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Monthly Archives: June 2011

30 Jun

I remember how awed I was when I first started in astronomy. It was all so incredible. A source of much of that awe was how just much there was to see with astronomy binoculars and telescopes. Wow! It was almost overwhelming. If you are a beginner with a new telescope, the, I do understand how you feel. Where the heck do I begin?

A common beginner mistake is to rush to see it all in the telescope eyepiece and before you know it, you find yourself wandering. This can be fun, of course, and there are times I still…

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30 Jun

It’s getting downright hot up here in northern Wisconsin in terms of temperature (and also politics), but, hey, this is summer, after all. If you are an astronomer, you already know that summer does present some challenges when it comes time to setup & use a telescope or astronomy binoculars, but if you are just getting started in astronomy, here’s another tip to add to my Dozen Telescope Observing Tips For Beginners: your best observing in terms of seeing conditions in the summer is typically well after midnight.

The other night was a good example. The sky was clear prior…

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29 Jun

I’ve had a couple of good nights behind the telescope eyepiece, recently, but I’ve never left the constellations of Ursa Major and Canes Venatici. Using large telescopes is like that. The number of objects visible in large telescopes can be almost overwhelming. As a result, it takes a long, long time to see all there is to see in even a small part of the sky and, in fact, it is questionable to say you can ever see it all when using truly large telescopes. At some point in telescope size, sky conditions, not your telescope, become the limiting factor…

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28 Jun

Just what is it about the spectacular images delivered by great binoculars, spotting scopes, telescopes or even microscopes that drive otherwise sensible people to spend more than they should to get the best of these instruments? I can understand if someone is using one of these instruments, professionally, and needs to see the utmost detail for the sake of research or a career, but that accounts for only a few percent of sales every year. Let’s face it, most of us who pay big bucks for premium birding binoculars, a superb birding spotting scope or exquisitely corrected APO refractor telescopes…

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27 Jun

So is there really that much difference between what small telescopes can do compared to large telescopes? That is a good question, since, as a rule, large telescopes are certainly more expensive than smaller telescopes, not to mention that when it comes time to setup & use a telescope, large telescopes have issues that you don’t get with small telescopes. So if I am going to spend the big bucks on that large telescope, what am I getting for my money?

To test this, I spent a few hours observing this last Saturday night with both my small 80 mm…

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24 Jun

So you just bought a new birding spotting scope and want to maybe use it for some bird photography? Go for it. Thanks to digiscoping – taking pic through the eyepiece of a spotting scope with small digital cameras – bird photography has never been easier. Okay, note that I said “easier”. I did not say easy. This is still bird photography, after all, and bird photography is always a very challenging type of photography, not to be confused with taking pics of the family on a picnic. There are some things you can do as a beginner bird photographer, …

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23 Jun

I’ve lived in some excellent locations for using astronomy binoculars or telescopes to do astronomy. These places have offered very dark skies and lots of clear nights – so many, in fact, that there were times I spent more waking hours at night than by day. On the other hand, I have also lived in some truly pathetic places for astronomy where I suffered week after week of cloudy skies and seemingly only a few precious nights at the telescope eyepiece a year.

Still, my enthusiasm and love for astronomy has never waned, not even when I found myself living…

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22 Jun

You reach a point with telescopes where increasing size and practicality have a head-on collision with each other. That point depends on you and your situation, of course, but I’ve always claimed that when the sky clears and you start looking for an excuse not to go out and look through a telescope eyepiece because you don’t want to deal with the hassles involved with large telescopes, you’re in trouble. You bought too large a telescope. As always, when wondering how to choose the right telescope, the best telescope for you is the telescope you will use the most and…

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21 Jun

My friend’s favorite bird is the Red-winged Blackbird and I have been promising her more pics of her favorite bird for some time, now. I just haven’t gotten around to it with all the other birdwatching projects I have been doing. Fortunately, the Red-winged Blackbird is not an especially challenging bird to photograph, especially if you use digiscoping – taking pics of birds with small digital cameras behind the eyepiece of a spotting scope. Most places you can stop your vehicle along a marsh road and take a pic right from your vehicle with conventional digital SLR cameras and long …

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19 Jun

I’m not sure if having the astronomy bug qualifies as an actual addiction, but if an addiction is something you can’t shake, well, I’ve been in love with astronomy for over forty years, now, and looking through my astronomy binoculars or a telescope eyepiece is still as much a thrill as ever, even after all these years. I’m hooked and I’ hooked bad.

So, I am sometimes asked what about astronomy, specifically, hooked me so completely. Was it a certain category of object to be seen in telescopes or binoculars? Was it a particular type of equipment? Do I prefer…

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