Waking early, there was a wonderful sky, the gibbous moon well out of the way and Venus and Jupiter doing their stuff, with Arcturus, Spica, Mars and Regulus for company. I ventured out into the icy dark with a new toy. Going shopping for binoculars a few weeks ago sapped my moral fibre, and I bought yet another pair, which is excess indeed.
These do look odd. This is because they are Pentax close focus binos – the ability to focus at 50cm giving them a slightly cross-eyed look. The objectives are about 20mm I think, magnification 6.5. I was sold on the description of them as a kind of field microscope to look at insects without getting close enough to frighten them away, or paintings and architectural features which as a tourist one can’t see properly. Of course I was going to try them out on astronomy, for which they are definitely not intended. Their images were feeble compared with the 7x50s, which I don’t hold against them, but both pairs seemed to be generating internal reflections when Venus and Jupiter were in the field of view – disappointing. It was less of an issue with stars.
I retired to the electric blanket (providently turned on when I got up) still wearing all my clothes, including hat, and shivering, while I finished Stuff Matters. The speed with which I got through this one indicates rather slight content, definitely at the popular end of popular science. I would have liked more about the exotic materials with which I am unfamiliar, such as aerogel. The chapter on why chocolate is so entirely addictive was good, and Miodownik gave a nice sense of the way the substance of clay changes when it is fired.
Yesterday I ignored some seductive sunshine as there was a fairly brutal north wind to go with it. Today was calmer, and I took the Pentax to the beach for testing. Hardly butterfly weather, and the birds had all decamped inland, so I practised on the rocks and shells at my feet, which came up in startling detail. Must remember not to look at any spiders with the binos; I might have hysterics. They worked well as a compact binocular for cliffs and surfers too, with a smooth focus wheel to move easily between near and far. And light – very easy to use one-handed or for long observations. Roll on those butterflies.
Blue sea and sky, with the sun shining through the incoming waves
revealing the sand sucked up into their tummies as they approached the beach
and lighting them up to the palest and most elegant jade green
with the orderly serries coming on behind them.
Soon the light was going: a very satisfactory sky and sea scape.
Now I am going to eat rocket and lemon risotto.