Observations with optical aids became commonplace after Galileo used a telescope to study stars and planets in 1609 and Robert Hooke discovered cells in cork using a microscope in 1665. However, these observations were restricted to the narrow portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum detected by the human eye.
Electro-optical sensors, using a wide range of materials and techniques, now allow sight over both the infrared and ultraviolet spectral regions. Electro-optical sensors are used on the battlefield to give pilots detailed images of the scene under conditions of fog, rain, clouds, even darkness.
The Electro-Optics Gallery begins with a demonstration showing your image in both the infrared and visual spectra simultaneously. You can observe yourself using energy that radiates from you without the use of natural lighting.
The Pave Spike system, designed to be attached under the wing of the McDonald Douglas F-4 Phantom aircraft is on display in the Gallery along with a system designed for the McDonald Douglas A-12 Avenger II aircraft. These systems were the pioneer infrared avionic sensors that permitted precise delivery of bombs and rockets to control the battlefield at night.