Star Party Etiquette
Like most things referred to as 'etiquette', there are no hard fast rules on behavior
at star parties (or when observing with folks you might not know that well), but there are
some things almost everyone agrees upon:
- Never use white lights, use only dim red lights. If for some reason you MUST use a
white light, warn everyone to give them a chance to protect their night vision.
- Make sure you car doesn't violate the light rule. Backup lights and even interior lights
can ruin someone's night vision. If you're planning to leave before dawn, park such
that you can leave without using your lights.
- If you come to a star party without a telescope, 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 surfaces - eyepieces are prime targets for some reason.
- Avoid loud and boisterous behavior. Star-gazing is a quiet, peaceful activity.
- Be sure to carry all trash out with you, often a club is offered the use of a site out
of someone's good will - it is important not to cause the owner or management to regret
that offer of good will.
- Drive very slowly so as to avoid kicking up dust.
- Be careful of where you step - it is easy to trip over tripod legs and wires as you walk
around. If your scope requires power or other external devices, 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 are mostly there as a 'spectator', try not to monopolize another person's time.
While those with equipment will be glad to show you the sights and answer your questions,
they are also there to enjoy themselves. Some star parties are specifically
organized for educating the public and new members, so you should really wear out the
experienced astronomers at those events :-)
- Be especially careful when someone is imaging/photographing at a star party. Just
a bump of their equipment or a stray light from a cigarette lighter or car can ruin a 2
hour long photograph.
Note that not all of the above applies to all observing sites.
Another take on Star Party Etiquette: