Attending your first star party and unsure of the etiquette? Been a while and want to make sure you’re following the best practices?
Fear not, we have all of the best practices here to help you out! Maintaining star party etiquette is crucial to not angering everyone else, which could have unintended consequences. Amateur Astronomy Groups can be found here.
Arrival–Make sure to arrive before sunset!
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.
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. Astronomy is a quiet, peaceful activity.
Drive 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.
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 star party is specifically organized for the public or newbies.
Be doubly careful when astrophotographers are doing their thing.
Children — some folks welcome them, others don’t. If you do bring children make sure that they are quiet, careful and act like adults.
Pets — some star parties ban pets, some allow them. If you bring your pet make sure it is on a leash and under control. Always clean up after pets.
Music — some star parties ban music altogether, some are less strict. Just remember that music that you love may be extremely irratating to others. The best practice is to either not to bring music or bring headphones that would not interrupt with anyone else.
Alcohol — some star parties 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.
Smoking — smokers should stay downwind of non-smokers and their telescopes. Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean your smoking isn’t annoying, disrepectful and unhealthful to others.