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Night Vision for Beginner EAA

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#1 zakry3323

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:10 AM

Hiya folks!

 

It looks like some funding is going to open up that will help me expand the outreach program. So far we've been having a fun time with visual on planets and live-stacking with an asi071mc on a short refractor for the last few years with a lot of success! My boss is now asking me about night vision goggles (mostly, I think, because he thinks they're cool) and if they'd be an asset to the program. I've never used any myself, and nobody in the club seems to use them either. 

 

I'm completely ignorant about this method of EAA, so if there's a primer or other resources I should be reading, please direct me! 

 

I'm not sure what my budget would be, but likely less than 2k. Is this even something worth trying and sharing without one of those fancy Mod3's? 

 

Thanks for your suggestions, I appreciate it!



#2 Lukes1040

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:29 AM

Definitely check out the "Best of NV" sticky in the EAA thread. Lots of great info there. 

 

There are ways to get into the hobby for less than 2k. That's how I got started. It definitely is a game changer. 


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#3 Eddgie

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:02 AM

For $2000, I recommend looking around for a used device with an F9800VG tube and C mount.  We have had a couple sell on CN here in recent months for less than this.

 

This is the absolute best bang for the buck for astronomy and will perform as well as many devices costing twice as much.  It will be green rather than white, and it won't have gain control, but it will totally rock for outreach.  I used a n F9800VG for several outreach programs and always had lines, with people looping through the lines over and over to get more viewing time.   

This can be used in a telescope like a regular eyepiece, or hand held for fantastic low power views of very large objects like Barnard's Loop.

 

At this budget, it is I think impossible to surpass a moncular with an F9800VG but this will have to be used.  New price would be $4000.  Most people today seem to think that filmless tubes with white Phosphor would be the only acceptable device, but F9800VG is spectacular and a total crowd pleaser at outreach.  

 

I for the very ocassional "Everything is green" I get a hundred "Oh WOWs and and maybe even more "Holy ______________!!!!

 

There is nothing in astronomy as hearing the things people say at outreach when they look through a monocular.   I used to hate outreach before NV.  Now it is something I don't like to miss. 

 

The most common C mount devices are the M703E and the Micro monocular but unless it has been upgraded, the M703E is not likely to have one of the higher performing tubes, though that might be OK.

 

I would not do a PVS-7. The eye relief is tight, and now you have IPD and two diopters. Some people use binoviewers for outreach, but it is a real hassle.  I don't recommend it.  Moncular only has to have the diopter adjusted.  


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#4 Eddgie

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:17 AM

And the surprise is that as many people or more will line up for hand holding.  Peter and I go, and when we go, we usually have a device in a telescope (and it is a big telescope) and a few hand held devices.

 

We typically don't tell people to look at any one thing at first, so unlike the telescope experience, where the host has to control everything, when we give them a monocular, we just hand it to them.  They put it to their eye and focus, and that is when the fun starts.  They almost immediately express shock and surprise at how much they can suddenly see.  Then come the expletives. I have heard even older women say some colorful stuff! 

 

Next comes the spin.  Once they get over the splash of stars and realize that they are not nailed to the earth, they start spinning around.  More wonder and delight! And now the questions start.  What is that big cloud that goes across the sky!  What is that big clump of stars!

   

At this point one of us usually has a laser and will point in the direction they are looking and when they see the laser, we tell them what they are looking at.  That is M45, or that is the Sagittarius Star Cloud..

 

The great beauty if this is that they self guide.  We don't pick objects for them... They are turned into children that are exploring this new world that they never knew existed.  Rather than isolate them to one dim, low feature showcase object, they get immersed into the galaxy we live in and see that it is populated by millions of stars and huge, wonderful objects.

 

Typically we have a device filtered up, and when someone loops the line a couple of times and shows enough interest, we put the H-alpha device in their hands and let them go.. They typically get to "Discover" things like the Lagoon Nebula or the Swan, and for those that look up, the almost magical sight of the North American Nebula that along with the swan, are two of the most perfectly named objects in the sky.  Again, we usually let them discover on their own and when the ask what something is, we don't even need to use the laser to point. We can usually guess from where they are pointing. 

 

Outreach with NV is very exciting for Peter and I and when we get started, we have a line usually several people deep, and many loop around several times. 

We usually still have a line waiting when almost all of the other hosts are packing up to go home. 

 

If I sound excited about outreach with NV, then yeah, I am. Nothing comes close to thrilling attendees like the "Explore on your own" experience offered by NV or the spectacular views of things like the Swan nebula when seen in a telescope with an image intensifier.  People love it. No one ever just looks and just says oh, ok, is that it, I expected it to be brighter in a telescope (Hubble syndrome, which is the antagonist of star party hosts.. Not for our viewers or us though...) 


Edited by Eddgie, 24 January 2020 - 11:24 AM.

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#5 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:30 AM

It will be a big hit.

 

NV is easy to use, just give them the normal briefing on handling delicate/expensive equipment.

 

NV makes DSO's bright and easy to see in great detail. It does not require coaching John Q Public in averted vision.

 

If I was going to do public outreach, I would go PVS-7 bioculars. Allows people to use both eyes, more natural. And, less money.

 

You can let them explore hand-held at 1x or attach the device to a telescope, whatever fits your program. Plenty to see either way. No integration times, view is absolutely real-time.


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#6 Lukes1040

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:12 PM

For $2000, I recommend looking around for a used device with an F9800VG tube and C mount.  We have had a couple sell on CN here in recent months for less than this.

 

This is the absolute best bang for the buck for astronomy and will perform as well as many devices costing twice as much.  It will be green rather than white, and it won't have gain control, but it will totally rock for outreach.  I used a n F9800VG for several outreach programs and always had lines, with people looping through the lines over and over to get more viewing time.   

This can be used in a telescope like a regular eyepiece, or hand held for fantastic low power views of very large objects like Barnard's Loop.

 

At this budget, it is I think impossible to surpass a moncular with an F9800VG but this will have to be used.  New price would be $4000.  Most people today seem to think that filmless tubes with white Phosphor would be the only acceptable device, but F9800VG is spectacular and a total crowd pleaser at outreach.  

 

I for the very ocassional "Everything is green" I get a hundred "Oh WOWs and and maybe even more "Holy ______________!!!!

 

There is nothing in astronomy as hearing the things people say at outreach when they look through a monocular.   I used to hate outreach before NV.  Now it is something I don't like to miss. 

 

The most common C mount devices are the M703E and the Micro monocular but unless it has been upgraded, the M703E is not likely to have one of the higher performing tubes, though that might be OK.

 

I would not do a PVS-7. The eye relief is tight, and now you have IPD and two diopters. Some people use binoviewers for outreach, but it is a real hassle.  I don't recommend it.  Moncular only has to have the diopter adjusted.  

I just got my hands on an M703E for the envis lens, and have been comparing it to the Micro F9800VG. I have only had it out for two nights so far, once using it at 1x and once prime focus through my 12" dob. From what I have read, all M703E have a gen3+ tube in them, they can just have minor blemishes on the tube. 

 

My experience with them at prime focus was that I could not distinguish between the two. I went back and forth looking at both nebula with a 7nm HA filter, and unfiltered (or with a DGM NPB filter) looking at clusters and galaxies. I spent about 90 minutes going back and forth, but could not pick out anything that would make me lean towards one over the other. I plan to test out both devices in the afocal configuration as well, but the weather around here is cloudy for the forseable future. 

 

When using them both at 1x, unfiltered, the only difference I could see was that the color of the tubes seemed to be a little different. The F9800VG was more of a softer green, almost teal color compared to the neon green of the M703E.  I haven't been able to try them out at 1x filtered yet. The night I was able to do this testing was mostly cloudy with small breaks in the clouds to peer through, and it was FREEZING and windy. 

 

I plan on trying to do a more extensive test of the two, but so far I would say its closer to a tie than a large difference between the two. 

 

EDIT: The 1x viewing was done with the envis lens on the M703E and the Computar lens on the F9800VG. This could have made some difference I suppose, but it is another test I am going to perform o nthem.


Edited by Lukes1040, 24 January 2020 - 01:14 PM.

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#7 zakry3323

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:46 PM

Thanks very much folks! I very much appreciate the advice! It looks like I shouldn't have a lot of difficulty fitting an intensifier into the budget. Unfortunately I can't purchase something used for outreach. I see quite a few options for making a purchase in the "best of" sticky, so it will likely come down to how much I can get allocated from the grant. I'll keep ya posted with how it goes!




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