By: MrGreyface, Brian Paton and Darren Ashmore
Ufology is all about skywatching.
Anyone can do it, all that is needed is a camera and a lot of patience!
Most sky watching is done at night as it is easier to spot something out of the ordinary, this can be done with a standard camera but the recorded image will differ from what was seen with the eye at the time, a standard camera will not collect enough light to reproduce a detailed image, colour correction can produce incorrect results.
Most night skywatching is done with "night Vision". There are two kinds.
Optical Night Vision - Image intensifier tube, green image
Digital Night vision - Camera Electronic Chip, black and white / colour image
Thermal is rarely used as it is very expensive.
Image intensifier optics can offer a wider angle of view but have drawbacks on quality of image. Light is focused on the intensifier which converts the energy into electrons. A camera is needed to record the image through the viewfinder. Image burn can occur if the device is pointed at a bright light source. Battery life is excellent as the unit is low power. Multiple Lens attachments can be used. Care must be taken to use this type. Not suitable for daytime use.
There are 3 versions of image intensifier that can be used for skywatching
Gen 1, 2 and 3
Gen 0 cannot be used as this requires infrared light to illuminate objects, impossible for sky objects, Gen 0 can be used for Ghost Hunting.
Price, Gen 1 is the cheaper end. Basic Gen 1units can be bought from £100, its worth keeping an eye on ebay for used devices. DIY versions can be made, click BUTTON to see how.
Digital Night Vision uses a camera CCD chip, similar to a video camera. Light is collected through the objective lens, then converted into an electric signal, most modern Digital NV devices have an on board video recorder, or a AV out for connection to a DVR (Digital video recorder). Some record sound also. Most are black and white but newer technology has allowed colour imaging.
Some have Zoom capability, the brightness can be altered. A Digital NV can be used in daylight and can be pointed at bright light sources, battery use is high as this device uses a lot of power.
Image intensifier Gen 1
Digital night vision
Day time sky watching can be done with any camera, but it has been found that UAP/UFO's tend to hide in the spectrum of light we can not see, therefore specialised equipment is required.
Infrared & Full Spectrum Cameras
Using infrared or full spectrum cameras can really unlock the sky and reveal objects that we can't usually see in the visible spectrum. It has been known for some time now, UFOs can possess technologies that can give them stealth abilities. A UAP/UFO not reflecting visible light to remain undetected may in fact be reflecting infrared light, light that we don't have the range to see with the naked eye.
Just because we cannot see them, doesn't mean they are not there.
As with digital night vision and image intensifier night vision devices that rely on light amplification, daytime full spectrum devices such as a camera or camcorder rely on sunlight, specifically the near infrared light frequencies the Sun emits.
What is the difference between a 'full spectrum' and an 'infrared' camera?
A camera's light sensor is actually capable of seeing more than just the eye can see, in fact, it can detect the very end of the ultraviolet wavelengths through to the end of the near infrared spectrum, with the visible spectrum between the two. To bring a camera's light gathering capabilities down to what the human eye sees, manufacturers place an infrared cut filter (ICF) placed over the camera's light sensor, only letting pass the visible spectrum of light.
To use a camera with the ICF removed is to record in the 'full spectrum', with no restrictions.
An 'infrared' camera or to record in infrared is similar to full spectrum, only the visible spectrum wavelengths are removed using an infrared pass filter, either internally or screwed onto the lens itself.
Near IR light ranges from 700nm to 1200nm on the electromagnetic spectrum, visible light ranges from 400nm to 700nm. The lens needed to remove visible light is a 720nm rated pass filter, this removes light ranging from below 400nm up to 720nm, letting IR light ranging from
720nm upwards pass. Anything reflecting IR light within these ranges the camera will see and record.
The video below shows the camcorder flicking between infrared and the visible spectrum. The UFO that shows no obvious signs of being conventional can clearly be seen reflecting light, but as soon as the camcorder is switched to visible light only the object disappears from view. A quick flick over to infrared and the object reappears again. You can even hear me say 'there's nothing there!'