Keeping Your Gear at Hand: Observing Hoods and Vests

David Dickinson geared up for solar observing. Credit: David Dickinson

We’ve all been there. The telescope is set up, the target is aligned… and there’s a glaring light shining just beyond the view of the eyepiece. What can you do, to preserve your precious night vision?

One great option to shut out the light is to use a hooded sky vest.

I have an observing vest from Dark Skies Apparel I’ve used for years, but unfortunately, they no longer exist. The only existing commercial option today is the observing hood ($80 MSRP) from R-Sky. On the used market, you may be able to pick up the Dark Skies observing vest or another from Farpoint. Popular places to search for used items include eBay, Craigslist or astronomy forum Cloudy Nights.

Farpoint observing vest. Credit: Farpoint

The range of products opens when you search online for ‘hooded photographer/safari/fisherman’s vests.’ Some examples of products out there ready made for modification include Duyang Outdoor Hooded Vest, Chouyatou Sherpa Sports Jacket and Spanye Hooded Jacket, which you can find on Amazon.

Like deep-sky observers, fishermen and photographers need their gear readily available. These are very similar to vests that have been marketed to deep-sky observers over the years; the only modification really needed is to sew in a 4-inch wide cloth fabric extension on the front of the hood. You may want to consider Velcro straps to keep small items like eyepieces, filters and laser pointers handy.

Common field vest. Credit: David Dickinson

Whatever option you choose, using a vest is as simple as flipping the hood up over your head and the telescope eyepiece assembly for a view. This is handy when you need to shut out stray light quickly during target acquisition.

R-Sky’s hooded vest. Credit: R-Sky

R-Sky’s vest even comes in white, making it much cooler for solar observing. Though it may seem counterintuitive, you’ll want to shut out dazzling light (this time, from the Sun) while attempting to safely view the Sun at the eyepiece.

A dark-sky vest can even multitask as part of a Star Wars Jedi cosplay outfit: True story, we did the weekend star party for Florida Necronomicon for years, and incorporated the dark sky vest as part of an ‘instant sci-fi outfit…’ and was also glad to have it in the evening, as we were often showing off the sky under the glare of city lights right in front of the downtown hotel hosting the ‘Con.

Ready for battle with the Dark Side. The author in his Star Wars hooded outfit. Credit: David Dickinson.

Be sure to add a hooded dark sky vest to your astronomical arsenal, as an essential piece of sky-watching apparel.

Our video of our dark sky vest in action.
https://youtu.be/OEptp4ZN4D0

About David Dickinson

David is a freelance science writer, frequent contributor to Sky & Telescope and Universe Today, author of several astronomy books and long-time amateur astronomer. He lives with his wife Myscha in Norfolk, Virginia.

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