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5 mW Green laser pointers.


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I have a 5mW green laser pointer that I have had for some years now. I am wondering if people still use them for pointing out celestial objects. Or is it now considered too hazardous to use. 

 

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Legally I believe there to be no concern so long as you are using them for the purpose described. I suspect though that you could leave yourself open to the attention of the police.  Even if you are able to demonstrate your genuine use, you may consider the potential hassle outweighs any gain.  I personally do not use them when doing outreach sessions;  it's just another thing that can go wrong and is easily avoided.   If you are viewing anywhere remotely close to an airfield then I would recommend that you do not use them.  

PS For balance, others do use them successfully. 

 

Jim 

Edited by saac
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I live in the flight path of a (small) airport and (in addition to the normal aircraft) frequently get a police helicopter flying over.

I have one of these and will use it to point out things of interest to people walking down the street who show an interest in what I am doing while imaging.

Yes, if there is plane passing the object I want to highlight, I let it get out of the way (demonstrating to the average muggle that astronomers can be responsible is no bad thing!), but otherwise I use it quite happily and have never been pestered by the local constabulary as a result.

So I wouldn't worry. After all, how difficult is it not to aim it at a plane?

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A lot of folks in the US attach green laser sights meant for rifles to their scopes via picatinny rails.  They come with momentary switches on the end of a coiled cord, so you don't even have to move your hand away from your focuser.  They're handy for us older folks who can't always contort our way behind and/or under our reflex sights like Telrads or QuikFinders.  They're also quite cheap shipped direct from China.  The main problem is most are the older 532nm green laser pointer type that dim in cold weather.  The newer 520nm and 505nm direct green lasers reportedly do much better in the cold, but I have yet to use either.

To affect air traffic, you would really have to be directly below the flight path on final approach to an airport where the planes are coming in low and slow on a predictable flight path and actively tracking the cockpit with the laser.  This pretty much describes how no astronomer has ever used a laser pointer/sight.  There are also a few nut-jobs who target police helicopters with predictable consequences.  Again, acting like no astronomer has ever acted.

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When I first decided to use lasers for targeting due to my having a spinal cord injury I thought of all the hoopla about the danger to aircraft and decided to read up on it to see if any planes have ever been downed or any one had ever been injured by an unintended or intended 5mw laser point, no not ever not even one event only in the movies does such fantasy become reality.

Went to a load of concerts classical, country and rock and roll with lasers  cast about by the thousands with no one caring one iota about their pointing or where, for a couple decades a few concerts a year lasers everywhere, where was the outrage and where is it now.

Starshine a product to laser light your house and property for the holidays with millions sold each year and alot of indiscriminate points by these festive devices at every use, no complaints at all...Zero.

Search light candlepower in the millions used at airports and as advertising gimmics world wide indiscriminately shine planes with these high powered becons often and no one gives a hoot at all ever not in the history of flight itself.

So go use your laser, be respectful, have a blast and ignore those with a passion for fantastical drama ?

 

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I am literally a kilometer away from one of the main Schiphol approach paths, I can count the wheels on the undercarriages. So I won't be playing with lasers...

Edited by Ags
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Thanks for all of the responses. As mentioned, my green laser works well to point out objects. It is a 5mW. I wonder where I can buy one now. They all appear to be 1mW. My son is a tree surgeon. He has seen my laser in use and would like one so he can point out branches in trees to customers. So it would need to be a bright one for day time. 

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12 hours ago, Grumpy Martian said:

I have a 5mW green laser pointer that I have had for some years now. I am wondering if people still use them for pointing out celestial objects. Or is it now considered too hazardous to use. 

 

Just so long as you don't live close to an airport you will be fine. Of course that laser could do damage to your own eyes so take care. 

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7 hours ago, SIDO said:

When I first decided to use lasers for targeting due to my having a spinal cord injury I thought of all the hoopla about the danger to aircraft and decided to read up on it to see if any planes have ever been downed or any one had ever been injured by an unintended or intended 5mw laser point, no not ever not even one event only in the movies does such fantasy become reality.

Went to a load of concerts classical, country and rock and roll with lasers  cast about by the thousands with no one caring one iota about their pointing or where, for a couple decades a few concerts a year lasers everywhere, where was the outrage and where is it now.

Starshine a product to laser light your house and property for the holidays with millions sold each year and alot of indiscriminate points by these festive devices at every use, no complaints at all...Zero.

Search light candlepower in the millions used at airports and as advertising gimmics world wide indiscriminately shine planes with these high powered becons often and no one gives a hoot at all ever not in the history of flight itself.

So go use your laser, be respectful, have a blast and ignore those with a passion for fantastical drama ?

 

Yet you will still be reported to the police if a pilot thinks you are aiming it at him. That's the main point even if 5mw is not a huge problem for aircraft. 

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I never used to have one of these but it is so difficult to point at things that in the end I got one. I only use it for pointing  things out to others  and it is much better than pointing a finger. I take care to go nowhere near planes and it only needs to be on for a brief moment to point a target out.

Mine is a 1mw green, it has a key lock so you can lock it on the off position, I store it with the batteries kept in a different place (they are weird ones you don't typically have lying around) and when I take it in the field it's tied to my belt and so is always with me and I don't let anyone else have it or use it.

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3 hours ago, Paz said:

I never used to have one of these but it is so difficult to point at things that in the end I got one. I only use it for pointing  things out to others  and it is much better than pointing a finger. I take care to go nowhere near planes and it only needs to be on for a brief moment to point a target out.

Mine is a 1mw green, it has a key lock so you can lock it on the off position, I store it with the batteries kept in a different place (they are weird ones you don't typically have lying around) and when I take it in the field it's tied to my belt and so is always with me and I don't let anyone else have it or use it.

Which laser pointer do you have? How does it cope in the cold?

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I am surprised that the 5 mW lasers are now illegal as they are perfectly "eye safe" that is that the eye blink reaction is adequate protection, odd that our roads are full of distance/speed detection equipment using 5 mW IR lasers that shine directly into our eyes.

Alan

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1 hour ago, Alien 13 said:

I am surprised that the 5 mW lasers are now illegal as they are perfectly "eye safe" that is that the eye blink reaction is adequate protection, odd that our roads are full of distance/speed detection equipment using 5 mW IR lasers that shine directly into our eyes.

Alan

Interesting observation. 

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11 hours ago, Adam J said:

Yet you will still be reported to the police if a pilot thinks you are aiming it at him. That's the main point even if 5mw is not a huge problem for aircraft. 

That's ok, if I believe the pilot has been drinking I will also be reporting to the Police may even do a citizens arrest personally, I have never even had so much as a parking ticket in my 54 years so I think any judge or jury would have difficulty believing I would do such a thing as well proving it even if I did do it by accident would be beyond difficult in a court of law and as well, what damages are there or have there ever been in history? ZERO ?

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2 hours ago, John said:

Be Respectful = Never shine a laser at a person or animal, beyond that in a plane, train, automobile or baby stroller either. If you see something say something, better yet...Do Something About It ? 

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20 hours ago, SIDO said:

 

So go use your laser, be respectful, have a blast and ignore those with a passion for fantastical drama ?

 

Perhaps not as "fantastical or dramatic" as you may think; in the UK we have already had a number of convictions and misuse by a certain group of the public. Both incidents below happened in Scotland, Im sure there have been similar in rest of UK; police helicopters are often targeted. Of course responsible use would be of no concern. I personally wont touch them though, my decision not based on drama or fantasy, I just have no need for them and do not wish to promote their use to folk who may not be as considerate as astronomers. 

Jim 

Man Jailed in RAF Laser Pen Incident

Woman Blinded By Laser Pen Attack

 

 

Edited by saac
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2 minutes ago, Merlin66 said:

These lasers are classified as "Dangerous weapons" here in Victoria, Australia and as such require Police clearance and an annual permit to use. The permit cost about $70 a year.....

 

I'v been targeted by young kids (teenagers) with a laser pen  - it was bought over the internet so not subject to the safety standards for legit sales in UK. I would favour a similar permit system here in the UK. Those with a legitimate reason to use them would have no problem getting a permit, may also help trading standards route out rouge traders. 

Jim 

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22 minutes ago, saac said:

Perhaps not as "fantastical or dramatic" as you may think; in the UK we have already had a number of convictions and misuse by a certain group of the public. Both incidents below happened in Scotland, Im sure there have been similar in rest of UK; police helicopters are often targeted. Of course responsible use would be of no concern. I personally wont touch them though, my decision not based on drama or fantasy, I just have no need for them and do not wish to promote their use to folk who may not be as considerate as astronomers. 

Jim 

Man Jailed in RAF Laser Pen Incident

Woman Blinded By Laser Pen Attack

 

 

Both of your examples are none aircraft related, there has never ever to this date been a conviction as the result of personal injury or property damage resulting from the pointing of a 5mw laser at an aircraft period. If there where such an occurrence the airline unions would publish this immediately and it would subsequently be posted here. Until such an event actually occures wich it one day likely will, the reality it has not must stand ? 

None Aircraft Related = No personal injury or property damage as the result of 5mw laser with aircraft involved and proven in a court of law.

Edited by SIDO
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40 minutes ago, SIDO said:

Be Respectful = Never shine a laser at a person or animal, beyond that in a plane, train, automobile or baby stroller either. If you see something say something, better yet...Do Something About It ? 

If you read the last link I posted you will see that there were nearly 7000 reported incidents of theses devices being used against planes in 2015, twice as many as the previous year. I'm sure the vast majority of astronomers using them are respectful but, as is often the case, other folks are not being sensible leading to the concerns expressed and the actions to control their sale and use.

 

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The first case concerned an aircraft landing at RAF Leuchars (Tornado F2).  Not sure I'm all that concerned about the exclusivity of personal injury being a significant factor; our exiting laws (UK) of endangering air navigation are sufficiently broad and effective at maintaining the safety of our airways. The court in the first example agreed that the idiot concerned was endangering the safe operation of the aircraft.  Focusing the debate on endangering aircraft in any respect is specious; the more ubiquitous laser pens become, the more the idiots see them being used, then they will want to use them. The setting is irrelevant, the intention and effect is the only consideration.  The lady in Clydebank who lost here eyesight would, I am sure, have welcomed a more robust approach to policing their availability, sale and use. Like I said before , I have nothing against their responsible use;  I choose not to use them as I do not wish to "regularise" their use nor their appeal to those irresponsible elements in society who would do so. 

 

Jim 

Edited by saac
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1 minute ago, John said:

If you read the last link I posted you will see that there were nearly 7000 reported incidents of theses devices being used against planes in 2015, twice as many as the previous year. I'm sure the vast majority of astronomers using them are respectful but, as is often the case, other folks are not being sensible leading to the concerns expressed and the actions to control their sale and use.

 

Thanks for posting the links John they are an integral part of this discussion and I read them in their entirety, you are and they the airline industry indeed correct in your belief there is an outstanding problem with those not in compliance with the rule of law.

My only intent is to keep fact and fiction separate, there will always be someone working to spoil the enjoyment of those with good intentions...

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16 hours ago, Grumpy Martian said:

Thanks for all of the responses. As mentioned, my green laser works well to point out objects. It is a 5mW. I wonder where I can buy one now. They all appear to be 1mW. My son is a tree surgeon. He has seen my laser in use and would like one so he can point out branches in trees to customers. So it would need to be a bright one for day time. 

Well, try ordering a 1mW laser from China and it's bound to come in as being much more powerful according to these two investigative Australian pieces.

Edited by Louis D
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