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Monthly Archives: November 2011

30 Nov

The astronomy gods smiled, Tuesday night, and after three weeks of nothing but clouds, the sky cleared. After dinner, I wasted no time gathering my telescope accessories and pulling the big Dobsonian telescope out of the shed. Cold or no cold, this gal was going to do some astronomy.

I do prefer to have an observing plan and, typically, I concentrate on one area of the sky or I pick a particular class of deep-sky object and stay with it. Not so, Tuesday night. It had been too long since I looked through a telescope eyepiece and I was maybe…

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29 Nov

Had a partially clear sky, the other night – there were clear patches of sky among the clouds – but was there enough clear sky to make it worthwhile to setup & use a telescope? Would the clouds clear out or were they going to stay? Was there any point of locating an object in the telescope eyepiece only to have it blotted out by clouds seconds, later?

The fact that I wanted to fight the clouds to find a clear patch of sky shows how desperate I was to get out an do some astronomy. It’s been one very…

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26 Nov

For our anniversary, Bill and I decided to make a trip to the shooting range to give our handguns a workout. Okay, that may not be the most romantic way for some folks to spend an anniversary, but it works for us. We love sharing our interests and target shooting – punching holes in paper or toppling metal silhouettes – is one interest that I’ve had as long as my birdwatching and astronomy.

I’ve always needed a challenge to maintain an interest in something and when it comes to the shooting sports, it doesn’t get much more challenging or interesting…

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26 Nov

Christmas/holiday time is time to buy a telescope or maybe time to buy a microscope. More telescopes and microscopes are sold this time of year than the rest of the year put together. And why not? An interest in astronomy or microscopy is an interest that can last a lifetime. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some models get short in supply as the season moves, along.

So, if you’re going to buy a telescope or buy a microscope, the sooner the better. Inventories run low as Christmas approaches. If you’ve taken the time to choose the…

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24 Nov

… “And the sky is not cloudy all day.”

One thing for sure, those words from Home on the Range do not describe the weather, of late, in northern Wisconsin. Once again, our weather is stuck in a gray, wet and gloomy pattern as I anxiously wait for a clear night to use one of the telescopes or astronomy binoculars. It’s getting to be more like, “All I want for Christmas is a clear sky.”

The weather, of course, is the proverbial fly in the ointment for amateur astronomy. No matter how good your telescopes and binoculars – and I…

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23 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!

My list of blessings is a long one, so I’ll just go with the ones on the top. I am grateful for my home and, right there at the top of the list, my husband. Our home is right behind him on the list, since we’ve worked side by side to make it our own. Without my Bill, though, it would just be another place to live, as far as I am concerned. I love you, Bill.

My Bill is something special, let me tell you. Not too many husbands would understand a gal who has such a…

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22 Nov

Time to buy another spotting scope? Maybe so.

We recently joined a shooting range to do some pistol shooting and the spotting scopes I have are really overkill in terms of size for the maximum fifty yards we’ll be shooting. When you have to carry the pistols, ammunition and all the other shooting accessories it takes for a fun session at the range, who wants to pack a big spotting scope and tripod. No thank-you.

For fifty yard scoring, you don’t need much when it comes to spotting scopes for target shooting. Nearly any spotting scope will do, but or…

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21 Nov

I love astronomy in the winter. Looking through the telescope eyepiece or the astronomy binoculars on a cold, clear winter night is a thrill in itself. That cold winter air makes for some of the best observing for the faint, deep-sky objects that we all love to see in our telescopes and binoculars.

Winter astronomy, of course, has its challenges. Operating a telescope when the temps are in single digits or below is a different ball game than operating a telescope in shirt sleeve weather, especially here in northern Wisconsin where I live. Fortunately, using a telescope in the winter …

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18 Nov

When it comes to digiscoping – taking pics of birds by holding small digital cameras over the eyepiece of a spotting scope – some types of birds make much better subjects than others. If you are new to bird photography, you can better your odds of getting a sharp pic by carefully choosing the kinds of birds to frame in the camera.

Out in the field, wading birds such as herons, egrets and cranes make wonderful subjects for digiscoping. They’re big birds and their habit of remaining motionless as the hunt makes for a great photo op. Waterfowl – ducks …

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17 Nov

There was a day when refractor telescopes necessarily had very long focal lengths. These long focal length optical systems were needed to minimize optical defects inherent in the refractor telescope design of the day, but those same helpful long focal lengths also made for long, unwieldy optical tube assemblies and narrow fields of view. True, there were small refractors with short focal lengths available – if you didn’t mind putting up with poorly corrected optics.

Today, thanks to technology and advances in refractor optics, we can have our cake and eat it, too, when it comes to refractor telescopes. Modern …

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