Thursday, July 11, 2013

Modding Stuff for Astrophotography

Dear regular reader, by now you should be aware that I tend to think outside the box. My affiliation to astro-photography should be known, at least to readers of the knightsQRSS list of a couple of years ago, when I proposed stacking spectra to improve the SNR, as it is done in webcam-astro-photography.

So, here's another one for you, now we are crossing computing, the extreme corner of modding that is, with astronomy / astro-photography.

As we all know, human (biological) night vision (scotopic vision) is controlled by a molecule called "rhodopsin" which takes a couple of ten minutes to build up (cf. adaptation). It triggers the rods to go into night mode. In human vision, the rods create a gray-scale visual impression, like a good ole B&W-TV. The problem with scotopic vision is, that is disappears when a certain amount of light within the scopic wavelength range is seen (literally). Luckily, however, the scoptopic range ends at about 620nm. Meaning that red light will not affect scoptopic vision, i.e. red light will preserve the rhodopsin level in the rods. This is actually the reason why the night illumination on yachts, warships and vessels alike is red.
Now, check out the spectrum of red LEDs.

Now, lets turn to computer modding, something I never actually understood. To me, a computer has to perform and that's about it. Overclocking is somewhat understandable, so is watercolling, which are both concerned with performance.
Modding seems to be about visual appearance of a computer, which I personally never cared about. However, look at the recent IBM mainframes, i.e. zEnterprise architecture, these boxes are all odd, prismatic and what not. Did IBM copy the needs of modders to apply it to boxes worth millions of bucks? It seems so!
Modders are also interested in illumination effects of their boxes. Here it starts becoming interesting for the astronomer. Next to mean green and cool blue, there also is hot red illumination available for the modder.
Check this out!

Here comes the link between the two, modding and astronomy: in a modern observatory a computer is mandantory, to check sky-charts, control the dome, control the telescope mount or record data from a digital camera. A computer is found in every observatory I know, be it professional, be it hobbyist, be it amateur.
So, instead of illuminating the inside of your computer, you could equally use the device to illuminate the outside of your computer sitting in the observatory, hence the observatory, with a chain of red LEDs, preserving your scotopic vision during your astro session.