Electronically Assisted Astronomy

At Austin Under the Stars after watching Mercury and Venus set, Saturn showed strikingly saturated colors. I was hopeful that we would have a good sky. There was enough moisture in the air that sky glow seriously hampered DSO viewing. After giving up in frustration with an old Polaris mount, I noticed one area that was a big draw that I didn't recognize. I was excited to see that it was Peter Wang, with a couple of fast reflectors and electronically assisted eyepieces. Here is a view of the crescent nebula.

Wow! I'd discounted these analog cameras in the past because of the monochrome view, background noise and expecting digital alternatives that will provide lower noise images. These analog devices are small eyepiece cameras with an image intensifier that display on a small screen. Peter uses these with a telescope eyepiece in an afocal configuration. The viewer looks into the intensified screen, just as they would an eyepiece.

They dynamics of the sparkling noise are easy to filter out in the live view. I was blown away by the views possible under a blah urban sky with only bright stars visible. The dark mode on the iPhone 11 turns out to be a great match for capturing eyepiece views from this camera. Here are a couple more:

Even more impressive was the view without the telescope. Just panning the EAA camera around the sky, lots of stars an large nebula were easily visible! Here's Peter with a starry background.

Here is a plain iPhone snap showing how bright the sky was:

These cameras are not inexpensive, but deliver impressive results! Find out more at Peter's guide to Night Vision Astronomy. The cool kids hang out at Cloudy Nights EAA Observation and Equipment forum.

Content created: 2019-10-27

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