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Night Vision Intensifying Eyepieces

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#1 faackanders2

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 02:36 AM

There appear to be numerous hunting gun sights direct from military suppliers; but very limited telescope(binocular) night vision eyepiece suppliers.

This could increase your effective aperture at lower cost and weight than a much larger telescope (for large telescopes of course).

Why haven't the eyepiece manufacturer's entered this market in larger numbers (too risky, no expertise, too hard to convert to 1.25 inch or 2" barrels, etc).

Are there more hunters than astronomers?

I feel if they build it we will come. Especially if they build with econonomies in scale to bring piece price down (or are the only economies of scale with gun sights made for the military)?

#2 The Ardent

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 03:00 AM

Let's hope so.

 

Say, what did you think of this?

 

https://www.cloudyni...e-perspectives/



#3 star drop

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 07:59 AM

I might like to get one as well.



#4 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 09:30 AM

Let's hope so.

 

Say, what did you think of this?

 

https://www.cloudyni...e-perspectives/

 

That article was the beginning of the end of conventional eyepieces for me. While I do own and occasionally use regular eyepieces, NV makes up the vast majority of my observing. In fact I use an NV device at 1x and 7x more than I use any of my telescopes because  NV is truly grab and go. 

 

Peter Wang also has an excellent blog devoted to introducing NV and how to use it for astronomy. In addition, the EAA forum now has an NV tag to make it easier to find NV threads. 

 

Yes, the devices are still expensive, but my three devices still cost less than a 20” dob, and I can see the Horsehead with my 5” refractor. 


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#5 Eddgie

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 12:41 PM

There appear to be numerous hunting gun sights direct from military suppliers; but very limited telescope(binocular) night vision eyepiece suppliers.

This could increase your effective aperture at lower cost and weight than a much larger telescope (for large telescopes of course).

Why haven't the eyepiece manufacturer's entered this market in larger numbers (too risky, no expertise, too hard to convert to 1.25 inch or 2" barrels, etc).

Are there more hunters than astronomers?

I feel if they build it we will come. Especially if they build with econonomies in scale to bring piece price down (or are the only economies of scale with gun sights made for the military)?

No one is going to make a dedicated Night Vision Telescope Eyepiece, though someone in the past did make such a device (Collins I3) and it was not successful in the sense that he apparently did not sell enough to make the business worthwhile.

The thing though that a "dedicated" eyepiece is actually not at all desirable because then you are limited to using  it only as a telescope eyepiece.

 

The growing number of people using image intensifers for astronomy tend to use mostly either the PVS-7 goggle (great entry level price and you get to use both eyes without the same penalty as you would get with regular binoviewers, which is to say no loss of brightness and will reach focus in pretty much any scope) or devices with a C mount interface, which allows it to be used with a wide variety of lenses, or at prime focus in a telescope.

 

Here is my PVS-7 showing how it can be configured in a wide variety of ways, such as using military type lenses like the 1x, 3x, or 5x, or with SLR lenses, and of course without an objective, with a 1.25" nose piece.

 

PVS-7 configuration resized.jpg

 

Again, if were only an eyepiece, I would not get this kind of flexibility and this is one reason that Collins likely did not have financial success, though frankly, he was just ahead of the game.

 

Monoculars are avialable with C mount interface and can use a huge variety of tubes.  Most of the cost is in the tube, and the higher the performance of the tube the more it will cost, but even a good mid range tube can provide incredible views.

 

This is a Micro Monocular.  As with the PVS-7, it can be configured to work either as an eyepiece in a telescope, or it can be used with all of flexibility as the PVS-7 shown in the picture above.

 

NVD Mirco Stock.jpg

 

Here it is with a 3x lens, and like Doug, most people using image intensifers will tell you that they do a great deal of observing at powers between 1x and maybe 7x because A: a lot of stuff is simply to big to fit into the field using higher powers, and B: no tripod required.

The pic shows the size as compared to a 31mm Nagler.

 

NVD with 3x afocal lens.jpg

 

I do pretty much 100% of my observing using image intensifiers now.

 

The point is that there is no value in having a dedicated image intensified eyepiece when a device with a C mount body allows you a staggering range of flexibility.   A Mod 3 with C mount or Micro type monocular (ENVIS or others) can be used as an eyepiece, or with a variety of other primary optics.    


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#6 Eddgie

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 12:44 PM

And they are already coming.  The number of people using image intensifiers for astronomy is growing quite fast. 

 

While Televue does not produce a night vision eyepiece, they do produce an adapter that allows you to connect a PVS-14 or ENVIS lens equipped lens to the Televue eyepiece, but you can buy a large assortment of brackets that will let you use a PVS-14, Micro, or ENVIS monocular with just about any telescope eyepiece, so you are not limited to using Televue eyepieces or PVS-14s.  You can use any kind of telescope lens and a wide variety of NV devices.


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#7 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 02:51 PM

There appear to be numerous hunting gun sights direct from military suppliers; but very limited telescope(binocular) night vision eyepiece suppliers.

This could increase your effective aperture at lower cost and weight than a much larger telescope (for large telescopes of course).

Why haven't the eyepiece manufacturer's entered this market in larger numbers (too risky, no expertise, too hard to convert to 1.25 inch or 2" barrels, etc).

Are there more hunters than astronomers?

I feel if they build it we will come. Especially if they build with econonomies in scale to bring piece price down (or are the only economies of scale with gun sights made for the military)?

 

At the risk of being redundant to the previous responses:

 

- Yes, it makes your telescope perform like a much larger telescope. Performance is not uniform, but safe to say "on average" such a device doubles your effective aperture. As a bonus, it works quite well from light polluted sites.

 

Seeing elusive averted vision "Big Dob" targets like the HorseHead Nebula using direct vision through a small telescope is a "novelty" that just doesn't wear off. And that is just the beginning ...

 

- Interesting question as to why traditional eyepiece companies have not incorporated intensifier tubes into their offerings. That speculation could be a lengthy separate thread.

 

My own $0.02: An eyepiece makers profit margin would be no greater with a NV eyepiece than a conventional one. Currently, people buy large sets of conventional eyepieces, whereas most of us would only buy a single NV eyepiece (with barlow lenses and focal reducers used for different magnifications). Most NV users suddenly discover greatly reduced need (and desire) for conventional eyepieces. Equal margins and drastically reduced unit sales is not a winning formula for an eyepiece manufacturer.

 

Whatever the reason(s) may be, difficulty is not it. Any number of small companies are putting intensifiers into housings. As you have observed, they largely serve the Hunting and Law Enforcement markets.

 

For the amateur astronomer, taking a C-mount NV device and adapting it to a telescope is no more difficult than threading off the objective lens and threading on a $25 adapter:

 

http://scopestuff.com/ss_c2b1.htm

 

- Hunting is a huge pastime in the US. I would be surprised if Hunters did not outnumber Astronomers by 100:1. Heck, even the Birding market dwarfs the Astronomy market. So I would not hold my breath waiting for lower prices because astronomers are discovering NV.

 

The price is high, the value proposition is higher.


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#8 drneilmb

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 04:36 PM

I'm glad to see this discussion in the Eyepieces forum. I've been following the EAA forum on and off and wondering when the word would get out.

For me, the question is how best to invest my next N dollars to increase my astronomy enjoyment. This question depends strongly on each person's individual situation, the equipment they already have, and the value of N.

If you have nothing and N=300, then it's hard to argue against a 6" dob or 100mm refractor, but some of the ETX-and-a-CCD EAA setups are getting very close.

If you (like I do) have a 12" dob and a handful of mid-tier eyepieces, then N=500 won't get you close to NV, so maybe it's best to get some premium glass, Baader or ES maybe. But, once you have a 12" dob and a couple nice wide eyepieces and you're starting to think about N=3000 for making a 20" dob, then it feels like NV starts making a whole lot of sense.

Given the large, fixed initial outlay that image intensifiers require, where do the experts think that the sweet spot for getting into NV is for newbies like me who are progressing in the hobby? Jeff and Eddgie seem like they've had one of everything before, but with your experience, where do you see image intensification in the cost-benefit landscape for new hobbyists?
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#9 Shneor

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 01:08 AM

I tried an I3 for my 22". It did very little for galaxies, my main observing interest, and ruined the night vision in my observing eye. I returned it.


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#10 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 12:22 PM

If you (like I do) have a 12" dob and a handful of mid-tier eyepieces, then N=500 won't get you close to NV, so maybe it's best to get some premium glass, Baader or ES maybe. But, once you have a 12" dob and a couple nice wide eyepieces and you're starting to think about N=3000 for making a 20" dob, then it feels like NV starts making a whole lot of sense.

Given the large, fixed initial outlay that image intensifiers require, where do the experts think that the sweet spot for getting into NV is for newbies like me who are progressing in the hobby? Jeff and Eddgie seem like they've had one of everything before, but with your experience, where do you see image intensification in the cost-benefit landscape for new hobbyists?

 

How one spends money is a very personal thing, as is what brings delight. (The emotion, not the eyepiece.)

 

Interesting how you frame the question in terms of marginal gains for N dollars. If you are thinking about upgrading mid-tier eyepieces to premium eyepieces, consider this:

 

Take a vintage 1980's wide field eyepiece, perhaps a Type 1 Nagler. Or a new production eyepiece which is a clone/remake of an older design. Both available cheaply these days. Look at a few targets like M42, M35, etc. Then put in one of today's top-line designs. Delos, Nagler, whatever. What do you see on the same objects?

 

  • The center sharpness will pretty much be the same.
  • The edges may have slightly better correction.
  • Coating technology is definitely a few percentage points better.

 

So the overall view may be a little brighter and as people are fond of saying, "contrasty". A few percentage points does make a noticeable difference (I've seen it myself), but overall limiting magnitude is almost the same. Call it 0.1 magnitude gain due to coatings. The gain is so small that your vintage eyepieces with nebular filters will absolutely outperform the current premium glass without filters in terms of how much you see. That is how small the gains in performance are!

 

So, for your marginal dollars you are getting effectively the same view as in 1980. At what, $200 extra per eyepiece? And of course one eyepiece is not the story. By the time you update all of your old eyepieces maybe $1,000 of marginal spending.

 

OTOH, a $1500 PVS-7 will get you not a 0.1 magnitude gain, but at least a gain in limiting magnitude of 2. Probably more, the problem with NV it shows you so many more stars it's hard to count them all.

 

Of course, going NV is not a either/or choice as some people portray it. All of the NV guys keep some conventional eyepieces around. And by all means, treat yourself to decent eyepieces.

 

The point is if you look at equipment from a marginal cost/marginal gain perspective, spending a ton of money on conventional eyepieces in the hopes of seeing more detail is a bad investment.

 

NV is an awesome marginal investment, and I still have the option (and sometimes desire) to use my conventional stuff.


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#11 JakeJ

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 12:45 PM

I would suggest anyone interested in these look through one before committing to buy.

 

I personally don't care for them, and find it akin to staring at a low res TV tube.  Ruins your night vision too if you want to look without it.

 

Just another point of view - 


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#12 drneilmb

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 12:59 PM

 

So, for your marginal dollars you are getting effectively the same view as in 1980. At what, $200 extra per eyepiece? And of course one eyepiece is not the story. By the time you update all of your old eyepieces maybe $1,000 of marginal spending.

 

OTOH, a $1500 PVS-7 will get you not a 0.1 magnitude gain, but at least a gain in limiting magnitude of 2. Probably more, the problem with NV it shows you so many more stars it's hard to count them all.

 

Of course, going NV is not a either/or choice as some people portray it. All of the NV guys keep some conventional eyepieces around. And by all means, treat yourself to decent eyepieces.

 

The point is if you look at equipment from a marginal cost/marginal gain perspective, spending a ton of money on conventional eyepieces in the hopes of seeing more detail is a bad investment.

 

NV is an awesome marginal investment, and I still have the option (and sometimes desire) to use my conventional stuff.

I appreciate your response Jeff in terms of a marginal investment. I too have a feeling that the marginal rewards of eyepiece upgrades taper off fairly rapidly (depending on one's cost of money). The increase in enjoyment between 50-60-70-80-100 degree FOVs doesn't feel concomitant with the cost increase at some point.

 

It sounds like $1500 is around the minimum bar for adding NV to an existing kit, if you happen to be someone who enjoys it. (Thanks JakeJ for the dissenting opinion, it's very valuable to me.) I'll see if anyone at the star parties this summer has one, then I can try it and decide if I want to wait until my marginal funds get to N=1500.


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#13 The Ardent

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 04:05 PM

It seems there is no financial incentive to graduate from medical school.
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#14 nicoledoula

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 05:48 PM

Not anymore.



#15 Shneor

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 01:08 AM

All this discussion about marginal reward is so personal. My most expensive eyepiece is also my most used. I paid in the neighborhood of $900 for it, and it's my 9mm ES 120* (really 138*), serial number 18, from the first production run, before they stoppped it down to 120*. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. I prefer to observe galaxy clusters, and this is an ideal eyepiece for me. If I need more power I have a series of Ethos, from 3.7 to 6mm; if I need more, I have a 2.5 Nagler. I like the wide fields, and these eyepieces do not compromise my night vision. My favorite eyepiece gives me a true field of approximately 34 arcminutes at 250X, and I do use my Equatorial Platform.



#16 faackanders2

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 05:46 AM

I appreciate your response Jeff in terms of a marginal investment. I too have a feeling that the marginal rewards of eyepiece upgrades taper off fairly rapidly (depending on one's cost of money). The increase in enjoyment between 50-60-70-80-100 degree FOVs doesn't feel concomitant with the cost increase at some point.
 
It sounds like $1500 is around the minimum bar for adding NV to an existing kit, if you happen to be someone who enjoys it. (Thanks JakeJ for the dissenting opinion, it's very valuable to me.) I'll see if anyone at the star parties this summer has one, then I can try it and decide if I want to wait until my marginal funds get to N=1500.

I first saw one at the Great Lake Star Gaze, and it provided amazing views of galaxies and nebulaes through Dobzilla a 30" scope and at 1x eyepiece only view.
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#17 bobhen

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 08:25 AM

There appear to be numerous hunting gun sights direct from military suppliers; but very limited telescope(binocular) night vision eyepiece suppliers.

This could increase your effective aperture at lower cost and weight than a much larger telescope (for large telescopes of course).

Why haven't the eyepiece manufacturer's entered this market in larger numbers (too risky, no expertise, too hard to convert to 1.25 inch or 2" barrels, etc).

Are there more hunters than astronomers?

I feel if they build it we will come. Especially if they build with econonomies in scale to bring piece price down (or are the only economies of scale with gun sights made for the military)?

The same Night Vision suppliers can set you up with an intensifier for astronomy. You need to do some homework/research before purchasing so you know what you want.

 

Yes, an intensifier will increase light gathering – and by a lot.  BUT (when used with filters) it will also really increase contrast. And contrast is just as important as light gathering for many/most deep sky objects. Example of increased contrast: From my location, I can see the Horsehead Nebula with a 120mm refractor and an intensifier but not with a 15-inch reflector, when used conventionally. Anyone ever see Barnard’s loop from Philadelphia? Of course not. But sections of that elusive target can be seen with a small 50mm guide scope. And believe me, that is just the beginning.

 

The skills to make intensifiers are a lot different than making conventional eyepieces. However Televue has “seen the light” and they are now offering adapters for image intensifiers. That says something in itself.

 

There are many more hunters and birders than astronomers. The military is also a large purchaser of night vision intensifiers.

 

The technology is complicated so I would expect performance improvements to continue but pricing to remain somewhat static unless there is a breakthrough.

 

Yes NV intensifiers are expensive but so are 5 Ethos eyepieces and a 20-inch Dobsonian. And no matter how wide the view, a conventional eyepiece will not show you what an intensifier can. You can rent one to try. But you will need adapters and a .7 Ha filter used for CCD imaging to get the best nebula views and a Pass filter to get the best non-nebula views.

 

I did do a comparison once and quickly put the conventional eyepiece away. I have not used conventional eyepieces for deep sky observing since I bought an intensifier – and that was 2-years ago! If you are using conventional eyepieces (no matter how expensive), you are missing half the universe.

 

Bob


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#18 drneilmb

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 09:44 AM

All this discussion about marginal reward is so personal. My most expensive eyepiece is also my most used. I paid in the neighborhood of $900 for it, and it's my 9mm ES 120* (really 138*), serial number 18, from the first production run, before they stoppped it down to 120*. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. I prefer to observe galaxy clusters, and this is an ideal eyepiece for me. If I need more power I have a series of Ethos, from 3.7 to 6mm; if I need more, I have a 2.5 Nagler. I like the wide fields, and these eyepieces do not compromise my night vision. My favorite eyepiece gives me a true field of approximately 34 arcminutes at 250X, and I do use my Equatorial Platform.

I agree that marginal reward is completely personal. You probably have $10,000 of astronomy gear listed in your signature, so an outlay of $900 for a single eyepiece might deliver the best marginal benefit for the $900 you have to spend. But, if you had $1500 to spend for an image intensifier, would it provide you with more marginal benefit than that ES120 9mm? Would it help you see more galaxy clusters in your existing 22" f/4 on the equatorial platform? Would you give up the equatorial platform and spend the money on NV gear instead?

 

I have to be completely honest and say that the talk of NV and Ethos and 120 degree FOV sounds like the haughty prattling of royalty to an early-career family-man wage slave. My question about when the cost of NV makes sense was an attempt to understand just how far away I am from you. Your answer makes that distance very clear.

 

Yes NV intensifiers are expensive but so are 5 Ethos eyepieces and a 20-inch Dobsonian. And no matter how wide the view, a conventional eyepiece will not show you what an intensifier can. You can rent one to try. But you will need adapters and a .7 Ha filter used for CCD imaging to get the best nebula views and a Pass filter to get the best non-nebula views.

 

I did do a comparison once and quickly put the conventional eyepiece away. I have not used conventional eyepieces for deep sky observing since I bought an intensifier – and that was 2-years ago! If you are using conventional eyepieces (no matter how expensive), you are missing half the universe.

So, you clearly think that a NV intensifier and filters is a bigger marginal benefit for someone who instead would spend $7000 on 5 Ethos and a 20" dob. But, do you think that you would rather have your 120mm reflector and the NV intensifier than the 15-inch dob? Would you have foregone buying the dob in the first place and put your money into the night vision gear to begin with?

 

Can you give more information about where a person can rent night vision gear? That would be very interesting to me, and probably to many other people.



#19 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 10:48 AM

I agree that marginal reward is completely personal. You probably have $10,000 of astronomy gear listed in your signature, so an outlay of $900 for a single eyepiece might deliver the best marginal benefit for the $900 you have to spend. But, if you had $1500 to spend for an image intensifier, would it provide you with more marginal benefit than that ES120 9mm? Would it help you see more galaxy clusters in your existing 22" f/4 on the equatorial platform? Would you give up the equatorial platform and spend the money on NV gear instead?

 

I have to be completely honest and say that the talk of NV and Ethos and 120 degree FOV sounds like the haughty prattling of royalty to an early-career family-man wage slave. My question about when the cost of NV makes sense was an attempt to understand just how far away I am from you. Your answer makes that distance very clear.

 

So, you clearly think that a NV intensifier and filters is a bigger marginal benefit for someone who instead would spend $7000 on 5 Ethos and a 20" dob. But, do you think that you would rather have your 120mm reflector and the NV intensifier than the 15-inch dob? Would you have foregone buying the dob in the first place and put your money into the night vision gear to begin with?

 

Can you give more information about where a person can rent night vision gear? That would be very interesting to me, and probably to many other people.

 

I’m not Bob, but I can give you my perspective. As a little background, I have been in this hobby for 25 years, an d I have owned telescopes ranging from 50mm through 18”. My tastes in preferred objects to observe include globular clusters, nebulae, galaxies and open clusters. 

 

My first NV device was a used Pvs-7, and my current telescopes are in my signature. Shortly after obtaining my PVS-7, I realized that my observing tastes now included Hydrogen alpha objects that had previously been the realm of imagers. Once I saw nebulosity in M17 that I never knew existed before, not to mention seeing the Horsehead in my 5” refractor, I was hooked. I ended up selling my 5 Ethos, which paid for my next NV device that was even better than the PVS-7. 

 

Keeping in in mind that I have previously owned larger aperture telescopes, I currently have no desire to go larger than my 10” right now. It is easier to set up and break down, plus it allows me to use .7x and .5x reducers without any modifications to the scope. This is important because once you start observing with NV and a Ha filter you realize how big some of these objects really are. Most people think of M42 as a large object, but I now consider it to be pretty small. Add to the fact that I can grab my NV device with an Ha filter with one hand and head out for a 20 minute observing session without the hassle of setting anything up and this makes NV worth every penny spent for me. 

 

Since the subject of galaxies came up I will say that for face on galaxies NV provides marginal improvement. For edge on galaxies it’s great, however in my skies NV with a 610nm filter made the difference between finding one galaxy in Hickson 40 in a 13mm Ethos to seeing four of them when the group was still in the Tallahassee light dome. 

 

 There are some places that will rent night vision gear. Contact Rich at Ultimate Night Vision and ask about prices; 1-800-769-0159

 

I hope hope this helps. 


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#20 drneilmb

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 11:11 AM

I’m not Bob, but I can give you my perspective. As a little background, I have been in this hobby for 25 years, an d I have owned telescopes ranging from 50mm through 18”. My tastes in preferred objects to observe include globular clusters, nebulae, galaxies and open clusters. 

 

My first NV device was a used Pvs-7, and my current telescopes are in my signature.

 

[...]

 

Keeping in in mind that I have previously owned larger aperture telescopes, I currently have no desire to go larger than my 10” right now.

 

[...]

 

I hope hope this helps. 

I appreciate your answer Doug. It definitely helps me understand the relative place of NV against larger apertures. It's also good to know your particular marginal determination that 5 Ethos were worth less to you than a better NV setup.

 

-Neil



#21 tmaestro

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 11:31 AM

[...]

 

You can rent one to try. But you will need adapters and a .7 Ha filter used for CCD imaging to get the best nebula views and a Pass filter to get the best non-nebula views.

 

Bob

 

I'm dying to do this with my 120ST.  Where would one rent such wonderful things?



#22 bobhen

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 12:59 PM

I'm dying to do this with my 120ST.  Where would one rent such wonderful things?

 

Ultimate Night Vision rents equipment. HERE is a link.

 

Keep in mind that to get the benefits of night vision you will need filters: a 7nm Ha and 640 Pass filter used for CCD imaging work well. You will also need adapters to use the intensifier with a telescope.

 

You might want to start HERE.

 

Bob


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#23 bobhen

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 01:28 PM

I agree that marginal reward is completely personal. You probably have $10,000 of astronomy gear listed in your signature, so an outlay of $900 for a single eyepiece might deliver the best marginal benefit for the $900 you have to spend. But, if you had $1500 to spend for an image intensifier, would it provide you with more marginal benefit than that ES120 9mm? Would it help you see more galaxy clusters in your existing 22" f/4 on the equatorial platform? Would you give up the equatorial platform and spend the money on NV gear instead?

 

I have to be completely honest and say that the talk of NV and Ethos and 120 degree FOV sounds like the haughty prattling of royalty to an early-career family-man wage slave. My question about when the cost of NV makes sense was an attempt to understand just how far away I am from you. Your answer makes that distance very clear.

 

So, you clearly think that a NV intensifier and filters is a bigger marginal benefit for someone who instead would spend $7000 on 5 Ethos and a 20" dob. But, do you think that you would rather have your 120mm reflector and the NV intensifier than the 15-inch dob? Would you have foregone buying the dob in the first place and put your money into the night vision gear to begin with?

 

Can you give more information about where a person can rent night vision gear? That would be very interesting to me, and probably to many other people.

If NV intensifiers were around 40-years ago when I started in this hobby, and I know what I know now, I would never have bought 2, 15-inch Dobsonians or spent the money on wide-angle eyepieces for deep sky observing.

 

So yes I would rather have a 120mm telescope and NV than a 15-inch Dobsonian. Why, because a 120mm telescope and NV will show more. And one can always add an inexpensive 10-inch Dobsonian for more image scale.

 

If you are saving for that 20-inch Dobsonian with a few 100-degree eyepieces you might want to consider NV as an alternative. Nothing is ever perfect and neither is NV, but the benefits generally out-weight the negatives.

 

NV is…
As light and easy to use as a eyepiece
No tracking is needed
A simple alt/az mount can be used
The views are real-time
Even handheld lenses and small telescopes can be used
NV cuts through light pollution
No need to travel to a dark sky
No storage issues, compared with large scopes
No weight issues, compared with large scopes

 

The only advantage to using a large Dobsonian and conventional eyepieces is a more natural view in the eyepiece. Of course there is a strong argument to be made that actually seeing things is better than not seeing things no matter how natural the view. I presume seeing things that are normally invisible is the reason why most people get telescopes in the first place.

Bob


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#24 drneilmb

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 02:28 PM

If NV intensifiers were around 40-years ago when I started in this hobby, and I know what I know now, I would never have bought 2, 15-inch Dobsonians or spent the money on wide-angle eyepieces for deep sky observing.

 

So yes I would rather have a 120mm telescope and NV than a 15-inch Dobsonian. Why, because a 120mm telescope and NV will show more. And one can always add an inexpensive 10-inch Dobsonian for more image scale.

 

If you are saving for that 20-inch Dobsonian with a few 100-degree eyepieces you might want to consider NV as an alternative. Nothing is ever perfect and neither is NV, but the benefits generally out-weight the negatives.

 

NV is…
As light and easy to use as a eyepiece
No tracking is needed
A simple alt/az mount can be used
The views are real-time
Even handheld lenses and small telescopes can be used
NV cuts through light pollution
No need to travel to a dark sky
No storage issues, compared with large scopes
No weight issues, compared with large scopes

 

The only advantage to using a large Dobsonian and conventional eyepieces is a more natural view in the eyepiece. Of course there is a strong argument to be made that actually seeing things is better than not seeing things no matter how natural the view. I presume seeing things that are normally invisible is the reason why most people get telescopes in the first place.

Thank you Bob for your thoughtful response both here and in the EAA forum. I appreciate the time you took to explain your experience.

 

-Neil
 



#25 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 05:47 PM

I would suggest anyone interested in these look through one before committing to buy.

 

I personally don't care for them, and find it akin to staring at a low res TV tube.  Ruins your night vision too if you want to look without it.

 

Just another point of view - 

 

Looking before buying is a good idea for all astro equipment. Sadly, not always possible or convenient.

 

When one buys a telescope of twice the aperture, one generally knows what to expect.

 

Despite rough aperture comparisons, NV is not "just like" buying a telescope of twice the aperture. One some objects (nebula and clusters) it's much better than doubling aperture. (For example, how does one quantify seeing the HorseHead plainly in a 5.5" telescope while a nearby 16" shows nothing conventionally?)

 

On some objects (galaxies) enhancement can range from large to mild, as Shneor discovered. NV astronomy is still a relatively new branch of the hobby, and the last word on galaxy performance probably has not been spoken. Different observing technique (the right filter and image scale) may yield more consistent galaxy results. Or not.

 

So, if galaxies are the primary item on your observing menu sitting on the sidelines a while longer would probably be a good idea. Or investigating the Photonis intensifiers with good sensitivity into the blue end of the spectrum. 

 

With regards to resolution:

 

Firstly, lets specify Modern NV devices. I feel this has to be emphasized since people inevitably mention intensifiers that were designed and built in the Desert Storm era and hold them up as state-of-the-art. This is about as relevant as drawing performance inferences of todays computers using Pentium-based computers of yesteryear.

 

Modern NV tubes generally run 64-72 line pairs per millimeter (sometimes more). This would equate roughly to 4 micron pixels:

 

http://www.optowiki....per-millimeter/

 

What are todays high-end imaging cameras using? 9 micron pixels? 

 

Detail in my Mod 3c is as sharp as my conventional eyepieces, which is to that my 20/15 vision is easily the limiting factor. Not too surprising for a device fundamentally designed for identifying and targeting things using photopic vision, eh?

 

If you find a NV tube to be grainy either you were using Viet Nam era equipment or you have supra-human cone density in your fovea.


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