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scarp15

Should Night Vision Have its own Section?

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NV technology accounts can be fascinating to read. This emerging approach combining observing and imaging is albeit slow to latch on such as in the UK for fundamental reasons and seems to run in parallel with direct, traditional forms of observing.

There are some considerations that perhaps require to become highlighted.

Mixing up throughout the observers sections, is creating I feel a slight blurring and some confusion among some members reading accounts on equipment, reports and so forth, even when there is good clarification conveyed in compiling the account. Confusion is not necessarily a factor regarding the more casual reader or newcomer. More established readers that probably include myself, are also confused by certain claims in recent reports. For example, I would like to understand the claim for employing averted vision technique when using night vision equipment? The principle for averted vision, requires retinal sensitivity to switch from the pupils cone to stimulate the rods in a process that involves rhodopsin to regenerate sensitivity of the retina nerves as the pupil becomes fully dark adapted. Averted vision then becomes beneficial for observing very dim features and objects such as the Horse Head Nebula. I would like to understand how does this principle work when operating a switched lit appliance? I would also like to understand which deep sky objects are particularly enhanced under what conditions of transparency and SQM-L data (not readings taken from phones or map references) for which some accounts are clear and others less so. Do, as in a recent report Reflection Nebulae actually benefit from this technology? Can an objective comparison be made such as observing galaxies when switching between NV and eyepiece when the observers eye will not be fully dark adapted?

These are just some of my questions there are probably many more and that leads to the next issue; access to this equipment. There are a minority of users such as in the UK, I firmly believe that there needs to be more voices providing additional verified objective criticism with much more clarification as to the positive and negative aspects. I feel that there is instead currently a sense of imbalance and superiority in this approach. 

A discerning section would clearly segregate NV and readers will be able to access all the information that they may require under one applicable context. There ought to be no more random questions such as how much does it cost. A dedicated section pooling together all aspects of NV, including reports could provide the reader on here, an opportunity to expand their knowledge and potential interest, rather than a blurring and sense of competing with traditional forms.

Edited by scarp15
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Perhaps, somehow, this should be combined with a refactored Video section, under the title of EAA, since they both straddle the observing/imaging divide?

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A very valid topic Iain, which I have highlighted for discussion amongst the admin and mod team.

I have used Gavin's NV gear, so do know that it really does show some amazing views. Seeing the Horsehead from my back garden was not something I ever expected to do, but there it was, quite clear to both Gavin and me.

Without experiencing it, it is hard to describe the view but it doesn't feel like looking at a display or screen, it is far more natural than that. Averted vision does seem to work in some way too, although I don't know the exact mechanism which is at play.

I agree we should try to make sure we don't confuse people with observing reports using NV which are not clearly identified as such, but that will depend on decisions made by admin. It is a very niche part of the hobby and likely to remain so, so whether or not is should have a separate forum remains to be seen. I'm sure we will update on the subject on due course.

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A very thoughtful post Iain.

However, my view is that having a separate night vision section would be unhelpful and a better solution would be just to ensure that posts about night vision make it very clear that this is the technology being used.

I only became aware of night vision through one of my fellow walton astro club members @PeterW. If Peter hadn’t introduced me to it, I wouldn’t be using night vision now and with the benefit of hindsight I would be missing out big time. The only other way I could have found out about it was from a forum and on cloudynights nightvision posts are generally made on the EAa forum which I would never visit since it doesn’t interest me. Having night vision posts included in the main observing and equipment sections of SGL allows people to be introduced to this technology without having to search for it in an obscure section.

Currently there are only really two members posting about night vision - myself and @alanjgreen. I don’t think many non-NV users would visit a specialist NV section and thus if we were only allowed to post NV reports/discussions in that section, I think it would quickly become a dead section. 

I hope I haven’t suggested that night vision is ‘superior’ to normal glass observing. I view it as just another option I have in my eyepiece case. I realise that it’s expensive and therefore not an option for many people to acquire but there are still some people who are willing to spend a good amount on scopes and eyepieces (see the eyepiece case thread ?). I’d rather have an NV monocular than a case full of ethos eyepieces or an expensive refractor but it’s personal choice. 

I’ve also done some outreach with night vision (as per my recent report from Regent’s Park) and it really got some people very excited.

As Stu says, it does ‘feel’ like normal visual observing and that is I think the thing I most like about it. If it felt electronic and artificial then I don’t think I would do it. I also think that it’s nothing like EAA. 

I am passionate about night vision and the benefits it has brought for me. But I do also try to be objective about it as well. It’s not a panacea for everything - for example it’s frustrating that I can’t get good views at much more than about 50x magnification. I’d really like to get better image scale on galaxies and planetary nebulae but it just isn’t possible with NV. And it doesn’t do reflection nebulae well (I didn’t see that post that said it did).

In summary, I really enjoy it and that’s what my posts are about rather than a critical evaluation of NV versus glass eyepieces. If I hadn’t posted about my experiences with NV then maybe @alanjgreen and @Highburymarkwouldn’t have discovered it - I think they both really enjoy it and to me that’s a real positive.

Edited by GavStar
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4 hours ago, scarp15 said:

 The principle for averted vision, requires retinal sensitivity to switch from the pupils cone to stimulate the rods in a process that involves rhodopsin to regenerate sensitivity of the retina nerves as the pupil becomes fully dark adapted. Averted vision then becomes beneficial for observing very dim features and objects such as the Horse Head Nebula. I would like to understand how does this principle work when operating a switched lit appliance?

 

Can an objective comparison be made such as observing galaxies when switching between NV and eyepiece when the observers eye will not be fully dark adapted?

 

As @Stusays, averted vision is as key in the use of night vision as with traditional eyepieces, fainter stuff is more apparent with averted.

As to a comparison, I wrote one some time back...

Its a shame that this has become the "have and the have not's".  If you feel that too many NV reports are written then please encourage other users to write some observing reports too?

In my own case, I always wrote lots of observing reports and I don't think that has changed.

I would say that NV is not EAA. I am not using a computer, camera or software and my view is live at the telescope focuser just like traditional. I am pleased that cloudynights allow observing reports of all types on their website. I can tell you that my toes certainly feel no difference after spending hours standing in the cold, there are no warm rooms in visual observing!

I agree with @GavStar that to push this into a sideroom where nobody goes is a disservice and I certainly would not have come across it as a way forward as I was not active on cloudynights until I noticed peoples attitudes change on stargazerslounge (once I spend my money on NV).

As someone once said "we are all astronomers" but actions seem to speak louder than words and it seems we are all astronomers as long as we dont have NV.

Shame,

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
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2 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

I would say that NV is not EAA. I am not using a computer

You are, however, using "Electronically Assisted Astronomy" ?

I've no strong opinion here, just trying to understand the point of view. ?

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Thanks, I felt that now is a good time to address Night Vision as an open discussion, whilst it is gaining in prominence in topics, features, reports across the Observers spectrum, yet is very niche in user experience. The case I made for channelling all input into a specific section could perhaps provide all the required details for those who would like to understand, learn more and become inspired to consider investing into NV. However I quite understand that there is some uncertainty that it may become overlooked, marginalised perhaps. A concern for integration into Observers sections is that it is still misunderstood by a few even though there is appreciative emphasis by those responsible for the topic. Presently there are a very small number of NV users that it for the UK at least on SGL. In some reports, I feel that it is not easy to connect or associate with, there is much highly thoughtful and objective appraisal, yet there are just simply very few voices to contribute, share, challenge or verify. 

 

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1 hour ago, alanjgreen said:

Its a shame that this has become the "have and the have not's".  If you feel that too many NV reports are written then please encourage other users to write some observing reports too?

As someone once said "we are all astronomers" but actions seem to speak louder than words and it seems we are all astronomers as long as we dont have NV.

Shame,

Alan

To be fair Alan, along with your contribution's, there is a good flow of observers reports. This has got nothing to do with owning or not NV equipment and it is not a discussion that dismisses NV. It is a debate as to if NV ought to have a dedicated place on here to collate all the information together. Different approaches to observing can feature side by side, I felt it necessary to open up this debate to perhaps gain some clarification and appropriate context for each discipline.   

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I've never used NV to observe so I can't comment on it from a personal perspective. From reading the reports from those who do use NV it does seem that the results, in terms of reach, seem to be quite different from visual observing so reports involving NV need at least to be clearly labelled as such (perhaps in the title which I think is happening already ?) to avoid confusion over the methods being used.

While NV is currently expensive to gain access to this might not always be the case in the future and it might become a more mainstream and affordable option for those who persue the hobby from light polluted areas.

On balance, I think that I'd prefer to see NV integrated with the normal observational sections of the forum as long as threads relating to it are clearly identified.

I've seen forums that employ too many specialist "silos" become barren and uninteresting places in the past so I'd prefer not to risk that with SGL.

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, John said:

While NV is currently expensive to gain access to this might not always be the case in the future and it might become a more mainstream and affordable option for those who persue the hobby from light polluted areas.

On balance, I think that I'd prefer to see NV integrated with the normal observational sections of the forum as long as threads relating to it are clearly identified.

I've seen forums that employ too many specialist "silos" become barren and uninteresting places in the past so I'd prefer not to risk that with SGL.

 

Night Vision is very expensive of course, as this technology is primarily a function for military purposes, in recreational terms will it ever become mainstream and more cost effective? Light pollution will inevitably be a long term battle for change. However I do read Cloudy Nights, though not a member (one forum being enough), and can appreciate that on there NV reporting seems to be integrated. 

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I have strong opinions on this.

But atm it's such a small group of users I'll let it slide. At the very least it's stirring an interest in the hobby.

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I asked myself the same question, but steered clear of any comment, as I have seen EAA postings in the past degenerate into bitter disputes about what is EAA, where it should live, what it should be called, etc, so I don't want to see that happen here. But seeing as the point was raised....

I do both EAA and visual, but as a visual observer I find the NV posts fascinating and the camera shots just add to the interest of the reports in the same way as sketches. I dont think I will ever be able to afford NV, but then I dont think I will ever have a 16" dob either and I still find those reports interesting, even though I will never see those views from home. Probably echoing many of the coments above, but to me, for now, it seems sensible to keep NV where it is and people can choose to ignore those posts as long as clearly labelled. Once there is more takeup and/or the discussion turns more frequently towards the technology (as in the case of EAA) then a separate forum would seem sensible. 

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I asked pretty much the same question earlier in the year. With time to ponder the responses, I find myself agreeing that, from an observing report perspective, Night Vision should remain integrated. I’ve enjoyed following both @GavStar and @alanjgreen‘s  journey with night vision. Gavin’s pictures are a particularly good showcase of the technology. 

That being said, I do think there’s space for a dedicated Night Vision section under the Equipment area. I’m sure some of Gavin’s and Alan’s posts could be pinned to cover the FAQs that Iain mentioned. I feel like this gives the best of both worlds.  A place to discuss the technology in isolation but integration of the reports to ensure we can all still enjoy the results. 

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1 hour ago, RobertI said:

I find the NV posts fascinating and the camera shots just add to the interest of the reports in the same way as sketches.

Absolutely!  I feel the same about EAA images.  I'm not talented enough to sketch, and my astigmatism makes observing difficult, so it's great that there's room for everyone here.

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I think it would be helpful (and forgive me if this is available already and I've missed it) to have a clear and concise definition of what NV actually is (and isnt) when related to visual observing.

I have to confess to getting a little confused between NV, EAA and VA :icon_scratch:

My (very basic) understanding of Night Vision is that it amplifies the light coming into the optics and displays that amplified image in the eyepiece but performs no other enhancement / manipulation / processing of the image. Rather like a singer using a microphone / amplifier / speaker to amplify their voice but not using any mixing / synthesizing etc. I'm probably miles out with this so happy to be corrected :smiley:

 

 

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Considering there are only a handful of users in the UK, and it's still a new technology for astronomy here, there's actually a lot of night vision information and reports on SGL. This is pioneering stuff - obviously expensive - though only comparable with - for example - an 80mm Lunt solar scope pricewise. It doesn't threaten other astronomy in any way, though it offers transformational views for people like me who live under severe light pollution, and don't have regular access to dark skies or large telescopes. Also potential for outreach, to reconnect people with the night sky. Hopefully we can continue making NV less confusing in the future.

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Particularly Gavin's posts from end of 2017 on (which were the reason I got into night vision), then Alan's posts from spring/summer 2018 helped demystify NV greatly.

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Just now, John said:

My (very basic) understanding of Night Vision is that it amplifies the light coming into the optics and displays that amplified image in the eyepiece but performs no other enhancement / manipulation / processing of the image. Rather like a singer using a microphone / amplifier / speaker to amplify their voice but not using any mixing / synthesizing etc. I'm probably miles out with this so happy to be corrected :smiley:

 

NV uses a photocathode to convert photons to electrons (which can then be multiplied) - a photomultiplier then increases the number of electrons (representing the original photons). All this hits a phosphor screen, which is technology similar to watching an old fashioned television.

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16 minutes ago, John said:

I think it would be helpful (and forgive me if this is available already and I've missed it) to have a clear and concise definition of what NV actually is (and isnt) when related to visual observing.

I have to confess to getting a little confused between NV, EAA and VA :icon_scratch:

My (very basic) understanding of Night Vision is that it amplifies the light coming into the optics and displays that amplified image in the eyepiece but performs no other enhancement / manipulation / processing of the image. Rather like a singer using a microphone / amplifier / speaker to amplify their voice but not using any mixing / synthesizing etc. I'm probably miles out with this so happy to be corrected :smiley:

Your definition of NV is consistent with my understanding of it, certainly.

Historically I believe people have tended to use VA to mean situations where all the processing (which may include stacking and other image manipulation) happens on the camera and the image is presented over a video output suitable for direct connection to a display with no computer involved.

Some people seem to use the term EAA as meaning something similar VA, but when the processing happens on a computer using a stream of raw images from a camera.  Others appear to use it to cover anything that uses a camera to create an image intended for immediate viewing.

Personally I'd class NV, VA and "computer-based processing" all as EAA because electronics are involved between the photons arriving from the sky and the viewer.  I struggle to convince myself that there's a need to distinguish VA from when the processing happens on a computer because I don't see a qualitative difference between the processes that are taking place -- that they're done in software on a computer or in hardware or firmware on the camera isn't a significant change to my way of thinking.  Perhaps in the past VA was easier if you wanted a display for outreach, but with PCs that are now physically small enough to go on the mount I think the gap between the two is becoming increasingly small.

NV perhaps bridges the gap between VA and visual in that it's much more like being at the eyepiece with all the immediacy that brings, but still looking at an enhanced image on a screen (albeit a small, personal one).  For the moment at least though, I think it probably has more in common with visual than with VA or any other computer-based system where there can be a lot more processing going on.

That's my opinion, anyhow :D

James

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I don't have a strong preference for where NV should be put although keeping it mainstream I probably  slightly prefer.

But whatever the case I hope NVers keep posting their exploits. The NV posts I read are on the one hand kind of unreal and hard to relate to, but on the other hand are very interesting and bring a new dimension.

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I think NV is EAA in all regards it's powered visual observation therefor it is as far from unassisted astronomy as any other none direct observation where the photons viewed are not the ones that traveled here so this is still the difference of viewing the actual object verses digital or amplified recreation. 

So that being said I would think if the usage of such a device begins to generate a lot of reports as it's popularity increases then at that point a special thread may be appropriate but at least in my opinion here on SGL we are not quite there yet, the combined thread does help spread awareness of NV though which is a good thing as it is indeed like EAA in that its a great tool for overcoming light pollution and for emptying ones pocketbook in the proccess ?

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12 hours ago, John said:

 

I've seen forums that employ too many specialist "silos" become barren and uninteresting places in the past so I'd prefer not to risk that with SGL.

 

 

 

This is very well said and I have observed this also.

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Like 3D printing in the DIY forum, there’s lots of posts as people explore what it’s capable of.
Modern NV is virtually indistinguishable from regular observing, minus and star colours.
There are many different tools with different trade offs, NV is just another to add to the mix. I’ve watched the video crowd largely replaced by the rapid CCD stacking team with NV sprinkled in. Sure NV is EEA, but unlike the others is not teathered to a tracking mount and provides instant real-time results. There are precious few amateur astronomers out here, let’s all play nice together. I enjoy reading observing posts through whatever kit people have.

Peter

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As the topic starter reading through and conversing, I would like to convey a short summary

I do agree with Neil that equipment regarding electronic assisted observing or NV could benefit from occupying its own space. Readers will glean much from other strands of observers sections towards users experience with NV and would be able to reference learning and understanding concerning the equipment in a separate section. Particular aspects could be pinned such as costing equipment, a member who develops a desire for the NV approach and who is affluent enough might then pursue with conviction obtaining this equipment.

I understand that NV is considered by some as a measure to enjoy deep sky observing from highly light polluted areas. Based wholly upon an observers perspective, I do hesitate a little. The preservation for dark skies is as every forum member will be aware a critical issue, light pollution creating many detrimental consequences. Participation in forums such as Astronomy, Ecology, Entomology (study of insects) etc confront us more upon this awareness, in some ways becoming projected onto the front line. At least that's how I had felt and feel exposed to the severe impact of LP, from taking up amateur astronomy. Perhaps if NV was used too widely such as a resource for outreach in light polluted cities, it might imply to the public, that light pollution is a bit more accepting, the wrong message.  

It would be good to gain feedback when the moderators have met to learn of their decisions. It is quite probable that a majority on the mod team would welcome electronic assisted equipment, if their own background is established through technology such as imaging. 

Reading a current thread concerning reflection nebulae, an aspect referred to in my introduction, it is good to note that this is addressed and I feel quite importantly, that there is interaction among the minority of users, so that there are different perspectives and viewpoints. This underpins many observers reports and discussions, which enable us to build a clear picture and comprehensive understanding from various contributions for a particular observational endeavour.  

Finally not having and probably never gaining use of this equipment, I still cannot grasp how the principle for dark adaptation and averted vision effectively is a technique that can be employed looking through an illuminated screen. Perhaps a compromised function is though possible.   

 

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1 hour ago, scarp15 said:

 

I understand that NV is considered by some as a measure to enjoy deep sky observing from highly light polluted areas. Based wholly upon an observers perspective, I do hesitate a little. The preservation for dark skies is as every forum member will be aware a critical issue, light pollution creating many detrimental consequences. Participation in forums such as Astronomy, Ecology, Entomology (study of insects) etc confront us more upon this awareness, in some ways becoming projected onto the front line. At least that's how I had felt and feel exposed to the severe impact of LP, from taking up amateur astronomy. Perhaps if NV was used too widely such as a resource for outreach in light polluted cities, it might imply to the public, that light pollution is a bit more accepting, the wrong message.  

Iain, I am as keen as anyone to address the increasing plight of light pollution. I love using night vision from dark sites - it’s such an improvement than using it from LP sites like my back garden. 

But I don’t think it would be appropriate to restrict its usage. Use of night vision at eg outreach events, would if anything, inspire more people to campaign for dark skies as it would show them some of what they are missing. And from a personal perspective I get a lot of enjoyment from night vision astronomy (it has transformed my enjoyment of astronomy when I’m not able travel or just want a quick 10 mins scan of the night skies before I go to bed) and I’d like more people to experience the thrill of seeing amazing night skies...

Edited by GavStar
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