Beware Blindingly Bright LEDs

President’s Paragraph: June 2017

"Astronomical Night Vision LED" purchased on Amazon

"Astronomical Night Vision LED" purchased on Amazon

Good weather means star parties and with star parties comes the issue of good light management, so it never hurts to review basic field manners. Stargazers do try valiantly to manage their red lights, but LED manufacturers are making their lights brighter and brighter. Given that with modern technology more is always better, we can assume that these lights are going to continue to get even brighter. I did a check for “dimmable red LED flashlight” on Google and came up with these items: Mini Strong Brightness, Energizer Industrial LED, Military Tactical LED, Bulbrite, Brite LED Headlamp... you get the picture.

Better Choices: Dimmable Astronomical Flashlights

Rigel, Celestron, and Orion each make dimmable flashlights for astronomical viewing. They cost $15 - $35 and are easy to find. We recommend the Rigel Systems Starlight. The Orion RedBeam II LED and Celestron’s Night Vision flashlights also have an adjustable brightness wheels, but are more poorly constructed.

Bottom line: use dimmable red light flashlights, point them down to what you are reading or where you are walking, cover laptop screens with red plastic and don’t let them leak light out onto the field, and don’t use cell phones or headlamps on the field. If you want to check the brightness level on your light, have a friend use it in your presence. It wouldn’t be a bad idea, either, to let the sellers of these flashlights know that we don’t need more bulbs or more lumens, we just need more photons. If you find an exceptionally good or bad example of redlight flashlights, send a link or picture to our communications officer and we can put it on our website.

Margaret McCrea, RCA President