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Monthly Archives: May 2011

31 May

Yep, it’s that time of year. With summer and warm temperatures we also get mosquitoes, ticks and other pests. Break out the insect repellant and let’s head to the woods for a little birdwatching, hiking, biking and so on.

Not so fast. Some insect repellants and binoculars are not a good match. Repellants with DEET can and will gum up the finish on certain binoculars. DEET acts very much like a paint remover. In fact, I have even used it in a pinch to remove old paint on small items I was re-painting! Do you really want to touch those…

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30 May

I had a fairly good spring birding season, all things considered. I saw plenty of new birds in the binoculars and spotting scope, many of them north woods specialties, and all of them birds new to my yard and home on the lake. (It’s been many years since I’ve actually seen a bird in my birding binoculars that I have never seen before.) My north woods bird list is growing all the time and it’s a good one. No doubt about it, living in the north woods has been good for my birdwatching. Makes me feel right at home.


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27 May

As I sat in the yard, looking through my astronomy binoculars, the other night, my mind drifted back to earlier days with binoculars and telescopes. That’s a lot of days, by the way, since I’ve been doing astronomy for over forty years.

I once was in a small astronomy club and one of the things we liked to do while looking through the binoculars or telescope eyepiece was add a little music to our observing. Music, the right music, did add to the mood, so we started to make music a regular part of every observing session and, to be…

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26 May

How long should binoculars last? The quick and easy answer is that binoculars, even cheap binoculars, have the potential for lasting years, given reasonable use and care. Of course, there are so many qualifiers in such a statement that it is hard to know where to begin when we get down to specifics. Have to start somewhere, though. Therefore, as a general rule of thumb, I have always advised that when you buy binoculars, spend based on your frequency of use and also under what extremes you will be using your binoculars.

Some applications call for more durability than others,…

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25 May

Are your binoculars giving you eye fatigue and eye strain? If the answer is yes, it could be a problem with your binoculars, but it could also be a problem with how you adjust and are using your binoculars. Either way, binoculars and eye fatigue is a bad combination.

Your binoculars, of course, can be the source of that eye strain and fatigue. The culprit, here, is misalignment of the prisms inside the binocular housing. In order to achieve strain free viewing in a binocular, those prisms must be aligned to be looking at the same point out in front…

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24 May

Much of the attraction of using binoculars for astronomy is the challenge of trying to see objects that are actually better seen in telescopes – if you are after spectacular images, that is. Really not much to see in terms of detail, for instance, on a small, faint galaxies, even in the largest astronomy binoculars, but the fact that you can see these distant objects at all in binoculars is truly amazing. That’s a thrill in its own right.

Yes, of course, there are some objects in the night sky that are actually better seen in binoculars than in a …

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23 May

With all my outdoor interests, it is sometimes hard for me to decide what kind of equipment to carry when I head out the door. I want to take everything, just in case. Maybe that’s why I have always been partial to small and portable, whether it comes digital cameras, spotting scopes and, especially, binoculars. Small and compact is likely to be grabbed when I am off on an adventure, big and heavy is not.

Of all the optical equipment I own, compact binoculars see the most use, by far, spring, summer, fall and winter. Talk about convenience and portability!…

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22 May

It may seem a bit unlikely to talk about lawn chairs in conjunction with astronomy, but lawn chairs are useful for astronomy, especially when using astronomy binoculars. Yes, of course, you can mount astronomy binoculars on photo tripods or, even better yet, dedicated astronomy binocular tripods, via a parallelogram mount, but a lawn chair, if chosen carefully, makes a very useful and comfortable mount.

The biggest advantage of a lawn chair when using binoculars for an overhead view is a lawn chair’s ability to recline, assuming, of course, that you choose a reclining model. Standing and tipping binoculars up, overhead, …

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19 May

When the Nikon 10x42mm Premier SE first appeared, back in the late 90s, it rocked the birding and birdwatching community for its superb optics. Same for the smaller version, the Nikon 8x32mm Premier SE, which soon followed.

At that time, high end birding binoculars were almost universally roof prism binoculars, with porro prism binoculars found mostly at lower price points. There were a few exceptions, notably he Swift Audubon 8.5x44mm BWCF (wonderful binocular, still available), but few porro prism binoculars were carried by birders who could afford to pay whatever it took to get the very best in optics. If…

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18 May

Porro prism binoculars have steadily lost ground to the slimmer, more comfortable handling roof prism binoculars over the last twenty odd years, but that does not mean that the porro prism binocular is an inferior binocular design. Far from it. In fact, in some respects, the porro prism binocular is actually superior to a roof prism binocular.

Light transmission is one. Light transmission is inherently better in a porro prism binocular because the porro prism does not use a mirror in the prism as does a roof prism. That mirror in a roof prism scatters and reflects some light, resulting …

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