The scientific community which has benefited the greatest from improvements in laser light and laser pointer technology is the field of astronomy. It seems there are no more perfect applications for high power laser pointers than to be used for research in the physics based world of astronomy. But how practical is the use of astronomy laser pointers? Does it provide legitimate scientific value, or is it merely a tool used to make research “cool” or “hip”? There has been much debate regarding laser use for astronomy based research in observatories throughout the globe.
If you are a laser hobbyist, or an astronomy enthusiast, you may be familiar with practical laser pointer functions that are ideal for night time studies. But what is it that a person should be looking for to determine if a specific laser pointer will be ideal for their astronomy needs? There are a few things to ponder before applying a laser to astronomy research, points which anyone considering using a handheld astronomy laser must contemplate.
First, where are you going to be using the lasers? If you are in an area that is relatively high in population, you may have to combat light pollution in order to see the night sky’s constellations. If this is the case, you will need to obtain a high power pointer so that you can actually see the laser beam clearly despite the adverse conditions. We can take this a step further, if you know that you will require a bit higher power for your laser, then you may also want to consider utilizing a 532nm green laser pointer. Green astronomy lasers are the most commonly used laser pointer because of how bright the green laser beam appears to observers. The green beam is the brightest light frequency in the visible light spectrum, which means there is no laser beam that can appear brighter. Accordingly, green lasers are the most popular color wavelength for this type of use.
Green lasers have a long history of use in space frontier organizations such as NASA, and continue to gain popularity amongst astronomers across the planet. The problem currently is that many scientific professionals are not properly trained in laser usage for astronomy applications, and this is cause for potential disaster. Now, if someone is using a 5mw green astronomy laser, there is very little danger to worry about. The beams output power is relatively low and that keeps everyone around safe.
If a high power unit is to be used, there is a bit more room for concern and precaution. The higher the output power of the laser beam, the brighter and stronger the beam will appear. This may be ideal for night based astronomy research, but if the beam becomes dispersed or used improperly it can spell disaster for the astronomy enthusiast or simply people who are present. There has been horror stories of astronomy laser pointers gone wrong which lead to large research grants being canceled.
So if pointers are your forte, be sure that you know what you are doing before you engage the powerful lasers. The use of a straight line of green laser light is unmatched by all other astronomers tools, and when a laser is attached to a telescope, astronomy becomes that much more exciting as well as educational. Some of the worlds largest and powerful observatories attach simple astronomy laser pointers to their scope’s casing, allowing for consistent and solid beam output. Lasers are opening the door and people’s eyes to the beauty of the universe and our milky way galaxy, be sure to shine with care and enjoy.