KSCAA Star Party Etiquette image.jpg

Things to Remember When Attending Your First Star Party

What is a Star Party??? ---A gathering of Astronomers (Amateur, professionals, other star gazers, families and friends) to share the night sky, share experiences and stellar sights. An opportunity to compare telescopes, techniques, observing goals and to spark interest in astronomy for others. It's a time to share and teach each other about astronomy, to relax and enjoy beautiful wonders of the Universe. Good clean fun for all ages.

Star Party Etiquette

  1. "Please drive very slowly, when approaching the observing site!!!"
  2. Don't be offended by these things to remember. These are a few things that will make your first star party a pleasant experience. I remember my first star party, very well and you will, also. You are about to see God's Creations, first hand.
  3. Enjoy yourself, the heavens are very beautiful and are free to observe with binoculars or a telescope.
  4. No Littering, We have received permission to use the Merritt Island WildLife area. We must use and maintain the area, in a neat and orderly fashion. What trash goes in, must come out.
  5. Try to arrive early. When attending your first star party, observe the NO HEADLIGHTS RULE. Look for flickering red lights. Turn off headlights and dashlights (dashlights will obstruct your ability to see where you are driving without headlights). USE ONLY PARKING LIGHTS. If you can't see where to go, flash your parking lights on and off and someone will come and provide directions on parking and guide you to the viewing area. Drive slowly. For those with the newer cars that the headlights stay on all the time, Just press down on the emergency brake pedal (usually one click) until the lights go out or raise your emergency brake just ever so slightly, usually the first click and your headlights will go out. Neat trick. If you arrive late don't drive car up into the group, park your car away from the group and don't try to turn your car around because when you put your car in reverse your WHITE reverse lights will come on!
  7. Let me explain what is WHITE LIGHT. Any light that is from a flashlight, car headlights, interior car domelight, reverse backup lights, etc...., that is white light. Be aware, WHITE LIGHT hinders your ability to see at night. The human eye takes approximately 45 minute to become fully accumulated to darkness. Exposure to 30 seconds of White light with seriously hinder amateur astronomers for another 10-15 minutes, possibility longer. Lowe's, in titusville, has small Red key ring LEDs lights that are prefect for Newcomers to astronomy. (97 cents and they are located where the batteries are).
  8. When you get to the spot where you have been directed to park. Before you open your car door "Call out White light" and wait 5-10 sec. before opening your car door. If you have something with you that you are planning to use during the night, NOW is the time to get these items out of the car.
  9. Your eyes will start to adjust immediately, wait a few minutes before you start walking around. You will start recognizing objects and people's figures. Now you are ready to start moving around with caution.
  10. The telescopes, which people have brought out to the star party, have a cost from $300 to $5000. The equipment is very expensive. So please, watch your step, when you are around telescopes!!! Never Touch any glass lenses, Please, Always ask before touching someone equipment.
  11. We ask that you leave your pets at home.
  12. During the night, you will have people invite you observe a star clusters, gobular clusters, Nebulas or spiral galaxies. Don't be shy, take a look. if you don't know what you are looking at, ask questions. Amateur astronomers are very friendly people. You will hear a lot of unfamiliar terms, Nebula, M-42, Planetary Nebula, galaxy, Gobular Cluster, Open Cluster, Messier Objects (these are M numbers), NGC 4565, and so forth. Understanding these terms will come with time and reading. Before you attending your first star party, do some reading. It will help. Go to Messier Deep Space List
  13. Very young children (under the age of 6-7) don't understand what they are looking at and usually don't enjoy Star Parties.
  14. MOST IMPORTANT! Bring a jacket to shield yourself from the damp air and Mosquitoes. They are BAD. Bring Bug spray, the DEEP WOODS OFF in the Green Can (it's the strongest). Maybe a blanket for the ladies, if you think you might need it for the damp air. The night air gets very cool.
  15. A Lawn chair is nice for viewing with binoculars or just gazing the skies. Your legs will get tried after a while. A chair is nice to have.
  16. Alcoholic Beverages are Prohibited on the Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve.
  17. Never be the next to the last to leave. Don't leave someone alone, at the observing site, without checking with them first. We don't want to saying "remember the night, Charlie stayed the whole night at Shiloh, because his car battery went dead!!!"
  18. "ENJOY YOUR FIRST STAR PARTY, There a thousands of beautiful things to see and we want you to enjoy the heavens with us"
  19.  If you have a telescope "BRING IT". 
  20. Parts of this have been taken from Chiefland Astronomy Club's Star Party Etiquette and back issues of the Amateur Astronomy.