Night vision astronomy using image intensifier

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Night vision astronomy using image intensifier

Postby steve-fung » Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:49 am

I was reading on CN and saw a new article on Night Vision Astronomy (http://www.cloudynights.com/page/articles/cat/articles/night-vision-astronomy-2015-three-perspectives-r3028), which is basically using an image intensifier to enhance visual observing, either at 1x or through a telescope. Anyone here with experience? Would you recommend using it for hunting DSOs in light polluted environment, or are we just amplifying background noise? I read that 1x views are breathtaking with H-alpha filter.

Here are some of my online search results:
Micro Night Vision Monocular (http://nvdepot.com/products/night-vision/micro-night-vision-monocular/)
PSV-7 Night Vision Goggles (http://nait.com/products-night-vision/night-vision-goggles/night-vision-goggles/)
Night Vision Astronomy BIPH (http://www.nightvisionastronomy.com/)
Collins I3 Eyepiece (http://www.ceoptics.com/ccd/i3.html) - No longer available?

Here's a cool YouTube video coupling a camera to the Micro Night Vision Monocular:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANSbR76uSQI
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Re: Night vision astronomy using image intensifier

Postby edward-fraini » Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:46 pm

There are a couple of folks in HAS who have this technology. Both use them on big DOB's. Might catch Walt Coony (not sure of the last name spelling) at the Columbus site sometime and arrange to try it out. Also Larry Mitchel has one. I looked though it on his 36 inch DOB at the Ring, M57, and I was blown away. You could see the central star! Walked away saying I gotta have one of those. It was an amazing view but not sure it was worth the kind of money it costs, which deterred me. Can't tell you much technically but under a dark sky it gave pretty fantastic views. I have heard others say that on brighter targets like a big globular it was not so impressive.

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Re: Night vision astronomy using image intensifier

Postby steve-fung » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:41 am

Several folks on Netslyder had mentioned they have or have used the Collins I3, but it was our Richard Nugent who first showed me the piece early last year when we were talking about electronics in astronomy. (BTW, this is similar to the technology we use in radiology for fluoroscopy procedures, which use a scintillator to convert x-rays to lower energy photons that are then amplified using an image intensifier and detected with CCD detector.) Too bad it was during the day, so I did not have a chance to look through the I3 at night.

Initially, I did not feel I had much need for the I3 because I would be just amplifying background noise observing from my light-polluted backyard (Bortle 8-9, white). Then, I read from CN that coupling a long-pass red or narrow-band H-alpha filter really cuts through light pollution, and views are like long exposure photography except that it's realtime "visual" astronomy. This got me excited, so I looked up Collins Electro Optics website, which still has order info and pricing (looking at $3K for the I3, visual and C-mount adapters extra), but I get no response when I tried to contact the company.

Instead, I think I'm leaning towards the NVD Micro, which can be coupled to a telescope using a T-to-C-mount adapter, H-alpha filter, etc (http://www.cloudynights.com/topic/504444-adapting-the-nvd-micro-to-telescope-use/). Such a setup would cost around $2-4K, which is not cheap. Still, I have a very itchy trigger finger buying into this, but I'm afraid this will be another slippery slope purchasing more expensive equipment.

It would be nice if someone with an I3 or other image intensified system can confirm if the Milky Way, nebulae, globular clusters, and galaxies are observable in a light-polluted environment (Bortle 7-9, red-white) with the system coupled to a long-pass red or H-alpha filter attached to a fast wide-field camera lens (50 mm f/2.8 or less) or a small scope (<8 inch), which is how I plan to use this system, or am I just dreaming?
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