Etiquette for Star Gaze Events

To ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience at our public and private star parties we ask that you follow a few simple guidelines:


  • Dress warmly! It can quickly become cool or down-right cold after sunset. Don’t forget hats or hoods to cover your head!

Arriving and Departing: 

  • If safe to do so (and, only if safe to do so) please use your parking lights when arriving and departing. 
  • When possible and safe to do so, park away from the observing field and in such a manner that your headlights are always pointed away from the observing field when you arrive and when you depart.
  • As soon as you have parked turn off your car’s headlights and interior lights.

Site rules:

  • Follow All Local Venue Rules. It is important that all site-owner rules are followed. These may vary from site to site. 
  • No Dogs or Other Pets on the observing feld (except for service dogs). The combination of dark, many people, and delicate equipment create a risky environment for everyone involved. 
  • No Smoking or Vaping on the observing field. In addition to the affect that smoking and vaping have on members of the public, smoke particulates and residues from vaping, can condense on and damage telescope optics. 
  • No Alcohol on the observing field. Alcohol and observing don’t mix!
  • No Food or Drink Around the Telescopes. Accidents happen. Let’s not take any chances.
  • No Aerosol Sprays on the observing field. One drop of spray can permanently damage telescope optics. Please do not apply insect repellent spray or use any other aerosol spray on the observing field. Lotions and roll-on repellents are fine.


  • No White Lights after dusk. Eyes work differently in the dark than they do in the light. Eyes will quickly adapt to light, but only slowly adapt to the dark. After even momentary exposure to white light it can take your eyes 20 or 30 minutes to adapt to the dark. You need this dark adaptation to see faint deep sky objects. Dim, deep red lights have the least affect on your night vision: if you do need some light to see, you only a dim, deep red flashlight.
  • No Cell Phone Use on the observing field. Cell phone screens can be as damaging to dark adaptation as bright white flashlights. If you must use your cell phone, please step away from the observing field. Don’t use cell phones near the telescopes or observing groups. 
  • No Flash Photography. The bright strobe of a camera flash can destroy everyone’s night vision for 45 minutes to an hour. Photographs taken under dark conditions using an on-camera flash seldom, if ever, turn out well anyway.


  • No Running or Other Boisterous Behavior. It’s dark and you may trip and fall, there are lots of people around whom you might bump into and hurt, and delicate and expensive equipment that will be damaged if knocked-over. 
  • Watch Your Children. Children are always welcome at our star parties; but, since the observing field is dark, small children are more likely to trip and get hurt, become lost, or bump into and damage expensive equipment
  • Do Not Kick up Dirt or Dust. Dirt, dust, and sand are harmful to telescope optics.
  • No Lasers! Visitor use of lasers is not allowed.

While Observing:

  • Ask Before Touching. Some astronomers may be adjusting their equipment, or the telescope may not be aimed at any object in particular; so, please ask before touching a telescope or other equipment. It is best for children to approach a telescope with their hands behind their back.
  • Line up and wait for a turn to look through a particular telescope. After your view, move to another scope. After making the rounds, go back to the first scope as something new may be in view.
  • Put down anything you are holding before looking into a telescope. Some scopes have open frames with exposed primary mirrors. One slip can damage an expensive mirror!
  • Owners of large scopes provide a chair or step-ladder for viewing comfort. Take care to keep your balance while on the chair or ladder. Assist small children so that they do not lose their balance or grab the scope to steady themselves.
  • Don’t grasp the eyepiece to steady yourself. It may cause loss of calibration or even damage the mount’s mechanical components. If you need to adjust the telescope focus please ask the local astronomer for help.
  • For eyeglass wearers: unless you are very near or far sighted, or have strong astigmatism, you may find it easier to take off your eyeglasses to observe. 
  • Give Yourself Time at the Eyepiece. Your eye needs a few seconds to get used to looking through the scope. Your view of detail will improve after just 5 seconds. If you don’t see anything, don’t be afraid to say something. Sometimes the scope gets bumped or the object may drift out of view. Sometimes you may just need a bit of prompting to recognize what you are looking for in the eyepiece. If you don’t see something, say something!
  • Ask Questions, and Have Fun!