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Monthly Archives: March 2012

30 Mar

Spring is here. My skis have been put away until the snow returns, again, next November. My kayaks now sit, down at the dock, waiting for me to do some exploring, out on the lake. Fishing season will be here before you know it and I’ll be ready. Each change of season brings a change of hobbies for me.

Many of the things I love to do, though, are year around things. I do them spring, summer, fall and winter, but they are still affected by the change in seasons.

My astronomy is a good example. Whether it’s with my …

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29 Mar

You know you’re an astronomer when the first peek of sunshine after a week of clouds instantly makes you think of astronomy, even though you know the odds of breaking out the telescopes or astronomy binoculars by nightfall are still slim. Oh, yeah, a week of cloudy days and nights will have many astronomers daydreaming about getting some time at the telescope eyepiece. I’m definitely one of them.

When I am running a bit short on telescope time, I sometimes cuss myself for moving to a location with so many cloudy nights and so few good opportunities to setup &…

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28 Mar

When it comes time to setup & use a telescope for astronomy, your location may be even more important than the telescope you use. “Location, location, location” doesn’t just apply to real estate, you know. It’s every bit as important for astronomy.

Based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being an optimal location for astronomy with telescopes or binoculars, our location, up here in the north woods. I rate as about a 5. Our location scores high for lack of light pollution and smog, but it scores low for number of clear nights and the all too…

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27 Mar

One visit to our home and you will quickly observe that I am a very visual person by all the binoculars, spotting scopes and telescopes scattered here and there. Age is catching up with me, though. My birding binoculars, my favorite spotting scope and my favorite telescope don’t seem as sharp as they used to be.

It’s not them, of course, it’s my aging eyes.

I’m ever grateful, though, for what I do have left as far as visual abilities as I enter my retirement years and I’m by no means in any danger of loosing any significant measure of…

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26 Mar

Unlike some other pursuits and interests, astronomy is relatively free of outwear that marks one as someone who uses astronomy binoculars and telescopes. Bicycling, tennis, hunting, flyfishing and so many other sports have their distinctive type of clothing and outwear. Most of this attire associated with these sports is designed with function in mind, rather than style, but it does advertise that you are a practitioner of that sport.

Not that we astronomers aren’t clothing conscious, but it is a clothing awareness for the sake of survival. You gotta dress warm on cold winter nights when peering through a telescope…

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23 Mar

What do you do when you’re eating breakfast and then look out your kitchen window and spot a flock of large white birds out along the far shore of the lake? Why, you grab one of your birding binoculars, of course, and take a look. A quick peek through my Nikon Monarch 3 10×42 (which I keep parked on our kitchen table) showed we had a flock of swans on our lake. Which species of swan, though? Were they Tundra or Trumpeter?

I also keep a spotting scope parked near our kitchen table for such occasions. At 40x in the…

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22 Mar

When we say the weather is fit for ducks, we usually mean that it is not so nice for humans. On cold, windy and rainy spring days, most of us humans would just as soon stay indoors.

Count me in that group. I’m not at all crazy about tromping in the woods with my binoculars in search of birds on such days, especially when I can stay warm and dry in my kitchen and do some birding by watching birds out on the lake through my spotting scope.

When I’m feeling a bit more ambitious, I have also been known …

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21 Mar

Portability is an important feature in a telescope for astronomers who need to travel to escape city lights and light pollution. Portability can even be important in a telescope that never leaves the backyard if you have to carry up and down a flight of stairs to get it into the backyard. In fact, portability is an important feature if there are limits as to just how big a telescope or its component parts you can lift.

Portability in telescopes is an important telescope feature to me for all of the above reasons. Portability versus size is in a telescope …

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20 Mar

I’ve been out with the telescopes and astronomy binoculars, enjoying some shirt sleeve type astronomy with our crazy “summer in March” weather. Normally, I would have to bundle up in winter garb to comfortably look through the telescope eyepiece on March nights, but not this March. Thanks to our summer like weather, it’s like I’ve packed up my telescopes and taken a trip a thousand miles to the south and a warmer climate. It’s take an astronomy trip time without leaving the farm.

Can’t say that I miss the cold weather astronomy that we usually get in March. After four…

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19 Mar

There are times when a birder must use a spotting scope.

Now that my bird feeders are temporarily out of service, thanks to bears being out and about, I’ve had to look past my yard and out to the lake to regularly see birds. That’s just a bit too far for my binoculars to really see fine detail on the birds, but it is within easy reach of my spotting scope.

That’s the beauty of spotting scopes for someone who loves to watch birds or wildlife – no need to get close and, in the process, disturb anyone. In my …

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