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help choosing a decent entry level astronomy laser pointer

sim84

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Hi,

I'm looking to buy a green laser for pointing out stars, as a gift for my girlfriend's dad. Neither he nor I have ever owned a laser pointer before, but we were in Atacama doing an astronomy tour earlier in the year, and he was fascinated by the laser pointer the guide was using. I wanted to get him a nice gift, as he treated my girlfriend and I to a few nights in a hotel while we were there.

My budget is up to $50. I've searched the forums, and found that this one seems pretty well regarded considering the price:

https://laserpointerforums.com/f45/review-laserlands-520nm-5mw-pointer-99820.html

Would this be sufficiently bright to point out stars in an urban environment? Or is there a better alternative for a little more money?

Many thanks!

Simon
 



GSS

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Welcome sin84,
although the direct diode 520 is a good choice as far as being stable and no worry's about using it in colder weather, the one you linked is a true 5mw and I believe not bright enough.
Member RB Astro is fellow Ausie and a Astronomy buff so hopefully he will chime in to say hello:)

As far as output 50mw should be about enough. The laws in your Country though seem to be another issue. I think it's even as low as a 1mw limit as far as purchasing?
 
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Encap

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Welcome sin84,
although the direct diode 520 is a good choice as far as being stable and no worry's about using it in colder weather, the one you linked is a true 5mw and I believe not bright enough.
Member RB Astro is fellow Ausie and a Astronomy buff so hopefully he will chime in to say hello:)

As far as output 50mw should be about enough. The laws in your Country though seem to be another issue. I think it's even as low as a 1mw limit as far as purchasing?
Good point.

sim84:
"2008 in Australia, a number of coordinated attacks take place involving high-powered laser pointers being pointed at the cockpit of commercial aircraft - Australian Laser law will never be the same.

According to federal law in Australia, any hand-held, battery operated laser with a power emission above 1mW is considered a dangerous weapon, and written consent must be obtained prior to possessing/importing such a laser pointer. However, according to an Australian Customs fact sheet, laser diodes, modules and other laser equipment above 1mW is legal to import."
See: Australian Laser Laws

and see Australian Government web site here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/ente/brin/can-i-bring-it-back/can-i-bring-it-back-market-goods-and-shopping/can-i-bring-laser-pointers-back
 

paul1598419

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I don't know if you could get it into your country, but a 303 532nm DPSS laser can be had for ~$4.00 on eBay. If you want one with batteries and a charger, they are ~$9.00. These output ~80 mW of power and so the beam is quite visible at night for star pointing. The 520nm you linked to in your OP is far too low power to see the beam. Even at night. I have one.
 
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RB astro

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Hi,
  • I'm looking to buy a green laser for pointing out stars,
  • My budget is up to $50.
  • Or is there a better alternative for a little more money.
Simon
Member RB Astro is fellow Ausie and a Astronomy buff so hopefully he will chime in to say hello:)

As far as output 50mw should be about enough. The laws in your Country though seem to be another issue. I think it's even as low as a 1mw limit as far as purchasing?
Good point.

sim84:
"2008 in Australia,
According to federal law in Australia, any hand-held, battery operated laser with a power emission above 1mW is considered a dangerous weapon, and written consent must be obtained prior to possessing/importing such a laser pointer. However, according to an Australian Customs fact sheet, laser diodes, modules and other laser equipment above 1mW is legal to import."
See: Australian Laser Laws

and see Australian Government web site here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/ente/brin/can-i-bring-it-back/can-i-bring-it-back-market-goods-and-shopping/can-i-bring-laser-pointers-back
Hi Simon,
You need to be very careful because as was stated by the other members, Australia has very tough laws on lasers.
Anything over 1mW is considered an illegal weapon (as mentioned).
Also to own and use one (a 1mW laser) you need to have a valid reason such as Astronomy and thus need to be part of a recognised member of an Astronomical Society such as The Astronomical Society of NSW (ASNSW).

I'm a member of the ASNSW and I'd suggest you look into purchasing locally through a dealer to ensure you don't have to go through customs.

Try Matthew from "Telescopes-Astronomy.com.au"
I have dealt with him in the past for other telescope items but see no problem in buying a laser through him.
His website is not easy to navigate but he is a good bloke.
Unfortunately prices will be high when you buy locally because of the strict laws here.

I can almost guarantee that if you try to import from oversees, customs will confiscate it and you'll receive a stern warning requesting an explanation.
You may be lucky and it gets through but if you're unlucky enough you will have trouble with Customs, and believe me they will not accept that you didn't know or that you want it for astronomy.
I had mine confiscated and even though I had proof that I was entitled to it because I'm an astronomer/astrophotographer and a member of the ASNSW, they still refused and destroyed the laser.

I would suggest you do a search for a local supplier and purchase through them.
It won't be cheap but it will be a much less of a risk than dealing with the Australian Federal Police and Customs.
Also if you want just a cheaper alternative, search ebay for a local supplier of a pen style laser.
You will want a 532nm green (for visability) but if you can find a 520nm then go for that better as it doesn't have the problems associated with the 532nm, mainly the cold weather use and the lack of IR filter that cheap Chinese 532nm usually lack.

Safety is imperative, always know what you're dealing with as eye damage can happen so easily and usually even before you know it.
Be responsible and careful, good luck and let us know how you go.

Hope this helps.
RB
:)
 

Encap

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Sim84
Easiest way is to get one already in the Country as RB astro has pointed out---if you want to import one then to import laser pointers with a strength of greater than 1mW, you need prior written permission from the Minister for Home Affairs using a B710 Form — Application for Permission to Import Schedule 13 Weapons.
You should check with your state or territory police about local restrictions before importing these items.

see: https://australianastronomy.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/factsheet_22.pdf

Either way be careful about what you do/how you go about it---good luck
 
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sim84

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Hi everyone, thanks for the replies! I didn't realise Australia had such laws, otherwise I would have mentioned, my girlfriend's parents actually live in New Zealand. I could have it sent there, if their laws are more relaxed?
 

RB astro

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Hi everyone, thanks for the replies! I didn't realise Australia had such laws, otherwise I would have mentioned, my girlfriend's parents actually live in New Zealand. I could have it sent there, if their laws are more relaxed?
New Zealand has very similar laws.
I wouldn't risk it and get your girlfriend's parents in trouble.

:whistle:
 
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Encap

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paul1598419

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Well, I can think of no one who would know more about using lasers for astronomy in Australia than RB Astro. He lives there and has both these hobbies. I would take his advice. Sure glad I don't live there. Talk about a reactionary law! YEESH!
 

sim84

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Ha ha. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Is there a good astronomy laser that's legal in NZ? Or would I be better to just send him a bottle of scotch or something?
 

GSS

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Ha ha. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Is there a good astronomy laser that's legal in NZ? Or would I be better to just send him a bottle of scotch or something?
A $50 bottle of scotch;)
I would wait to find the NZ laws..
 
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Encap

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Ha ha. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Is there a good astronomy laser that's legal in NZ? Or would I be better to just send him a bottle of scotch or something?

Read this to understand New Zealand regulations and decide if whatever you want to do is worth the time, trouble, and risks: New Zealand: NZ restricts handheld lasers over 1 milliwatt | Laser Pointer Safety - Statistics, laws, and general laser pointer news

Given you are not in NZ you girlfriends father would have to obtain permission to import anything over 1mW before you or anyone else ships it so...
 
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paul1598419

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It is a conundrum. And all because some people shined some laser pointers at aircraft. To my knowledge, no planes were lost or people injured.
 




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