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Helping someone with Limited Vision Observe

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#1 kenrenard

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:06 PM

My wife has a Retina disease which causes her to have limited vision. She does enjoy to look at some of the things my daughter and I find. However, Often she just can't see anything. Her favorite object is the Pleiades because of its bright blue color. The moon is also a good object for her because of brightness. Last night we showed her the double cluster and she saw some of it but admitted it not to be very brilliant why disappointed my daughter since she thinks its very bright.

Does anyone have any experience with showing limited vision folks objects thru a telescope? Any tips would be appreciated.


Thanks Ken

#2 Dwight J

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:19 PM

Hi Ken: one of the reasons I bought a Mallincam was that my observing buddy has glaucoma and cataracts now and views through the telescope are dim at best. Solar system objects are usually viewable die to their brightness. He can see a TV screen just fine and now he can view any object. I know that this involves purchasing a fairly expensive item and adds some complexity to setting up. My friend has 95 percent vision loss but he hasn't missed out on observing. This time of year we both enjoy the warmth of a warm room while observing too.

#3 kenrenard

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:25 PM

Thanks Dwight,
I read about video observing in this months Sky and Telescope. It is something to look into although as you say a large expense. I appreciate the help.

Ken

#4 CJK

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

Orion has a pretty inexpensive eyepiece cam that might be helpful. It puts out video on a standard RCA connector, so pretty much any TV would work as a display.

-- Chris

#5 kenrenard

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:58 PM

Thanks Chris. I have a non goto dob. So this may be a future purchase. I appreciate the advice.

#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:20 AM

Thanks Chris. I have a non goto dob. So this may be a future purchase. I appreciate the advice.


Ken:

Have you had any success showing her bright double stars like Albireo?

How about a pair of binoculars on a tripod, both eyes in use, just seeing a bright star field can be great fun.

Jon

#7 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:37 AM

Jon,
We tried Albireo. Unfortunately she doesn't see the split even at high power. Her vision can be hit or miss. I was talking with her about it last night, and we think it takes her eyes much longer to dark adapt than most folks. Generally we are trying to look at stuff after dinner and keep track of my 2 year old daughter, who also likes to take a look.

I will try my binoculars mounted and see if she has any better luck with that. She really likes open clusters. The Pleiades is her favorite and I think its because its so bright. I generally have he look through my 8 inch dob with the 38mm Q70. She also has had good luck with our one TeleVue 24mm Panoptic. She was able to see Jupiter the other night but couldn't make out any of the bands.


Thanks for the advice.

Ken

#8 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:25 AM

Hi Ken: one of the reasons I bought a Mallincam was that my observing buddy has glaucoma and cataracts now and views through the telescope are dim at best. Solar system objects are usually viewable die to their brightness. He can see a TV screen just fine and now he can view any object. I know that this involves purchasing a fairly expensive item and adds some complexity to setting up. My friend has 95 percent vision loss but he hasn't missed out on observing. This time of year we both enjoy the warmth of a warm room while observing too.


Dwight,
I did some more research on the Mallincam and found some really great information. I found the NightSkyNetwork which allows users to view other folks telescopes with video feeds. I am going to show this to my wife and kids. At some point we can save up and get a video setup.

Thanks again. This opened up a whole new world in Astronomy for the whole family.

Clear Skies.

Ken

#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:48 AM

Ken;

Does your wife wear glasses? Is it possible she is having trouble with focusing?

Jon

#10 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:53 AM

Jon,
She does wear glasses. I am sure her focusing is somewhat affected. She has RP which she has had since her teens. I've included a link about it. Some of her vision is missing. She doesn't have any depth perception which causes quite a few issues. We have some things in the house modified with orange dots on the stove and dishwasher, washing machine etc. This helps her with using appliances. Luckily she has been pretty stable for the past few years. Some folks are completely blind in a few years with RP.
So we are very happy that she still has some vision.


http://www.blindness...id=50&Itemid=67


#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:15 AM

Ken

I saw that there were two basic types depending on whether the rods or the cones are affected. Do you know which type she has?

Does a digital camera image from your telescope viewed on a laptop screen seem like an interesting option?

Jon

#12 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:23 AM

Jon,
I believe hers is the rods. I think I will try the digital camera route. I have a DSLR and and Coolpix point and shoot. I never really tried taking pictures, but that is another option. I am going to give it a try.

Thanks for the tips.

Ken

#13 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:26 AM

Jon,
Have you ever tried one of the camera mounts. Like
Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount? Wondering if this will hold my point and shoot steady on my Dob?

#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:35 AM

Jon,
Have you ever tried one of the camera mounts. Like
Orion SteadyPix Deluxe Camera Mount? Wondering if this will hold my point and shoot steady on my Dob?


Ken

I have. They work Ok for the moon but to view clusters and the like, you need a tracking mount. You could try the DSLR at Prime focus but generally there is not enough inward focuser travel to reach focus.

Jon

#15 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:58 AM

Thanks Jon,
Looks like a tracking scope and Mallincam someday would be fun and useful for anyone. However, this will be a big expense. for now I can try some snap shots and look at what we can on the Night Skies Network.

#16 Dwight J

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:38 AM

Hi Ken: I must of been asleep at the wheel not thinking of NightskiesNetwork, especially when I am one of the broadcasters! I "observe" there a lot myself when it is cloudy here. Not exactly the same as looking through an eyepiece but very close and your wife will be able to see all types of objects. Hope to see you on one of the broadcasts.....

#17 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:03 PM

Thanks Dwight,
That will give us something to look at on Cloudy Nights here which there are plenty of in the Northeast. I am still reading about the Mallincam and what is needed for setup. It sure looks really neat. Rod Mollise wrote and article in this months Sky and Telescope all about video and how it works.

Maybe some night my family will be able to see what you are seeing through your scope.

Clear Skies

Ken

#18 Dwight J

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:25 PM


I will look forward to that Ken. I just need some clear skies and the darn moon out of the way.

#19 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:33 PM

Yeah no kidding. Its either cloudy or snowing here. 55 this past weekend now it 10 F with snow squalls.

#20 Skylook123

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:32 PM

Ken, your wife has the same issues as my wife, but seemingly worse. My wife taught astronomy among her other high school physics, math, chemistry, and earth sciences classes. When I finally got into astronomy myself in 1993, she could not focus on eyepiece images. We thought it was age related cataracts and then, about five years ago, she was diagnosed with a blood supply problem to her corneas and was about to become illegal to drive. So, she had cornea and lens transplants in both eyes, a year apart. It takes up to two years to heal and recover, so we waited. Still, no eyepiece capability although not as bad as your wife's.

It turns out that she has an extra membrane over the rods that gives blurred/multiple vision in the dark at an eyepiece. So depressing, because although she taught the material, she can't see it. She can see to point a scope with a Telrad, just not the details. BUT, at least she can see planets and double stars in the eyepiece, so at the Grand Canyon Star Party, and other outreach events where we need an extra scope, she has me set up the 10" SCT on the Atlas EQ-G and she teaches planets, double stars, and the moon. She has been able, one time, to split the double-double but galaxies, nebulae, and open/globular clusters are just a blur for her.

I've used an Orion Starshoot Solar System Imager web cam for day (solar scope) and night (moon, Jupiter) and she can see the monitor screen and in the daytime, using the cones, she can see eyepiece images of the sun and sunspots and prominences, but the rods are not supportive of focusing. The Orion camera has the disadvantage of a 5mm effective focal length, so I can't use it on the dob because the image just zips through too fast to maintain the electronic behavior. I did pick up an Antares 0.5X reducer, but it really needs a tracking scope to perform.

Next summer I will try the Mallincam Jr. or the equivalent Orion hardware. I've seen the Orion unit work at the Annular Solar Eclipse support we provided at the Grand Canyon last May, and it was an awesome tool for a crowd. If I could just get her to be able to see M13, or The Lagoon, it'll be worth it. She teaches the material so well, and she is often in tears of frustration when she tries to see something other than Jupiter, Venus, or Saturn. She can occasionally get Albireo, so it's not all bad.

#21 kenrenard

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

Thanks Jim,
I know how difficult loss of vision is. My wife taught elementary school but had to leave since she could no longer see the pencil the kids use. It wasn't all bad we had our first daughter the next year and she has been home with her and our other little girl since.

My older daughter go me interested in Astronomy about a year and half ago when she started asking questions about planets. We got some books and ended up getting a telescope. We both joined the local astronomy club and I have really been enjoying it. My wife likes to come out and see what we are up to.

Since we don't have a tracking scope it looks like the video cameras won't work. But, so far I have found a lot of good information from you and the other folks in the forum. So at some point we may look into a tracking scope with a video output.

I can only imagine how beautiful the skies are out at the Grand Canyon. We were out there about 14 years ago and it was really amazing.

Hope your wifes vision improves

Clear Skies

Ken






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