12/7/2018 – 15×70 Binoculars

I just got some 15×70 binoculars. Nominally for astronomy, I can see these being used for birding as well, mainly as an alternative to a spotting scope. The 70mm objectives will bring in a lot of light. For astronomy, I’ll use them with a parallelogram mount I built a couple years ago. For birding, with a conventional tripod. I arranged to have them delivered during Winter Storm Diego so that I can’t be blamed for the cloudy weather, it was already here.

11/25/2018 Black Scoters Lake Monticello

Black Scoters at Lake Monticello

Following up on a tip from a confidential informant, I drove to Lake Monticello Sunday.  I’ve never been there before but Google Maps indicated at least three vantage points around the not very large lake. An undeveloped “campground” to the north, a small park to the southeast, and the dam.  For efficiency, I started at the top and went clockwise.  I saw assorted “regular” birds at the first two sites but it was at the dam that I hit pay dirt.  Eight male and five female Black Scoters where just out from the dam as I drove over.  They were very cooperative.  This is a life bird for me and Arkansas state bird #349 for me.

11/22/2018 New Rocker Box for Molly

I built a new rocker box for Molly the 16 inch Dobsonian telescope today. She has been top heavy and required a counterweight (an elastic cord) since I built her about 20 months ago. The new rocker box is 4.5 inches taller which allowed me to raise the bearings up and shift the 24 pound mirror back by the same amount. Obviously I’m not done, there is stain and poly to do not to mention attaching laminate and the ground board but I think the problem is solved. The picture shows her tilted nearly horizontal with an eyepiece and everything with no kind of counterweight and she handles it just fine.