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The Rigel Systems Starlite II and Starlite mini

Above: Rigel Systems "Skylite II" at left, and right "Skylight mini" with furnished cord (116,857 bytes).

Rigel Systems "Skylite mini" Red/White LED Compact Flashlight

Rigel Skylite II and Mini, one set to Red the other to White light, shown next to pen for scale (37,113 bytes)

The Skylite are a unique series of handheld flashlights ideally suited to the needs of astronomers, or anyone who must work in low light while preserving their night (scotopic) vision. The Skylite flashlights are readily distinguished because it can do double duty as a conventional white light flashlight; this makes it an especially good choice for those who travel far from home to remote locations and carry a Skylite as a primary or backup conventional flashlight.

Left: Rigel "Skylite mini" at top, and "Skylite II" flashlights (115,924 bytes).

When Rigel developed the original "Starlite", this became the accepted as the best and the original adjustable brightness dual red LED (Light Emitting Diode) flashlight. Most Company Seven employees came to choose the Starlite, and soon after its introduction several prominent names in the astronomy industry began to sell the Rigel Starlite. Celestron was among the first to stop buying Starlite product in favor of the cheaply made clones made in third world nations. As the cheaply made clones failed, Company Seven decided to stay with the USA made Rigel Starlite (even if it cost $5 or $10 more than the clones) since we prefer the quality of the Rigel product, and we believe it is in the consumers interest to support good innovators.

Regardless of the competitors merits the cloning began to impact Rigel sales, and so Rigel responded by developing the dual Red and White LED Skylite. It was the Skylite which become the compact flashlight of choice. Then in the Fall of 2003, Rigel introduced their next generation light - the Skylite II.

December 2005 marked the introduction of the "Skylight mini", a more compact dual Red and White LED more closely resembling the original Skylite, but in a notably more compact arrangement. The reasoning for this had to do in part with the fact that the water resistant Skylite II is at 5-1/8 inches (130mm) just a bit too long to fit into spaces of many fishing tackle and utility box compartments. The Skylite mini is 3-2/3 inches (93mm) in length overall - keep in mind the 9 volt battery alone accounts for 48mm of length! The Skylight mini differs from the Skylite II in two basic ways:

  • The Skylite II utilizes one rotary dial switch to control on and off, brightness, and select red or white light.
    While Skylite mini relies on a rotary dial to adjust on-off and brightness, and a second slide switch to select red or white light.

  • The Skylite II relies on a better sealed housing with a rubber gasket so that it is more resistant to moisture from dew, salt air corrosion, etc.
    The snap together plastic housing of the Skylite mini has openings for the switches and a more permeable bezel so that it is more easily penetrated by moisture.*

* If Skylite mini becomes immersed in fresh water or if dew fogs the interior, then simply turn it off, disassemble it (disconnecting the battery), and set the parts aside to dry in a warm room before reassembly. If immersed in salt water then add the step of rinsing the electronics in fresh water, then pat dry and set the parts aside in a warm dry room for a day or so before reassembly.

While conceived for the astronomy community, Rigel Skylites are useful by anyone who may have to work in the dark and they have found their way into applications by the military, aviation, theatre stage workers communities and more. Hikers finds these to be an most convenient aid that is less likely to disturb wildlife at night. Most employees of Company Seven keep a Skylight close at hand in the home night stand, in our automobiles, in a tool box, etc. These are a utilitarian and affordable gift idea.

Why Red?

Daylight as we observe it is made up of red, green and blue light in that portion of the spectrum which the human eye can detect, this region is known as the visible spectrum. This occupies wavelengths from approximately the deep violet in the shorter wavelengths just below 400 nanometers (nm) up to the longer wavelengths of the deep red at about 700 nm. The human eye evolved to help us survive in a day lit world dominated by the green of vegetation, as such it has developed a photopic (light-adapted) sensitivity that spans from about 400 nm to 700nm, peaking at about 555 nm. Since the eye is so sensitive here this is why some emergency vehicles are painted "slime lime" so that they are very obvious for example. And our scotopic (dark-adapted) sensitivity ranges from 400 nm up to 620 nm losing some red efficiency peaking at 510 nm. The human eye responds to low light levels by dilating (opening) the Iris diaphragm to permit a greater area of cones and rods in the Fovea of the eye to become stimulated. If the eye is exposed to common white light, then the Iris will constrict thereby reducing the eye's sensitivity to seeing faint objects. To see how this works, walk into a room and turn off the lights - notice how over time you will be able to see more and more fine details in the dark room as your eye adapts to this. Scotopic vision has been understood for some time, this is why military vessels switch to red light when operating at night. And this is why astronomers avoid white light sources when trying to attain and preserve their night vision.

Visible spectrum (20,129 bytes)

Above: Visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum with bordering regions (20,129 bytes).

Two Rigel Skylites, showing one pair of LED's set to Red light with the other to White light (12,494 bytes)

As with many other night time use flashlights, the Skylight can provide a red light. However, while many other flashlights employ incandescent bulbs with a red filter or painted lens to dim the light and provide the dark red color, the Skylight employs two red Light Emitting Diodes (LED's) arranged side by side. The Skylight incorporates a rotary dial on-off switch with variable intensity potentiometer to permit the user to vary the brightness of the LED's. The circuitry regulates the power so that as a battery voltage drops the illumination will not fade. The LED's are durable and almost never burn out, and their uniform brightness can be lowered across a wider degree than most incandescent sources. Furthermore, since the Skylight has two red LED's side by side in a rectangular housing, then the medium flood light pattern is more uniform and better suited to the study of charts and common documents.

Right: Two Rigel Skylites, showing one pair of LED's set to red light with the other to white light.
Brightness dialed up to fairly high setting to show up better in this digital image (12,494 bytes).

SkyLight Flashlight Common Features:

  • Dual red LED for night vision.

  • Dual blue-white LED for regular use.

  • On-Off and LED brightness rotary switch varies the amperage delivered to the LED.

  • Compact easy to find long life 9 volt battery included. Provides 12 hours or more of use at brightest setting, or more than 13.3 days continuous operation at lowest setting.

  • Incorporate a current regulation circuit so that as a battery voltage declines with age or cold, current provided to the LED's effectively remains consistent.

  • As the circuit provides the white LED's with 9 to 7 volts, while the red LED's operate to as low as 5 volts. When white LED's fail to light while reds operate this is a "Low Voltage" warning.

  • Durable, long blue Nylon lanyard permits light to be suspended around the neck for convenience.

  • Engineered and made consistently well in the U.S.A.

Skylite Mini Features

  • All the above features of the prior Skylites but in a more compact housing.

  • The window is made from a durable transparent polycarbonate.

  • Slide switch selects red or white light, this moves laterally to reduce chances of accidentally switching red to white.

  • The rotary dial adjusts brightness setting from off to dim, and gradually to brighter.

  • This dial can be manipulated even when the operator is wearing common winter gloves.

  • LED's are socketed and easy to replace or change to other colors (blue, green, infrared, etc.)

  • It is simple to disassemble the Skylite Mini to replace a battery.

The Rigel Skylite mini shown disassembled
Above: The Rigel Skylite mini shown disassembled by Company Seven.
All circuitry is of very good quality, precisely soldered onto a circuit board of Rigel's design (98,278 bytes).
Click on the image to see enlarged view (222,478 bytes).

Housing: ABS Plastic construction
Lamp Provisions: Four 5mm LED sockets: two red and two white
Length: 3-11/16 inches (94mm)
Maximum Width: 1-3/16" (29.5mm)
Minimum Width: 1" (26mm)
Maximum Height (include Switch): 1-1/2" (38.4mm)
Carrying Strap: 18" Long Round Nylon Cord
Weight with battery and strap: 2.7 ounces (76 grams)
Battery: One 9 volt; Alkaline, or Lithium (in colder climates)
Maximum Current Draw: 52 mA
* Specifications are subject to change without notice.

Battery Changing Instructions

  1. Gently depress the plastic tab spanning the rectangular opening alongside the bezel and just ahead of the thumb wheel.

  2. Pivot the front window housing down and pull it away.

  3. Tip the open end of the light down and the LED/circuit board assembly with battery should slide down and out.

  4. Gently pull the used 9 volt battery back and forth and detach it from the circuit board.

  5. Snap the new 9 volt battery in place on the circuit board noting the larger terminal of one attaches to the smaller of the two terminals the other component.

  6. Slide the LED/circuit board assembly with battery making sure the dial switch lines up to the appropriate rectangular slot.

  7. Reinstall the window and housing pushing gently until the cover snaps securely into place.


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