Torches Flashlights

First, a note on terminology, born of several misunderstandings I have encountered when communicating across the Atlantic. In U.K. English a "torch" is not the same as it is in American English. It does not mean a "flaming torch," but what is, in American English, called a flashlight. A red-light torch is a useful piece of

Figure 7.5. Small accessories. Top L-R: Compass, pocket star atlas, illuminated magnifier. Middle: Hand-held computer running Planetarium software, red LED torch (flashlight) in Nite-Ize headband. Bottom: White light torch (also fits in headband) for use when setting up and dismantling kit.

Figure 7.5. Small accessories. Top L-R: Compass, pocket star atlas, illuminated magnifier. Middle: Hand-held computer running Planetarium software, red LED torch (flashlight) in Nite-Ize headband. Bottom: White light torch (also fits in headband) for use when setting up and dismantling kit.

observing kit, not only for reading charts, but also for examining equipment when this is necessary. Torches that use red light emitting diodes (LEDs) are more than adequate for most purposes. I find that they are much more useful if they can be head-mounted, thus leaving both hands free. There is an adjustable headband called a Nite Ize that is sold for precisely this purpose (Figure 7.5).

There is, however, a potential problem with red illumination for reading charts. Red light focuses farther behind the retina than yellow light and, especially for those of us who eyes have become presbyopic with age, it can be difficult to focus the red-illuminated page. A solution, which is also applicable to people who prefer to observe without spectacles but who must use them for reading charts, is to use an illuminated magnifier. The light source can be covered with translucent red plastic or with red nail polish. The magnifier is also useful on a PDA screen. A white-light torch is useful when assembling and dismantling observing apparatus.

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