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MarsG76

Using Star Maps on tablets while observing

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It is widely accepted that starmaps on paper are preferable illuminated with a dim red light  to preserve dark adapted vision. The dimmest setting on phones and tablets is still too bright and will ruin dark adaption, so it's not advisable to use those while observing. 

On that note I did find that in my iPad and iPhone with iOS versions 9 and up there is a ZOOM setting in accessibility... when enabled you can fully zoom out so there is no zooming if not needed, but the luminosity of the screen halves and might be dim enough to use while observing without effecting dark adaption... it is actually so dark that its barely visible in day light and at night its hard to read from until my eyes become dark adapted, so here might be a solution for using a tablet with star maps as opposed to paper and books that can get moist with dew, effectively ruining the maps or putting on ND or red film over tablet/phone screens.

This is on the Apple devices and I don't have a android device to see if there is a similar feature on those.

Clear and dark skies,

Mariusz

 

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There are 'Screen Filter' apps for Android 'phones that work very well.  I use one and set Sky Safari to night mode.

HNY  :)

 

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Using iOS 11 on the latest iPad/iPhones you can apply a red filter across the screen so that everything is in what looks like a night mode, not just the planetarium app. 

In settings go General, accessibility, display accommodations, colour filters. You can also set it up so it comes on by pressing the home button say 3 times. 

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I use this all the time and it works well. You need to set the Sky Safari display to ‘mono’ for the best clarity 

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1 hour ago, clarkpm4242 said:

There are 'Screen Filter' apps for Android 'phones that work very well.  I use one and set Sky Safari to night mode.

HNY  :)

 

Yeah I figured there would be... surely anything on the iPhone would be replicated (or vice versa) on the android, especially being open source....

 

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1 hour ago, clarkpm4242 said:

There are 'Screen Filter' apps for Android 'phones that work very well.  I use one and set Sky Safari to night mode.

HNY  :)

 

That is awesome.. that's better than my solution... with the red hue screen and all... nice thanks for that.

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14 minutes ago, kerrylewis said:

I use this all the time and it works well. You need to set the Sky Safari display to ‘mono’ for the best clarity 

Mono makes sense otherwise with a red hue filter anything like green or blue would simply disappear.

 

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Have Skysafari on a tablet and it has never caused a problem immaterial of the brightness of the screen. The tablet does "sense" the ambient light level and adjust accordingly.

Think there is a night or red mode on it, tried it once or twice, but the detail and usability seems worse, so it is just left as normal. Half the reason is I want to be able to see and read it and the usual display is best for that. Doesn't seem to really destroy any night vison, or if it degrades it then it is for a few seconds.

Sometimes think we take aspects too seriously, we are after all just hobbyists looking through a telescope for an hour or so when a convenient clear night appears magically over the horizon.

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41 minutes ago, MarsG76 said:

Mono makes sense otherwise with a red hue filter anything like green or blue would simply disappear.

 

Yes mono’s best, if you leave the colour setting on you can’t read the icons  along the bottom in Sky Safari.

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43 minutes ago, ronin said:

Have Skysafari on a tablet and it has never caused a problem immaterial of the brightness of the screen. The tablet does "sense" the ambient light level and adjust accordingly.

Think there is a night or red mode on it, tried it once or twice, but the detail and usability seems worse, so it is just left as normal. Half the reason is I want to be able to see and read it and the usual display is best for that. Doesn't seem to really destroy any night vison, or if it degrades it then it is for a few seconds.

Sometimes think we take aspects too seriously, we are after all just hobbyists looking through a telescope for an hour or so when a convenient clear night appears magically over the horizon.

I don't think there's is such a thing as taking steps to protect dark adaption too seriously... if, like most people, someone get a rare occasion to view faint objects and want to take all precautions to protect their vision than good on them. 

I had dark adaption effected by the lowest light setting on my iphone in the past... so finding a way to dim the screen even further was a welcome find.

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When you are observing faint and diffuse DSO's (galaxies; gaseous nebulae) under rather dark skies (NELM 5.8 or better; SQM-L 21.0 or better), the diffuse grey-white backlight of LED displays is still annoying and disturbing your night vision. I've found, that a special light shield works better under such circumstances; here's a review:

I forgot to mention, that you have to set the display's appearance to "monochrome", to get the best results.

Thanks for reading; and a Happy New Year with clear and dark skies!

Stephan

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48 minutes ago, ronin said:

Have Skysafari on a tablet and it has never caused a problem immaterial of the brightness of the screen. The tablet does "sense" the ambient light level and adjust accordingly.

Think there is a night or red mode on it, tried it once or twice, but the detail and usability seems worse, so it is just left as normal. Half the reason is I want to be able to see and read it and the usual display is best for that. Doesn't seem to really destroy any night vison, or if it degrades it then it is for a few seconds.

Sometimes think we take aspects too seriously, we are after all just hobbyists looking through a telescope for an hour or so when a convenient clear night appears magically over the horizon.

This is simply not the case if you are observing anywhere other than extreme light pollution and in particular if you are trying to observe something faint.

A smartphone screen at normal brightness will kill your dark adaptation very quickly and it can take 45 minutes to come back properly. The quick part is your pupil dilating which happens in a few seconds, the slow part is the chemical change which occurs allowing your rods to become fully sensitive.

I would urge anyone using a smartphone to follow the recommendations here and use the accessibility options in an iPhone to switch to red for all content, and also to reduce the white point down to a level you need to be dark adapted to read it. I have found that this does not affect your vision any more than a red light torch and map.

For planetary or lunar observing obviously this does not matter but as said, for something like the Veil or NAN it is very important. Even M31 will show far more extent under a dark sky if you are properly dark adapted, so it is well worth doing.

 

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19 minutes ago, Nyctimene said:

When you are observing faint and diffuse DSO's (galaxies; gaseous nebulae) under rather dark skies (NELM 5.8 or better; SQM-L 21.0 or better), the diffuse grey-white backlight of LED displays is still annoying and disturbing your night vision. I've found, that a special light shield works better under such circumstances; here's a review:

I forgot to mention, that you have to set the display's appearance to "monochrome", to get the best results.

Thanks for reading; and a Happy New Year with clear and dark skies!

Stephan

As mentioned by scooot, his method does change the screen to mono red... so the shield is no longer necessary.... 

14 minutes ago, Stu said:

This is simply not the case if you are observing anywhere other than extreme light pollution and in particular if you are trying to observe something faint.

A smartphone screen at normal brightness will kill your dark adaptation very quickly and it can take 45 minutes to come back properly. The quick part is your pupil dilating which happens in a few seconds, the slow part is the chemical change which occurs allowing your rods to become fully sensitive.

I would urge anyone using a smartphone to follow the recommendations here and use the accessibility options in an iPhone to switch to red for all content, and also to reduce the white point down to a level you need to be dark adapted to read it. I have found that this does not affect your vision any more than a red light torch and map.

For planetary or lunar observing obviously this does not matter but as said, for something like the Veil or NAN it is very important. Even M31 will show far more extent under a dark sky if you are properly dark adapted, so it is well worth doing.

 

I completely agree.... 

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As Stephan says, under very dark skies it probably does make sense to use additional screening on the phone as the backlight still bleeds through the black to an extent which cannot be cut off by the LCD. The best skies I normally observe under are mag 20.5, occasionally 21 or so, so find this not necessary, but for really serious dark sky observing I'm sure it still helps further.

I well recall one time I was observing in Dorset whilst camping, probably only mag 20.5 skies but was still nice. On one night I was a bit lax with looking at my phone at full brightness, I think I sent a few texts or took a call. Even over 45 mins later this was still affecting my night vision and made it difficult to observe the Veil well. The following night I was much more strict and could pick out Pickering's Triangle, something that had eluded me the night before. It does make a difference.

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6 minutes ago, Stu said:

As Stephan says, under very dark skies it probably does make sense to use additional screening on the phone as the backlight still bleeds through the black to an extent which cannot be cut off by the LCD. The best skies I normally observe under are mag 20.5, occasionally 21 or so, so find this not necessary, but for really serious dark sky observing I'm sure it still helps further.

I well recall one time I was observing in Dorset whilst camping, probably only mag 20.5 skies but was still nice. On one night I was a bit lax with looking at my phone at full brightness, I think I sent a few texts or took a call. Even over 45 mins later this was still affecting my night vision and made it difficult to observe the Veil well. The following night I was much more strict and could pick out Pickering's Triangle, something that had eluded me the night before. It does make a difference.

Comparing to full brightness, of course it would make a MASSIVE difference... 

On the note of light bleeding through, I can honestly say that I did not see any light bleed from the iPhone or iPad anywhere when tuned down to bare minimum and had it in the dark... or my "dark" sky experiences were not that dark.

 

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4 minutes ago, MarsG76 said:

Comparing to full brightness, of course it would make a MASSIVE difference... 

On the note of light bleeding through, I can honestly say that I did not see any light bleed from the iPhone or iPad anywhere when tuned down to bare minimum and had it in the dark... or my "dark" sky experiences were not that dark.

 

As said, it does matter how dark the sky is. At mag 20.5 ish I don't see a problem, but under a mag 21.5 sky you would probably find it still affected your vision and the extra shielding would help. Stephan probably has a lot more experience of this than me though.

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4 minutes ago, Stu said:

As said, it does matter how dark the sky is. At mag 20.5 ish I don't see a problem, but under a mag 21.5 sky you would probably find it still affected your vision and the extra shielding would help. Stephan probably has a lot more experience of this than me though.

21.5.. something I still need to experience

 

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36 minutes ago, MarsG76 said:

21.5.. something I still need to experience

 

Yep, not something I've observed under unfortunately. Managed 21.3 under patchy cloud on the South Downs a couple of months ago, would like to go back on a clear transparent night.

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It depends upon the circumstance for which you are observing within. If you are in hot pursuit of a slightly awkward to locate planetary, for example, it becomes necessary to check your charts whether on tablet form or on paper and some dim red light glow becomes inevitable. I use dim red light, paper charts and when my night vision has grown to its full extent, ideally it would be good if it were possible to pre-prepare and memorise all targets. In practice this is not always possible and I sense that it can feel a bit disabling to my night vision each time that a light is switched on. Regaining, recovering this small loss can be perhaps fairly quick, As already mentioned, so long so there are no additional light factors to be concerned with. My dark sky locations are typically SQM-L 21.2 - 21.4, reaching full dark adaption enables me to undertake most if not all tasks without a light source - other than of course checking locations on a chart.  If planning to pursue, for example, the Flame, followed by the Horse Head nebula and associated nebulosity, no light source should be used anywhere near prior to this. Researching / memorising the circumstance for such an observation and similar visually challenging engagements, requires complete dark adaptation and concentration.

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6 minutes ago, Stu said:

Yep, not something I've observed under unfortunately. Managed 21.3 under patchy cloud on the South Downs a couple of months ago, would like to go back on a clear transparent night.

Yeah, I bet.. wouldn't we all...

 

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7 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

It depends upon the circumstance for which you are observing within. If you are in hot pursuit of a slightly awkward to locate planetary, for example, it becomes necessary to check your charts whether on tablet form or on paper and some dim red light glow becomes inevitable. I use dim red light, paper charts and when my night vision has grown to its full extent, ideally it would be good if it were possible to pre-prepare and memorise all targets. In practice this is not always possible and I sense that it can feel a bit disabling to my night vision each time that a light is switched on. Regaining, recovering this small loss can be perhaps fairly quick, As already mentioned, so long so there are no additional light factors to be concerned with. My dark sky locations are typically SQM-L 21.2 - 21.4, reaching full dark adaption enables me to undertake most if not all tasks without a light source - other than of course checking locations on a chart.  If planning to pursue, for example, the Flame, followed by the Horse Head nebula and associated nebulosity, no light source should be used anywhere near prior to this. Researching / memorising the circumstance for such an observation and similar visually challenging engagements, requires complete dark adaptation and concentration.

Another alternative is a pirate eye patch covering the observing eye when ever not on the eyepiece...

Unfortunately GOTO scopes have the red glow on the hand controllers, so by what you wrote that would be disadvantageous also.

 

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5 minutes ago, MarsG76 said:

Another alternative is a pirate eye patch covering the observing eye when ever not on the eyepiece...

Unfortunately GOTO scopes have the red glow on the hand controllers, so by what you wrote that would be disadvantageous also.

 

Black insulating tape over bright LEDs cuts the brightness to acceptable levels, and turn any red LED displays right down which should work as they don't have backlights in the same way.

Covering your observing eye can make a big difference. On occasion, for instance at SGL10, when 'a visit to the facilities' has to be made during a session, covering you eye with a good or hat preserves your dark adaptation very well. It is a strange feeling coming back out into the dark when one eye shows almost complete blackness and the other rather a lot!

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

Black insulating tape over bright LEDs cuts the brightness to acceptable levels, and turn any red LED displays right down which should work as they don't have backlights in the same way.

Covering your observing eye can make a big difference. On occasion, for instance at SGL10, when 'a visit to the facilities' has to be made during a session, covering you eye with a good or hat preserves your dark adaptation very well. It is a strange feeling coming back out into the dark when one eye shows almost complete blackness and the other rather a lot!

Or just aim in the dark....

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23 minutes ago, MarsG76 said:

Or just aim in the dark....

Ah yes, would do but the lights were on.... ;) 

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You can use tablets and phones without ruining dark adaption, but you have to take extra steps. 

For mine I have installed an extra red keyboard to eliminate the white pop up key entry screen,  and cover the whole screen with red lithofilm too, while having the brightness settings on minimum.

I truly believe that a lot of people are still to experience proper dark adaption, even if they think they know what they are talking about, as some of the comments above demonstrate. Red headlamps are a pain too, much too bright for the individual wearing it, and blinding for anyone they face!

The only light I use when observing is a mini maglight, with LED replaced with a red one, PLUS red filter on it. It isn't bright enough to cast a shadow, I just suspend it up high and shine it down on my eyepiece table, just to make sure the caps go back on correctly. I struggle to read my star map by red light even with stronger glasses, keep meaning to try a magnifying glass as somebody suggested, but for now Sky Safari on a dimmed tablet, lithofilmed and in night mode is just the job!

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