What can you see with a cheap telescope?

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falkor

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If I was to purchase one of these things, how well would I be able to see the stars, planets and galaxies compared to what I can already see with the naked eye? What else can you see with a cheap telescope? Please can you post links to some sample photos. What can the hubble telescope see that no household telescope can see?
 
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adrenalynn

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Define "cheap" for us, please?<br /><br />If you're thinking of a Toys'R'Us telescope - skip it. Put the money into a pair of binoculars.<br /><br />A real telescope is measured in its ability to gather light and focus it to your eye (or camera).<br /><br />If you see any telescope advertised by its maginifaction "400 power!!!" - walk away.<br /><br />I would hazard a guess that something in the neighborhood of $200 is about the cheapest scope I'd be looking at (in the US). If that's not in the budget - go for the binoculars.<br /><br />As far as what you can see - that's going to depend upon how much "light pollution" you have. Are you in a dark sky area? Suburbs? Urban/City environment?<br /><br />With binoculars and at least a suburban sky, you should expect decent views of the "M Objects" - the deep sky things like clusters and galaxies and some nebula.<br /><br />I'm not home right now, but I have a large stable of various sizes and types of telescopes, and astrophotos made from all of them.<br /><br />What can the hubble see? A *lot*. Sometimes it will make many many passes just to collect a few *photons*. It can see in Infrared, XRay, etc. It has highly sensitive cameras that can stay open for insane lengths of time. It has no atmosphere mucking about with the light. It doesn't have to worry about clouds and dust and atmospheric turbulance. It doesn't have to worry about the city lights glowing in the distance. The stuff you see from the hubble is also hugely image processed by professionals who do nothing but. So just dismiss the Hubble from any consideration. It's not even in the same zip code.<br /><br />That said, an amazingly rewarding life-long hobby can be started with a $200 telescope... My first telescope was lovingly built by hand from scratch for less than $50 (that's 1970's dollars, though. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> ) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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billslugg

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Back in about 1988 or 89 I had a department store 4.5" Newtonian that I about wore out. Eventually lost it in a garage fire. Anyway I saw an occultation of a 8th or 9th magnitude star SAOsomething by Saturn's rings. I timed maybe 20 or 30 appearances and disappearances as it went behind the ring system. It was probably the coolest thing I have seen through a telescope. From '65 until '93 I had a 2.5" Swift refractor. I could not tell you how many hundreds of hours I spent looking at the sun through that thing with nothing more than an EYEPIECE FILTER!! <br />Both scopes went to scope heaven in '93. Since then I have had a set of Meade 20x80's and then a set of Celestron 20x80's and a set of Thousand Oaks solar screens. It is all I need. Except maybe a 6" Dob - no make that an 8 - wait no a 10 - no no I want... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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I'd certainly rather the XT6, but the Starblast is a lot of scope for the money. I looked at Orion's inexpensive scopes when I needed to gift a few. The 6" Dob one out, but the Starblast definitely had bang-for-the-buck factor. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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Falkor:<br />If I was to purchase one of these things, how well would I be able to see the stars, planets and galaxies compared to what I can already see with the naked eye?<br /><br />Me:<br />Depending on how cheap, you can see planets like Uranus and Neptune with a cheap scope. You can see galaxies as smudges basically.<br /><br />Falkor:<br />What can the hubble telescope see that no household telescope can see?<br /><br />Me:<br />Quasars for one thing. extremely faint and distant galaxies. Pluto and Charon as distinctly separate objects (Even the best ground based giants see the two appearing as merged objects). With a cheap scope, you can see a galaxy as a smudge...with Hubble, you can see a portion of a galaxy and even see individual point light sources which are collections of relatively close together stars or even individual stars.<br /><br />Cheap scope...Uranus as a faint dot.<br /><br />Hubble...Uranus almost in as great a detail as Voyager II saw it on its flyby.<br /><br />The list goes on.<br /><br />I once saw an add that said it all:<br /><br />A picture of Hubble and a picture of a relatively expensive Meade IIRC telescope with the caption..."If you have this (Hubble), you dont need this (The Meade). <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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vandivx

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I think from the post that by cheap he doesn't mean cheap in absolute terms but rather cheap in the sense of what one can see through amateur telescope (typically in the range of several thousands or a maximum of several tens of thousands and portable or semiportable as opposed to little observatory costing close to hundred thousand or more) vs what Hubble sees<br /><br />looking at Hubble photos can't beat first hand view direct at live thing out there even if what one can see can't compare to Hubble in every other way, they are both about different thing really<br /><br />I am still to get my first scope and I might get this little fun starblast to start me off, thx for the link, I am worried that those more serious scopes (like 8" dobsonian) would wind up not being used much after a while in my case as I am after just a casual look, sort of to confirm that what I knew for decades from being around physics and astronomy in theoretical way that it 'really' exists out there <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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I have to disagree, I think he really meant "cheap" like a department store crap refractor.<br /><br />This are badbadbadbadbadbadbadbad.<br /><br />You really need to spend a few hundred to get a decent pice of machinery.<br /><br />Those $200, 400X scopes have done more to turn off people to astronomy.<br /><br />For a few hundred, you can get a decent relctor in the 4 inch range, which is as low as I'd go.<br /><br />For $500, you can move up to the 6" Dob class, which is even better.<br /><br />But if you are only going to spend $200, by a good set of binoculars, it will be far more useful. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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3488

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Hi MeteorWayne,<br /><br />In reply to: <font color="yellow">I have to disagree, I think he really meant "cheap" like a department store crap refractor.</font><br /><br />You mean that I could not buy a cheap crappo scope & use it to monitor the eruptions on Io, <br />watch the MERs drive on Mars, or observe the hot Jupiter orbit 51 Pegasi?? <br />Most disappointed. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />In all seriousness good binoculars are better than a cheap telescope from a catalogue <br />or department store. <br /><br />Andrew Brown. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080">"I suddenly noticed an anomaly to the left of Io, just off the rim of that world. It was extremely large with respect to the overall size of Io and crescent shaped. It seemed unbelievable that something that big had not been visible before".</font> <em><strong><font color="#000000">Linda Morabito </font></strong><font color="#800000">on discovering that the Jupiter moon Io was volcanically active. Friday 9th March 1979.</font></em></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://www.launchphotography.com/</font><br /><br /><font size="1" color="#000080">http://anthmartian.googlepages.com/thisislandearth</font></p><p><font size="1" color="#000080">http://web.me.com/meridianijournal</font></p> </div>
 
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PistolPete

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I'd have to ever so slightly disagree with you with the $200 lower limit. I bought an early model Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ Reflector several years ago for just over $100 on sale and it has soldiered on fairly well. One thing I like about Orion products is that they are very upgradeable. If you are on an extreme budget like me, then you can buy a fairly inexpensive telescope and upgrade it over time as your curiosity and experience grows.<br /><br />My original SpaceProbe had a crappy wooden tripod which I replaced with an aluminum one (the current model has an aluminum tripod standard), one 25mm eyepiece (the current model has a 25mm and 10mm eyepiece), and a cheap ripoff of Starry Night (the current model has Starry Night bundled with it).<br /><br />I've since bought more eyepieces and installed electronic drive motors which has made all the difference in the world. Right now it works fine for Solar System objects and Messiers. Even before the upgrades I could make out the rings of Saturn and the cloud bands of Jupiter and even the Great Red Spot. Currently I'm thinking about getting a new tube, I'm just trying to decide which one I can squeeze into my budget.<br /><br />Ultimately you are right that a scope for a more serious amature will cost several hundred dollars, and in the end this is a more expensive way to go about it, but this way I ultimately get a scope that fits and expands with my skill level and how much I use it.<br /><br />Besides, I often have an 18" Shmidt-Cass at The Cline Observatory at my disposal, so why buy a $1,000 scope when I can access a scope that's worth more than my car! <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em>So, again we are defeated. This victory belongs to the farmers, not us.</em></p><p><strong>-Kambei Shimada from the movie Seven Samurai</strong></p> </div>
 
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PistolPete

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>You can see galaxies as smudges basically. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />The fist time I saw Andromeda through a telescope I was very, very disappointed. I had to strain to make it out, and this wasn't using my wimpy 3" reflector, this was using the 18" Schmidt-Cass that I mentioned in my last post. However, I'll admit that the Cline Observatory has a bit of a light pollution problem.<br /><br />I think the thing that further led to my disappointment was that though this was my first time seeing Andromeda through a telescope, this wasn't my first time <i>seeing</i> Andromeda. The first time I saw Andromeda was through my Night Vision Goggles in Iraq. As everyone knows, blackouts are common in Baghdad, so light pollution often isn't a problem. Even without NVGs, the sky was amazing. At night the atmosphere was usually stable, so there wasn't much twinkling. Often there wasn't much happening at night, so the only thing I could do to keep myself occupied on patrol was stargaze with my NVGs. It was sort of surreal. There I was in the middle of a war zone with my head in the stars. You've heard of war correspondents and combat cameramen. Well, I guess you could say that I'm the first combat astronomer! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br />And let me tell you, if you think you're a hard core amateur astronomer now, get yourself a set of NVGs. It'll change your friggin' life. You see <i><b>everything</b></i>! Not only could I see Andromeda clearly, I could see it next the rest of the sky on a 1:1 scale. It's friggin' huge! It's apparent size is several times larger than the Orion Nebula which also appears quite large itself. And don't get me started on the Milky Way! NVGs are the ultimate in wide-field-of-view astronomy.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em>So, again we are defeated. This victory belongs to the farmers, not us.</em></p><p><strong>-Kambei Shimada from the movie Seven Samurai</strong></p> </div>
 
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vandivx

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"I have to disagree, I think he really meant "cheap" like a department store crap refractor."<br />---<br /><br />was just a shot from waist on thin possibility, I think you're right, the guy though seems not to know what he wants really, I think this thread will benefit other folks that read it more then him, don't like those pple who make short post on new thread saying so little that it is disrespectfull<br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

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Sure, I agree. If you can get a decent $200 scope on-sale for $100 - by all means, jump on it!<br /><br />I bought an 11" Celestron SC on ebay, listed as "not working, as-is" for $760. It was out of collimation. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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PistolPete

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I bought an 11" Celestron SC on ebay, listed as "not working, as-is" for $760. It was out of collimation. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Score! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em>So, again we are defeated. This victory belongs to the farmers, not us.</em></p><p><strong>-Kambei Shimada from the movie Seven Samurai</strong></p> </div>
 
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nimbus

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I'm very curious about this, what sort of NVGs would do the job? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Good points Pete.<br />Certainly replacing the Tripod was a great first step.<br /><br />Sure you can take some less expensive scopes and upgrade them.<br /><br />I doubt few people would be as into the upgrade process as you were, but if they are, that's a superb way to start on the low end and get the most out of the "glass".<br /><br /><br />I too have the "big scope next door" syndrome that limits my expansion above my 8" dob. I'm about a mile from the NJAA's Paul Robinson Observatory which houses a 26" German Equatorial Mount (Currently Newtonian, being converted to a Cassagrain)<br />That if built today would probably cost more than my house!!<br /><br />Wayne<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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PistolPete

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I was using 3rd generation AN/PVS-7Ds, which are standard issue in the US Army. Most of the civilian NVGs like the kind that Bushnell and others make for hunters use 1st generation technology. 3rd Gen scopes are about 300 to 500 times more powerful than 1st Gen devices. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to do any stargazing with a commercial NVG, so I can't compare, however one of my astronomy professors has used a commercial 1st Gen scope and he said that he could also make out large Messier objects such as the Orion nebulae and the Andromeda galaxy.<br /><br />I went on eBay to try to gauge some prices for military surplus AN/PVS-7Ds and found that the going price is some several thousand dollars!<img src="/images/icons/shocked.gif" /> The civilian 1st Gen scopes, on the other hand were on average a few hundred dollars a piece. That's a little bit closer to the budget of your average amateur astronomer. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em>So, again we are defeated. This victory belongs to the farmers, not us.</em></p><p><strong>-Kambei Shimada from the movie Seven Samurai</strong></p> </div>
 
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vandivx

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I am curius how NVGs operate, I thought NV generally like that which enables you to go around at night depends on illumination of the surrounding area objects by some rays outside visible light spectrum but how would that work when it comes to star gazing? I mean any illumination would be surely ineffective, I suppose NVGs function on some principle of filtration rather than illumination when looking at night sky? but perhaps they are not even powered or are they?<br /><br />I think army reqruiting tests should include querry whether the candidate has interest in astronomy and if so to have him disqualified for field work especially at night and most particularly when NVGs are to be worn LOL<br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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In general, NVG's are photon amplifiers.<br />They use various technologies to accomplish this.<br /><br />One incoming photon will cause a cascade of many photons at the eye.<br />Whereas a telescope collects many photons and concentrates them is a smaller area (your eye). So a scope is really a concentrator, while NVG's are amplifiers.<br /><br />Some use visible light photons, so multiply ambient illumination.<br /><br />There are others that respond to infrared, so that (for greater range/clarity) you can illuminate an area with "invisible" light and see more detail. Of course, infrared ones measure heat, so are especuially useful in finding bodies, engines, and objects with a different thermal response time than the surroundings.<br /><br />MW <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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vandivx

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I see, I was kinda dissapointed not long ago when I bought security camera with those leds in front that illuminate area up to some 100' distance, when I plugged it in at home I found to my dismay that while the light it illuminates with is invisible, the led diodes themselves glow very red and anybody entering the area is bound to notice the camera the first thing, wonder if NVGs give off also some glow when you use the invisible light illumination principle<br /><br />I think such security cameras should be sold with the illuminating source being separate from the camera so it could be placed in a bit less auspicious place, perhaps even make it light the area up in indirect reflected fashion in which case one wouldn't see the red glowing source<br /><br />maybe some security cameras come equipped with photon amplifying device in front of the lens?<br /><br />vanDivX <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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I have a pair of cheap security cameras in my daughter's bedrooms. Very useful for deciding whether that fuss heard over the monitor is worth responding to or not. <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> They use an IR LED to illuminate the area, and it is completely invisible. No red glow at all. I'd guess that the one you bought wasn't purely IR -- the red is not IR, after all.<br /><br />On the other hand, hubby tried to buy a much better camera on eBay for monitoring the house for security purposes, and was dismayed to learn that while it was a good camera, the LEDs were most certainly not the IR claimed in the ad. They were very bright white light. After further correspondence with the sellers, he worked out that, amazingly, they actually didn't understand what infrared light is. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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PistolPete

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Unfortunately, NVGs aren't as sensitive to IR as a FLIR is. NVGs detect near IR so they work off of reflected IR light as opposed to radiated IR light like a FLIR does. We usually used IR illuminators only in very dark places like the insides of buildings. Each pair of NVGs has a small IR LED for just such a case. Also, we had IR laser pointers for our rifles, it's impossible to look through the iron sights of a rifle with NVGs on.<br /><br />VanDivX, to answer some of your questions, 1st Gen NVGs do require either illumination from the Moon or an external IR light source to make out details <i>on the ground</i>, but the stars are still amplified regardless of Moonlight. In fact you can see more without the Moon because a photosensor on board detects the ambient light level and adjusts the sensitivity of the amplifier accordingly. Thus no Moon means brighter stars. 3rd Gen NVGs don't require the Moon to see at night but it certainly does help. With the Moon out it literally looks like daylight with shadows and everything. The only difference is that the sky is still black and you can still see most of the stars.<br /><br />Concerning your question about IR LEDs, no IR light source I've ever used, including LEDs, ever emits any visible light. So Calli is probably right and the camera manufacturer probably put some crappy knock off LEDs in the camera instead. The good news is that there are external real IR floodlights that you can buy. You might want to try Radio Shack or a better shot is probably looking for it on the Internet. Try eBay. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em>So, again we are defeated. This victory belongs to the farmers, not us.</em></p><p><strong>-Kambei Shimada from the movie Seven Samurai</strong></p> </div>
 
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vandivx

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to make sure I put accross what I meant, the camera doesn't illuminate room space but the diodes themselves on the camera glow reddish, so in a totally dark cellar you would be in total dark and couldn't make your way around but you would see the red spot about two inches diameter where the camera is (the lens is surrounded by maybe like 25 diodes I think), not sure if you could even read book if you put it close to leds, maybe a little but it gives of pretty well no visible light into the room <br /><br />perhaps your camera wasn't as powerfull in infrared lighting as the one I got, it is rated to illuminate up to 25 meters or 75 feet distance and that's quite some length I'd say<br /><br />actually here is the site, its the first camera on left IIC-TS288NH on that website http://www.ildvrusa.com/infraredcamera.htm<br /><br />in low light when the infrared kicks in you get black and white picture which is pretty good but it kinda fails as security camera if you don't want it to be noticed, I suppose companies buying it are not really trying to hide those cameras anyway, like in a bank or a shop or such places, if I put this camera outside on the private house in my smaller town it would get noticed first night and likely stolen before long, also you don't want the red glowing circle inside rooms in private house where you live, it is disturbing at night when you look its way, I got DVR card for 16 camera inputs and slowly I am buying cameras and deciding where to put them depending how they perform, its for the house where my mother lives alone most of the time, I put the computer into a floor space where it wouldn't be stolen unless there was very thorough search undertaken, problem with home security is when thieves take away the PC on which their breakin was recorded because then you'd have no evidence unless it was streamed to FTP site for example, I made sure the wiring can't be easily traced to <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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adrenalynn

Guest
Security camera LED's are Near-IR, not IR, regardless of the advertisement. I'm in the middle of supervising a 41 camera [near] IR install job about 700 mi from home as I write this... <br /><br />As you mention, they don't illuminate the space in visible light, but the LED's do glow at the diode itself dimly red. That is typical. The systems we use, with an illuminator, are good for ~500m at a 95deg angle.<br /><br />If it was true IR, you'd see a body heat signature rather than the person's features illuminated.<br /><br />As far as NVG's - they're frequently called Starlight Scopes for a reason. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />They amplify available light, unless you paint the area with IR light yourself. I *love* my starlight scope! (and yes, it's awesome for low mag/small field observation, but still subject to ambient lighting issues) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>.</p><p><font size="3">bipartisan</font>  (<span style="color:blue" class="pointer"><span class="pron"><font face="Lucida Sans Unicode" size="2">bī-pär'tĭ-zən, -sən</font></span></span>) [Adj.]  Maintaining the ability to blame republications when your stimulus plan proves to be a devastating failure.</p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000"><font color="#ff0000">IMPE</font><font color="#c0c0c0">ACH</font> <font color="#0000ff"><font color="#c0c0c0">O</font>BAMA</font>!</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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fatal291

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i know u guys will think im joking but the walmarts where i live sell Meade (sp?) telescopes that look pretty legit.. i know nothing about good telescopes but they looked like they were the real deal. they were for about 300$ im not sure about what the features were their site is down right now. Are they worth looking into? How much are the "automated" telescopes that move where u point and click? would u recomend that to a beginner?
 
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