Star Party Etiquette
Here's what others say about what you should and shouldn't do at a star party:
There is considerable variety in the above documents.
But the essence of being considerate is knowing what others expect.
When in Rome...
Amidst the variety though, there are some things almost everyone agrees on:
- Don't use white lights. Use red lights sparingly. If for some reason you MUST use
a white light, shout out a warning.
- Make sure you car doesn't violate the above. Backup lights and even
interior lights can ruin
someone's night vision. If you're planning to leave before dawn,
park so as to be able to leave without using your lights or put duct tape over them.
- If you come to a star party without a telescope please park some distance away from
the observing site to save room for those with heavy equipment to carry.
- Never touch anyone else's equipment without permission. But don't be afraid to ask.
Never touch any glass optical surface.
- Avoid loud and boisterous behaviour. Star-gazing is a quiet, peaceful activity.
- Don't litter.
- Drive very slowly so as to avoid kicking up dust.
- Watch your step (but don't use a flashlight). Be especially careful of wires on
the ground. Some scopes require power and some folks
use their car's battery. If your scope requires power try to make the wires as
safe as possible.
- Don't set up too close to another observer. When in doubt, it's always a good idea to
ask, "Is it OK if I set up here?"
- If you're a visitor or a newbie, try not to monopolize another person's time.
The astronomers are there to enjoy the sky, not to give lessons. (Except, of course,
when the party *is* specifically organized to help the public and/or newbies.)
- Be doubly careful when astrophotographers are doing their thing.
Here are some of the more contentious issues and Bill Arnett's comments on them:
- Children -- some folks welcome them, others don't. If you do
bring a child make sure that he/she acts like an adult. (OTOH, many adults could
use a dose of childish wonder at the beauty of the sky.)
- Pets -- some places ban pets, some allow them. If you bring your pet make sure it
is firmly under control.
- Music -- some places ban music altogether, some are less strict. Just remember that
music that you love may be extremely irratating to others.
When in doubt use a headset.
- LX200s -- some people really dislike the noise an LX200 makes when slewing.
LX200 users should make sure that they're not offending their neighbors. Reducing the
slew speed helps a little. So does arriving early so that those who might have a
problem can set up at some distance away.
- Smoking -- smokers should stay downwind of non-smokers and their telescopes.
Just because you're outdoors doesn't mean your smoke isn't annoying
(and unhealthful, dirty, disgusting, ... you get the point :-)
- Alcohol -- some ban it; some almost require it. If you do drink (at a party
that allows it) make sure you don't violate the "loud and boisterous" rule.
And be aware that alcohol
may adversely affect your night vision, body temperature and ability to drive home.
Finally, lest you think we're all a bunch of lawyers, here are a few more (contributed by Jay Freeman):
Flame throwers and fifty-caliber stray light elminators should be
equipped with glare shields.
Owners of LX-200s must offer coffee to passers-by who mistake the
noise of their slewing motors for that of an expresso machine.
Hack saws should be checked at the door. (If you cannot find the
door, please remain outside of it.)
Bears have right of first refusal on anyone's night lunch, except
when the observer is very hungry.
Abandoned cookies should not be presumed up for grabs, unless
nobody is looking.
Refrain from pointing out the failings of your neighbor's telescope
until your own optics are safely covered.
Bill Arnett; last updated:
2005 Jun 28