Thursday, April 24, 2008

Low-Light Adjustment

You have some learning to get under your belt, but right now, neophyte that you are, you can do something to enhance your experience. Unless you are looking at the bright moon, don’t rush to the eyepiece until you have allowed your vision to become “dark adapted.” This natural adjustment will greatly enhance your ability to see faint objects—and it will make brighter objects that much more exciting. Adapting your eyes to the dark requires about 15 minutes away from sources of light. If somebody shines an uncovered flashlight in your eyes, you’ll have to become dark adapted all over again. Red light, however, will not reverse dark adaptation. For those on liberal budgets, there are specially made, compact flashlights with red bulbs. For the rest of us, either equip your flashlight with a dark red filter (you can use red acetate purchased from a hobby shop) or (less effectively) simply put a red sock over the flashlight. This way, you’ll be able to see what you are doing and even consult star maps without spoiling your dark adaptation.

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