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Anyone try NV and actually prefer traditional viewing?

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#1 guangtou

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 10:37 AM

I didn’t post this question in the EAA forum because I assume most observers in that forum are already NV converts.

Night Vision is quite expensive, but I often read that those who have tried it, especially white phosphor Mod 3, rave about the experience and some have even given up using conventional EPs.

However, when I had a chance to see a Mallincam in action at several different star parties, I knew that, while it was neat, it wasn’t for me.

Anyone else have the same experience with NV? My only exposure to it has been with Gen 1, and I had the same reaction as I had with video astronomy.

So I’d love to hear from others about their experience. Please specify which NV device you used. Thanks
 

#2 Eddgie

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 11:02 AM

I have totally abandoned the use of conventional eyepieces for night time astronomy.

Gen 1 is horrible and no better than the dark adapted eye.  The technology also had horrendous distortion so that only the central part of the field would show sharp stars, but again, it was trivially easy to see more with a well dark adapted eye than I could with a Gen 1 device.   Not only do I not recommend Gen 1 for astronomy, I don't even recommend it as an amusing toy.

 

Modern NV has excellent field sharpness right to the edge of the field, though NV will also disclose aberrations in the telescope that the human eye can't easily see.  No where is this more evident than when using achromats where you see huge glow of unfocused light around all stars.   To use an achromat, extreme filtering is required.   For faster reflectors, coma is much easier to see because the eye alone only sees maybe 20% of the comatic flare, but NV will show you 80% or more of the comatic flare.

 

Moden NV will resolve down to 1.1 arc minute of true field, so this is actually better than you can get with the human eye in scoptoic mode (which is about 3 arc minutes of apparent field). 

 

So, the quality of the view is quite excellent, with pinpoint stars (assuming the scope can deliver on this, so coma corrector for reflectors, or heavy filters for achromats) and excellent contrast.

 

I could never go back to conventional eyepieces.  I see things that I can't see using regular eyepeices, and even on things that I can see using regular eyepieces, I can easily see more structure and detail using NV.

 

I have only three eyepieces left, and that is because they were gifts and I would feel bad selling them.  I have a 31mm, 12mm, and 7mm Nagler, and I have not used any of them in 2.5 years now except to make some comparisons, which I quickly put them back into the eyepiece case.

 

NV Astronomy just works so much better for me that I could never go back to conventional eyepieces.  The views are empty.

 

(If you like color doubles of course, this technology does not do that, but you can do great double stars because you can now resolve doubles were the secondary star was too dim to see with glass eyepieces.)


 

#3 Eddgie

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 11:07 AM

And not always mentioned, but an important point..  There is no exit pupil limitation in NV astronomy.  My 6" f/2.8 reflector would not be useful for visual observing with eyepieces shorter than about 17mm, but I can use it with the 27mm eyepiece without any problem.

 

Mike Lockwood has some posts on his web page where he is using eyepiece projection to turn his 20" dobs from f/3.3 to faster than f/2.    This means that for people with slower scopes, afocal (eyepiece projection) opens up the world of dim nebula in a way that traditional eyepieces simply cannot achieve. 


 

#4 Kevdog

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 11:08 AM

I had the same experience with a video astronomy setup and knew it wasn't for me either.  So I too was sceptical about NV.

 

NV is different.   I recently got a "relatively" cheap used TSE Gen3 NV device (c-mount) and a 2" c mount to telescope adapter from scopestuff.

 

I still thought the "green" would get in the way and seem "fake".   I was surprised to find that I didn't even notice/pay attention to the green.   It is also live, so no delay at all.   It's just like a conventional 27mm eyepiece, except it goes deeper.   Also when using it with a barlow or maybe even a slower scope there will sometimes be "flashes" of dots similar to hot pixels on a screen.   Those also do not detract like I thought they might.  YMMV.  I believe with Gen1 and Gen2 the resolution was much lower, so it was much easier to see pixelation, especially in Gen1.

 

There are 2 sides to it.  

 

The expected side is the enhanced telescope view.   It adds light gathering (but not resolution).   Viewing the Orion Nebula in the 18" in dark skies without NV is a gasp moment.    Adding the NV made me gasp once again.   The detail and extent of the nebula is enormous.   Galaxies are much more detailed and without averted vision or averted imagination.

 

The unexpected side is the VLPVWF (Very Low Power Viewing With Filter).   I got the 7nm Baader Ha Filter and just hold it in front of my device at 2x (need a step down filter ring... on order now!).   Now pan around the sky.   Nebula just hop out and smack you in the face.   It is surreal.   Move the filter away... it disappears.... filter back and boom!    And wow... they are large.   The huge arc around Orion's belt.   I can see where the horsehead nebula is (even at 2x), but not the detail of the horsehead (which was fantastic in the scope with the ha filter).   Many more I don't even know the names of (yet).  Some at 2x are almost as detailed as the Orion Nebula.   And I haven't even seen the summer milky way yet.

 

At 2x, I could even see M81 and M82.   Totally unexpected!   The low power side really connects you to the sky, while letting you see much deeper.   You can just hold up the device, pan around and explore.   

Similar to binoculars but yet different.   I've been trying to compare my 15x56 binos with the NV and they both have strong points.   15x sure helps with the binos, but at the cost of a shakier view.    The NV are very steady at 2x (and even at 8x with a cheap zoom lens I bought).   With the NV, you just SEE stuff and it's very similar to just staring up at the sky.

 

If you are at all interested, either rent (which is hard to find in c mount) or find someone with NV gear nearish.   I think it's worth a road trip to experience first hand if your'e thinking of plonking down $3k + for gear.    (I got in cheap with a used device at $820, $45 for telescope adapter and $250 for Ha 7nm filter)


 

#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 11:25 AM

I didn’t post this question in the EAA forum because I assume most observers in that forum are already NV converts.

Night Vision is quite expensive, but I often read that those who have tried it, especially white phosphor Mod 3, rave about the experience and some have even given up using conventional EPs.

However, when I had a chance to see a Mallincam in action at several different star parties, I knew that, while it was neat, it wasn’t for me.

Anyone else have the same experience with NV? My only exposure to it has been with Gen 1, and I had the same reaction as I had with video astronomy.

So I’d love to hear from others about their experience. Please specify which NV device you used. Thanks

 

I suspect you will get mostly responses from those who did decide to go with NV.  Like you, I have seen NV in action at outreach parties and realized it was not for me.  It's not that I think it doesn't perform as claimed, I am quite sure that it does.  It's just that this is not what I am looking for when I spend my hours under the night sky.

 

Jon  


 

#6 bobhen

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 12:51 PM

I have been observing for close to 40 years. I live in a heavily light-polluted location. I started using NV about 19 months ago. I use a NVD Micro with a green tube. I have not used an eyepiece for deep-sky viewing since I started using NV. That about says it all.

 

Yes there is scintillation. Yes the view is kind of grayish with a tint of green. And purists might have an issue with those shortcomings. But I just don’t understand how not seeing something in real-time is better than actually observing the object.

 

You get the exact same emotional thrill when seeing an object for the first time using NV as you do using non assisted observing – exactly the same. The big difference is that NV allows you to see much more and in more detail, so it is actually more immersive. And what can be seen more than makes up for any shortcomings. NV is also real-time observing and is as easy to use as using an eyepiece, so you can even use un-driven alt/az mounts.

 

If you are just starting out, cost is a big roadblock and that is understandable. If, however, you already have 5 or 6 $600 eyepieces in your case then selling those would pay for a nice image intensifier. From my location, no matter how wide the view or how well the edge correction is, no conventional eyepiece will show me the Horsehead, or many other objects.

 

Bob


 

#7 gezak22

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 03:54 PM

I didn’t post this question in the EAA forum because I assume most observers in that forum are already NV converts.

Night Vision is quite expensive, but I often read that those who have tried it, especially white phosphor Mod 3, rave about the experience and some have even given up using conventional EPs.

However, when I had a chance to see a Mallincam in action at several different star parties, I knew that, while it was neat, it wasn’t for me.

Anyone else have the same experience with NV? My only exposure to it has been with Gen 1, and I had the same reaction as I had with video astronomy.

So I’d love to hear from others about their experience. Please specify which NV device you used. Thanks

For narrowband I only use NV. But for luna/planets, open clusters, and most galaxies I strongly prefer glass.


 

#8 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 05:30 PM

I tried Mallicam too, the DS Raider back in 2015. It worked as advertised, but I found it fundamentally different than visual observing. Didn't like it at all and sold it off.

 

I have been doing NV since August 2016, a Mod 3c L3 filmless tube (white). I went for the Mod 3 for the manual gain control and flexibility of the C-mount.

 

NV is absolutely visual observing, nothing at all like imaging (video or otherwise).

 

There are some areas where I still (and always will) use conventional glass. Double stars being the obvious one, my observing lists are heavy with them.

 

On DSO's NV is better 95% of the time - but the 5% still exists.

 

Gen 3 NV is not tremendously sensitive to blues. The Merope and Witchhead nebulas are the primary examples here. NV might do something with them from my dark site (haven't tried yet), but from my suburban site with NV they are AWOL. (Although the M45 cluster is dramatically better, looks like 10x as many stars.)

 

Certain galaxies also appear to show better conventionally. Specifically, it seems some spirals (face on) are better. Also, I liked Stephans Quintet better conventionally:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-off/?p=8125240

 

Part of that issue may just be scale though, the L3 eyepiece was running at prime focus (27mm) vs. 18mm to 9mm for the Leica (zoom). I just picked up a 1.6x barlow for NV use that will even up the scale a bit.

 

A few open clusters also look better conventionally. The biggest factor is level of detachment. NV brings out so many non-cluster foreground/background stars that the cluster proper can almost vanish, like in long exposure images. In these cases, seeing fewer stars actually makes the cluster more "dramatic". If the cluster is sparse with a small brightness range, conventional can be more pleasing. And if the cluster has good tints (like the Northern Jewel Box). But even so, the 2+ magnitude gain of NV makes most clusters much better.

 

But pretty much that is it. Emission nebula, planetary nebula, all globular clusters, most open clusters, elliptical galaxies, and some spirals are better NV. And the quality of the image is better - often direct vision NV, averted vision conventional. The fovea is where it's at!

 

Double stars, planets, a few spiral galaxies, and a few open clusters are better conventionally.

 

I forgot dark nebula, they are kind of either way. The more opacity they have, they more they jump out with NV.

 

I have not used Gen2 NV equipment based on the conventional wisdom it was not ready for prime time. (Ironically, they are supposed to be strong in the blue!) When I read about the new filmless technology and the contrast gains vs. Gen 3 thin films, it seemed like the time to get in the game.

 

Expensive, yes.

 

Regrets, no.

 

My Mod 3 is absolutely the most versatile piece of equipment and most cost-effective money I have spent since I started buying my own equipment 35+ years ago.


 

#9 guangtou

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 08:18 PM

 

Gen 1 is horrible and no better than the dark adapted eye.  The technology also had horrendous distortion so that only the central part of the field would show sharp stars, but again, it was trivially easy to see more with a well dark adapted eye than I could with a Gen 1 device.   Not only do I not recommend Gen 1 for astronomy, I don't even recommend it as an amusing toy.

I knew Gen 1 wasn't a proper introduction to NV, that's why I'm very interested in current NV. 

 

 

 

 


 

I suspect you will get mostly responses from those who did decide to go with NV.  Like you, I have seen NV in action at outreach parties and realized it was not for me.  It's not that I think it doesn't perform as claimed, I am quite sure that it does.  It's just that this is not what I am looking for when I spend my hours under the night sky.

 

Jon  

 

Jon,

 

Is your preference for conventional observing dependent on access to dark skies? 


 

#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 09:05 PM

Jon,

Is your preference for conventional observing dependent on access to dark skies?

 

 

Brian:

 

That's a good question.  I do have access to dark skies and being retired, I spend about 10-14 days a month at our little hideaway out under dark skies.  

 

But when I am in San Diego, I pretty much spend every clear night out under the stars looking at something, I just choose different objects. From here, it's double stars, the planets as well as whatever I can see in terms of deep sky objects.  I enjoy star hopping and I enjoy a good challenge.  The Veil from my backyard is not what it is from dark skies but it's still interesting, it's still a challenge and it helps develop my observing skills.  

 

I just went through my observing notes, so far this year, 165 nights with a minimum of 1 hour of observing time.  Today is the 331st day of 2017 so this is a typical year, half the nights I do some observing, sometimes it's hour, sometimes it's 5, 6, 7 hours..

 

My interest in this pursuit is pretty free, I am not running down lists of objects, I am exploring the night sky at my own pace, in my own way.  No rush, relaxed and easy. I am very much in the moment, enjoying, observing, experiencing the wonder of being out under the night sky with a telescope and something to look at.  

 

In past years when I have had less time out under dark skies, I still very much enjoyed the nights here in the city.. I just like looking through a telescope.

 

Jon


 

#11 lphilpot

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 09:56 PM

In past years when I have had less time out under dark skies, I still very much enjoyed the nights here in the city.. I just like looking through a telescope.

 

I'm not yet retired so I can't spend as much time "away", but I had a similar experience when I looked through NV hardware many years ago. It's not the quality, color, etc., etc., that bothered me at all. On the contrary, it was pretty neat to see some really faint stuff not look really faint at all.

 

But it still wasn't "visual" by some slightly undefinable measure. To a degree, it seemed neither fish nor fowl (kind of like a Mallincam, to a degree). If I want to see a highly detailed digital image, I'll look at astrophotography (the quality will be higher). If I want to see a video, well, unless it's a "moving" image (NEO, occultation, etc.), I see little reason for motion-centric technology.

 

Not that any of the technology is inherently 'bad' and I'm not minimizing nor dismissing it -- It just didn't grab me personally. It was neat and given opportunity, I'll take a look again but unless I walk away with a different feeling I won't be buying. I still like the idea of "eyeball to photon" with nothing "active" in the middle. Of course, things like LP filters kind of fall in the middle as well, but...  :)

 

Once again, it's a highly personal thing and one man's meat is another man's poison at times.


 

#12 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 12:55 AM

Once again, it's a highly personal thing and one man's meat is another man's poison at times.

 

 

Very true.

 

I have said in the past that NV is more significant than the Dobsonian Revolution (which itself took about a dozen years for widespread adoption).

 

But even with the Dobsonian Revolution, there were large numbers of people (as in - half the market!) that were quite happy to stick with SCT's or refractors even to this day.


 

#13 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 01:00 AM

But it still wasn't "visual" by some slightly undefinable measure.

lol.gif

 

Perhaps because it is so criminally easy to see the faint stuff, even from the under the light dome?

 

With NV there is no need (or Merit Badges) for wearing red goggles all day, breathing pure oxygen, or using Averted Imagination.


Edited by Jeff Morgan, 28 November 2017 - 01:02 AM.

 

#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 05:46 AM

 

But it still wasn't "visual" by some slightly undefinable measure.

 

 

Perhaps because it is so criminally easy to see the faint stuff, even from the under the light dome?

 

With NV there is no need (or Merit Badges) for wearing red goggles all day, breathing pure oxygen, or using Averted Imagination.

 

Jeff:

 

This is a hobby.  Your values and priorities seem to be quite different than mine or Len's.  I hope you can understand that. 

 

One way to think about it is that you can put a motor on your bicycle and maybe get their faster with less effort but it's a very different experience.  The ride up Palomar Mountain on a motorcycle is a thrill but not challenging, The ride up Palomar on a bicycle is something one remembers for a life time.  

 

Jon 


 

#15 lphilpot

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 08:48 AM

> But even with the Dobsonian Revolution, there were large numbers of people (as in - half the market!)

> that were quite happy to stick with SCT's or refractors even to this day.

 

I have both - A semi-large-ish (for the moment!) Dob and a couple of refractors. Never "gone Schmidt" yet. But to follow your logic, no one should ever use anything but the absolute newest iteration of technology. Every time something new comes out, discard what you have and get it instead.

 

Satisfaction can be gained through assistance as well as through achievement. I like electric music as well as acoustic. Ice cream and hot chili. :) It doesn't have to be either / or.

 

If I were looking for 'hard data' or to see something as absolutely "much" as possible, NV might be my first choice. But for me, it's less (although not zero) satisfying than eye-on-eyepiece. If it weren't, I would most likely be figuring out some way to transport and use my Dob (only), instead of having it posted for sale in the hopes of replacing it with something a tad smaller.


 

#16 lphilpot

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 08:50 AM

The ride up Palomar Mountain on a motorcycle is a thrill but not challenging, The ride up Palomar on a bicycle is something one remembers for a life time.  

 

Jon 

 

In my case, that lifetime would be approximately from where I started to the point a half mile up the mountain where I had my heart attack. :D  Four years ago I was in a little better ("less bad") shape and rode my bike more, but at best we have no "Palomar Mountain" here in Louisiana.  :)


 

#17 Jim4321

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 09:18 AM

For solo observing, I usually set up before dark and find an alignment star or planet as soon as the sky will allow.  So I start the evening out with 'old-fashioned' glass.  Once it's as dark as it's going to be, I start switching back and forth between NV and glass; I like to see how much difference NV makes. It's pretty darn big most of the time, even with my "un-optimimal-for-NV" SCT.

 

But for our club's outreach events (at least one formal one per month), I don't feel comfortable (yet?) with having to explain to the general public the whys and hows of NV, or the cost.  I limit myself to using strictly glass. I'll see how this evolves over time.

 

Jim H.


 

#18 sydney

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 11:24 AM

 

... The ride up Palomar Mountain on a motorcycle is a thrill but not challenging, The ride up Palomar on a bicycle is something one remembers for a life time... 

 

Jon 

 

Jon,

 

Ever try riding up Mt. Hamilton (Lick) or Kitt Peak?


 

#19 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 11:47 AM

 

 

... The ride up Palomar Mountain on a motorcycle is a thrill but not challenging, The ride up Palomar on a bicycle is something one remembers for a life time... 

 

Jon 

 

Jon,

 

Ever try riding up Mt. Hamilton (Lick) or Kitt Peak?

 

I rode up Mt. Hamilton on motorcycle many times, never on a bicycle.  The Palomar climb is to about 5300 feet and starts at about 800 feet. Mount Hamilton is 4360' above sea level. But to get to Palomar requires well over a 1000 feet of climbing and getting back home, the last time I did it was more than 20 years ago but it involved 8400 feet of climbing.. 

 

Any climbs like those are memorable for most bicyclists.  

 

My point is that the motorcycle versus the bicycle is quite a different experience, one that can be likened to the standard eyepiece versus the NV eyepiece.  Both have their place.

 

Jon


 

#20 Kevdog

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 11:48 AM

 

 

But it still wasn't "visual" by some slightly undefinable measure.

 

 

Perhaps because it is so criminally easy to see the faint stuff, even from the under the light dome?

 

With NV there is no need (or Merit Badges) for wearing red goggles all day, breathing pure oxygen, or using Averted Imagination.

 

Jeff:

 

This is a hobby.  Your values and priorities seem to be quite different than mine or Len's.  I hope you can understand that. 

 

One way to think about it is that you can put a motor on your bicycle and maybe get their faster with less effort but it's a very different experience.  The ride up Palomar Mountain on a motorcycle is a thrill but not challenging, The ride up Palomar on a bicycle is something one remembers for a life time.  

 

Jon 

 

 

I don't think Jeff meant offense.   For us it's hard not to be excited and preach.

 

To change your analogy a bit.   I think it's like the difference between a Huffy 10 speed and a Trek Carbon Fiber 28 speed.   You're still pedaling, but the experience is different.   To me (us?) EAA is the motorcycle as it's very different.  (I rode 3000 miles on that Huffy 10 speed back in 1985!)

 

I've only had my NV for a few weeks, with 1 session in the telescope.    I spent the time looking at objects in my ES82 32mm, Nagler 20mm and NV 27mm.   I switched eyes so one stayed dark adapted and the other used NV.   The experience through the NV was the same to me as through the eyepiece, just with more detail/clarity.  

 

It is definitely good to hear the other side as well, which is what the OP is looking for.

 

And I will still look through glass too.    There's something almost spiritual about the actual photons hitting your eye from that far and that long ago.    Seeing Einstein's cross and the 8 billion ly away is something I'll never forget.   But I am looking forward to trying it again next year with NV as well.

 

As you said, this is a hobby and it only matters to you how you do it.   My wife prefers to sit in the lounge chair and just take in the milky way and shooting stars while I stare through the scope.


 

#21 NMBob

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 01:50 PM

 

 

 I don't think Jeff meant offense.   For us it's hard not to be excited and preach.

 

And if you guys don't knock it off my credit card is going to be a candidate for having a stroke. :)

 

Are the CR123 batteries a problem? Do they last a long time?

 

I'm only browsing the NVD site...honest...

 

Bob


 

#22 Jim4321

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:03 PM

Bob, you may not find the CR123 batteries at your neighborhood CVS, but they seem to last a _looong_ time in astronomical use (not using the IR illuminator).  I'm still unsure what will tell me that it's time to change out my first one. 

 

You may as well start making arrangements to get your credit card into rehab.....  wink.gif

 

Jim H.


 

#23 NMBob

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:27 PM

Bob, you may not find the CR123 batteries at your neighborhood CVS, but they seem to last a _looong_ time in astronomical use (not using the IR illuminator).  I'm still unsure what will tell me that it's time to change out my first one. 

 

You may as well start making arrangements to get your credit card into rehab.....  wink.gif

 

Jim H.

Ohhh. The IR lightbulb just went on. Now I understand. OK.

 

Don't say that! mad.gif I'm purposely trying to avoid understanding what I'm reading. Luckily there aren't a lot of astronomy-related pictures of these things in use or being put together for use. Not that I've seen, anyway. So far it's mostly just things mounted to helmets and rifles.

 

Bob :)


 

#24 guangtou

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:44 PM

I appreciate all the responses and different perspectives. The past year I have seen a significant increase in light pollution in my area. I thought about a bigger Dob that I could just wheel in and out of my garage, but I have decided to try the NV route first. At any rate, if I don’t like it, it will be a lot easier to sell it to fund a scope than the other way around.


Edited by guangtou, 28 November 2017 - 02:46 PM.

 

#25 Jim4321

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 03:00 PM

Those of y'all who are still on the fence may want to look at the second post in this thread in the EAA forum: https://www.cloudyni...-tour-business/

It may provide some of you an inexpensive way to get a taste of NV, depending on where you are.

 

Jim H.


 


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


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