Mom was right, you could put your eye out – Green Laser PSA

As an astronomer, one of my first big purchases was the light-saber-type green laser. I mean who doesn’t want to own a light saber. Naturally, I was warned not to shine it towards visible satellites and airplanes, and of course, never point at someone.

Turns out, that isn’t the even biggest concern! The concern lies in what you can’t see, infrared light. These lights are poorly regulated and usually don’t have an IR filter, and are leeching invisible infrared light. We are risking our precious eyesight for the convienence of being able to point to specific stars.

As a visual observer, this is big! My eyes are my most valuable tool. I need to keep them in top notch condition. Even 5 minutes of exposure to a bad green laser begins to change the proteins in your eyes.  I don’t know about you, but when that laser comes out, I talk about constellations for more than 5 minutes and it’s usually to a crowd of people. Not only am I damaging my eyes and other unsuspecting adults but the eyes of children.

As I said, momma was right, let’s put those lasers away, before we hurt ourselves or someone else.

From the Indian Journal of Opthamology, Eman Mohamed Aly and Eman Saad Mohamed did a study on the effects of infrared radiation on the eye, and this was their finding

The results indicated a change in the molecular weight of different lens crystalline accompanied with changes in protein backbone structure. These changes increased for the groups exposed to IR for 10 minutes. Moreover, the activity of Na+-K+ ATPase significantly decreased for all groups.

In addition, they found that

Exposure to IR radiation may cause the corneal opacity, burns on the retina, miosis, breakdown of blood–aqueous barrier and delayed cataract. The present study is an attempt to investigate the effect of IR radiation with different exposure times (5 and 10 minutes) on the molecular structure of the soluble lens proteins.

Source –

Another good article here


Galaxy Quest

The Milky Way has been a photo target for me this year. I’m trying to get more creative in my images, unfortunately the weather has been awful this year. I’ve only had a few chances to image the sky at all! I’m hoping Winter will play nice with me, even if the Milky Way isn’t prominent during the winter.



The Trident of Neptune is the Scepter of the World

I’ve searched for Neptune many times and thought I’ve seen it a few of those times, but I was never sure I had the right target. In late October, it was just within a Telrad target of he Moon, and I had my chance! I was able to confirm the position by stars near it and see, what I knew to be Neptune! (Do I sound a little excited?) Not only was I able to see it, but I even had a happy accident and was able to image it.

This image was taken on my handheld point and shoot Canon G16 camera at the eyepiece. I love how you can see the spherical shape and the brilliant blue color.

If you don’t know anything about Neptune, then you probably aren’t impressed. So, let me tell you a little about Neptune. This little guy is actually a very big guy. He is about 17 times the mass of the earth, and the 4th largest planet in our solar system. Neptune is the furthest planet from the sun and it orbits the sun every 164.8 years. That means that since it’s discovery in 1846, it’s JUST completed a cycle around the sun. Neptune is about 2.8 billion miles away from the sun.

Neptune’s atmosphere is made up of hydrogen, helium with traces of hydrocarbons and possibly nitrogen, but it contains a higher proportion of “ices” such as water, ammonia, and methane. He gets his beautiful blue color from the methane in the upper atmosphere absorbing the red light from the sun and reflecting the blue light back into space, making it appear blue.

Neptune is a really cool planet. I encourage you to read up on him soon, or better yet, go find him in the sky.

It’s unusual…but is it bad?

I’m going to try my hand at some different astrophotography techniques.  I normally do very little editing to my images, if any, so now I’m going to see what I can come up with in Affinity. (Editing software for a Mac) This was my first attempt.  Totally unnatural coloring, lights blown out a bit, but I think I like it. I also want to try layering for some fun effects. Ok, yeah, as soon as I figure layering out. Luckily there are lots of tutorials on YouTube.

Sooo, what do you think?