 Nov

“Help! Everything is upside down when I look through my new telescope. What am I doing wrong?” I get this question all the time, around the holidays, from some very concerned new telescope owners.

The answer is, nothing at all, if your new telescope is a reflector telescope. Images in a reflector are always upside down. This is normal and quite acceptable for astronomy (and it also explains why reflectors are poor choices for daytime work). In fact, many star maps are printed, upside down to reflect what you actually see when you look through a reflector. Besides, does it…

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29 Nov

The biggest dilemma when trying to choose the right telescope for a beginner is trying to balance performance with price. Everyone, of course, what’s the best telescope for the dollar. Unfortunately, most beginners are unaware of how to estimate potential performance in a telescope and, invariably, they buy that first telescope based on less important, but more eye-catching features. They simply don’t know those all important telescope first questions to ask. As a result, that first telescope is often long on bells and whistles and short on real performance. It’s one reason why so many beginner telescopes end up in…

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26 Nov

Digiscoping is most often associated with bird photography and rightfully so. Digiscoping got its start with bird photographers who were experimenting with ways to take pictures with digital cameras and spotting scopes. These days, nearly all my digiscoping is for birds, though I still do some bird photography, the old fashioned way, with traditional telephoto lenses on both digital and film cameras.

Notice I said, nearly all. Like so many digiscopers, I have learned that digiscoping is also a great technique for photographing any kind of wildlife. I have used this technique to take pics of butterflies, squirrels, rabbits, muskrats …

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24 Nov

I have so many reasons to be thankful that I really need more like a year than a single day to reflect on them all and, even then, I might not truly appreciate the extent of my blessings. No, I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, no, I haven’t won the lottery and, no, I have not lead a sheltered and isolated existence. I am wise enough, though, to count my blessings, rather than my disappointments and failures.

I am a creature of the outdoors and have been all my life and, now, as I enter…

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23 Nov

As I look out our living room window, this morning, it’s kind of hard to believe that we will be traveling to Mexico for the Christmas to spend time with Bill’s sisters in their annual tradition of getting out of the country for the holidays. That is a very long way from northern Wisconsin, indeed. Naturally, I am excited and eager to see a new place and spend time with Bill’s family, but what kind of optics can I take on such a trip, given that Bill always tries to get by with only carry on luggage? Weight and space …

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22 Nov

Okay, you have an astronomer in the family and that special astronomer of yours already has a telescope and/or astronomy binoculars, so no need to buy a telescope or binoculars, this year. What kind of gift can you buy for your astronomer that already has the basic equipment? Help!
The good news is that the world of telescope accessories is huge. Astronomers can always use another gadget, or two, and some of those items are essential for observing. All astronomers will appreciate the following astronomy gifts and you don’t have to know anything about telescopes to buy such gifts.


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19 Nov

Our moon tends to be an underrated target for telescopes and even binoculars in the amateur astronomy community. I suspect the moon is just too accessible, for one. No need for computerized telescopes or detailed star charts to find it and you can see the moon in any telescope, no matter how simple or small. You see, we astronomers love our sophisticated telescopes – we tend to be equipment junkies – and we like a challenge. Where’s the attraction or the challenge in that or, so the thinking goes? For another, the moon really is different in terms of what …

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18 Nov

I picked up a roll of print film I had developed at the local “big box department store” camera department and, I have to say, that overall I am satisfied with the results, as far as the way the photos were developed. Really no surprise, there, since color all prints are simply run through a machine to process, anyway, and have been for many, many years. Indeed, I’ve developed a pretty good sense of how the machine will expose my photos and, in cases where the machine took a bit too much liberty with the way the film is exposed,…

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17 Nov

Now that I am semi-retired and my husband is fully retired, a body might think that I would have all the time in the world to use my binoculars, spotting scopes, telescopes and digital cameras, not to mention our fishing gear, canoes and kayaks and so on. I thought I would, too, at one time, but life in the north woods is not all play. Country living is also about work, same as any other type of living. There are dogs to oversee, including a new puppy, a house to clean and a husband who has one heck of an …

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16 Nov

I often get asked THE big question about telescopes: What is the best type of telescope? Should I buy a refractor, reflector, Mak, Schmidt-Cassegrain and so on? I understand how folks who are getting ready to plunk down hard-earned dollars (especially, these days) to buy a telescope can wrestle with this one question. I understand, because I once went through this same “keep you awake at night” question and I understand, because I have owned and used all of these types of telescopes, at one time or another. For sure, no one wants to make a mistake and purchase the…

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