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Image intensifiers?


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I've heard these mentioned on the cloudynights forum, when reading up about barnard's loop & eridanus bubble. One member mantioned that their best view of barnard's loop was with an image intensifier. Having looked for some it sounds like they are based on the same tech as night-vision binoculars. I couldn't find any retailers of them for use with scopes, though. And having looked at videos of people using them, they seem to create a green-only image... and the images made don't seem to look any better than what i'd see without one. But what they do sound useful for is observing red targets... Like barnard's loop, heart & soul, HH etc.

Has anyone here used one? I'd guess they'd be useless unless your skies are really dark (it would just amplify the LP?) and maybe the image being green instead of grey might be distracting or feel unnatural?

    ~pip

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I have used a few in the past mostly 2nd generation units. They have incredible gain ability but they are also very inefficient so the absolute gain is comparatively low. As you have seen, the images are very green and they are very sensitive to movement which creates annoying smearing of the image. I prefer an integrating video camera.

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I have used a few in the past mostly 2nd generation units. They have incredible gain ability but they are also very inefficient so the absolute gain is comparatively low. As you have seen, the images are very green and they are very sensitive to movement which creates annoying smearing of the image. I prefer an integrating video camera.

So they'll end up losing a lot of light? I just took a look at some integrating video camera footage... Not sure how they work or how they're different to normal cameras, but they looked to pick out objects surprisingly well despite their low dynamic range...

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The integrating cameras operate in a similar way as taking several images with a CCD and stacking them with a programme. The difference is that the integrating video camera does this automatically on board and presents a stacked image typically of 512 frames after 10 seconds or so of exposure.

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I looked at getting into 3rd generation bino viewing.

But it would appear that the USA will not allow the export of 3rd generation devices,

some one please correct me if you know better.

Here is an interesting video of what you may expect to see using such devices.

If you click on the Vimeo logo you will see more videos.

Edited by trazor
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I looked at getting into 3rd generation bino viewing.

But it would appear that the USA will not allow the export of 3rd generation devices,

some one please correct me if you know better.

Here is an interesting video of what you may expect to see using such devices.

Thanks for posting that video - very interesting.  I definitely want to try the same trick with an H-alpha filter on the Sony A7S.  The moon is a bit too close to Orion for the next few days though.

Mark

Edited by sharkmelley
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This is all so interesting!

Something I've gotten a little confused about here, though... can the image intensifiers be used for visual or are can you only attach a camera to them? they also seem to suffer from a tonne of light drop off, why is this?

I know that the US is very stingy with their night-vision kit... Who knows why. But i'd guess if you went into the US, bought one of those and left they'd allow it?

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This is all so interesting!

Something I've gotten a little confused about here, though... can the image intensifiers be used for visual or are can you only attach a camera to them? they also seem to suffer from a tonne of light drop off, why is this?

Visual is fine.

Not sure what you mean by "A tonne of light drop off", you can see 10 to 20 times as many Stars, as opposed to normal vision.

I know that the US is very stingy with their night-vision kit... Who knows why. But i'd guess if you went into the US, bought one of those and left they'd allow it?

Hmmm, not sure what Customs would do if they caught you.

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Visual is fine.

Not sure what you mean by "A tonne of light drop off", you can see 10 to 20 times as many Stars, as opposed to normal vision.

Hmmm, not sure what Customs would do if they caught you.

This is the thing. I think it specified you weren't allowed to sell to someone outside the US, and you weren't allowed to re-sell or transver ownership or something like that. But taking one home with you might be ok.

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This is the thing. I think it specified you weren't allowed to sell to someone outside the US, and you weren't allowed to re-sell or transver ownership or something like that. But taking one home with you might be ok.

I would be careful Pip and check the USA export laws, there are some things you can legally buy in the States but not leave with them (export). Best to follow their rules exactly IMHO.https://tnvc.com/faq/

Edited by jetstream
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I would be careful Pip and check the USA export laws, there are some things you can legally buy in the States but not leave with them (export). Best to follow their rules exactly IMHO.https://tnvc.com/faq/

If I were to actually buy one, I would take care to make sure I was getting it legally! This is just passive inquirey, though. Last thing I'd want to spend my time doing is getting in trouble in the US.

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I would be careful Pip and check the USA export laws, there are some things you can legally buy in the States but not leave with them (export). Best to follow their rules exactly IMHO.https://tnvc.com/faq/

"This means you cannot take a night vision device with you if you leave the country." so I guess that answers the question... No night vision imports from the US, then!

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"it is a violation of ITAR to allow any non-U.S. citizen to look through U.S. Gen3 night vision equipment (even on US Soil).  They are also not allowed to have access to any operator’s manuals or documentation, whatsoever, pertaining to US Gen 3 Night Vision Devices.  This is a little-known fact about ITAR and Night Vision Devices, but it is true.  We have confirmed this with the US State Department and major Night Vision Manufacturers.  At TNVC, we take great care to ensure our clients are properly informed on laws and regulations pertaining to night vision. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is serious business.  Night Vision Devices help give our Warfighters and Law Enforcement Professionals the edge in defeating America’s enemies and keeping our communities and borders safe."

OH GEEZ, that's tight!

America's a stingy place!

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Yes these things were not built for astronomy applications but for the military. A strong advantage the US military have is their night-vision equipment and they don't want it falling into the wrong hands. They'll take a very dim view of anyone flouting this particular export restriction.

ChrisH

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Any images I've ever seen appear to be so noisy as to be aesthetically useless. I can't see the point of using them to look at stars. Unless what you're talking about is something completely different.

I think Trazor's video link says it all, really. Barnard's loop recognisable at 30fps!

it basically just makes things that are otherwise extremely faint more easily visible to our eyes... Which are only effective at half of the visible spectrum.

TBH It's probably better to go for the integrating video camera that Peter Drew mentioned if you want to do Video astronomy. Although it could boil down to personal preferance but these image intensifiers look like an amazing thing to have if your skies are dark and/or you have some tight imaging filters to accompany them.

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Image intensifiers in real-time [and very sensitive cameras in brief exposures ] can be used with H-alpha filters to view emission objects even under light pollution and moonlight.  

Nytecam

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The US isn't the only source of the current gen3 tubes. You probably could source astro-capable image intensification through the likes of http://www.nightvisiongear.co.uk/ or similar, albeit at astronomical pricetags..

Some of the export restrictions that the US has are pretty dumb but you can see why the restriction was in place. For years, encryption at >56bit was not exportable, and the rest of the world overtook the US in all encryption tech, and still leads them. Another odd one is thermal imaging devices that can do better than 10 fps or are cooled are generally not exportable either apparently due to being usable in heatseeking missiles.. 

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