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Equipment Discussions >> Equipment

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mayidunk
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Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation
      #6041236 - 08/23/13 04:52 AM

If viewed through the eyepiece, can a green laser pointer's beam cutting across the field of view, and being magnified, actually affect your eye's dark adaptation? (Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the pointer shining directly into the OTA, but about its upwardly directed beam crossing through your telescope's field of view.)



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nicknacknock
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6041292 - 08/23/13 06:31 AM

Yes, it does.

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wags1
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: nicknacknock]
      #6041402 - 08/23/13 08:27 AM

Very minimally. That said, other than initial alignment of the GLP (if being used as a finder), there should be no reason to have the GLP on when you are looking thru the EP.

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hottr6
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6041406 - 08/23/13 08:29 AM

This is how I use my GLP as a finder; I can see the end of the beam in the center of the FOV of my eyepiece. The beam is not as bright as you may think, and while there may be some degradation of dark adaption, I honestly do not notice it.

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Jarad
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: hottr6]
      #6041410 - 08/23/13 08:32 AM

The answer will depend a lot on how dark adapted you are to start with. If you are in an urban area, you probably won't get fully dark adapted anyway, and the GLP won't make much difference. If you are at a truly dark site and have let your eyes adapt for an hour, and are hunting dim fuzzies, it could set you back a few minutes while your eyes re-adapt.

Jarad


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wags1
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: hottr6]
      #6041491 - 08/23/13 09:30 AM

Quote:

This is how I use my GLP as a finder; I can see the end of the beam in the center of the FOV of my eyepiece. The beam is not as bright as you may think, and while there may be some degradation of dark adaption, I honestly do not notice it.



I'm wondering how you are using your GLP as a finder. To explain what I mean, this is how I use mine. I pick my first alignment star. Once the scope slews to the spot where it thinks the first alignment star is I press and hold the remote instant on/off pressure switch for my GLP. While holding the switch "on" I use the arrow keys of my handbox and slew the scope so that the laser beam touches the alignment star. I then let go of the switch and look in the EP. Normally at that point the star is close to center or at least somewhere I can see it in the EP (the better you do at the initial alignment/setup of your GLP the closer it will be to dead center at this point). While looking in the EP (GLP still off) I make the final adjustments to get the alignment star dead center. I repeat that process for the second alignment star. At no time is my GLP on when I am looking into the EP.
I'm not saying this is the only process to be used, but I don't understand what is gained by looking in the EP with the GLP on.


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Jarad
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: wags1]
      #6041498 - 08/23/13 09:33 AM

Quote:

I'm not saying this is the only process to be used, but I don't understand what is gained by looking in the EP with the GLP on.




Normally would just do this to confirm that the GLP is aligned with where the scope it pointing (i.e. when you are first aligning the GLP). After that, you might do it again just to check the alignment. But you are right, you normally wouldn't need to observe while it is on.

Jarad


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wags1
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jarad]
      #6041583 - 08/23/13 10:23 AM

IMHO, the one "must have" GLP accessory, in addition to the mount obviously, is a remote instant on/off switch. Basically a pressure switch on the end of a short wire. It provides two important functions. One, it allows you to turn your GLP on/off without causing any vibrations or movement of your scope. And two, it allows you to use your GLP in very short bursts which is typically all you ever need.

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Qwickdraw
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: wags1]
      #6041756 - 08/23/13 11:59 AM

The laser sold at Orion has a ring attachment with 3 setscrews and 1 forth thumb screw to turn onto the momentary on/off pushbutton. It seems to work consistently.

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hottr6
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jarad]
      #6041824 - 08/23/13 12:44 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I'm not saying this is the only process to be used, but I don't understand what is gained by looking in the EP with the GLP on.




Normally would just do this to confirm that the GLP is aligned with where the scope it pointing (i.e. when you are first aligning the GLP). After that, you might do it again just to check the alignment. But you are right, you normally wouldn't need to observe while it is on.



Affirmative. I was answering the OP's question of does the GLP beam viewed through the eyepiece affect dark-adaption. Once I have verified parallelism of OTA and GLP, there is never any need to view the beam in the eyepiece.


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mayidunk
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: hottr6]
      #6042565 - 08/23/13 09:53 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I'm not saying this is the only process to be used, but I don't understand what is gained by looking in the EP with the GLP on.




Normally would just do this to confirm that the GLP is aligned with where the scope it pointing (i.e. when you are first aligning the GLP). After that, you might do it again just to check the alignment. But you are right, you normally wouldn't need to observe while it is on.



Affirmative. I was answering the OP's question of does the GLP beam viewed through the eyepiece affect dark-adaption. Once I have verified parallelism of OTA and GLP, there is never any need to view the beam in the eyepiece.



Actually, I was thinking more about how it might affect another person. If I was thoroughly dark adapted trying to tease detail out of a dim galaxy when suddenly a GLP beam appear in my FOV, I imagine that would disappoint me just a wee bit. I would hate to think that I might be doing that to someone else.


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star drop
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6042628 - 08/23/13 10:38 PM

It definitely affects one's dark adaptation as viewed in a green zone with less than an hour of dark adaptation. A person using a laser within a fifty foot radius can make M51 turn green in your eyepiece.

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Bill Weir
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: star drop]
      #6042756 - 08/24/13 12:33 AM

Luckily the people I observe with don't use one of these devices as a finder. On the rare occasion when I've been somewhere where a laser did happen to go across my FOV bad words leapt out of my mouth. Usually I observe alone and happily the star parties I attend have banned GLPs.

I agree with Jarad I think the amount of light pollution you observe from affects how much you are affected. The more LP you are in the less other light will bother you. Light is light. If you are in a fairly dark place any light will affect you. Actually when I'm out with others it's those stupid red headlamps that so many observers (especially the imagers) are starting to wear that bother e more than lasers. Turn them OFF when we are talking to each other. Your ears will still work even if yu an't see my face and my eyes will still work when we are finished.

Bill


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Bill Weir]
      #6043480 - 08/24/13 12:12 PM

I wonder if the bright green dazzle of the beam used naked eye as a pointer affects dark adaptation?

Jon


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mayidunk
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6043827 - 08/24/13 03:40 PM

Quote:

I wonder if the bright green dazzle of the beam used naked eye as a pointer affects dark adaptation?

Jon



So, given this, why do so many seem to gravitate towards using GLPs? Isn't this kind of like people shining flashlights into each others' faces?

Edited by mayidunk (08/24/13 03:45 PM)


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SteveG
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6043985 - 08/24/13 05:42 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I wonder if the bright green dazzle of the beam used naked eye as a pointer affects dark adaptation?

Jon



So, given this, why do so many seem to gravitate towards using GLPs? Isn't this kind of like people shining flashlights into each others' faces?




There is no "given" there, he was asking the question. My answer would be no. I've used a GLP at many dark sky outings, and the light has not been bright enought to reduce my night vision. Granted, I have older eyes, so YMMV.

If using a laser was equal to shining a flashlight is someone's face, then no one would be using them.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: SteveG]
      #6044020 - 08/24/13 06:04 PM

Quote:

I've used a GLP at many dark sky outings, and the light has not been bright enought to reduce my night vision.




Exactly how can one be sure that ones dark adaptation has not been affected?

Jon


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Scanning4Comets
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6046197 - 08/25/13 11:36 PM

Quote:

Actually when I'm out with others it's those stupid red headlamps that so many observers (especially the imagers) are starting to wear that bother e more than lasers. Turn them OFF when we are talking to each other. Your ears will still work even if you can't see my face and my eyes will still work when we are finished.

Bill




Oh god, I hate when this happens. I always have to tell them to "please turn off your headlamps"


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Shneor
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6046352 - 08/26/13 02:41 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I've used a GLP at many dark sky outings, and the light has not been bright enought to reduce my night vision.




Exactly how can one be sure that ones dark adaptation has not been affected?

Jon


Just check that limiting magnitude star and determine if it is still visible. I sometimes - not often - use a violet laset pointer (405nm) to point out constellations or object locations. It does not appear to affect my night vision (in any case, it's only visible to my left eye; my right eye can't see it, and that's my dominant eye).

Clears,


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izar187
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6046475 - 08/26/13 07:10 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I wonder if the bright green dazzle of the beam used naked eye as a pointer affects dark adaptation?

Jon



So, given this, why do so many seem to gravitate towards using GLPs? Isn't this kind of like people shining flashlights into each others' faces?




Ego, grand standing, being the self appointed wizard of others' night sly....

I've had many a green beam cross my ep field at public outreach when trying to show guests something through a scope, that they might never see without a scope. But the intrusive beam often quickly becomes the show. "Wow, what was that?" Commonly followed by "Where can I get one of those?" With luck and patience they might actually see a bit of the structure or shape of the intended target, or it's companions. But frequently it's off to find the pretty green light.


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Brent Campbell
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6046492 - 08/26/13 07:21 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I wonder if the bright green dazzle of the beam used naked eye as a pointer affects dark adaptation?

Jon



So, given this, why do so many seem to gravitate towards using GLPs? Isn't this kind of like people shining flashlights into each others' faces?





Simple, bad back, don't want to get into contorted positions to view through the finder. If used responsibly then theres no issue.


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izar187
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Brent Campbell]
      #6046516 - 08/26/13 07:58 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I wonder if the bright green dazzle of the beam used naked eye as a pointer affects dark adaptation?

Jon



So, given this, why do so many seem to gravitate towards using GLPs? Isn't this kind of like people shining flashlights into each others' faces?





Simple, bad back, don't want to get into contorted positions to view through the finder. If used responsibly then theres no issue.





Absolutely!
The folks who are rightly using them for their finders, their minimal intensity beams are not the ones in other peoples eyepiece fields.


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Jarad
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: izar187]
      #6046748 - 08/26/13 10:52 AM

Quote:

Ego, grand standing, being the self appointed wizard of others' night sly....

I've had many a green beam cross my ep field at public outreach when trying to show guests something through a scope, that they might never see without a scope.




That's a bit harsh. Using a GLP at a public outreach to point out constellations, planets, or the object they just saw through the scope is actually a good teaching tool. I don't think you should automatically assign such derogatory motivations - getting people interested in looking up at the sky is the point of those events, after all.

Jarad


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jarad]
      #6046794 - 08/26/13 11:15 AM

Quote:


That's a bit harsh. Using a GLP at a public outreach to point out constellations, planets, or the object they just saw through the scope is actually a good teaching tool.




I think with a large crowd, it is difficult without a pointer but with a few people, I still believe the pointing the fingers with the detailed discussion is a better teaching tool. (9 o'clock from...) With the laser, you just show them, where it is, it's fast and easy.

With the old fashioned techniques, it's slower but there is more learning about how to navigate the night sky. People need to think, they need to observe closely what they are seeing. When all is said and done, I believe someone is more likely to remember what they have seen, how to find it again because they have been involved with their eyes and mind in the discovery process.

It is also more engaging, rather than me telling people with a narrative, it's back and forth between not only myself but everyone, until they do see it.

Jon


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Jarad
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6046813 - 08/26/13 11:31 AM

There are a wide variety of ways to teach.

I was at the Indiana Family Star Gaze a few years ago, and they had a great program for the kids. During the afternoon, they did a slide show going over a number of constellations. Then in the evening they did a challenge game for the kids, where they won prizes for being to use a GLP to point out the constellations themselves. This got the kids very excited and involved, and pointing it out yourself requires you to recognize the constellation first.

Obviously you can teach the constellations without a GLP. And different teaching styles will work better with different students. But I still think the GLP is a useful teaching tool. It doesn't replace thinking, visualizing, etc., but it can be a good supplement to them. Yes, they are fun. There's nothing wrong with making learning fun.

With kids, it can also be used to teach a bit of responsibility. Before they got to use the GLP, we went over the rules. In addition to basic safety, we discussed courtesy - don't swing it all over the sky, aim where you intend to point before pressing the on button, release the on button before moving to the next constellation, etc.

Jarad


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izar187
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jarad]
      #6046987 - 08/26/13 01:11 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Ego, grand standing, being the self appointed wizard of others' night sly....

I've had many a green beam cross my ep field at public outreach when trying to show guests something through a scope, that they might never see without a scope.




That's a bit harsh. Using a GLP at a public outreach to point out constellations, planets, or the object they just saw through the scope is actually a good teaching tool. I don't think you should automatically assign such derogatory motivations - getting people interested in looking up at the sky is the point of those events, after all.

Jarad




No, it's not.
These pointers may be good teachers' tools in large class rooms and auditoriums. But that does not automatically make them good learning aids for guests out under the night sky. The laser becomes the show, far, far too often. With the first lesson learned being: get a laser, they're awesome! No naked eye target or planet requires a laser to be pointed out. If it's a telescopic target, then point a scope at it, because they're not going to see the target until someone does. When that someones does, they do not need the light pollution of other peoples' lasers in their guests' eyepiece experience, anymore than they need fireworks at public outreach.

Yes, we do want people looking up at the night sky. To be seeing the stars. Not snazzy lights we are shining around up there, no matter how strongly we feel we just gotta. I rethought using my laser when out of the blue a couple different guests at my scope asked me not to. I stopped completely after being on the receiving end of the intrusive beams of others, as I knew then that someone had been on the receiving end of mine.


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Jarad
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: izar187]
      #6047018 - 08/26/13 01:34 PM

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on whether or not they can be useful. But regardless of whether you think they are a good tool or not, I think you are jumping to unfair conclusions about the motivations of the people who use them.

Jarad


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george golitzin
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jarad]
      #6048138 - 08/27/13 02:25 AM

Granted, the "Ego, grand standing, etc." comment might have been a bit harsh, but otherwise, I agree 100% with Izar187, and also with Jon's comments. If people at a public outreach event are looking through your scope, it takes about 2 seconds to teach them how to use a telrad to see where the scope is pointed. No need for the laser, and the night sky remains undisturbed. Pointing a light at the sky, no matter how well-intentioned, is the wrong message to give to visitors at a star party. And it also makes a lot of seasoned observers kind of sad.

-geo


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derangedhermit
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Shneor]
      #6048216 - 08/27/13 05:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Exactly how can one be sure that ones dark adaptation has not been affected?

Jon



Just check that limiting magnitude star and determine if it is still visible.

Clears,



I think the OP asked a significant question, and I much appreciate the restatement and then what appears to me to be the answer we should all use, as a demonstration to ourselves.

1) Get dark adapted.
2) Find star at limiting magnitude.
3) Point laser at it, for at least several seconds. Turn laser off.
4) See how long it takes to be able to see the star again.

If we could get a hundred people or so to do this, we might learn something. One person's statement, no matter how plain and unmistakable for them, is still anecdotal to everyone else. It could easily done in small groups, if people are allowed to make up their own minds before others make their pronouncements.

Disrupting others' night vision at a shared observing field is one thing; putting a temporary light across their field of view (naked eye or otherwise) that does not disrupt their night vision is something substantially different.


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FirstSight
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6048284 - 08/27/13 07:36 AM

Regardless of whether GLPs seem to some to be useful navigational or teaching tools they consider harmless to night vision, it's clear that others sharing the same observing field DO find GLPs to be an annoying distraction that can noticeably detract from their night vision, even if the extent is only relatively modest and temporary.

The proper ethic for considerate observing in the presence of other observers has always been to avoid any potentially distracting or interfering use of light, beyond the unavoidable minimum needed to safely function. There's consensus that judiciously considerate use of red light for reading star charts etc. is acceptable. Obviously, however there is NOT consensus about green LP light.

Do users of GLP consider their use so unavoidably important that their interests trump and override the wishes of those who find them objectionable? OTOH are the objections so insubstantial and unreasonable that it is the objectors who are being inconsiderate and should adjust their attitudes to get over it? IMHO the debate over whether GLPs are an insignificant vs substantial detraction is not resolvable to any definitive objective answer one way or another...rather it's a question of the extent to which either camp should considerately yield to accommodate the other, consistent with good observing ethics.

Edited by FirstSight (08/27/13 07:37 AM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jarad]
      #6048305 - 08/27/13 07:53 AM

Quote:


There are a wide variety of ways to teach.




I agree..

We teach not only the constellations but also our own values and attitudes. For me, shining a bright laser beam into the night sky disturbs the pristine darkness that I am attempting to preserve, attempting to honor. I want to teach that it is not necessary...

Jon


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MessiToM
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6048648 - 08/27/13 11:38 AM

If you MUST use a laser pointer why not good old 638nm red? You would need more than 5mw of coarse. Wouldn't this not affect dark adaptation?

Edited by MessiToM (08/27/13 11:44 AM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: MessiToM]
      #6048753 - 08/27/13 12:43 PM

Quote:

If you MUST use a laser pointer why not good old 638nm red? You would need more than 5mw of coarse. Wouldn't this not affect dark adaptation?




By legal definition, in the United States, there are no laser pointers that are beyond 5mw. The safety issues are related to the power output of the laser, not the sensitivity of the retina to a particular wavelength. Infrared lasers are invisible, that makes them very dangerous...

Jon


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MessiToM
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6048786 - 08/27/13 01:00 PM

This I know. ^ I was just kind of speculating that a red beam wouldn't wipe out your night vision. Unless it caused retina damage by a reflection or being careless.

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Mike B
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: FirstSight]
      #6048839 - 08/27/13 01:27 PM

Quote:

IMHO the debate over whether GLPs are an insignificant vs substantial detraction is not resolvable to any definitive objective answer one way or another...rather it's a question of the extent to which either camp should considerately yield to accommodate the other, consistent with good observing ethics.



Thank-you, Chris, for stating this overarching principle!

There are times & circumstances where a GLP is a tremendous tool... and there are times & conditions where they are inappropriate & objectionable. The same could be said for a LOT of things on the observing field:
1) Car etiquette- where they're parked, dimming their cabin lights, not using headlights until well away from the observing field, as well as direction pointed (away, if you please )
2) Lap-tops & their light trespass
3) Head-lamps & theirs
4) Music- type, volume, or even whether
5) Alcohol consumption
6) Human voice- volume, content

These will all vary by the situation & type of gathering. No need to be intolerant, or assign harsh motives- just be respectful of others, and err on the side of minimal intrusion until confident of otherwise.


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Jarad
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Re: Green Laser Pointers, and Dark Adaptation new [Re: Mike B]
      #6048988 - 08/27/13 02:28 PM

+1

Jarad


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