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Monthly Archives: July 2011

31 Jul

My “dockside” observatory site for my astronomy binoculars and telescopes is complete and working, thanks to a lot of hard work by my Bill and my son-in-law, Chris. My deck for the telescope is 8 ft by 10ft and that is more than enough for me to swivel my 12.5” Dobsonian telescope in a full circle with plenty of room to stand. Using a dock on a lake as a platform for a telescope is anything but the norm in astronomy, but, hey, we astronomers tend to improvise as needed.

The whole idea of creating such an unusual spot to…

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31 Jul

Can a small birding spotting scope in, say, the 60 mm or 65mm class, keep up with the big boys in the spotting scope world when it comes to birding? This is a question I have been asked on many occasions for no other reason than, a smaller spotting scope costs less than a larger spotting scope of the same quality. So, small spotting scope or big spotting scope? That depends, of course, on what you expect from a birdwatching spotting scope, but for me, the answer has been a definite, yes.

I’ve owned 80 mm class Swarovski spotting scopes,…

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29 Jul

It is nearly impossible to put in words the difference in image quality between what you see in the eyepiece of an inexpensive spotting scope versus an expensive spotting scope. Seeing really is believing when it comes to spotting scopes and spotting scope performance. What I can tell you, though, is that the difference is markedly more pronounced than what you see when comparing cheap binoculars with expensive binoculars. Why? Whenever you up the magnification on any optical device, you exponentially increase the challenges of maintaining image quality. This explains why a lot of spotting scopes, even some cheap spotting…

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29 Jul

Experience is the best teacher when it comes to actually using telescopes for astronomy, in part, because there is not a whole lot of readily available information out there on how to actually use a telescope. Most manufactures go heavy on technical data and descriptions of features for their various models of telescopes, but they often take a generic approach when it comes to proving detailed info on how to actually use their telescopes. They assume that you already know the basics of using a telescope or will learn, as I said, by experience.

So how do you learn how…

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27 Jul

Rainy days and nights and astronomy may not seem to go together, but you can do a surprising amount of astronomy, even when your telescopes, astronomy binoculars and telescope accessories are all safely tucked away out of the rain.

When I’m not looking through a telescope eyepiece, for instance, you can often find me carefully working with my star charts and planning my next observing session. This is more than a chore, however, since I actually LOVE to play with my star charts. That probably explains why I own more star charts than I could ever use, but, for me,…

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26 Jul

When it comes to telescope accessories, it’s often the little details that make the difference, right down to the material used to construct an accessory. Now, I’m old school enough to regard plastic construction in just about anything as being inferior to metal construction, but around the telescope, plastic construction has its place.

One of these is for a flashlight. Astronomers use flashlights with a red lens to preserve their night vision when it comes time to read a star map or check the markings on a telescope eyepiece and so on. Red light is much easier on eyes that…

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25 Jul

Had a fun and a challenging time at the telescope eyepiece, last night, in my little observatory on the lake. Those two words – fun and challenging – go together, by the way, when it comes to astronomy or, maybe, it’s just that astronomy attracts the sorts of folks who like a challenge.

This could explain why I have met some disappointed folks who gave astronomy a try and eventually gave up on it. Some of them told me they expected to see more spectacular images in their telescopes akin to pictures they saw in magazines, books and the internet;…

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22 Jul

I get plenty of customers who are on a quest to make one spotting scope do everything and, surprisingly, they sometimes come close. It’s just a matter of what tradeoffs you are willing to make to stretch one spotting scope to cover a great many applications.

Folks that want to use a spotting scopes both by day and also by night to some astronomy are perhaps the most common customers when it comes to wanting a spotting scope to do it all. Most of these customers choose spotting scopes that use interchangeable standard telescope eyepieces rather than conventional spotting scopes…

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20 Jul

I suspect that it must be incomprehensible to people who know me as to how much I love astronomy and, of course, how I could spend so much on astronomy binoculars and telescopes given what little time I get to actually do astronomy. After all, it’s not like I can use my binoculars or setup & use a telescope every night, given the fact that the clouds do move in all too often where I live. Yes, I’ll have to admit that, in terms of time actually spent using my astronomy equipment, my astronomy binoculars and telescopes rank near the…

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20 Jul

Summertime and, oh yeah, it is hot. That’s what summer is all about, of course, and for most of us who love birdwatching, summer is indeed a slower time of the year as far as seeing a huge variety of birds, but there are some exceptions. One is shorebirds. If you are lucky enough to have access to a marsh or wetland and water conditions are just right, you can catch some action with the birding binoculars or birding spotting scope on this group of birds, because, oddly enough, they start to move south as early as July and August.…

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