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Monthly Archives: December 2007

31 Dec

New Year’s resolution for a binocular addict? For me, it’s largely a matter of resisting the temptation to buy another binocular, but for other binocular addicts it may be the need to finally indulge in that “last” premium binocular of their dreams. Seems the quest for the ultimate binocular never ends. For those new to the premium binocular arena, I give you fair warning: once you have used the best there is in terms of a binocular, you will never settle for anything less. There is no going back. On the other hand, everyone should have the chance to use …

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27 Dec

As a photographer of many years, I am always conscious of framing when looking at a subject and I guess this follows through when looking at objects with my astronomy binoculars. Obviously, wide open star clusters, such as the Hyades and Melotte 111 (Coma Berenices), look better in my Nikon 7×50, but smaller clusters like the Pleiades are more appealing in my 10×70 binocular. The trick is to get the entire cluster framed within the field of view, but not have too much background space around them if you want the best “Wow!” factor. For globular clusters, then, I much …

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26 Dec

Had a wonderful view of the full moon on Christmas Eve and put my Nikon 10×70 binoculars to work for a short time. The view through the binoculars was nearly perfect, thanks to a slight bit of urban haze which acted as a moon filter to cut down the glare (urban astronomy isn’t all bad, I guess). With a moon map, Christmas carols playing in the background and a hot cup of cocoa, made for a very enjoyable Christmas Eve. Nothing like moon glow on fallen snow to put you in the Christmas spirit.…

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24 Dec

The storm that blew in this weekend, now seems to have blown on by, so with a bit of luck, the sky my clear, tonight and I will receive the priceless gift of a jewel box full of stars for Christmas. I am referring to that grandest of winter open star clusters, the Pleiades in Taurus. In fact, through a binocular, the arrangement of stars in the Pleiades actually reminds of a jewel studded jewel box with the lid open. No diamonds ever shone as bright as this family of stars. I don’t care what bincoular you have, you will …

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20 Dec

Spotted a Broad-winged Hawk last Saturday as I was riding my bicycle (in the snow) near one of our forest preserves. Really wasn’t expecting to see one this late in the year, but in this day and age of global warming, nothing surprises me anymore about bird migration. That’s one of the reasons I have been religious about carrying compact binoculars or, at least, a monocular, wherever I go. This time I was fortunate to have my Zeiss Victory 8×20 and, as always, it did a nice spur-of-the-moment job. Never know what I will see next, but I will be …

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19 Dec

Tried finding Comet 17P/Holmes a couple nights, ago, with my Nikon 10×70 Astroluxe binocular, but failed to see it. Not really surprised, though, as I was dealing with a quarter moon and the last time I saw it with no moon in the sky, it had been a very difficult object. I will miss the comet, of course, but the beautiful thing about binocular astronomy, or any kind of astronomy for that matter, is that there is always plenty to see. My neighbors are well aware of this fact – they often see me standing outside in the bitter cold …

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18 Dec

A compact binocular makes a great stocking stuffer! In fact, a compact binocular, such as the Zeiss Victory 8×20, is a great binocular, no matter where you stow it. I carry one in my purse on a regular basis and it often accompanies me on the bike trail. Remember, the idea with any compact is to have a binocular at hand. A binocular in the hand is worth more than a whole truck full of binoculars left at home. In fact, over the years, I have recorded more rare bird sightings with compact binoculars than my full size binoculars simply …

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17 Dec

I’m not a political animal by nature, but, like many people, I am concerned with all the products we use that are made in China. I have serious issues with China’s environmental policies, not to mention their human rights and labor abuses. Still, “made in China” is an inescapable fact of life for most Americans. Optics, in general, and binoculars, in particular, are hardly an exception.

Issues aside, I’d like to make two points as far as binoculars that carry the “made in China” tag. First, as far as optics go, “made in China” is not necessarily a sign of …

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13 Dec

The comet lives! The clouds parted for a woefully short time last evening, but long enough for me to grab the Nikon Prostar and look for Comet 17P/Holms, yet again. I am pleased to report that the comet is still visible from my heavily light polluted patio, but, to be honest, I would have a hard time convincing a jury of non-astronomers that there was anything there at all. I am down to averted vision, moving the binocular back and forth and using every other trick in the observer’s book to see it. Still, Comet 17P/Holms has become something of …

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12 Dec

I’ve always believed that everyone should own a binocular. If I was running for office, my platform would be “a binocular in every home“. Yes, it’s true. There are some people out there who do not own a binocular. This is almost, well… unpatriotic. Not sure if George Washington had a binocular when he crossed the Delaware, but I bet he would have if I had been there to sell him one. I do know for a fact that George Patton carried a binocular. Jimmy Carter was and is an avid birder and if Joanie is elected to the White …

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