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Monthly Archives: November 2010

30 Nov

One day brings rain, the next snow and then there are days with freezing drizzle and freezing rain. This is life in the north country, this time of year as fall slowly gives way to winter. Can’t imagine having birding binoculars or even compact binoculars that are not waterproof as I prowl the woods in search of birds. Fortunately, the vast majority of binoculars on the market, today, are waterproof binoculars, but this was not always the case.

Waterproofing, like so many other advances in binocular design, was a binocular feature that was first available only on the most expensive…

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29 Nov

Two eyes are better than one when it comes to astronomy. That’s how we astronomers who use astronomy binoculars tease our telescope using pals who only use one eye as they look through a telescope eyepiece. We’re just having fun, of course, because most of us who use astronomy binoculars also use telescopes. Is there any basis for such a claim, though, or are we binocular astronomers full of hot air?

In fact, there are scientific reasons for such a claim. All else equal, using two eyes, as you do when you observe through astronomy binoculars, does improve visual acuity …

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26 Nov

Temperatures dropped to single digits, last night, and we have a couple of inches of snow, up here in northern Wisconsin. Yes, winter is here, but everyone is still hoping and waiting for that first really big snowfall to break out the snowshoes, skis, snow mobiles and so on. Winter sports are big in this country.

As for me, my cross country skis are waxed and ready to go. I can’t wait to grab my birding binoculars, hit the woods on my skis and do some winter birdwatching and wildlife watching. Now, most people don’t associate skiing with birding, but…

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24 Nov

I’m not sure why late fall and winter is my favorite time to use my astronomy binoculars and set up a telescope, but it is. Other seasons of the year certainly offer as many or more objects to see in the binoculars or telescopes and, of course, the weather is more moderate in other seasons. Still, those dark, crisp and bitingly cold winter nights are the nights I remember the most as I look back over forty years of looking through the binoculars or telescope eyepiece.

I can still remember what a shock it was to discover that the focuser…

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23 Nov

Does your home have a view that would justify the use of long range observation binoculars? I suspect most people would say no. Lucky indeed is the home with that kind of view. Doesn’t happen too often in the suburbs or urban areas. However, there is always some use for binoculars in just about any home, even homes in the suburbs or the middle of the city with a very limited view of the landscape.

No, we are not talking about watching the neighbors, here. We are talking about watching local wildlife and for this kind of work, almost any …

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22 Nov

Our lake was wearing a coat of white, this morning. Ice? One look through the binoculars confirmed it: our lake is now frozen and, barring a heat wave, it will probably remain frozen till next spring. By contrast, a friend of mine in the southern part of our state (Wisconsin) reports they have had thunderstorms and it was warm enough to leave the doors open, the last few days. What a difference a couple of hundred miles plus makes!

The recent freeze-up explains why I noticed an influx of waterfowl, last week, when our lake was still open. The birds …

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19 Nov

I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I have picked up the binoculars I have on my kitchen table to scan our lake, in the distance, but it surely amounts to a dozen times a day or more. Our lake is like a magnet when it comes to me and binoculars. How could I not grab a binocular, any binocular, for a closer look? Most of the time, I fail to spot any birds or other wildlife on the lake, but on those occasions when I do see something in the binoculars, it tends to be exciting and…

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18 Nov

Here’s a question I get, now and then. The best binocular as in the best brand of binocular? Zeiss binoculars? Leica binoculars? Swarovski binoculars? Steiner binoculars? Nikon binoculars? They all have their champions and there is no shortage of folks who will loudly declare one or the other as the best brand of binocular. As for me, though, forget it. You can choose the nastiest “interrogation technique” yet devised by our government and I’ll still refuse to state what I regard as the best brand of binocular. In fact, I’ve gone to great lengths to keep my opinion as to…

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17 Nov

There have always been best quality binocular models on the market, but not all of them can claim to have changed the binocular market. A binocular that can make such a claim was the original Bausch&Lomb Elite. I saw my first one back in the early 90’s and was able to field test one of those first Elite binoculars, thanks to a loan made by a Bausch&Lomb optics rep. I returned the binoculars, a couple days, later and when asked for my opinion, I just said, “Wow.” Yes, that first Elite did live up to its claim that it could…

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16 Nov

My “first” serious compact binocular was a Swarovski 8×20 Pocket that I purchased back in the late ‘80s. At the time, I was looking at other premium compact binoculars, such as Zeiss binoculars and Leica binoculars, but I chose that Swarovski binocular, first, because it had a certain something not easily defined. Eventually I purchased every premium compact binocular made, but it all started with that one Swarovski binocular. Great binoculars are like that. They have a certain feel or character that sets them apart from the rest and you won’t be able to spot that sort of thing by …

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