|A couple of years ago I
purchased an I Cubed (I3) intensified eyepiece
from Collins Electro Optics on the recommendation of some
fellow amateur astronomers in Denver. Although the price
of the eyepiece at the time I purchased it was $2000+, I
have thoroughly enjoyed using the device and it has
enabled me to see objects that I could either not detect
at all or only with averted vision under the darkest of
skies. Other objects that are detectable by eye in the
telescope show varying increases in brightness and detail
when viewed through the I3 device depending
upon the object. Some views through the eyepiece are
stunning, some are just plain cool, but all of them are
In general I have found the I3 device most useful for direct real time viewing. In my opinion, that is it's real strength. In fact, I expect that, in the future, devices like this will be as common and as affordable on consumer telescopes as computerized drives are today.
Although real time views of many objects are quite spectacular, it is also possible to do photography and videography as well. I am still playing with the system (and probably will be as long as I own it), but a few results of my photo and video experiments are below.
The I3 eyepiece is based on ITT generation 3 image intensifier technology that provides a gain of 30,000 to 50,000 in light intensity. The image intensfier tube has a receiving photocathode plate that converts photons of light striking its surface to electrons which are then amplified and projected onto a phosphor screen. The phosphor screen image is then either magnified optically for direct viewing by eye or projected into a film, digital or video camera. In this way a real-time intensified image is presented to the user for either direct viewing or for recording.
Overall, the device is a remarkable piece of equipment. I can easily recommend it to anyone who is serious about their astronomy. I only wish the price were lower. I'm sure that someday the price will be more affordable, but right now it's a bit steep.
The results of some of my imaging experiments using the I3 device are below.