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January 29th, 2009

everything to see but the eyepiece

Last night's mail brought in a very interesting eBay purchase. It's a little beginner telescope called a Meade Compact Refracting Telescope. It's a little 60 mm. "rich field" scope, which is a fancy way of saying it's got a short tube and a 2.4" aperture and isn't really designed for looking at astronomical objectives in detail, but instead will be good for low-magnification views of less difficult things. I've had fancy telescopes before, but this time I wanted something simple that could double as a viewing scope for birds.

Bare holly bush in January, Springfield Park, Rowlett, north Texas

Now, though, I face a challenge--to find the right eyepiece. The scope tube I bought did not come with eyepieces, so that I must go out and find my own. My reading this morning indicates that one can spend as much as one wants to spend on an eyepiece. I know a few bits of telescope wisdom, though:

1. people go haywire with high magnification on cheap telescopes, when a cheap telescope actually provides its best results with very low magnification; and

2. the main problem I have with telescopes is that I want a very rich field of view, rather than having to worry constantly about pointing the tube in just the right way.

My hope is that I will have fun birding and looking at the moon in this scope. But right now I am aiming to have fun finding the perfect inexpensive lens to use with this scope. Then I will focus on how to make my point-and-shoot somehow magically take pictures through the lens.

fog of joy

Today the ice gave way to a deep, enveloping fog. "Freezing fog", they called it on WRR 101, the classical station, before they began playing something by Rimsky-Korsakov. I drove on my way to work over to the Bethany Lakes Park, and pulled out my cheap digicam.

Ducks on a January Texas Lake

By the time I arrived at work, the fog began to lift, and by lunch time things were warm, You'd never imagine, if you joined me on my walk to get a turkey sandwich, that Tuesday night an ice storm raged, or that this morning the world was wrapped in fog. You'd imagine instead that those cute birds singing had reasons for joy, and that all is right with this particular small corner of the world.