It is no secret that our military executes operations that are at the top of the classified information list. Many hours and days are put into details that have nothing but the most precise military attentiveness right down to the last second of the mission's execution, as well as what happens after the operation has been completed. Our military, not only performs classified operations, but they have regular duties to perform as well, and not just overseas, but stateside too, orders sometimes must be carried out in the night. It is for this reason that elite engineers have made products known as night vision equipment.

There are many instruments used to see in the night, some of the most common are monoculars, binoculars, and goggles. The technology does not end there though; there are also multi-purpose night vision systems, day/night systems, night vision weapon sights, and thermal night vision gear. The products within these categories can get very lengthy and detailed, so when you start shopping for night vision gear, be sure to check out everything that is offered and the purposes of each item. No matter if you serve in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard, I am sure at one point or another, you will find that the use of night vision gear is more than helpful.

This equipment aiding in seeing in the night is not only useful to our armed forces, but it is used by our law enforcement officials, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state universities and hunters as well. As you can see, just by the users of this technology, it is very diverse and applicable to many career fields and activities. Well now that you have the who, when, where and why, let me tell you how night vision gear works.

Night vision technology is also known as starlight technology. Straight moonlight, starlight or infrared light, is ambient light made of photons that change into electrons when passed through a photocathode tube. The electrons get amplified into a greater number through a chemical and electrical process. After they have been amplified, they get thrown against a phosphorous screen, thus changing them back into visible light. You will now have a clear green hued vision of your surroundings.

Through the generations the technology of the intensifier tube has changed. Currently, there are four generations of these night vision device intensifier tubes. The first is probably the most common. It amplifies the existing light by several thousand times allowing the user to clearly see in the dark. The items that are of the first generation NVD provide a bright and sharp image at a low cost.

The second generation is most commonly used by law enforcement and professionals, and costs a lot more than the first generation. The only difference between this one and the first is that the second generation unit added a micro-channel plate. This plate is placed directly behind the photocathode. Because of this addition, you are able to see an even brighter and sharp image.

Generation three added a sensitive chemical called gallium arsenide to the photocathode making the view even brighter and sharper than generations one and two. In addition to the chemical, an ion barrier film was added. This film will increase the length of life for the photocathode tube.

The fourth generation of NVDs are the newest and most technologically inclined. The engineers behind these devices removed the ion barrier film making the devices 'gated' and film free. By doing this they have allowed for an increase in target detection range and resolution most notably at very low light levels. It is this generation that is most beneficial to those in the military. Not having a film, it provides a higher signal-to-noise ratio giving better image quality under low light conditions. Remember when buying night vision gear or 'starlight technology' to buy the devices from the generation that best suits your needs.

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