A pulsar thermal scope pairs technology with the functionality of a rifle scope. The main benefit is that it enhances visibility when observing your target so that you can easily recognise it in low visibility conditions or at night. Thermal scopes use infrared light to create thermograms or images. This is why it is known as an IR scope or an infrared scope. In a thermal image, hot things will appear bright while cold things will appear dark. That is because it shows contrasting degrees of heat.
People, animals, and motorised machines emit a lot of heat whilst inanimate objects such as buildings, plants and water emit less heat. Read on as we explain how thermal rifle scopes work and how they differ from other night vision devices.
The functionality of thermal imaging scopes
If you want to understand how thermal imaging scope functions, we will take a look back to what we learned in middle school science about the electromagnetic spectrum. Since light energy travels in waves, there are long waves such as the radio that have low energy. On the other hand, there are other short waves such as gamma rays that have high energy. In the middle, we have visible light and next to visible light, we have infrared light which has slightly longer waves than visible light.
The infrared spectrum is invisible to our naked eyes and it is split into three main categories: thermal infrared, mid-infrared and near-infrared. The first two types refer to reflected light whilst thermal infrared is the light that objects emit which enables night vision equipment to function.
Thermal scopes are devices that have detectors that focus on infrared light and the device creates a thermogram. A thermogram enables you to see the form of an object. If you have ever seen the popular 1980s movie – Predator, you already have an idea of what thermograms look like.
Night vision scopes vs thermal imaging
Both night vision scopes and infrared scopes allow you to see in darkness but that is about where the similarities between the two devices end. There are other differences between the two devices, especially in practical use, function and price.
The biggest difference between the two is how they work. Unlike thermal imaging devices, night vision scopes need a small amount of light to function. The device amplifies light to improve visibility in night-time conditions or low-light.
However, night vision will not work in extreme darkness because there is not enough light and it will not work during the day because there is too much light during the day. Whilst an infrared scope helps to improve your ability to view targets, a night vision scope enhances your visual clarity just like a riflescope. Just like a traditional rifle scope, a night vision scope can be obscured by things such as shadows, fog and camouflage.
Generally, a pulsar thermal scope is cheaper than a thermal imaging scope. There are other differences and if you want to spend your money, it is important to do detailed comparisons.