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Outreach report "Oh my god"


vineyard
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Hello,

Just a quick report on what could be described as a brief outreach session.  It was a clear night & I was visiting family for an extended gathering.  So I took along the PVS14 & a 642nm filter.  Got folks to look at the sky w their eyes, & then put the PVS14 to their eyes.

Without fail, every single person was just blown away by what they saw (the title is a quote).  They could not believe their eyes, nor the number of stars.  This included rugby-playing engineers (ie, not your normal gushy sorts) as well as people who had seen my various other kit & said "this is the best thing you've got". Etc etc.

You often see NV dismissed as cheating (or s/thing akin to that).  S/times those are ofc tongue-in-cheek remarks & as banter it's all good.  But if there are purists who really believe that, I hope they are consistent and never use an Oiii filter to see the veil (cheating!), or use an etalon to look at the sun in Ha (cheating!!), or use aspirin (cheating - only crushed willow twig infusion allowed!!!). 😂

Is NV the only way to go?  Ofc not - other approaches have different pleasures.  But does it have serious merits compared to a lot of other approaches?  Absolutely.

Hopefully over time more folks will have a chance to experience it (until then it must stay occult, & only those w the right secret handshakes can be allowed to be shown it).

Cheers,

Vin

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Fun isn’t it! I’ve had the same reaction from many people. It’s also a great way of getting children to look up and appreciate the night sky. With Ha filters can also see that whole sections of  sky are shaded by vast clouds of nebulae.

Low power viewing is so enjoyable - my Epsilon with TV plossl 67mm gives a magnification of a little over 6x…. less than the pocket binoculars I use to check out the sky beforehand!!

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It’s funny, I had a chat on messenger last night with @GavStar about the fact that I said that I’ve never seen the Horsehead nebula in a recent post.

Of course I HAVE seen the Horsehead a few times through Gavin’s NV gear and it is amazing to see. I guess though that there is a ‘rite of passage’ which is about having the right kit, location, conditions and skill to see these targets visually because it is tough even with an Hb filter. With NV it is just ‘there’, so I did also say to Gavin that NV was cheating 🤣🤣, but despite this being a dagger to his NV heart I hope we are still friends 😆😉🤣.

Don’t get me wrong, I think NV is a great addition to the armoury for observers, particularly under light polluted skies and if it were cheaper and accessible for all then I would have no hesitation in recommending it.

My ‘issue’ with it is that if you show a beginner the skies through NV, then it could quite literally spoil the hobby for them as anything else will likely be a let down in their own observing with their own kit, and I think that is something to be considered carefully. I would class myself as a purist I guess though and enjoy the challenge of seeing these faint fuzzies visually and I value the gaining and teaching of observing skills to help see these difficult objects.

Now, I didn’t come here to put a dampener on your post, so just to say I’m really glad you are enjoying your NV gear and that it had such an impact on your family and friends, it must have be really good to show them something genuinely amazing! It remains the only way I’ve seen a number of classic objects so there is definitely a big plus to it as a technology and I’ve enjoyed using it when I have had the chance. If only it were cheaper!

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Isn’t this one just about levels of technology?
 
You could argue that anything beyond the naked Mk1 eyeball is “cheating”, even correcting spectacles is a technological advancement although a rather old one.

And who is to say you have to stick to your own local patch of sky? Is flying out to Atacama “cheating”, I don’t think so.

Maybe what causes the debate is optical telescopes have been around a long time and until relatively recently, to view in real time, that was all we had. Not any more, I would have an NV eyepiece in an instant if visual was my main interest, to me it’s just another tool in the box.

However, they will have to get a lot cheaper for me to get one, I’m already deep into the money pit called imaging.😉

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

It’s funny, I had a chat on messenger last night with @GavStar about the fact that I said that I’ve never seen the Horsehead nebula in a recent post.

Of course I HAVE seen the Horsehead a few times through Gavin’s NV gear and it is amazing to see. I guess though that there is a ‘rite of passage’ which is about having the right kit, location, conditions and skill to see these targets visually because it is tough even with an Hb filter. With NV it is just ‘there’, so I did also say to Gavin that NV was cheating 🤣🤣, but despite this being a dagger to his NV heart I hope we are still friends 😆😉🤣.

 

Nope you’re off the Christmas card list now @Stu 🤣🤣

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7 hours ago, vineyard said:

You often see NV dismissed as cheating

Its not cheating, its just another way to observe IMHO. These devices allow things to be seen in LP skies that would otherwise be invisible and from dark skies would offer super views.

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Maybe night vision observing ought to be reviewed again by the mod team.

Assigned into observers section under its own separate heading 'Night Vision Observers Report ', yet perhaps retain the other discussion elements, for now, as they presently are, that is within this section (so as not to crowd out observers sections too much). It will thus gain much more attention, yet with a clarity of format. The original issue, from certain posts has long since moved on.

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Sounds like everyone had a great time, NV seems to be a great outreach tool. 
 

I would definitely have NV if I could afford it. I’d then have all bases covered - my EAA setup would cover galaxies large and small, NV would cover the plethora of emission nebulae (and more besides I imagine) and un-assisted scope would cover doubles, clusters and solar system. 👍
 

Or I could just buy a 16” dob if I had the room. 😆

Edited by RobertI
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Is it possible to agree with everyone on an NV-related thread?  It seems so!  (Well except for Gav's Christmas card list...).  Maybe the topic doesn't need to be schismatic after all :)

Speaking purely as someone who's stumbled across NV while re-entering astronomy after decades away - and is constantly amazed by the advancements since then - I see NV precisely as described above.  A technological advance that gives us another way to observe.  Its not better, it's different - legitimate & complementary.

I agree that price is a big factor.  Currently.  But I'm a big fan of ingenuity & that darned entrepreneurial spirit.  The more that folks see there is unsatisfied demand for this, the more that some innovator out there will figure out a way of doing it cheaper (like David Lunt & solar!).  I'm sure there are folks tinkering on home-brew approaches.  And technology is moving apace so its only a matter of time before things get cheaper and/or ppl figure out new ways of image intensification.

I have no idea when it was written (or who the writer is), but I found this a v interesting article not just for the principles behind NV & the generational history, but also for the mention at the end of some of the new applications of image intensification in non-military uses like healthcare.  I reckon it will be just like CMOS chips (not originally invented for astro-cameras right?).  Here's hoping 🤞🏾!

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9 hours ago, Stu said:

 

Don’t get me wrong, I think NV is a great addition to the armoury for observers, particularly under light polluted skies and if it were cheaper and accessible for all then I would have no hesitation in recommending it.

My ‘issue’ with it is that if you show a beginner the skies through NV, then it could quite literally spoil the hobby for them as anything else will likely be a let down in their own observing with their own kit, and I think that is something to be considered carefully. I would class myself as a purist I guess though and enjoy the challenge of seeing these faint fuzzies visually and I value the gaining and teaching of observing skills to help see these difficult objects.

 

Possibly Stu. A couple of nights ago I was out looking at various nebulae with my 120mm frac and night vision. When I finished I saw the Pleiades and Hyades had just crept over the top of the adjoining houses (for the first time this year), so I swapped the NV monocular for a more traditional eyepiece, and spent the next 30 minutes completely absorbed with the views. Although you can see many more stars with night vision, there’s simply no contest on prominent open clusters, even from London - give me a ‘normal’ set up every time. Night vision doesn’t do planets, the Moon (obv), reflection nebulae, double stars, high magnifications, and many planetaries are better without NV too.
I see night vision as a tool to transform views of particular objects, but there’s vastly more to see with a standard scope. If a beginner sampled NV first and then found views underwhelming with a conventional set up, then it’s probably not the right hobby for them anyway. 

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17 hours ago, scarp15 said:

Assigned into observers section under its own separate heading 'Night Vision Observers Report ',

This is a good idea, NV is buried where it is at the moment. 
I agree NV is not cheap, but they again neither are some 20” dobs or EP collections.

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Sorry to jump in here. Reading the article that @vineyardlinked to. So NV is a non-digital enhancement, say compared to EEVA which is a digitally-based fast-stacking system?

There's no fiddling with curves, settings, personal interpretation of how best to display data, as with imaging?

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If the equipment to do this was simpler and more widely available I think a lot more of us would be on board. If that were the case the astro dealers would also stock what's needed too.

Given a choice between a new Asiair and a electronic eyepiece that did NV I'd choose the latter.

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2 hours ago, Pixies said:

Sorry to jump in here. Reading the article that @vineyardlinked to. So NV is a non-digital enhancement, say compared to EEVA which is a digitally-based fast-stacking system?

There's no fiddling with curves, settings, personal interpretation of how best to display data, as with imaging?

 

It’s military analogue image enhancing equipment. The kit is easily available - there’s now a dedicated astronomy NV retailer in France, and Astrograph in the U.K., unlike a few years ago when we had to buy from military suppliers. There are lots of threads on SGL explaining the technology and availability. Also look out for Gavstar’s images taken with a phone camera to see what this technology can reveal. For people like me who live in a light polluted city, and don’t have the option of huge aperture scopes, night vision is a revelation. Under dark skies it’s even better - revealing obscure nebulae inaccessible to even the largest amateur equipment. There are cheaper tubes available too, though it’s still going to cost £3-4,000 for a good system. Lot of money, but many people spend more than that on a telescope, and NV is a game changer in this increasingly light polluted world.

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On 06/11/2021 at 13:50, Highburymark said:

Astrograph

Actually they no longer sell NV equipment, OVNI only sells direct. However you main point of availability is correct. The only difficulty is sourcing a good tube, which OVNI has the contracts to cherry pick the good ones.  

The other item is that NV likes fast scopes, i.e. for refractors < F6 and reflectors around F4 to get the most out of them. If you have lots of imaging scopes you are well on the way.

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3 hours ago, Deadlake said:

Actually they no longer sell NV equipment, OVNI only sells direct. However you main point of availability is correct. The only difficulty is sourcing a good tube, which OVNI has the contracts to cherry pick the good ones.  

The other item is that NV likes fast scopes, i.e. for refractors < F6 and reflectors around F4 to get the most out of them. If you have lots of imaging scopes you are well on the way.

Didn’t realise Astrograph had stopped selling NV. So no UK retailers?
Must say, when I was buying I researched the market in Europe and got an excellent tube with great service from Nighttec in Germany. This was for a PVS-14 with Photonis 4G tube, before OVNI - no history of selling to astronomers - but I spoke to them about what I wanted and they came back with a choice of options. Kept me fully informed throughout.

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1 hour ago, Highburymark said:

Didn’t realise Astrograph had stopped selling NV. So no UK retailers?
Must say, when I was buying I researched the market in Europe and got an excellent tube with great service from Nighttec in Germany. This was for a PVS-14 with Photonis 4G tube, before OVNI - no history of selling to astronomers - but I spoke to them about what I wanted and they came back with a choice of options. Kept me fully informed throughout.

Agreed Mark. Most European sellers of nv equipment are happy to provide options that meet the requirements of astronomers.

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I’ve wondered how to get more members of the public in cities to realise what they’ve lost using NV as it’s more than most clubs can afford.
I am sure there were responses to at weren’t printable, a sky full of stars from suburbia does make it obvious what we have lost and could get back if we wanted.

“simpler”?  You press a button and the image appears, if you are lucky you have a gain knob to fiddle with. Some people complain about all the ways to connect to scopes and lenses…. But a little Googling and asking and that gets sorted… people are getting great results with a wide range of different stuff.

Peter

 

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On 06/11/2021 at 00:52, Highburymark said:

Possibly Stu. A couple of nights ago I was out looking at various nebulae with my 120mm frac and night vision. When I finished I saw the Pleiades and Hyades had just crept over the top of the adjoining houses (for the first time this year), so I swapped the NV monocular for a more traditional eyepiece, and spent the next 30 minutes completely absorbed with the views. Although you can see many more stars with night vision, there’s simply no contest on prominent open clusters, even from London - give me a ‘normal’ set up every time. Night vision doesn’t do planets, the Moon (obv), reflection nebulae, double stars, high magnifications, and many planetaries are better without NV too.
I see night vision as a tool to transform views of particular objects, but there’s vastly more to see with a standard scope. If a beginner sampled NV first and then found views underwhelming with a conventional set up, then it’s probably not the right hobby for them anyway. 

An experienced nv user posted the following comment on CN recently…

Acting solely as a facilitator, offering up memories to last a life time, is incredibly rewarding in and of itself. 

 

The most impactful encounters, have all been with those who will likely never have the inclination to buy an NVD nor a telescope. 

 

The least impactful and joyless encounters, have been within the astronomy community itself, particularly with the "experienced " amateur.  

 

Rough heathen outreach is rewarding, doing it to convert, not so much.  

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Night vision does sound amazing. When I see the anti NV sentiments, it makes me think of the old goto debates... goto was cheating etc etc. Maybe all new technologies face similar resistance.

My only objection to NV is the cost. Show me a good NV setup costing a couple of hundred euros and you can count me in 😀

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44 minutes ago, GavStar said:

An experienced nv user posted the following comment on CN recently…

Acting solely as a facilitator, offering up memories to last a life time, is incredibly rewarding in and of itself. 

 

The most impactful encounters, have all been with those who will likely never have the inclination to buy an NVD nor a telescope. 

 

The least impactful and joyless encounters, have been within the astronomy community itself, particularly with the "experienced " amateur.  

 

Rough heathen outreach is rewarding, doing it to convert, not so much.  

I think that’s about right Gavin.

I think it’s fantastic if you have bought NV gear and have regular access to it. If not then as I said, it can mean that a beginner, or even an experienced observer sees all kinds of wonders, then is disappointed by the views possible with standard kit. I get that it’s not a panacea and there are other aspects which remain better with glass, but many objects do look much better with NV, even globs etc.

For outreach and showing the uninitiated and those who are unlikely to buy a scope, it’s amazing.

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4 minutes ago, Ags said:

Night vision does sound amazing. When I see the anti NV sentiments, it makes me think of the old goto debates... goto was cheating etc etc. Maybe all new technologies face similar resistance.

My only objection to NV is the cost. Show me a good NV setup costing a couple of hundred euros and you can count me in 😀

Please don’t think I have any anti NV sentiment, I don’t! I just feel it should be used carefully as an introduction for beginners, that’s my main point.

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I see your point. But unrealistic expectations have been set since forever. Hubble is the worst offender, and the packaging on any "beginner" telescope. I think amateurs doing any outreach with whatever equipment typically take care to explain what they are showing, at least if the group is a manageable size.

But I've been at outreach events where the public just queued up for a quick look at Saturn, very little chance for interaction. Maybe those people went away from my telescope thinking the sky is full of planets permanently at opposition?

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I would love to try NV but its well outside my budget. Is it likely to get significantly cheaper in the next few years?

I guess I'm asking if there is something inherent in the design of NV tubes that means they will remain  expensive , or is it that they are currently only manufactured by defence  contractors who are used to charging their taxpayers £/$/€400 for a screwdriver?

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16 minutes ago, lenscap said:

I would love to try NV but its well outside my budget. Is it likely to get significantly cheaper in the next few years?

I guess I'm asking if there is something inherent in the design of NV tubes that means they will remain  expensive , or is it that they are currently only manufactured by defence  contractors who are used to charging their taxpayers £/$/€400 for a screwdriver?

I suspect they are a bit like etalons for solar scopes; difficult to produce with a low yield from production and low volumes, leading to high pricing. Yes, being largely military supply will also increase costs. I would love them to be cheaper but I don’t expect that to be the case anytime soon.

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