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Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category

Fun items for the summer

OK, officially summer doesn’t start for 5 more days, and local schools still have 3 more days before summer break kicks in, but still we can talk about some nify items we’ve added for summer fun! Let’s start with a classic toy:

The Aerobie Pro Ring



The Aeorbie, a nifty variation on the classic flying disc, has been around for a while now but still is a great summer toy. Unlike the more limited Flying discs the Aeorbie can fly the length of several football fields and holds the Guiness record for furthest throw at 1,333ft. Pro-Tip: When playing with an Aerobie at the beach, never throw it at someone with the ocean behind them. You may never see your Aerobie again.

This is the Aerobie Pro Ring with a 13″ diameter and retailing at $9.99.

Also from the Aeorbie company is the Aerobie Squidgy Ball


Squishy and fun, the Aerobie Squidgie ball’s soft, rubber fins make it ideal for children learning to throw and catch, a cool pool toy for kids of all ages, and a favorite for dogs.   For ages 3+ and comes in multiple colors. Retails for just $6.99.

T-Bolt Air Rocket Launch Set


If you can’t launch black-powder rockets, then give the T-Bolt a chance! This large (11.5″) durable plastic rocket is pumped up with the included pump and stand. It flies up to 150 feet high. Air power and the durable nose landing means you can use it again and again!


The Art of Surviving an Astronomy Session

So you got yourself a new telescope and it is a clear night out. Time to grab the new telescope and bring it outside, right? Hold on there; as many new astronomers have discovered, an observing session isn’t as simple as when you go outside in the winter/early spring to put out the trash. There are several things you should probably prepare before you go out for a night of observing.


Far, far too many folks dress for the daytime weather. This can be a problem for you if the daytime was a happy 78 degrees and then drops as the sun goes down into the 60’s.  Many an observing session has been ended prematurely because the astronomer forgot to wear a sweater.

For colder weather, it is 670px-Dress-for-the-Cold-Step-1-Version-2wise to dress in layers.  This way you can adjust your level of warmth as the night goes on. The only trouble with dressing in layers is that you need to get dressed indoors where it is warm and putting on multiple layers is a bit more complex than just tossing on a jacket. I have had sessions where I dressed for warmth and then had something delay my exiting the house, the result being me sweating up a storm before I got outside.


Even if you only have the eyepieces that came with your telescope and a star chart it might not be a bad idea to have somewhere to put these items down. A simply folding aluminum table can help a lot without being too much of a burden. You might also consider some kind of carrying case for the eyepieces. Keeping them in your pocket can be hard on the glass and coatings in the long run.


2241largeWell before you go out, you should decide what you would like to observe that night, or if you just want to aim the telescope around and see what you can find. The latter can be lots of fun, but it can also get old pretty fast if you don’t find anything of interest. The former does require some planning, so be sure to check your planisphere, planetarium program or other astronomical assistant before going out.


Far too many folks turn hobbies into chores – Astronomy is by no means unique in this regard. Doing some work in any hobby to get the most out of it is to be expected, but turning it into a huge burden can make you burn out on astronomy.







New Toys: Rebound Action, Cartesian Diver & Bird Feeder with Bird Guide

A few new products came into the store today. Let’s have a look.

First we have the Rebound Action Game ,a classic old-school game involving bouncing balls just right:



Camera Obscura

In our last blog post, 10 fun facts about Magnifiers, we mentioned one feature of magnifiers (or any lens, really) but kind of glossed over it.

“5) Your magnifier can act as a little projector of sorts – if you have a bright window you can make an image of what is outside that window by holding the lens a little bit away from a wall on a darker area of the room.”

We kind of glossed over this, and didn’t even post a picture of it. But this is a staple of optics and in fact any positive lens can create a real image on a screen. Its pretty much what every movie projector does, although those are much more complex optical systems. CameraObscurasimpla (more…)

So You Want to Launch Model Rockets?

Well that’s good, because model rocketry is one of those hobbies that is much enjoyed by parent/child. It is easier to do than ever, is lots of fun, and actually quite safe!

RocketlaunchTimes were that it was not always so. In the past the major builder of rockets, Estes, was a bit troublesome to deal with. The company had been formed in 1958 when they developed a machine that mass-produced model rocket engines. This revolutionized the hobby since in the past rocketeers had to either make their own rocket engines or buy expensive, unreliable produced ones. Soon Estes were building and selling parts for models rockets and dominated the market. Rocket kits soon followed along with lots of other accessories.


It’s New! It’s Thin! It’s the…Pocket Monkey!

OK, little flat wallet multi-tools have been around for a long time, so why on Earth would we be interested in carrying another one? Well, two reasons: 1) The design of the older tools has not changed in ages, so your multi-tool really hasn’t had anything new added to it in decades and 2) The older models really were not very thin! They were often 2mm or more thick which made them actually kind of hard to put in your wallet.

But now comes the Made in the USA Pocket Monkey!



Power Up Electric Paper Plane Flyer

Paper airplanes are an inevitable result of having loose sheets of paper around. We make them as kids, and we even make them as adults. When we were young, we did always dream of having a paper plane that would fly better than our arms could throw them. Well, now there is a chance to experience just that! Its the Power-Up set and it turns your ordinary paper plane into a electric powered flying machine!

Assembling the Power-Up requires some adult supervision but can be done by any child from age 8+.

Once your put it together it is time to take it outside (unless you have a huge gymnasium to fly it), charge it up and make that plane fly!

A standard charge from the charger will provide about 30 seconds of flight and it only takes 20 seconds to charge.  3 ‘AA’ batteries are required for the charger and are not included.

Oh, and you do have to provide your own paper airplanes. Just sayin’.