How to see in the dark

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How to see in the dark

How to see in the dark

Seeing in the dark is a skill that most of us have never learned. We are so used to seeing with lights, that many of use never had the opportunity to actually practice how to see in the dark. So here is a neat trick to teach your kids.

How to see in the dark

Firstly – take your children outside when it is dark and show them how to train their night vision.

We all know that the iris in our eyes opens wide when it gets dark, but it takes a long time for your eyes to get truly accustomed to it – about 45 minutes for them to be fully sensitive to the lack of light. So this could be a good opportunity to go for a night hike to look for nocturnal wildlife.

Because it takes so long to get your night vision, make sure that nothing spoils it. So don’t look at bright lights like car headlights, or turn on torches. You don’t want to start again from scratch.

When you have got to your full vision, the next trick to learn takes quite a bit of practice. Here is the secret to pass on to your kids – to see something in the dark don’t actually look at it. The main focus of your eyes is not as sensitive to light as you would think.

To see more, you have to look slightly higher and to the right of left of the object you are looking at to see it better. This is known as using the whites of your eyes or using your peripheral vision, and takes a while to train to do this and can be quite hard.

The reason your eyes see like this is because your eye has ‘rod’ and ‘cone’ cells on the retina at the back of the eye. Rod and cone cells are spread evenly over the retina except for a spot called the fovea. The fovea is a small area on the back of the eye opposite the pupil and is covered in only cone cells. Cone cells are more efficient at detecting color, but rod cells are more efficient at seeing low light and movement.

So by using your peripheral vision you are using the more sensitive rod cells.

Once you have all practiced and learned this trick, the dark will never quite be as dark again.

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July 11, 2012 | Activities | 5 comments