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Re: Green Laser Pointers

Started by SocalDarkSkies, 07/20/2005 11:29AM
Posted 07/20/2005 11:29AM Opening Post
Greetings all!

I've been following this thread intently and before a few weeks ago I really had no opinion regarding GLP's but after my last outing, and all the stories I have read here, I'm compelled to tell you about my recent experience with them.

On the big comet Tempel 1 crash weekend I had made arrangements to meet another Astromarter in Barstow so that I could buy a large equatorial mount from him. While I was there anyway I thought I would stay in the area and observe from a local BLM park name Rainbow Basin.

On Saturday, July 2nd, I spent the night alone with the coyotes and Joshua trees and except for the skyglow from Barstow (7 miles away) and my weak red penlight it was a fairly dark site.

On Sunday my friend joined me and as we waited for twighlight to end about 8 vehicles from an astronomy club in San Bernardino drove in. Apparently I had set up in their secondary observing site.

Once it got dark I pointed my little 8" newt over at comet Tempel 1 and began observing. Unfortunately it wasn't an easy target to find and I soon had people lining up to catch a look and get their bearings. I was taken aback when one fellah pulled out his green laser and actually pointed it into my eyepiece and through my optical train. "Well, that's an interesting way to do it" I thought. Once I had regained my scope I went right back to observing the comet only to see these bright streaks of light glancing in and out of the field of view. My first thought was meteor or maybe I had gotten too close to Spica and was seeing some internal reflections. Confused, I asked my friend if he had seen them too. He sighed, and said "it's those lasers". I looked up to see three or more green laser beams from the field of scopes to my left -- all flashing and pointing to the middle of Virgo. Back at the eyepiece and closer to impact time some of these flashes were thin and bright, some were thick and faint, yes, all were brief, lasting only a fraction of a second or two but boy did they make it hard to concentrate on this very faint object.

After impact time I stepped away from the eyepiece to look at the sky above and behind me and remember making the observation "My gosh, it looks like a friggin Star Wars movie" as the GLPs were now freely roaming the sky and their owners were on to new object to observe.

To cap off the night, after all but one San Bernardino club member had packed up and left, my buddy noticed one of those bright, slow moving objects. He asked me what I thought it was and I suggested a high flying plane. At that very moment the last remaining club member walked over, switched on his laser, pointed it up at the object and said "d'ya see that?!"

Yeah, I realize he could never have brought it down with his tiny beam but "man!". What goes through a persons mind sometimes is just beyond me.

Again, this is all just my 2 cents.

Clear and dark skies!!!

Posted 07/20/2005 11:43AM #1
Thanks for relating your experience, Jerry.

Despite their utility and usefulness as a tool, their use constitutes light pollution. Just what we need more of. sad

Posted 07/20/2005 01:20PM #2
Yeah, the whole optical train bit. Some folks just love that.

In S&T a while back, someone wrote about how cool he thought this was, doing that with a pair of binoculars...until, for some funny optical trick of the prism setup in the binos the beam got reflected back in his face!

Your story is exactly the sort of situation I had in mind when talking about the need for common courtesy in public areas. If it affects anyone else's view, at least ASK permission.