Visual observing can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of astronomy. The Moon is often the first object an amatuer astronomer will see up close and everybody remembers the first time they see Saturn. These objects are bright and can be seen in all their glory from almost any location. The night sky has many incredible sights but the majority of these need a very dark sky as a minimum and normally they can only be imaged if one is to see them properly.
Now, thanks to advances in technology, these objects can now be seen with the naked eye and better still, from almost any location. Enter the world of night vision!
Originally developed for the military, image intensifyers have gradually developed to become more and more sensitive. In addition to the traditional green view (due to the use of green phosphor), that typifies our classic experience of night vision devices, there is now white phosphor technology which results in a more traditional, black and white, monochome view.
Additionally, image intensifier technology is now at 'generation 3' (GEN 3) levels leading to exceptional enhancement of ultra low light situations. Initially all GEN 3 image intensifier tubes were solely produced in the USA. Such is the performance of GEN3 equipment that the US categorise its use and shipping within ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations). Under this it is actually illegal for a non US citizen to even look through such a device!
GEN 3 quality level tubes have now been developed by European manufacturers. It is arguable the performance is even better than their US counterparts. Fortunately for us, there are not the same draconian regulations concerning the sale of such tubes so we are able to bring the benefits to the world of astronomy.
Astrograph is pleased to announce we are the UK's exclusive partner for OVNI Night Vision equipment that is produced in France. OVNI Night Vision equipment is designed specifically with Astronomy in mind. All OVNI products have adjustable gain (so you can select the appropriate intensification, are autogated (to prevent accidental damage to the tube by exposure to bright lights) and can be used in prime focus configuration (like an normal eyepiece) and also afocal (connecting them to an existing eyepiece).
OVNI Night Vision equipment also uses tubes that are hand selected for astronomy applications. Each tube is subject to testing and are thinfilm types. This produces a sharper image and also maximises the tubes lifespan.
All the monochrome images shown within the Night Vision section are actual images taken through an eyepiece. These give you a realistic view of what you will actually be able to observe. In many cases the images were used in combination with a filter such as a light pollution or an H-Alpha filter. As you can see, the leap in performance is quite staggering. Increasing telescope size on its own would not bring about the same increase in object enhancement but needless to say combining a larger telescope with Night Vision enhancement will yield even more gains!