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Do you use laser pointers during your stargazing session? why or why not?

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29 replies to this topic

#26 Frank2


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Posted 15 February 2024 - 09:15 PM

I use GLP for aiming at target stars when setting up goto. A couple quick taps and I'm done. Super fast and easy. Sometimes also to see if a target is just inside, or outside, a treeline.

#27 Rickycardo



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Posted 15 February 2024 - 10:33 PM

Sure seems awfully crowded at night where most people are observing. I can't remember the last time I was within miles of another person while imaging. But yes, if you're around others use the reasonable amount of caution needed to be safe. Otherwise, enjoy.


#28 therealdmt



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Posted 16 February 2024 - 03:58 AM

No laser, I just look up at the stars and use my telescope and binoculars. For getting my telescope pointed to my target or starting off point for starhopping, I use the RACI finderscope attached to my main telescope.


I could see myself using a laser to point out things to other people who are not familiar with the night sky, although in my experience, people (including me the first time I saw it done lol.gif) tend to get more interested in the laser pointer/beam itself than the fainter stars. Maybe a subtle but still visible pointer beam would work better for that than the bright beams I’ve typically seen used (on the other hand, I’ve experienced an outreach guide trying to use a not sufficiently visible beam and that being an unnecessarily confusing distraction).


Anyway, I’m usually observing on my own or maybe with one other person, not teaching a group about the night sky, and a laser has no application for me the way I do my observing. I just look up and point the scope where I want to point it… there’s simply no "And now turn on the laser" step involved. Meanwhile, there are some important cautions involved with the use of lasers, not to mention the cost of the accessory itself, mounting and batteries. I skip all of that and… just point. And overall, for me, simply the less lights the better (though I do use a planetarium app on my phone, so I’m admittedly not a total purist or light discipline master).


Nevertheless, a laser for pointing out things to others would be nice to have on hand in case I find myself in a situation where that would be useful. Trying to get others to understand exactly which star or group of stars you’re talking about by arm pointing is something that doesn’t always work so well, so a laser for that is somewhere on my never-shrinking ‘To Buy’ list


#29 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 February 2024 - 05:05 AM

This is where discretion and basic common sense come into play. Constant awareness of one's actions and forethought as to probable outcomes of said actions eliminates a lot of problems. Holds true in workplace safety and here.


Common sense says do not risk your eyes with a laser that can damage someone else's eye accidentally.  A laser over 5 mw is sufficient to cause damage before you can blink.  The eye lens focuses the coherent beam to a point and burns the retina.


A 200 mw laser need not be viewed directly to damage the retina, a specular refraction for a for a brief instant is all that's necessary.  


From the Cloudy Nights TOS:


"b. Members may not discuss or post links to sites that discuss, advertise, or sell laser pointers and modules that are greater than 5mW. The only exception is for equipment that is used for legitimate scientific purposes or research. Moderators and Administrators have the discretion to determine whether or not a post or topic is eligible for that exception."


I sent a mod alert.


I do not use green lasers when observing.  I see no reason to light up the sky just because it happens to be convenient. That's the excuse everyone uses for every light left on at night. 




#30 csa/montana


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Posted 16 February 2024 - 05:08 AM

Folks, there is absolutely no discussion of lasers over 5mW


Please read this and it applies across the entire forum!!!




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