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Monthly Archives: May 2011

31 May

We astronomers are always watching the weather forecast for the presence of clouds or, better yet, the lack of clouds, but there are aspects of the weather that can still make life miserable when looking through the telescope eyepiece.

Wind is definitely one of them, but the there are a lot of factors to consider when the wind kicks on a night when you plan to setup & use a telescope, unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have your telescope in an observatory where it will be somewhat protected from the wind.

First and foremost is how much…

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30 May

Once in awhile I get questions about Dobsonian telescopes, because, let’s face it, they don’t look like what most people visualize when you mention telescopes. This can cause some confusion when it comes time to choose the right telescope. Where’s the tripod? Do I have to buy that separately? Is this all I need or do I have to add some other telescope accessories to make it a complete telescope? What kind of a table would you suggest I place it on? Where’s the rest of it? Doesn’t look very big.

You really do need to see a Dobsonian telescope …

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27 May

Walked down to the dock, the other night, with my astronomy binoculars to take do a little astronomy. Part of my excursion was to do astronomy with the binoculars, of course, but I also wanted to see, specifically, what areas of the sky would be available to me when I am using the telescopes, specifically my large 12.5” telescope. Would I see that much more sky from the dock than from our yard, which is but a small opening in the forest? After all, moving a large telescope, even a short distance, is something you want to consider, carefully. Where…

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26 May

Do I need a tripod? That, of course, depends on what you plan to use with your tripod.

Thanks to digital cameras and the image stabilization systems they nearly all include, there is less of a need, today, to add a tripod to a camera to get a shap pic than there was back in film camera days when image stabilization was basically science fiction. I am constantly amazed at what some of my friends can do with high zoom digital cameras, such as the Canon SX without a tripod. Of course, they never messed with film cameras all that…

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25 May

There is no perfect or best design when it comes to telescopes. Each and every type of optical system used in telescopes has its good and its bad points. Keep this in mind when it comes time to choose the right telescope for you and your type of observing. Also be aware that there is a lot of personal preference involved, here, as there is when choosing just about anything in astronomy equipment, telescope accessories included. What is best for me, then, in telescopes and telescope accessories, may not be best for you. That darn word “best” can trip you …

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24 May

I still remember the shock I experienced when I first moved to the Chicago suburbs and glanced up at the night sky. Disaster! That’s the word that popped into my head. How would I ever put my astronomy binoculars and telescopes to good use under such horribly light-polluted skies? How had I managed to put myself in such an amateur astronomy hell? This country gal was depressed, to say the least.

I soon discovered, though, that my love of astronomy trumped all and, also, that I was not alone. The Chicago area, despite the light pollution, has many amateur astronomers…

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23 May

It’s been almost three weeks since I took down my bird feeders due to a marauding bear. That’s the minimum recommended time to discourage a bear from making a habit of visiting your bird feeders and, believe me, it’s also about as long as I can go without feeding my birds. For the last few weeks, I’ve actually been scanning empty bird feeder poles with my binoculars and spotting scopes out of long habit before it registers that the feeders are no long up. That’s kind of pathetic, I know, but it just shows how addicted one can become to…

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22 May

One of the great advantages of spotting scopes for both birdwatching and bird photography is that spotting scopes allow you to be discreet. That spotting scope magnification allows you to work at much greater distances than birding binoculars or conventional photography equipment when in the field. That’s important, ethically. Yes, it is a kick to get up close and personal to wildlife, at least from our perspective, but wildlife doesn’t typically share our enthusiasm for a close approach. We birders and wildlife photographers have a duty to stay back far enough as not to unduly spook our subjects.

If you…

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19 May

I heard that an astronomy friend of mine finally broke down and decided to upgrade his telescopes with DSC (digital setting circles), which is a techy way of saying that he finally decided to add computerization to his telescope. A computer on the telescope mount helps you point the telescope in the right direction for any object you wish to see in the telescope eyepiece. It is one of the most useful telescope accessories and an, in fact, a computer is almost an essential telescope accessory for observing under light polluted skies, simply because light pollution renders many stars invisible,…

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18 May

Thank goodness, the bear has been gone from our north woods back yard for a couple of weeks, now. Nothing against bears, but that darn bear really altered my daily routine. Oh, yeah, I am very tempted to put my bird feeders back up on the pole and get my birds back in the yard where I can watch them with my binoculars and spotting scopes, now that our yard is, once again, bear free.

My birdwatching and my digiscoping have taken a huge hit without my bird feeders. I can’t stand looking out in the yard and not seeing…

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